Ageing (un)gratefully

Monday, July 15, 2019 Permalink

I wrote last week about ageing ungracefully. It was mostly about the physical side of it. Or at least the aesthetic side.

Of course I realise ageing is about far more than our physical selves. We often hear about those who gain new leases of life after middle age, or those who go on to achieve great things… struck by inspiration.

I was a late starter. I wasn’t really ready to think about relationships until I was in my mid 30s and – as I’ve mentioned before – I was in my early 40s before I tried to have children. Of course it didn’t happen… but it means (in many ways) I’m still a decade or two behind. Mentally. I mean, I seriously cannot imagine having adult children myself or even grandchildren and yet I’m conscious many my age might. And do.

I also talked (in last week’s post) about only being confronted by the fact I’m 51 when I look in the mirror; or when I see people my age talk about retirement and grandkids and stuff. I mean, surely grandparents are OLD!

Of course, my own grandparents seemed it.Β At the time.

ageing ungratefully

My paternal grandmother died at 52. Before I was born. That gives me a year. What should I do with that precious year I could have remaining? And my mother’s parents both died in their 60s.

So, my outlook isn’t great.

Last week a few people commented on the fact that those of us ageing and moaning about grey hair and wrinkles are certainly luckier than many who don’t make it this far.

I’m increasingly aware, people who deserve far more than me and who are far worthier are no longer here. And yet I am. Ungratefully moaning about stuff I’ve ‘missed’ like never having been in love, not having a family; or worse still, a blotchy face and no job.

There are many who say wrinkles and scars are a sign we have lived. And survived.

Yet… I continue to hover in this no man’s land. Recognising that I need to be grateful but not actually appreciating what I have and worrying more about what I don’t have. Moaning about ageing when I should see it as a blessing.

I’m ageing ungratefully.

I spend most of my days wanting the time to pass. I’m wondering when the fun is supposed to start, so I urge time to fast-forward so I can get to the good bits. And yet, I know logically, these COULD (and should!) be the good bits. If I appreciated it all more. After all, who knows how much more there might be?

I know most of us wish we felt more gratitude for the good in our lives, but do you worry you don’t appreciate time as much as you should? Or just be happy to be here?Β 

Linking up with Denyse Whelan for Life This Week and Leanne & Sue for the Mid-Life Share the Love linkup.Β 

40 Comments
  • Jo
    July 15, 2019

    You know I get the whole grateful to be here thing, I absolutely do, but I think that what you’re saying isn’t so much about the getting old thing, but the feeling that there could (and maybe should) be more. I do though think that you find the fun along the way rather than it starts somewhere. It reminds me of something that I heard Nigella say (so it absolutely drips with practical wisdom) that happiness (or those moments that make you smile) is what accidentally happens when you’re actively doing something else. I think that’s true.

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      When I think of things ‘in the moment’ that make me happy… it’s weird stuff, like my flannelette sheets or something I enjoy on TV, or discovering vanilla added to diet coke is like vanilla diet coke.

      I don’t quite know how to create more things that I can look forward to and perhaps that’s my problem. Everything feels monotonous.

      • Jo
        July 16, 2019

        I like those little moments of joy, as for bigger stuff to look forward to, yeah, that’s a toughie. I’ve been feeling bored with myself so have started this whole excess baggage thing that I’m doing – I feel like I need to transform both inside and out, like I’m due a change but I have to make it – that sort of thing. Who knows how long I’ll last though…

        • Debbish
          July 16, 2019

          I often wonder if it’s a sign of our privilege, that we can ponder the direction of our lives and consider changes. I certainly worry I spend way too much time navel gazing, but having said that it’s taking the next steps I struggle with.

      • patwdoyle11
        July 18, 2019

        A few years ago I created a list of 31 little “jolts of joy”… little things that just made me smile. Like your vanilla coke. They I consciously added some into my life. One was writing with fine tip, blue pens. I bought a box and got rid of all other pens (actually donated them to a teacher friend). Now every time I pick up a pen to write, I smile. (Someone I know who did the same now has pink champagne in her fridge for her Friday night happy hour.) I’m also practicing gratitude – not daily, but at least a few times a week, I write things down in my journal. Those are 2 things I’ve chosen to do in actively practicing positivity. I was a critical, cynical, glass-half-empty person 5 years ago…. now I’m much more positive and happier. Long term friends are shocked (and actually like the new me). You might want to explore practicing positivity for yourself. Visiting from MLSTL BYW

        • Debbish
          July 18, 2019

          That’s a good idea. I have things I’ve identified like that – like some flannelette sheets I adore and make me happy. Some glasses I own. I might make a list to put on the whiteboard at my desk. There are certainly things – my view, my house, my comfy mattress etc… in terms of ‘things’.

