By Lisa Barr
Today is my birthday … Damn, so this is what 48 looks like. Wait let me write that again, so I can really examine it. Forty-Eight. When did this happen? Inside, I still feel 19. There are so many days that I think, what am I going to do when I grow up? Or I’ll look at my three teenage daughters — and just be in awe that these blossoming young women belong to me. My younger sister — my Best Bud — and I talk about aging ad nauseum: wrinkles, how long can we keep our long hair, how short can we wear our skirts before we hit inappropriate … and yes, the dreaded reading glasses (the giveaway). When did life just cruise into Middle Age, and how did we get here? My husband says, if you say 48 is the NEW Black, I will never read your blog again. Okay, I didn’t say it (I wrote it) …
When I was younger I had this sinking premonition — that I wasn’t going to make it past 40. Okay, I’m Jewish, just writing this has caused a full-on “shanda” — I can picture my beloved grandmother in heaven right now spitting Tfu Tfu. (Did you feel the rain shower?)
But it’s the truth — so I lived each day — especially in my 20s to the fullest — lots of adventures, lots of stories to collect under my belt. I was determined to experience it all. I lived as someone who had been given an allotted amount of time. Forty (thankfully) came and went gracefully. At just 40, I remarried, and began a new lease on my life. I had just closed a very painful chapter (code: for divorce), and I was energized by my new blended family. I felt SO alive … and I was determined to enjoy this new phase, this better phase.
But I had to slow down. I’m the girl who never stops moving. Someone once described me in an interview as “frenetic.” It really bothered me, because it was true. I had to learn to breathe. In fact, this is embarrassing, but I have a “Breathe” text accompanied by a harp that goes off every day at 11:20. It always cracks up my family — Mommy, breathe!
Slowing down scares me. I always have to be productive. My husband loves lounging couch-potato style, chill-axing with his clicker-in-hand, as I race circles around him in the house at all times.
Through therapy, I understood that somewhere along the line, I truly believed if I stopped moving, I would have to deal with some real pain — abandonment, betrayal, and the anxiety that goes with it — a laundry list of childhood trauma. If I slowed down, somehow THAT would all catch up to me.
Then something changed that really forced me to put on the brakes. I wanted to be present. I came to a point where I wanted to face all the things that hurt me, even if it hurt me MORE to do it — and Just Be Done Already.
It was that undefinable moment when PAST Met PRESENT and together, the twosome were looking at my FUTURE and shaking their heads: It’s time.
And “they” were right … The solution could ONLY be found within …
Here’s My Internal “I’m SO Done” Birthday Bucket List:
1. I will never have big boobs — I will always be a 34 A with padding (thank you, Victoria). I’m done beating up my body, and looking at its flaws under a microscope. It’s strong, slim, healthy, and it’s mine. Enjoy it, accept it. DONE
2. I will never have another baby. This was a super-hard one for me. I’m an Eternal Mama. So many women my age and a lot younger are so DONE, but for some reason I never got that gene. Secretly, I could have more babies — I mean right now, if only I could. I loved being pregnant. I loved breast-feeding (hence, real cleavage for the first time). I see babies around town — and I want one too. Like all the time. It’s not going to happen. I will never run with a jogger stroller again. Period. DONE, Maybe
3. Doing what I really WANT to do: There was a time a few years ago when I walked into my husband’s office and broke down: I don’t know who I am. I cried. I used to be a “somebody.” There was a time when I had interviewed presidents and prime ministers — and now I’m nothing, I lamented. I used to be a writer. I used to be intelligent. And now I’m just someone’s Mom — brain-dead from all the driving; I feel lost, and dumbed-down.
Man UP, he told me. You CAN do this.
