My 7 Hottest Tips For How To Endure A Middle-Aged Marriage

My 6 Hottest Tips For How To Endure The Middle-Aged MarriageDo you get sucked into those online articles about what makes relationships work, how you can improve your relationship, or ‘the four things every successful relationship must have’?

I’m afraid I do, and they always leave me feeling defeated, because generally I can’t identify with any of them.

I suppose I’m drawn to them for some sort of reassurance, to check I’m doing something right in my life, (even though sometimes it feels harder than it should), and that we’re on the right course.

But he never sends me flowers impulsively, I never get a heart-shaped Brazilian to surprise him and we rarely admit how much we love each other.

I was shamed the other day when one such article asked how often you show your partner gratitude, and I couldn’t think of one nice, unselfish thing I’ve done for the old man in the past five years. It pains me to admit it, but when it comes to rash demonstrations of love, the old man is better at them than me – probably just his way of making me feel even more inadequate.

But it’s easier for him. He’s always been more tactile – a bit of a groper, if truth be told.

Do you ever look at your friends or other couples and wonder how they work together? It’s impossible from the outside to define why some relationships work and others don’t and my personal belief is that it’s dangerous to over-think them. There are so many uncontrollable factors that can trigger a relationship breakdown, such as timing, upbringing, the changes that come with age, as well as changes to our personal circumstances and goals.

I’m far from a ‘smug married’ – our friends will all vouch for the fact that the old man and I have teetered on the edge of a marital volcano since he stammered out the words ‘I do,’all those decades ago.

Nevertheless: here’s my guide to how we endure our crazy marriage:

Equality, and not being a doormat – and that is aimed at both sexes. Unbelievably, many women’s magazines still continue to propagate the idea that women need to make their men feel loved, appreciated and superior, in order to keep them. Apparently, we need to rub their ego with butter and reaffirm their status as the hunter – even when we contribute to fifty percent of the relationship.

‘BULLSHIT!’ I say.

Don’t get me wrong, ‘door-matting’ is not about giving up work to raise your children, or doing the lion’s share of the cooking. But it IS about not arguing your point when you feel strongly about it, doing most of the chores because it’s easier, or allowing your partner to demonstrate his/her lack of respect for you. Door matting is when you don’t feel worthy or equal in your partnership, and do nothing about it.

Spending Time Together – I’m lucky because the old man is my best drinking partner. While many of my girlfriends, (like me), are beginning to lose their tolerance for more than a couple of glasses of wine due to the savageness of the ageing process, the old man has upped his intake, and we have our most heated and interesting discussions when we drink together. Other than drinking, we have very little in common and as I’m never going back out on a golf course and the old man would rather stick needles in his testicles than go to a writer’s festival, a mutual appreciation for good food may become our future hobby, once I completely resign myself to having no waist.

Intimacy – every psychologist will tell you that ‘touching’ is important. I’m naturally crap at it, but the old man is a pro when it comes to pawing – to the point that he irritates the fuck out of me sometimes, a feeling I can only explain by comparing his behaviour to that moment you hear a fly in your bedroom in the middle of the night. But secretly I kind of love it.

We’re far from traditional cuddlers – we can’t get physically further apart from each other in the bed due to excess body heat issues, (Note to self: avoid reading any article about what your sleep position says about your relationship), but he’s an impulsive, cuddler – the type that will try to grab at me in the kitchen, (usually when I’m carrying something hot), and then wonders why he gets swatted.

Arguing – we are the worst bickerers. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s unavoidable when you put an over-proud, opinionated bitch and an arrogant, over-opinionated asshole together. Kurt has been a contributing catalyst over the past few years, too. Fortunately, our spats are hot air for the most part; sparks and smoke that we can put out ourselves without calling 000, and we rarely go to sleep on an argument.

That is, unless he hasn’t admitted he’s wrong, obviously.

I see arguing as being honest, and if your relationship is strong enough to sustain it, I see nothing wrong with it.

Humor and laughing together – The ability to laugh when things are good and laugh when things are bad is ‘a must’ for marital survival in my book, and the old man and I excel in this area. Being able to laugh at each other is important too. I’m very good at laughing at the old man. He’s learning how to laugh at himself. He knows NEVER to laugh at me.

Wanting Your Marriage To Work – Neither of us went into this marriage with the aspiration that it had to work out. I came from divorced parents, so I assumed our marriage wouldn’t last, but we both agree now that the alternative and the effort involved in finding someone new, is a terrifying prospect – made more appalling by the embarrassment of having to get naked in front of a stranger.

I’ve always been a fervent believer in the ‘grass being greener’ philosophy of life. In past relationships I’ve been blindside by that lush, fertile, greener grass and now know that few relationships maintain that vivid colour of the early years; hence the need for real depth, respect and commitment.

There has to be a meeting of minds.

But no marriage is perfect, either – sometimes I’m appalled at the level of inane conversation we can waste our breath on these days about domesticity and the cost of food.

Giving Each Other Space – Doing your own thing, having your own interests and friends, chasing personal goals and living a life independent of your relationship keeps our relationship fresh.

Furthermore, our separate lives give us something to talk about on date night.

