I’ve experienced a major shift in my life view – largely because of my experiences and the women I’ve met at the Women At Woodstock retreats in 2012 and 2013. Two years and three retreats means a lot of listening to and learning from other Boomer-and-above women, observing their levels of determination, zest, and fun, and observing myself too while in a different space and time, set away from my regular day-to-day life. My life view shift is as simple as it possibly could be, yet over the past thirty years it did not even occur to me. It’s this: I now have fun again, whenever and wherever I feel like it.
Now, this is not to say that I haven’t had any fun over the past thirty years. I have. I’ve gone canoeing, hiked in the San Jacinto Mountains, watched the sun rise over the rim of the earth in Borrego Springs with my father, attended plays and performances, camped in the Adirondacks with my daughters and close friends and then-husband, spent weekends in Amagansett at a friend’s beach house, engaged in hilarious whole-table conversations at dinner parties, celebrated birthdays and holidays and anniversaries, watched my daughters and the other neighborhood kids run and shout in the fading light on summer evenings, traveled to Jamaica and St. Martin, Canada and Mexico, and all over the U.S., lived in New York City, Cleveland, Westwood, and Redondo Beach, watched my daughters graduate from high school and then college, found love again after a horrible divorce…
But when it came to doing things strictly for myself, day-to-day things that were just plain and simple fun, I didn’t do it. It didn’t occur to me. This was my day-to-day view: exercise was a duty and a burden, often left by the wayside; food was a source of judgment and fear; and free time was time that needed to be spent doing something productive. Yep, I had a bona fide adult view of the world.
The hell with that. As I attended Women At Woodstock workshops, listened to the views and decisions and actions of other, vital women my age, made new friends who were living and doing life quite differently than I was, this revelation slowly grew in me and then became conscious thought, and then a conviction: Why not inject pleasure into my life, whenever and wherever? Why not have fun whenever I can have fun? Why not? There are so many things that I haven’t even considered doing for the past thirty-odd years, because honestly I felt somehow that I wasn’t allowed. Like getting up from my desk and taking a walk just to clear my head – not a measured walk, not a timed walk, not a brisk walk punctuated by checking my heart rate to make sure I was getting the recommended aerobic workout – just a walk at whatever speed and for whatever length of time I wanted. Like going to a movie by myself on a Wednesday afternoon. Like driving down to the Esplanade just to watch the sun set over the Pacific. Like ordering Chinese take-out delivered to my house for Monday lunch. Like riding a beach cruiser along the Strand in Hermosa Beach.
So several weeks ago, when I had a lunch date scheduled with Linnea Duvall, I said why don’t we turn it into a bike ride and lunch date? She was thrilled with the idea, and the next day when we swung our legs over the bikes we’d just rented from Hermosa Cyclery, grabbed the handlebars, and started pedaling – and wobbling – we both started laughing. “I feel ten years old again!” I said. “Me too!” she cried.
Since then I’ve had several bike & lunch dates with friends, and with myself when no one’s available. I’ve started taking beach yoga on Wednesday mornings – the hell with how I look or the fact that I cannot – can NOT – sit with crossed legs Indian-style like I used to. I stop for bourbon tofu and brown rice on the way to pick up my CSA (community supported agriculture) farm box each week and enjoy the ocean view and the solitude from my perch high above Pier Avenue in the noisy little takeout shop. Sometimes in the early morning I make a vegetable and fruit smoothie with my juicer and drive down to the beach to drink it while I watch the waves and the surfers and the occasional crazy folk doing strange things as they jog along the water’s edge – waving their arms, jumping, dancing, spinning around and going backwards, pumping little weights. Last week I stopped at See’s Candy – the chocolate mecca, as far as I’m concerned – to buy myself exactly four chocolates, exactly the ones that I wanted, and I found myself in the tiny black-and-white retro shop waiting for service from the white-uniformed, white-capped ladies behind the counter, surrounded by a small, conspiratorial cluster of women, shamelessly and delightedly allowing themselves to have just what their hearts desired. Bad girl chocolate – milk chocolate, dammit, not the dark that we’re all supposed to eat for our own good. And before the month is out, I’m going to take myself to a movie matinee on a Wednesday afternoon.
I think I’ve named ten things here that make me feel ten again. I can honestly report that I often face my days now with the happy anticipation of a young girl with positive expectations for her day. Yes, it’s like being ten again – only with a driver’s license. It’s lovely.
Do you have some things you do that make you feel ten again? Let me know in the comments below!