Sunday, March 23, 2008

Just What the Therapist Ordered...

With my approaching (well, it feels more like encroaching) 40th birthday next month, I've been joking that I'm going to need some serious therapy. For whatever reason, the big 4-0 is bothering me a bit. Not sure why, since neither 30 nor 35 bothered me in the least. I need some therapy...or at least a bit of inspiration. Not a surprise at all then that my girl should come through for me with a new cover celebrating her own milestone birthday later this year:

Subtitled "Getting Back to Basics at 50," the article talks about Jamie Lee's wake-up call to get fit and healthy and how she's embraced aging gracefully:

"I want to be older," she tells the magazine. "I actually think there's an incredible amount of self-knowledge that comes with getting older. I feel way better now than I did when I was 20. I'm stronger, I'm smarter in every way, I'm so much less crazy than I was then."

Curtis says growing older means paring down to an essential version of yourself:
"I've let my hair go gray. I wear only black and white. Every year I buy three or four black dresses that I just keep in rotation. I own one pair of blue jeans. I've given away all my jewelry, because I don't wear it."

This is not a new line of thinking for her. Following an earthquake years ago that damaged her Santa Monica home, I remember reading that she'd gotten rid of much of her "stuff" - downsizing on the suffocating materialism and aiming for an uncluttered life.

She's right. Approaching 40, I've taken stock of all the "stuff" in my own life. And there's a damn lot of it. Material stuff. Psychological stuff. Interpersonal stuff. Too much stuff that clogs up the arteries of life. Maybe it's all this stuff cluttering up our daily lives that's at the root cause of mid-life crises, those breakdowns in human reasoning characterized by impulsive sports car purchases, desperate affairs with 20-year-olds, and the sporting of hairstyles more befitting Zac Effron.

Pare down. Simplify. Let go. It makes sense. Obviously, Jamie Lee has gotten it right, and it's liberated her. So it's resolution time. Spend $200 an hour for a therapist who will repeatedly ask me how I feel and inevitably trace everything back to mother issues, or snag a copy of the AARP article, laminate it, and take a cue from Jamie Lee? Wading through all the clutter, I realize that I am smarter, more self-assured, more self-aware (sometimes too much so) than I was at 20. It's a good start. Now I gotta aim for the simpler part.

Pare down. Simplify. Let go. My new mantra.

It makes sense.


Fran Friel said...

Bravo, Vince. Sounds like the wonderful Ms. Jamie is your touchstone for life. And from my close to 50 perspective, it's a lot better on this side of the 40's. My body is the only drawback (although I'm working to bring that side of the equation online, too - going to the gym, got a trainer, eating better, sleeping more), but on the side of mind and emotions - I'm calmer, smarter (in the best ways), less naive and far more patient and tolerant. I also like who I am right now, and don't need to make changes to please others. And I happen to love my wild gray hair!

So, baby, dive into your forties with zest. Although a few things are a wee bit harder, the rest just gets a whole lot better.

Happy Spring, my friend.

Zesty Hugs,

Martel said...


I saw the Jamie Lee article in the paper today and had many of the same thoughts. This was after reading a column on personal finance:

Pare down. Simplify. (And I'll add) Prepare.


ps. When another friend of mine was bummed about turned 40, she was focusing on all the things she hadn't done yet. I told her to make a list of her accomplishments. Once she did, she realized that she had a lot to be proud of. The victory was even sweeter when she remembered how many of the things on that list were things other people told her she'd never be able to do. Maybe that will help you as well.

Amanda Stevens said...

Relax, Vince. From my perspective, you're still a youngster. (And a damn good writer, to boot.)

Lisa Morton said...

I have a sneaking suspicion, Vince, that (like many of us!) you're going to be surprised at how fun being 40 can be! My forties have been far more productive, confident and happier than any other decade...and I bet yours will, too.

Shaun said...

I embraced 40 a couple of years ago, and I guess I didn't bother too much about it. Whatever birthday I celebrate, I just make sure that I try to make the most of what I've got in life, and to improve things wherever I can.

It's a time to look back, but also to look forward.

Carolyn said...

Let's see---40---I think I remember that. Basically, Vince, I think all of the milestone birthdays make us think. Guess which one I am facing this year? There is nothing like 60 to really put you over the edge.
Words of advice: Plan something special to celebrate. For me, I like to celebrate the milestones with travel to special places. At 50, it was Provence. My 25th wedding anniversary was Tuscany. Not sure yet where 60 will take me, but it will be somewhere nice. The Provence trip I worked on for at least 8 months, and I invited a highschool friend with the same birthday month to come along. What a grand time of rediscovery we had.
At 50 I started thinking about earning a doctorate. At 59, I intend to defend my dissertation and go to commencement, bringing closure to 8 years of effort. The milestones can be scarey, especially when you work in a field like aging, but if nothing else, I know how important every day is, and how we should never put things off--without a really good reason! Oh yes, good wine helps too. With each decade, I can afford slightly better vintages! Carolyn

LizBurton said...

Aging is never easy, especially in a culture like ours that hails youth and materialism. Bravo to you (and Jamie Lee) for embracing age for what it is: a sign of experience, wisdom, and knowledge. May I reach my '40th with the same attitude!

Vince Liaguno said...

Thanks for all the insightful comments, folks:

Fran, I happen to love your wild gray hair, too! You're the Jamie Lee of the horror genre, darlin'!

Martel, the listing of accomplishments thing was suggested to me. Interestingly, while I'm happy with the accomplishments, having accomplished them doesn't seem to mean as much to me at (very near) 40 than they did at the age I accomplished them. Does that make a lick of sense?

Amanda, you were the best ego boost of the day! Sending you a big virtual kiss!

Lisa, from your lips to God's ears!

Shaun, yeah...interesting being at a place in life where one can still look both back and forward (hopefully with equal spread of years on both sides!).

Carolyn, sage advice...especially about the wine. I think that I would wear rehab so much better after 40, eh? No wonder that Amy Winehouse song is stuck in my head. Kudos to you on (almost) 60 successful years. You're right up there with Jamie Lee in my book as an example of successful living and aging.

Liz, let's hope my talk isn't cheap and that I actually embrace aging as much as my words would indicate. LOL! If my next blog is written from within a lovely white room with padded walls, you'll know...