There Might Be More to The Grumpy, Menopausal Woman Stereotype Than Meets The Eye

You may or may not be aware, but I’ve  been trying to find that feeling of gratitude that we all strive for, for a long time. And failing miserably. But this week I had no real excuse.

Stress. Woman stressed

With a less crazy workload and the House Bitch showing signs of improvement in all areas of his domestic chores – even though he STILL can’t wipe down a fucking bench top – ie. getting a better work/life balance – I’m feeling much calmer. Added to which, I’ve found the renewed ability to sleep for longer than two hours at a time, so I’ve dicovered some lucidity about a few things that have been bugging me for a while.

In particular, about the whole grumpy, middle-aged woman stereotype thing.

Because while I agree that there are a lot of over-tired, over-emotional, VERY angry, and (above all), unfulfilled women out there who represent my age group – and whose grouchiness and partner victimisation, society likes to blame on menopause, peri-menopause and middle age…I think we should be given more credit than that.

Agreed, fluctuating hormone levels are the absolute smegma of life, invented by Satan to test the superior strength of our sex, again. But they’re not the sole reason we women aren’t content.

Because, under the right laboratory conditions, there is still a happy person wanting to come out of my body. She pops out occasionally – on holiday, in the shopping mall, in the bottle shop, when the kids are at sleepovers, when the old man is out on a boys night or with the help of a few Chardonnays, close friends and chocolate.

So we can’t blame hormones ALONE for these changes to our personality. There’s a bunch of other shit stuff that sends women over the edge.

Like:

People – The better perception about people that we develop with age makes us realise at this time in our life that, frankly, a lot of people really get on our tits. And with this new conviction, comes the courage to stand up for what we believe in and deserve, and we become intolerant, if necessary, about the choices we make about who we want to spend our time with. A few good friends is infinitely better than a room-full of periphery friendships and fuckwits.

Having it all, it being too much and sinking – Of course women still want it all, but the reality is that the dream is not always that straightforward. And we hate to admit to that because we (can be stubborn bitches) fought so hard to get where we are. Which is why an equal partnership, that includes a supportive domestic infrastructure, is so important – to stop us feeling overwhelmed, resentful and sticking pins in voodoo dolls of our partners when they aren’t there.

Because sometimes long-term relationships are hard. Both genders know this. We reach middle age and we don’t necessarily have as much in common anymore with the life partners we chose when we were completely different people in our twenties, and now our responsibility to contribute to the population is over, sometimes, on days when the shit has hit the fan, bounced off the walls several times and then hit us straight in the face, it can be hard to see why we stay together.

By our forties and fifties, many of us are juggling more balls than we can hope to catch, and at a time in our lives when we a) are not as co-ordinated and b) thought life would be easier. Once the kids are in high school, there is an expectation and financial need for many of us to go back to work full-time, if we’re not already there, yet we can’t afford the support required for a true work/life balance, and … TEENAGERS! Did you know that women still do the bulk of the domestic chores, even when they work full time?

On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or doing laundry–compared with 49 percent of women. (Time Magazine)

Then there’s the added pressure on women to do everything perfectly – to cook ‘cleanly’, look healthy and gorgeous all the time, to Thermomix, slow cook…AND BE HAIRLESS!

So what happens? We sink further into the quicksand of a horrible, middle-aged lethargy because we’re already more tired than we’ve every felt in our lives. Our body is slowing down, the hormones ARE wreaking havoc on our sleep patterns, anxiety levels and weight/self-esteem, AND we have to work twice as hard to hold down jobs due to brain cells that are self-euthanising at a time when we’re up against younger generations who cost employers less.

And that, admittedly, might make us a tad over-sensitive at times.

Those outbursts over wet towels on the floor, or being too tired for sex, or crying because our cooking wasn’t good enough, are not just about fucking hormones.

They are a plea for help and support.

So, thank you for the compliment of piling everything onto us because you know we are more accomplished multi-taskers and organizers, but …no thanks.

Super Foods Or Super-Bitch Foods

As I smugly lathered my toast in perfectly-ripe avocado the other morning, I found myself smiling to myself reassuringly, safe in the knowledge that what I was about to put in my mouth was a super-food.

Super-Foods, Bitch-Foods

Or was it?

It’s amazing how these days I get my kicks out of eating virtuously rather than being the ‘bad girl’ I prided myself on being up until my forties.

I knocked together this broccoli and potato soup yesterday. Just sayin…

Super-Foods, Bitch-Foods
I MADE this!

The problem with middle age is that we all suddenly get fixated on our health. It correlates with when our mortality begins to stare us boldly in the face, and friends start dying. In the old days, a good night out was determined by getting as trashed as possible; these days a good night out is finding a main course with less than 400 calories and being in bed before midnight.

We fall for all that garbage about what to eat and what not to eat, because we’re scared.

Because we don’t really know what we’re doing anymore, do we? Food has become as controversial as politics. We look down at people in the McDonalds queue, check out people’s trollies in the supermarkets and make surreptitious judgment calls. Even the chefs we looked up to once upon a time aren’t beyond reproach – we’ve taken to witch-hunting them now, if they don’t say what we want to hear.

