Twenty years ago I could’ve been one of those people with a T-shirt that said “Oops! I forgot to have a baby!” (Now it would read “I forgot to have grandkids.”)
I am sitting in my favorite writing spot–on my deck in a butterfly chair with a composition notebook on my lap, thinking about what is looming. As the big day approaches, I am not sure why I am pondering it so. It’s only a number, after all. The big Six-(uh)-Oh.
I have no plans for that day, which sometimes is the best plan of all. I’ve already gone back to my hometown and attended a surprise party for a friend I’ve known since the first grade, and I just sent email wishes to another who wrote back to say she and her husband are off to Yellowstone to celebrate hers. That’s the thing–when you still have a multitude of friends the exact age as you, there is no avoidance of being aware. I’ve had parties given for me and by me over the years, but there is something really nice about claiming your day for one of quiet reflection and solitude. Maybe a hike at Poet’s Walk, where I’ve never been. Or an afternoon in my art studio with the windows open, working on a new assemblage, losing track of time entirely.
So how do I feel about turning sixty? Granting it the power of symbolism that I suppose it deserves, I’ll consider the question. My fifties were full of highs and lows: following the compass swings of my heart was not for the fearful. Not until my mind played catch-up did fear (make that “panic”) enter the equation. During that decade words and art trickled out of me in rivulets, accumulating into pools and the occasional geyser, while my income slowed to a drip. I paid attention to what I wanted (and needed) to do, and now it is time to get more practical. I need to face the fact that my “Youth Generation” is now geriatric.
One thing I’ve been working on this month is being more mindful about my vegetarian diet. I’ve been entertaining the idea of a spring de-tox, largely because I am in love with my juicer, and an apple-beet-ginger concoction is like Fred and Ginger dancing cheek to cheek, with me in tow. I also have been known to embark on one of those cleansing plans only to cry uncle six hours into the first day with no coffee in me. This time, I wanted to see if I could go vegan, if not do the entire three-day cleanse.
I have not had coffee since Monday morning—it is now Thursday night. (This is a record, folks!) When I ran out of milk, I vowed I would switch to green tea (with caffeine) and Tylenol for those killer headaches with my name on them. What made it easier too was that I have a new addiction–chia seeds. Or rather, chia seed pudding. All of a sudden I was reading everywhere about this amazing food from Mexico: a mere tablespoon would send an Aztec into battle with energy to do whatever Aztecs did in battle. All you do is combine with coconut or almond milk, agave, and vanilla, then shake, and an hour later–nirvana! Tiramisu, I don’t miss you! Cappuccino, you’re a no-no! (at least for now).
Also new to my pantry are flax seeds, agave, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa. I’ve always liked almond and soy milk, everywhere but in my coffee. Now that coffee is off the menu, it’s a moot point. (Sorry, cows, for the bad pun).
A three-day cleanse might not seem so drastic now that I have done the previously unthinkable–gone without dairy (other than a few runs down the shredder with a chunk of parmesan). Having loosely delineated rules that prevented me from seeing this exercise in black and white–succeed grandly or fail miserably, yet again–might be the ticket to embracing my sixties and beyond. Who knows, I may just put the pedal to the medal and complete that juice fast on the big day.
I just don’t want to wake up that morning and say “Oops! I forget to get healthy!”