And then I took control. My book that had won a prize and that I had shelved, was dusted off, re-edited, and now it is Out There on MY terms, and I couldn’t be prouder. No overnight sensation, Friends — 15 years of stop and go. But this year I made it happen. And my Little Girl Dream of “Becoming Ann Landers” one day — took a different form and morphed into this blog — which I love love love. The two sides of my writing — serious fiction writer and columnist/blogger — have joined hands, finally … at 48. (Did someone mention Black??) DONE
4. I have decided (this week, in fact) to stop yelling: You know the drill: Make your bed! We’re going to be late for school! Enough with the hair — You’re going to miss breakfast! Turn off the flat iron on your way down! How do I know where YOU put your shoes? How did you lose a check for $100? Doesn’t anybody clean up after themselves around here? Clothes IN the hamper, not next to it! … oh, it goes on. This week I put an I’m-Done-Yelling List together for my family — detailing personal and family expectation and … consequences. Literally, written out like a contract. The gist: I’ve decided to stop yelling to make things “work” in my home. The New Normal: Kids — it’s YOUR CHOICE … BUT YOU KNOW THE CONSEQUENCE. The beauty: Family Accountability will ALL be implemented at HALF the decibels. Today, by the way, is Day No. 4 — I will let you know in a month if my experiment worked. Hoping For a DONE
5. Good-bye Toxic Relationships: This, I have actually been doing all year-long. Friendships that have not been good for me — I’ve let go. Family relationships that have hurt me — I have let go. Those wonderful relationships that have stuck by my side through the years — I’ve decided to redirect the energy-suck from all those crappy relationships, and put more effort into the good ones. Letting go of toxicity is hands-down the hardest thing to do, especially dysfunctional relationships. Those cleave on the tightest. Letting them go is so painful but freeing. (On My Way) DONE
6. Connect to Nature: I know it seems that all I do is drink coffee and write … but I now understand that those times when I feel my best are Wind-In-My-Hair moments — like driving alone, blasting the radio to Tom Petty or the Studio 54 channel (i.e. Disco Inferno and all my Soul Train goodies), riding my bike, walking my dogs, and/or even better — walking my dogs and one of my daughters actually WANTS to join me (those moments are when we have our best talks), sitting in my backyard hanging with my hubby (wine is a must-have).
The other day — I decided to chuck it all — and I found a spot not too far away to go kayaking — alone — for one hour — in the middle of the day — it was orgasmic. Nature is my high. The only thing that is truly free, and when I feel truly free.
Okay, I just have to interrupt myself …
So there I was squeezing in a quick kayak yesterday after wrapping up my blog. No one was on the water — just me and the birds. I was breathing/reflecting/enjoying … All of a sudden, my phone rings: It’s the Middle School — Maya forgot her lunch. Come NOW! I’m STARVING, Mommy! There I was racing back to shore as though my kayak had a motor, threw money at the Kayak Guy, telling him the story (I’m SURE he could care less), and called the nearest bagel place — ordered a pickup — as I floored it to the school. I arrived in 17 minutes flat with green slime on my legs. My daughter looked at me. She knew. We both laughed. When you’re a Mom, don’t kid yourself — pure, uninterrupted freedom is not part of the package! DONE
7. Girlfriend Time: Coffee/Walk/Wine/Bonding is a key component to my happiness. I make my daily rounds to those women I cannot go through my day without hearing from (you know exactly who you are)… My (Soul) Sister (the gorgeous woman pictured) lives in Austin, Texas. We speak three times a day, usually ranging from 30 seconds (I can’t talk, I’m so crazed, BUT I love you) to 15 minutes of solid catching up. NEVER DONE
8. Removing my Mascara/Clarisonic-ing my face/and Applying all the anti-aging crap EARLIER than bed-time: Okay, this sounds so stupid. But my husband jumps into bed and I’ve still get Le Routine to get through (he just brushes his teeth and he’s done). SO not fair. Now, I do the whole shebang earlier, when I’m awake, still energized — and not dreading it. The point is, I want to end my day on a high, and not half-dead, dragging myself into bed and allowing the nightly “car wash” to bring me down. DONE
9. Expectation: This is a work-in-progress. My mother-in-law and I talk about this all the time. When you are a giver, and constantly doing for others — those certain days — birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Xmas or Chanukah– are filled with internal expectations — All year I do for all of you, now it’s my turn … what’s it gonna be? This year, for my 48th — I want/yearn for/desire simplicity: My family members — my girls — to all be nice to one another. I want my husband to take my hand and look in my eyes and say God, I love you. (okay, you’re not going to get off THAT easy, Babe — a great pair of new buttery brown boots with wedgy heels would be an awesome touch) … But truly, I feel no REAL expectation for the first time ever. This is not bullshit — this is where I’m at as I face 48. DONE
It’s now 11:17 — three minutes ’til my “breathe” harp goes off. Thank you, my readers and contributors, for being part of this amazing blog journey. It has meant everything to me — truly a gift.
In three minutes … join me … let’s blow out the candles together and Breathe … xoxo Lisa
Hey GIRLillas — got anything to add to the I’m SO Done List … would love to hear from you.