Due to the minor issue of premature death caused by hypercholesterolaemia in my genetic history, eggs and butter became as scary as ISIS to our family in my teens; to the point that we created a bunker in the cellar in case the milkman stopped by and tried to sell us his coagulated, full-fat milk.

That was until the nutrition gods did a complete fucking u-turn and decided that there were in fact two types of cholesterol, one good and one bad; which really confused us, because none of us had the faintest idea what ‘saturated’ and ‘unsaturated’ meant.

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/487760351

Now we’ve been told that (Surprise!), there’s nothing actually wrong with eggs, and that what we eat, in fact, has very little effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood stream after all. So I’d like to thank those doctors for forcing me into a miserable adult existence of fatty food denial for the last twenty-five years of my life.

It’s not difficult to understand that modern food technology, with its scary fertilisers, additives and suspect preparations to ensure a longer shelf life for its products can be harmful, but surely if you eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed food, there can’t be too much risk to your health?

Yesterday we were told that the cases of breast cancer will double by 2030.

Joy!

TBH, these new-wave, new-fangled diets and super-food guides get on my tits. I blame the hipsters and this incessant pressure on social media for women to be thin.

Surely, good nutrition is about common sense? We all know that:

If you eat too much you get fat.

Red meat is hard to digest, which is why it makes you fart.

Additives have scary names made up of a confusion of letters and numbers so it’s obvious that we should avoid them at all costs.

Sweet corn does not digest and makes your poo look really surreal.

These days ‘low-fat’ means you’ll get fat.

Sugar is the best invention EVER but not a good idea if you want to lose weight or desire flawless skin.

Super-foods disguise themselves as healthier choices, but no-one can seriously survive on, (or afford), a diet of avocado, red fruit and seeds and we all know that avocado is a super-bitch food anyway, like pears, because it only has a two second window of perfect ripeness.

And does anyone really care about Pete Evans Paleo diet or Thermomixes, anyway? In my humble opinion, Pete is definitely not as hot as he was before he stopped eating properly.

If you cut carbs out of your diet, it CAN help you lose weight; that is until you put it all back on again.

In fact, the only great news to come out of this wealth of nutrition advice is that apparently alcohol is bordering on super-food status… this week.

Or was that a dream?

Spa-ing With Your Mates

Spa-ing With Old Mates
Very serious ‘muffin top’ discussion in the hot tub

I’ve never been the spa-ing type, like I imagine the majority of middle-aged women would be, given the chance. The whole ‘beauty-thing’ has always bored me. It kills me to have to sit in a hairdresser’s chair for two hours of torture to get my hair coloured when I could be doing a myriad of far more stimulating things like watching Ellen or picking my toe nails.

Visiting a spa has always seemed like a particularly wasteful form of indulgence, when you could spend that money on important stuff like alcohol and new clothes.

Where is the fun and relaxation to be had in a place where drinking is frowned upon and you’re forced to expose your dry, floppy skin and hairy bits to other, more lithe, conditioned and judgmental bodies?

Which is why, when some old school friends suggested catching up over a spa day during my trip to England, I had to bring out my best method acting skills and feign enthusiasm, consoling myself that the company would make up for it.

My only experience of spa-life until that day was when NC and I visited one in Bali – mainly because it was cheap.

However, certain elements of the experience had left me traumatised and questioning its true appeal. Sharing a steam room with your teenage daughter, clad only in paper knickers, will test the most liberal of mother/daughter relationships; feet massages are probably only good for those who have a high tolerance to being tickled and when a massage turns out to be more of a violent pummelling, whose only appeal lay in the hope that I might lose some weight, the experience made me think twice about rebooking.

Spa-ing With Old Mates
My ability to look naturally attractive whatever the occasion, sometimes astounds me too.

My Pennyhill Park experience was very different, and I’m not saying that just because one of aforementioned bestest mate’s husband contributed a massage, lunch and glass of champers to the three of us out-of-shape, middle-aged women, who I’m sure he realised were far more interested in chit-chatting than having dead skin removed.

Pennyhilll Park is in Bagshot, Surrey, about 45 minutes out of London and if heaven exists, this is it. It is just so archetypally British in its British-ness, it almost hurt me to look at it, so homesick was I already feeling during that first week of my trip. It’s country house beauty reminded me of all those wonderful ‘Four Weddings and A Funeral’ weddings I went to in the nineties; so inviting in its warmth and under-stated opulence.

The best part was that even though we were at a spa and impressively out of condition, we weren’t made to feel out of place, even if it was fairly obvious from the speed with which we downed our bubbly that our true vocation was less about improving our bodies and more about luxuriating in the company of good friends.

Our day began with lunch – a luscious quinoa and grilled chicken salad that did not resemble the nightmare I’d had the previous night about portion-sizes more suited to ants, and I nearly screamed with relief when I spotted the bread basket.

Lunch was followed by an unscheduled exercise class spent getting the quinoa out of our teeth before we were then hurried off to the massage rooms.

To be honest, I’ve always been terrified of the invasiveness of the massage, but all the masseurs at Pennyhill Park were charming, beautiful, young British girls with beautician bun reassuringly sat on the top of their beautiful heads and their perfect, pristine bodies adorned in the purest of white beauty power-suits.