  • leannelc
    July 15, 2019

    Hi Deb – our 50’s are an interesting age and stage aren’t they? I’m one of those grandmothers who can’t believe that I’m old enough to have grandchildren and yet time marches on and indeed I do! I’m also at that strange crossroads where unemployment migh equal retirement and that’s pretty weird too. My aim is to stop looking back and (try) to stop looking forward, and just try to enjoy this life one day at a time. I feel guilty that I’m relishing having all this wonderful time to myself – and I need to get over the guilt – it’s a ridiculous reaction really. We’ve earned this Midlife that we’ve been given and I guess it’s up to us to find the highlights and keep smiling xx

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      I think my biggest problem is that I can’t see anything (looking forward) to look forward to. I guess that says something about the life I’ve designed – that it’s emptier than I’d like it to be.

      • leannelc
        July 17, 2019

        My daughter and her husband aren’t planning on having kids and I can understand their reasons atm but wonder whether their life will feel empty down the track. It’s an interesting conundrum isn’t it? Glad you found the #MLSTL link up day and I’ve shared on my SM πŸ™‚

        • Debbish
          July 17, 2019

          I think if it’s a conscious decision (not to have family) then it might be easier to live with. I suspect I struggled more as it was forced upon me… and yet I’d always always wanted to have kids. (And assumed I would of course cos that’s what usually happens. You meet someone, get together, have a family etc!)

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    July 15, 2019

    I’m such a cliche, I’m one of those people who is grateful for every single day – although I wonder if miraculously surviving a car crash and two cancer diagnoses have something to do with it. As I get older, I worry less about what I haven’t got and focus on the good things that I have and I find that keeps a smile on my dial.

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      Ah yes, living in the moment is such an important thing to be able to do. That is wonderful Sam – though sad you’ve had to go through (what you have)!

  • Lisa
    July 15, 2019

    I’m 50, five children (28-17) – so I did the children thing young, no grandchildren (because my children seem to be too busy doing other things). NOW I’m studying, working full-time doing the career thing, so just slightly backwards. Anyway, talking about perception of “old” – we went and visited an “old” old friend from my childhood days who has just turned 100 (and still so bright!), when I was 10-25yo when I knew her well I thought she was pretty old, turns out she would have been 60-75yo … that doesn’t seem that old now! LOL

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      Oh yes, my mum was only 20 when she had my brother (and 23 when she had me) so when I think back to certain milestones I realise she was much younger than me at the time.

      In many ways her life was richer than mine cos of the family thing and the relationships, but there’s a lot of stuff she didn’t get to do but I like that she’s got no regrets about any of that.

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    July 15, 2019

    Deb, thanks for sharing your honest perspective. I see ‘good’ ageing and I see ‘bad’ ageing every day through my work and it’s gotten be thinking about my own future and that of my loved ones. There is no one answer, one path or any guarantees. All I have is hope, faith and the ability to enjoy my life and age now. Who knows how much better or worse the future will be?

    SSG xxx

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      Oh yes, my bestie’s grandma died in her early 90s and was active and definitely mentally agile until the end. My mother says she doesn’t want to live that long but I keep reminding her that she may feel mentally and physically healthy and – if so – surely the quality of life would be worth hanging around.

      Of course, sometimes I’m sure it can feel as if you’ve done all of the living you’ve wanted to do and are ready to leave….

  • Pamela
    July 16, 2019

    Deb, let’s turn this on it’s head. It’s not necessarily a case of growing old ungratefully, but more a case of always being optimistic for the future! We don’t age internally, I’m over 70 and still wonder, at times, what I’ll do when I’m a real grown up. But do take time to appreciate the present. And when does the fun begin? Well I married for the second time at 60 and believe me, you have the opportunity for lots of fun ahead!

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      Ha, thanks Pamela. People keep telling me I could (yet) fall in love. I think (as I said in another comment just then) it’s the lack of optimism I struggle with. I definitely don’t feel mentally / emotionally as if I’m middle-aged / past-it (in ways I can’t explain!).

  • Vanessa
    July 16, 2019

    I think wanting to feel gratitude and being able to are different things that come easier to some people than to others. It’s really hard living in the type of job limbo that you’re in and I can recognise many of your thoughts from when I was under and un employed and between contracts and allllll that fun.

