Friday, January 13, 2006

Wearing Time Like a Perfect Fit

Gail Sheehy, sixty-eight and author of the recent Sex and the Seasoned Woman, is pictured at left. Her work is one from among "the raft of new books with the message that women over 50 can be sexually attractive." NYTimes reporter Dinitia Smith writes today about this book among others as discussing a new way of getting old for American women. "Culture," she writes, "is following the numbers. By the end of this year, the United States census projects, 1.5 million female baby boomers will have turned 60. And the percentage of Americans over 65 is rapidly increasing.”

This shift in population carries new perspectives into “old” age. I caught (once again) a bit of Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give” while I packed to return from the MLA convention. The message and fun of a film that positions the lead female character to parent well, fall unexpectedly in love, lose "round one," and recover personal balance with an upper hand leveraged for professional gains all-around ... I loved it! Barbra Streisand in “Meet the Fockers” is enough to make my grown children roar with a mix of laughter and agreement for the likeness they believe her character has to me … a thought I'll take as compliment.

What most captures my attention from the NYTimes article, however, and prompts me to write this post is the beauty of those women I see aging into fifth, sixth, seventh decades and beyond. For these women, I believe, there is a beauty of depth and adventure in courage, strength – a steady hand in wisdom measured against temptation, and an appreciation for wealth coupled not so much with power as with an ability to conjure abundance against time.

I am a month shy of fifty-two years old, and I am finding more satisfaction at this time of life than in any other era through which I have passed. I must admit to being a little surprised by this fact myself, but the truth is that it never occurs to me to want to be younger - I can’t imagine ever wanting to do even a single year over again. Of course, I don’t have everything I want right now (how boring would that be?), but I am living a life fulfilled in the doing of each day, and I find myself wearing time like a perfect fit.

Brenda's work at Rubies in Crystal often carries me to a place of renewed appreciation for the experiences about which I am writing here. Her poems and art inspire me to remember (again) what I know. In addition to Brenda's work, you might also enjoy any number of the titles mentioned in the NYTimes article (see link above) that are just out or due to be published soon. Here's a short list from those mentioned there - enjoy:

Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Gail Sheehy
Enough, Alice McDermott
Better Than I Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty, Joan Price
Unaccompanied Women: Late-Life Adventures in Love, Sex and Real Estate, Jane Juska
Still Doing It, Diana Holtzberg and Diedre Fishel

Younger Next Year For Women: Live Like You’re 50 – Strong, Fit, Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond, Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge

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A young woman delights me, an older one enthralls me. The one has the beauty of her body, the other experience and richness of mind, to recommend her.

Ovid, Elegy IV:
“He Confesses His Inclination for Love and His Admiration for All Manner of Women”


Ken said...

I'm reluctant to comment here at the moment, but I will drop you a note in email sharing a man's perspective. Well, this man of almost 53 years anyway.

Sentinel 47 said...

Inspiring. Thanks for the beautiful post. It's good for us powerful women to remember how many more decades of power and beauty lie ahead.

...[shrugs] hey, at least there's SOMETHING to look forward on this forsaken planet! [winks] -sentinel

Winston said...

Welcome back! Good article which Ronni Bennett should be aware of.

You've got what appears to be a typo. Hint: in the latter part. For appropriate compensation, I'll point it out to you. ;-)

Brenda said...

What a beautiful way of writing aging! I am 53, and another birthday in March. From 50-53 was most difficult as I was coming to terms with aging, but at 53 I didn't care anymore. I barely even think about it. At 80, we'll all think 50 was SO young!

And that you are doing a PhD is most inspiring, and, as I keep saying, only more so now, I am very proud of you.

You don't look your age, btw. And I love the two comments here by men. Oh, with what graciousness we approach our bodies, our sexuality, what life means and the way to love each other...

Very beautiful, Mary.

Junebugg said...

I love this entry, and thanks for the link. I've gotta check out some of these books.

The problem is that our bodies age, but we still feel young. I'm with you about enjoying this time of life, but I can't indulge in some of those activities that I used to enjoy. Mountain climbing/hiking takes much longer to recover from, and my bones are starting to thin (according to the Dr.). Too bad we can't get the general public and men in particular, to agree that a woman over 25 can still be sexy.

Joan Price said...

It's great to see your post and these comments. I'm the author of one of the books mentioned in the NYT article, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty. I hope you and your readers will come on over to my blog,, where we're talking about ageless sexuality. It's about time, don't you think?

-- Joan Price