I have to admit that one of the highlights for me was being able to walk around in my white towelling dressing-gown in public all day and without judgment – it was like being home-from-home.

Spa-ing With Old Mates
The best part was being allowed to wear your dressing gown all day without judgment.

However, once in the massage room (and in spite of my masseur’s attempts to make me feel relaxed), I still felt more than a twinge of awkie-ness when she instructed me to push my swimming costume down to my waist and wait for her on the bed – still unsure at that stage whether I had to lie face down or (horror or all horrors) face up, fully exposing the sad flaps of skin I once called breasts. Those few seconds of indecision reminded me of every visit to the gyny for anything vaginally-awkward when they tell you politely to remove your knickers and you stand there in shock for a few seconds, as your brain registers that yes you do have to take your knickers off to a complete stranger.

Just me, then?

Anyway, thirty minutes of gently exhilarating massage with yummy-smelling oils managed to relax me and there was even a moment when I forgot the embarrassment of when the masseur had commenced the massage and removed my last vestige of modesty – the protective sheet – yanked my cossie much further down my hips and revealed the top of my butt crack.

Rather her than me, I remember thinking.

Relaxed and feeling less coy about our middle-aged bodies, the three of us spent the remainder of the day as though we did that sort of thing every day, secretly delighting in childish frolics in every hot tub, never-ending gossips in the steam rooms, comparisons of muffin tops and stretch marks (mine won easily) and finally freezing our butts off in a spa that was weirdly located outdoors, where the temperature was about ten degrees – and I might be exaggerating there.

Towards the end of the day we rested our re-invigorated bodies on hot beds and caught up on the previous three years. Nothing has changed really, except our bodies. The kids are still challenging and we’re all still waiting for them to leave home, husbands continue to be disappointing and work is an ongoing irritant.

It’s just lucky that true friendships never change.

IF YOU EVER GET THE CHANCE TO VISIT HEAVEN EARLY, INFO ON PENNYHILL PARK CAN BE FOUND HERE.

 

And The Prize For The Most Incompetent Tourist Goes To…

It shouldn’t be hard, to go away for two weeks by yourself, with no-one to be feel responsible for other than yourself.

 

Bread on sale in Borough Market, London.
Bread on sale in Borough Market, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

But it seems that these days, I am an incompetent extraordinaire of the highest order.

 

And what’s even more freaking bizarre about this whole trip back to the motherland is feeling like a complete stranger in your own back yard.

 

I made it back, in spite of my many anxieties about flying, getting lost in Dubai airport, kidnapped and forced to become the eighth wife of some very rich Sheikh. And with time at a premium (due to the family duty of having to see them), I commenced my sightseeing agenda VERY early on the first morning (being still on Australian time) with an uncharacteristic zeal for life.

 

 

I thought I had planned well – I was a badged Brownie after all. The aim was to visit Borough Market, take a lengthy stroll and window shop along the Kings Road, (all the while feigning to be part of the Chelsea Elite), pop into Oxford St and pick up my hire car on the way back.

 

Being the professional blogger/photographer that I am, I was going to take lots of stunning photos to use on the blog, and then show off to my FB friends to prove just how fucking fabulous my life really is.

 

Sounded simple, dinnit?

 

Unless you are foiled by three of the biggest banes that seem to follow you through your life:

 

Technology…

Map Reading…

And walking in heels

 

So when your phone runs out of battery five minutes into your best-laid touristing plans, in future I will know not to waste time, but head straight back home. Everyone knows that it’s impossible to function without a phone these days and my first day in London drove that point home.

 

Without your device, not only can’t you record the experience to brag to your friends, but you don’t have the aid of maps or any location indicator to tell you where the fuck you are in the middle of nowhere – which is tricky, even in a place that was previously your home town.

 

Without a phone, you can’t text anyone to look up where the fuck you are or to find out where or why they’ve moved Borough Market since you googled the address two hours previously.

 

Without a phone you can’t call your parents when you finally get back and realize you don’t have a key either, don’t know their apartment number (because it’s in your phone), and don’t have the ability to call the porter for assistance, who has apparently taken a sabbatical down the pub, anyway.

 

Without a phone you can’t take wonderfully ambient shots of quaint East End market stalls so that for once in your life, you look like you have a life.

 

And you can get seriously lost. A lot.

 

And did I mention that heels, when you walk many more miles than you calculated for (because you chose your footwear on the basis that they went with your scarf rather than for any practical reasoning), can become super-uncomfortable. Walking the full length of the Kings Road seemed like such a good idea before you found yourself walking those five extra miles around the Tower of London – even thought it looked so close to Borough Market on the map.

 

So, every step becomes a wince and you’ve forgotten why you’re still going to the market anyway because you can’t take any photos to demonstrate the carb and paleo celebration of amazing breads and meats on offer. And you could have sworn that you switched on the power point of your phone charger in your drunken stupor the night before, but the ‘making your life as difficult as possible gremlin’ must have taken the same flight.

 

Read how I reversed into a black cab within five minutes of picking up my hire car in my next instalment.

 

 

Middle-Aged Women Doing It For Themselves At The Oscars

How wonderful was it to see the more mature lady steal the show at the Oscars today?