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      Ah yes, there’s certainly a negativity that pervades everything I do, that’s for sure. And I suspect an uncertainty which means it’s hard to find positives in the future.

      You would have seen my Insta and FB thing where I pondered my options: selling my house and downgrading so I don’t have a mortgage and perhaps have money to live off til my superannuation kicks in at 60. Or doing temp gigs in Brisbane? Moving prematurely to the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast in the hope there are more opportunities (work-wise) there. I change my mind constantly and my mood varies depending on what jobs are advertised that day (in Brisbane, temp-wise as there are very few / none advertised locally), how confident I feel about working for myself and freelancing, concern about stuff breaking at home that would be an expense I couldn’t afford etc…

  • Debbie Harris
    July 16, 2019

    Hi Deb, again I have no answers for you but I am concerned for you. It’s great you are sharing your feelings honestly with us and looking at your various options but only you can find the fun or good times ahead. If that’s little things like wearing flannelette pyjamas, or clean sheets on the bed – then just embrace those moments for what they are, joyous happy moments. It’s always good to talk to others about these issues and you have a great network of other bloggers here wishing you well. I’m with Sam and her comment above. Take care and keep on talking to us all πŸ™‚

    • Debbish
      July 16, 2019

      Ah yes, I do have to take more responsibility for my own happiness. In most ways I’m really independent (long time singleton response I suspect) but in others I keep hoping things will be changed for me instead of making it happen myself!!!

  • Satu
    July 17, 2019

    You have such good phrases Deb – aging ungracefully and ungrategully. If I ever start blogging at Bodycapable again I may need to steal them. πŸ˜€

    I was a late starter like you, but I still hope to become a late bloomer, mostly because I haven’t much enjoyed my life so far. Agewise, my maternal grandparents lived till their 90’s so I could have a long life ahead of me and so have plenty of time for blooming. But I’m also worried about quality of life. Women in my family tend to get heart disase very early (before age 60) and i’m certainly at high risk.Sometimes I wonder when I’m going to get my first heart attack – thist year or in ten years?

    Jobwise, I’m in a similar situation. My last (temporary) job ended in March and I’m trying to find a new job. Uncertainty about future is the most stressful thing in my life at the moment and a real pain in the *ss. (Sorry).

    • Debbish
      July 17, 2019

      Oh Satu, lovely to hear from you and we’re STILL in such similar situations. I’m the same with my health. I keep telling my family I won’t live until old age as I just expect I’ll find out there’s something wrong with me sooner or later!

      Although yes, let’s hope we’re both late bloomers!!!

  • Denyse Whelan
    July 17, 2019

    I have no more thoughts to offer you Deb but I am pleased that you are blogging about it. I am getting over the fact I will be 70 this year, I have a granddaughter the same age as I had her mother. I could get caught up on all that but not any more. I am however, waiting for a house of our own again one day. I hope you can come to some decisions that work for you. Thank you for sharing on #lifethisweek. Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 29/51 Winter: Like/Loathe 22/7/19. Hope you link up again too. Denyse.

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2019

      It’s weird isn’t it Denyse. My grandma had my mum at 20 and then mum had my brother at 20, so my grandma was a grandmother at 40. Interestingly my grandmother also had her last (6th) child AFTER my mum had my brother so she has a sibling younger than her child.

  • BoomingOn
    July 17, 2019

    Deb, I feel sad that you’re not enjoying your life as you thought you might. What would make you happy? How can you help make that happen? How can you fill in your days to make them really busy and interesting? Are there places you can volunteer or meet other people. I know you love books. Can you start a book club where you are? Maybe even online? I don’t have answers for you but hope you can find them.

  • 3sistersabroad
    July 17, 2019

    When I turned 50 I celebrated the fact that at 50 I co owned a restaurant and cafe…life was good…when I turned 60 I celebrated with my sisters by going on a cruise. Life is too short so go and do those things that you have always put off. visiting from #MLSTL

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2019

      Ah yes, that was why I ended up going to Italy last year. It felt frivolous given I had a mortgage and should have focussed more on paying that off etc, but it was the trip I’d always wanted to do and now I’ve done it, which was wonderful.

      • 3sistersabroad
        July 19, 2019

        Ah Italy….Im glad you made it to Italy. Thats on my list hopefully in 2021/22….along with Paris again..

