Monday, January 30, 2012

My Friend Eleanor

*I'm not sure what is happening with my blog format and text.  Blogger is giving me fits for some reason.  I apologize for the different sizes of fonts and the wacky layout of this post.  Hopefully I can get things ironed out soon.*

I celebrated birthday number 46 last month.  Or as I prefer to say, the 17th anniversary of my 29th birthday.  ; )  And I'm not gonna lie to you, my friend.  It hurts just a little to think that I'm middle-aged.  

Middle-aged.  Wow.  I remember when that was old.  As a teenager I believed that anyone over 30 was ancient and for someone to say a person was middle-aged meant they practically had one foot in the grave.  I actually felt sorry for folks who were so far past their prime.  Yes, I really believed that 30 was pretty much the cutoff age for anything considered youthful.  

Boy oh boy, did I have a lot to learn.

Unless this is your first visit to my blog, you are familiar with my love of quotes.  I recently came across this one from my friend Eleanor.  (Okay, so she's not really my friend in the truest sense of the word...especially with her being deceased and all.  But judging by some of the wisdom she shared, I feel certain we could have been great pals.  Kindred spirits, if you will.)

Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at midday.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Isn't that fabulous?  And so very true?  
With age comes experience and, if you've used your experiences wisely, better judgement.  The daring of youth is somewhat tempered and common sense begins to play a part in decision making.  While I hope I never lose all of the adventurous nature of my youth (though I confess that what is adventurous to me would probably be quite boring to most) I am happy to now have experience and levelheadedness on my side. 
When it comes to the things I love I do still consider myself to be a passionate person, but youthful passion is so much more...unrealistic?  In our youth we expect others to react to our passions with the same level of excitement and anticipation that we feel.  That usually leads to disappointment because youth is also somewhat vain and self-serving.  When others don't share our enthusiasm, it tends to dampen our excitement.  Nowadays I don't expect so much of those around me.  My passions are exactly that...mine.  No one else has to approve of them or validate them and when they don't, it doesn't alter them in the least. 

What are my passions?  There are far too many to name them all here, but I'm happy to give you a glimpse.

*My family.

*The beauty in nature.

*The written word.

*Friends, both old and new.

*Good food.

I confess.  My passions have changed over the years.  And now, in my middle age (or my 'midday'...I really like that!), I'm happy with where I am.  I'm content to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of a pink sky at sunset or a good book and the warmth of my favorite quilt on a cold Saturday afternoon.  I'm happy to spend hours in the kitchen chopping and simmering and mixing and baking meals that I place on my family's dinner table, and happier still when they enjoy the fruits of my labor as we sit together; talking, laughing, sharing the day's news. 

And best of all, middle age finds me much more comfortable in my own skin than I ever was in my youth.  Yes, my youthful skin may have been without wrinkles and sags and age spots.  It may have been more pleasing to the eye.  But, youth is much like a new car you just drove off the lot.  You tend to worry about getting that first ding or scratch.  You want others to see that car and think "Now that's a good looking car!"  You polish and shine and do all you can to keep it perfect.  And that, my friend, helps to bring about those fine lines and wrinkles of middle age.  ; )

I'll take my wrinkles because they've all been earned.  I'll settle for less voluminous eyelashes and crows' feet and slightly jiggly thighs.  I'm not a physically flawless specimen but I am okay with that.  I am free to follow my passions.  I am free to laugh at myself when I make silly mistakes.  I am free to not worry about how I look to others.  I am happy with who I am.

And those are the gifts of 'midday'.  I'm glad I'm finally able to accept them with a grateful heart.  : )