 

Middle Aged Women Doing It For Themselves At The Oscars
Haute Couture by Josephina54 at http://www.flickr.com

 

Why, I hear you ask?

 

Well firstly for BEING THERE in the first place, which must be a sign that Oscar is finally moving with the times and creating more roles for middle-aged women – (equal pay may come next, Patricia and Meryl) – and secondly, because middle-aged women appear to be overshadowing the younger ladies in the fashion department.

 

There have been some real standouts in the style stakes at this season’s award ceremonies, as well as a bold display of confidence never before seen in mature women.

 

And I’d love to give you pics to paw over like I’ve been doing all day but as I don’t want to get sued, here’s a link:

 

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/red-carpet/oscars-2015-red-carpet-photos-20150223-13lxh3.html

 

While Meryl Streep knocked it out of the park in her rebellious jacket and skirt, Patricia Arquette looked regal and thoroughly deserving of her prize.

 

In my book, a black and white combo is always a sure thing.

 

There was no covering up the bat wings or dressing for their age (wince) this year, even some of the men stood out. The blue tux may finally be growing on me, Eddie Redmayne but NEVER the maroon…

 

Waiter!

 

But this year’s Oscars style was all about winning women who exuded confidence.

 

Thank God Jennifer Aniston has managed to drop the safety net of girl-next-door-look that she cultivated in Friends, in favour of a new, raunchier style, where (REAL boobs) take centre stage.

 

Meanwhile Jennifer Lopez looked muchos latino Disney princess in a glittering creation that bedazzled all in her wake and even made Lady Gaga look tame. The full, sparkling caramel gown celebrated old-style Hollywood’s glitzy glamour, while its low neckline suggested a contemporary twist and demonstrated the brazen confidence of a woman who knows exactly who she is.

 

Sadly the Aussie contingent didn’t wow me this year. Kate Blanchett, to whom I usually rely on for high fashion risk, looked uncharacteristically drab in a flattering yet spectacularly unexciting black dress with aqua statement necklace – although her choice to downplay may have been an attempt to avoid vacuous questions about ‘who she was wearing.’

 

As for Nicole Kidman – the colours of her dress were sadly reminiscent of a bottle of Moet.

 

The British made their mark, led by Rosamund Pike who looking stunning in a strapless red floral number with enticing slit, and Benedict Cumberbath totes nailed Bond as he charmed in his white tux.

 

For me the verdict is still out on Emma Stone’s green Elie Saab dress. Emma can usually do no wrong for me with her styling choices, but the putrid green tone of her dress was so assaulting on tired eyes at 9.30 this morning, (before my first coffee of the day), I nearly had to reach for a bucket.

 

And I admit to feeling let down by Marillon Cotillard’s dress, because she normally airlifts Parisian style to another, much more exciting level.

 

So my favourite couple of the evening has to be Reece Witherspoon in her classic black and white, (which had all the winning ‘less is more’ ingredients of the dress Julia Roberts wore when she won her Oscar) – a classic statement of simplicity and perfection, and one which perfectly complimented Benedict Cumberbatch, who was irresistibly sexy in a stiff British kind of way.

 

Although, Margot Robbie’s sexy chiffon dress with the best statement necklace EVAR was a runner up for the ladies award.

 

Anyways, off to celebrate with the other Cumber-bitches! Converted!

A Christmas Carol For Middle-Aged Women

Ready to play?

 

A Christmas Carol For Middle-Aged Women
Natasha Pantelyat Real middle aged woman!!! Found on Pinterest.com

 

 

Fill your muffin tops with Bolly,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La,

Tis the season to be jolly,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La.

 

Buy your online Christmas dresses,

Fa La La La, La La La, La La,La,

Make sure your husband never guesses,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La.

 

See the burning lunch before you,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La,

Turkey’s dry but … Chocolate Fondue!

Fa La La La La, La La, La La.

 

Follow me in boozy Christmas

Fa La La, La La La, La La La,

While I gloat of middle-aged excesses,

Fa La La La La, La La La.

 

Fast away that hot bod passes,

Fa La La La La La, La La La La,

Hail the new, the bloating masses,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La.

 

Eat we joyous, all together,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La,

Heedless of our wind and bloating,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La.

 

Fuck spoilt teens and talk of money,

Fa La La La La, La La, La La,

Life’s too short, there’s sales a-plenty

Fa La La La La, La La, La, La.

Middle Aged Style Secrets: 6 Awesome Ways To Cultivate Your Inner Bag Lady

I’m rarely in a position to brag about my middle-aged style choices but I really hit the bullseye on the middle-aged bag lady target this morning, when I had to race like a crazy woman into my son’s school to hand in the latest overdue form and payment for his excursion today.

 

You see, I didn’t have time to put an outfit together.

 

But luckily, after extensive research, and aided by the natural ageing process, (which makes it easy for me to obsess over comfort rather than style these days), I’ve finally managed to perfect the bag lady look.

 

Middle Aged Style: How To Cultivate Your Inner Bag Lady
I know you’re impressed.