        • Debbish
          July 19, 2019

          It’s always been my dream destination and I loved it. But – as I speak a teensy bit of Portuguese – I actually wouldn’t mind spending some in Portugal (in wine country – the Tuscan equivalent) as at least I could have vague conversations with the locals and get around easier!

          • 3sistersabroad
            July 19, 2019

            Oh the wine is delightful …you will love it

          • Debbish
            July 20, 2019

            Bizarrely it was the first o/s country I visited (back in early 1995) and I hated it. It felt so grotty and I disliked the people.Of course I now realise there was a sense of culture shock etc… Australia is such a young country I just wasn’t ready for it. (I stayed there for 6wks to learn some Portuguese before going to a Portuguese-speaking African country as a volunteer for a couple of years!)

          • 3sistersabroad
            July 20, 2019

            It would have been a culture shock. Even this year it was for us. The portugal is a very poor country. So many abandoned homes. Far easier to walk off the land and home than try to fix them.

  • patwdoyle11
    July 18, 2019

    Deb, I was a late bloomer as well. I didn’t meet the man who became my hubby until I was in my 30’s. I know – you’re thinking … at least you did…. and yeah, I am thankful for him in my life everyday. But I also have a friend who is divorcing in her 50’s and 2 who are widowed in their 50’s. So even if you have someone, you aren’t guaranteed anything.

    I also don’t have kids…. and almost every other friend of mine does and I hear about new grand babies ALL THE TIME! I’ve wondered a few times… do I regret not having kids? Then I also look at friends who are struggling with their kids – addictions, no ambition, bad decisions. Again, I wouldn’t have been guaranteed good kids!

    I also don’t have longevity in my genes. For me it wasn’t “if” I would get cancer, it was when (it was in 2017). My siblings have had 3 strokes and 3 heart attacks – I have 2 siblings. I’ve been known to say I didn’t get a gene-pool, I got a cess-pool. So yeah, I wonder about how long I’ll be around on the earth. I’m trying to live a more healthy lifestyle. (But, It’s certainly not the healthiest of lifestyles, that’s for sure!)

    A few years ago, I decided I wanted to be happy. I choose to practice positivity. It was a conscious choice and it wasn’t easy. There are days I still struggle with it. Blogging helps, as does a number of other tools I use. I mentioned “jolts of joy” above, and gratitude lists. I also journal and continue to try meditation. I’ve done Possibility Lists and life visioning. exercises. I am still putting off a number of things – I was a delay gratification girl my whole life so it’s a bad habit. I also don’t have any clue what my life purpose is, not do I have a passion area. But I do find joy in each day. It might be in blogging, it might be enjoying sitting on my porch, it might be a good yoga class.

    If you wan to live gratefully, I hope you can find your path to that state of being. I really am a happier person than I was 5 years ago! (visiting from #MLST)

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2019

      Wow, what a family history Pat! I like the practising gratitude thing and I know it’s something I need to do better. I think I struggle cos I overthink things so much (and I’ve got a post in mind about that which came to me after listening to a Mark Manson blog post last night. I realise it isn’t that my expectations are particularly high, but that I keep pondering far too much. Thinking and comparing.

      It’s interesting Pat as my three closest friends all only met their partners / husbands in their late 30s so thankfully it wasn’t something I really worried about until after that. (It didn’t seem unusual.)

      • patwdoyle11
        July 18, 2019

        Deb, I get it – I am an over-thinker as well. And a huge Compare & Despair girl. I’ve also been told repeatedly (by friends and hubby) that my expectations are too high. A good friend continually tells me, “lower your expectations so you’re not disappointed”. I’m working on self-acceptance and living in the moment (not worrying before and not reliving and second guessing after)…. working on it and not always successfully, but working on it. Yeah, a blog is drafted about that!

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    July 18, 2019

    Hi Deb I admire your honesty and not sugar coating your thoughts. It can be difficult to feel settled when you just feel there is ‘more’ out there. I know often I have the feeling that there must be more than what is in my life at the moment. It is hard sometimes to be grateful for each day if you don’t feel comfortable. I’m sure you will find your path but don’t waste too much time. Start trying new things and maybe you will find the one thing that sparks your joy! Always a pleasure having you join us at #MLSTL. xx

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2019

      Thanks Sue and yes I feel I must soon either turn a corner or… well, god knows what. But I can’t keep going down this path. I’ve always been pretty negative but I suspect the jobless thing and menopause combined just haven’t helped!

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