 

Here our my six personal styling tips to achieve my look:

 

Reading Glasses: Luckily, retro reading glasses are as uber-fashionable an accessory right now as Victoria Secret wings and even if you don’t require them for the gift of sight, they do the most wicked job of disguising insomniac, puffy, makeup-less eyes. I think mine give me an intelligent, quirky, ‘I might be intelligent as well as interesting’ vibe.

 

Messy Bun: I’ve been a fan of the messy bun for yonks now. Messy buns are the best way to hide greasy, lank hair, stubborn greys and dark/grey roots, so if you don’t know how to create one, get with the program and educate yourself.

 

 

PJs: Nothing says YOU REALLY DON’T CARE ANYMORE better than going out in public in your pjs. My pj top would have made an even bigger impact if I’d had the balls to go bra-less – but as many men still think that young women breast-feeding in public are an embarrassment, I just don’t think they’re ready yet.

 

The great thing about the loose-fitting pj top is that it’s just so versatile for coping with those sudden, middle-aged dramas like bloating, which can happen at any time of the day and cause your normal waistband size to expand upwards by at least another four sizes. Brown pj tops come n particularly handly for when you spill the first coffee of the day.

 

Yoga Pants: Forget the modern yummy mummy, black, skinny style and get out your faded, vintage 80’s Fonda culottte, complete with white stain from that cream cake you ate the last time you wore them.

 

Flat, Comfortable Shoes: LOVE LOVE LOVE these loafer-style, animal print shoes I bought recently and have lived in since. Mix them up with animal prints to truly create that exotic and cosmopolitan air of middle-aged eccentricity.

 

Animal print scarf: If you don’t have any animal print in your wardrobe, you haven’t truly accepted middle age and the expectations that go with it. I threw this scarf in the mix to add a spot of colour and glamour to the morning lifelessness of my complexion. It clashed nicely with my loafers to give me that quirky, ‘she’s forgotten her meds’ edge.

 

 

You’re welcome.

Middle Age And Too Much Time For Over-Thinking

I can’t decide if over-thinking, forgetfulness and distraction are all part of my impending senility or because I am on the cusp of empty-nesting and have less hands-on parenting to preoccupy me.

 

Too Much Time To Think
Found on theinspiredroom.net

 

It’s funny how, once the long-awaited moment arrives and the nest finally begins to empty, you suddenly find yourself with too much time to think.

 

I get so easily distracted these days. Last night I got sidetracked as I cooked dinner and found myself deciding whether or not to invite these new clients to our Christmas party, and burnt the chicken. There I was, weighing up the pros: they are French and I am a Francophile; she seems fun; I could use some new, fun friends; they like drinking – (always a draw).

 

And the con: I wouldn’t be able to get completely shit-faced and provide my friends with enough raucous entertainment to be the subject of every dinner party of 2015, at my own Christmas drinks party.

 

And before I knew it, the meal on our plates had rivalled the old man’s most disastrous barbeque-cheffing disaster of 2009, which had the carcinogenic qualities of a tree caught in a summer bush fire. 

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...
This is a “thought bubble”. It is an illustration depicting thought. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

To recover from another of my questionable meals, I then wasted valuable Madame Secretary-time pontificating about whether my second glass of wine would be the one to give me cirrhosis of the liver.

 

I decided against the newbie French friends and to risk the cirrhosis.

 

This morning I thought angry, retributional (not a real word, apparently, but should be) thoughts for a good twenty minutes as I peddled frantically, (counting every second), on the exercise bike – they were mainly directed at why the fact I have to exercise at all.

 

Then, at my doctor’s appointment this morning, I found it impossible to concentrate on the real reason I was there when I became sidetracked by her absolutely vile, multi-coloured, patterned, nylon dress – (and, just saying, but she must be earning a fortune). I also pondered about why her tone with me was a little off, and came to the conclusion that she considers me a ‘time-waster.’

 

I considered Kurt’s future at least ten times an hour today, which is almost as much as men think about sex, apparently.

 

The thing is…It was not so long ago that I didn’t have time to think about anything other than responding to the perpetual bittersweet singsong of ‘MUM…MUM…MUMMMMM!’ – particularly during what a friend of mine and I called the ‘witching hour’ of the day.

 

The witching hour was what should have been that beautiful bonding time between parents and their children between the hours of 4.30pm and 6pm.

 

OUR children, however, were not textbook and were too tired to be human at that time of day, and instead were cranky, despondent and frankly vile, and would torment us with whines, eye rubs and tantrums until we could finally put them down (to bed!) and open the bottle of wine.

 

While other mothers of ‘perfect/normal/smugly contented’ children were singing, reading and snuggling up to their kids for a pre-bedtime cuddle, my friend and I counted down the seconds to wine-time, gave our spawn premature baths to pass the time, shoved in the dummy every time they opened their mouths to protest and clock-watched until the earliest time we could feasibly put them to bed.

 

‘Witching hour’ is very quiet in our house these days. I almost miss that whining.

 

NC exiles herself to the BF’s house most days – he has definitely replaced me in her affections – either that or she is working hard to earn money to spend on aforementioned boyfriend.

 

And Kurt’s ‘Top Gear’ marathon starts as soon as he returns home from school, with only a short pit stop for food, before he disappears back to his testosterone-infused man cave and the wisdom of Jeremy Clarkson for dessert.

 

So, until the old man gets home, in between finishing work, self-medicating and stuffing my face with dinner, it is strangely quiet in the apartment. Spookily quiet, except for the reassuring sound of the Princess scratching her fleas and bumping into my feet under my desk to remind me it’s nearly dinner time.

 

There’s almost too much time to think.

 

And I wish I could finish this post by impressing you about what I think about, such as deep, meaningful and philosophical thoughts about the state of humanity, global warming or the oil crisis, but alas, my mind gets far too bogged down with Cosmopolitan-level girly shit, to make it to urgent world matters.

 

I can ruminate for hours about where the time went and how I forgot to paint my toe nails, which means I can’t wear sandals. I can torture myself for hours over what a bad friend I am because I never call anyone – then waste at least 3 hours worrying about it and self-hating, yet I still don’t call. I can fret for an hour about what to cook for dinner and what the best way is to cajole the old man into buying a takeout.

 

There’s a lot to be said for being younger, ridiculously busy and having no time for distraction. My production line is much more efficient when I can hardly breathe. Quieter weeks, with the luxury of time to think about what I need to do, lead me to distraction and over-thinking, and although lists help and keep me focused to a degree, they only help when I remember to refer back to them.

 

But they are the future – they are the only real chance I have of achieving anything these days.

Forgive Me, Lord, For I Have Bought White Slacks

Don’t judge me, but this week I succumbed to my first pair of comfortable white slacks, complete with elasticated waistband for reassuring, yet gentle muffin top control, airy bagginess in the thigh area and tapered bottoms – which are obviously just a feeble attempt by the designer to make them look slightly less ‘Nana’.

A fashion statement they’re not. Sadly, they don’t look like this…

Forgive me, Lord, For I've Just Bought Comfortable White Slacks

I’d like to say that I resemble one of those celebrities who can don a man’s white suit and look hot or super chic, but alas, I look more Karate Kid than Kate Hudson in my particular brand of middle-aged, baggy white trousers.

In those rare moments when I’m still feeling positive about my fatal decision to visit the hush-hush, concealed, fourth floor, plus-size section of Myer, to finally succumb to my previous decade’s fashion temptation of wanting to be comfortable ALL the time, I convince myself that that the pants convey a lofty air of boatiness. Especially when I accessorise them with my nautical, striped top – which by the way, is a fashion statement at the moment.

On more honest days, I know I look 50 going on 60.

It’s getting harder and harder to fight this primal desire to be comfortable, rather than stylish. I’ve never owned a pair of white trousers in my life – neither slacks nor skinnies. Ignoring the obvious issue that you have to wear dull, flesh-coloured undies underneath them, which make my pelvic area look like it’s had a muffin top extension, I have always believed that darker colours are more flattering on the more ample pear figure. And my mother did always warn me about the danger of having an accident and getting caught in the ER with boring undies on.

Forgive Me, Lord, For I Have Bought White Slacks
Kickass Kid by Dan Graham on http://www.flickr.com

So what went wrong? How did those statement middle-aged white slacks end up in the changing room with me, hidden amongst all those other more fashionable, tighter garments I had kidded myself would look good?

And why has no-one commented on how good my boating trousers look, or even asked me where I moor my boat?

More importantly, what is about their magnetic attraction to food.

But negatives aside – WOWSER – they certainly meet their brief and are as comfortable as I always imagined them to be! So they’re a linen mix, which obviously creases like a motherfucker every time I breathe in them, but at least the lines compliment my skin. But they also move WITH me harmoniously, rather than AGAINST my body. Air has found a rite of passage around my thighs again and the waistband moves with the momentum of my muffin top and so allows me to fit in dessert.

No-one’s pretending that white slacks are sexy, but they sure are comfortable.

When Will I Be Middle-Aged Enough To Want To Go On A Cruise?

Don’t get me wrong, I discover more and more great things about being middle-aged, every day.

When Will I Be Middle-Aged Enough To Want To Go On A Cruise?
Cruise Ship Reflections by Marinell Turnage at http://www.flickr.com

 

Not having to worry about being judged on my looks is the best thing ever, and being able to roam my local streets looking like a bag lady when I go for my morning coffee, has been liberating. Attaining the wisdom to know for certain now that I AM always right, is another, and having a permanent excuse for grumpiness and intolerance is very satisfying. 

 

And then there’s the real icing, like napping and being able to choose comfortable clothes over style – and get away with it. I love wearing flat shoes, voluminous scarves and floral dresses with drop waists and I now have more cardies in my wardrobe than cocktail dresses.

 

Some things are obviously not so great. Dinner party conversations that focus on illness and who’s died recently are becoming a little too commonplace for comfort and I’ve told you about my issues with hair growing just about everywhere (apart from on the old man’s head), my early dementia and an unfortunate reaction to loud music, considering I’ve created the next Mick Jagger.

 

All these symptoms qualify me for middle-age.

 

But there are some disappointments, too. There are some middle-aged activities that I’m still waiting to develop an inclination towards; some pastimes that I think I should be enjoying by now, according to my ‘How To Enjoy Middle Age’ guide.

 

That whole sauna/spa/relaxation thing was a miss, as you know. I still find it hard to relax AT ALL – even given the chance. In fact the only time I can sit still for longer than an hour is when I’m under either the influence of sugar or alcohol.

 

Then there’s gardening, which I truly believe I gave my best middle-aged shot at in our old house. But… worms. Then there was the backache, the weeds that refused to stop growing, the leaves to clear and the expensive plants that, (for no obvious reason), simply refused to grow on my watch, which all contributed to make it such an onerous task.


Embed from Getty Images

 

I’ve also tried to discover the appeal in the cruise ships that dock across from us in Circular Quay, too, but nothing gives. It might be the YMCA theme that some of the less prestigious vessels boom out across the harbour to announce their arrival, but there is zero desire in me to step on a cruise ship with hundreds of other mid-lifers, make small talk 24 hrs a day (with no feasible means of escape), and have to dress in something beyond yoga pants; even the Captain’s Table doesn’t sound interesting – or is that a euphemism for something else?

 

Then there’s the small problem that I can’t stay up later than 10pm without falling asleep, in spite of the fact that my middle-aged body clock still hasn’t changed its morning setting so that I can  ‘catch the worm’. I could still sleep through to lunchtime, given the choice, so why pay for an expensive cruise to get stuck with awful people 24/7, and miss all the sights too?

 

Then again, I swore I’d never wear flat shoes and would never stop drinking after two glasses of wine with some feeble excuse, so subtle changes are definitely in the air and happening without my full consent.

 

And elasticated trousers do look more and more appealing these days.

 

 

Middle-Aged Anxiety And Saunas

It seems that anxiety is my best friend, even when I try to relax.

Middle-Aged Anxiety And Saunas
Sauna by Xeasa at http://www.flickr.com

The good news about living in the block is that apart from the bitch upstairs who vents her menopausal wrath on my little Princess, we have some super deluxe sports facilities that we pretend to use. As in, we have access to a gym the size of a powder room with three magical pieces of equipment that we die on, occasionally, as well as a lovely pool, spa and sauna.

I must admit that I’ve never really seen the appeal of saunas before, but especially now that I’m in the throes of peri-menopause and spend a good part of my day hot and bothered anyway.

But on Saturday I decided to go for a quickie gym session – because in my mind a quick ten minutes on the cross trainer would combat the ten glasses of Champagne I was going to neck later. En route to the torture chamber to the gym,  I spotted the sauna and remember thinking ‘why not?’

By the time I got there, after a good fifteen minute workout, I was already feeling the burn, having got on and off that bloody cross trainer several times because it was going way too fast for my short legs, (surely level 1 shouldn’t be that hard?) and then swum a whole twenty lengths of our 10m pool, but I was also feeling pretty damn good about myself. Why exactly I thought I needed to raise my body temperature any higher, I don’t know, but as I’ve been led to believe that saunas can be a very pleasant experience, I ignored my natural inclination to NEVER try anything new, apart from wine.

So I planted myself  confidently on one of the hard wooden shelves, tentatively poured water onto the smouldering coals and then waited for something wonderful to happen. 

Middle-Aged Anxiety And Saunas
Oscar?

And waited.

It was very quiet in that sauna and or some reason, while I was waiting and the room began to heat up at quite an alarming rate, my imagination went into overdrive and I couldn’t stop worrying about what would happen if I couldn’t open the door afterwards.

I poured more cold water onto the coals in an attempt to take my mind off my anxious thoughts, adjusted my position on the hard board to a lying position, (because my buttocks were now numb), mentally opened my pores to the steam… and then I noticed the vent in the ceiling, complete with emergency handle.

Which reminded me of my concern about what the fuck I would do if I couldn’t open the door.

I closed my eyes to try and take my mind off the vent and that ridiculous thought of not being able to open the door, (because I knew it was ridiculous) but then the thought of some crazed psychopath suddenly pushing his face up against the steaming window and hammering against it began to threaten any possibility of relaxation. By this point I’d worked myself into such a state that I didn’t dare move and so attempted to spoon water over the coals from my horizontal position and tore my shoulder muscle in the process. The pain was excruciating and as the temperature steadily rose, I realized that I couldn’t get up and open the door, even if I wanted to.

Fortunately, the survival instinct is very powerful.

I made the decision that my life was not going to end in a sauna. I mean, I don’t even like saunas and how awkward would it be when I was discovered, to be all red-faced and blotchy AND wearing my oldest and fugliest Speedo swimsuit, with brown sunscreen marks all around the once-white straps and a frayed gusset?

Pulling Off The Beach-Babe Look In Middle Age

Pulling Off The Beach Babe Look  In Middle Age
Photos sourced from Pinterest.com.au

Very few of us can pull off even a full-piece like Pamela Anderson.

 

And ladies, unfortunately, it’s getting closer to that time of year.

 

As the temperatures finally begins to rise and the Uggs and winter coats are discarded, (along with those binge-eating excuses of ‘because it’s cold’), it’s almost time to wear swimmers in public again.

 

Which involves planning. There’s hair to remove, fake tan to apply, muffin tops to tame and sagging breasts to lift.

 

I’ve been getting prepared, surreptitiously, for a while now. The congealed bottle of fake tan came out of the cupboard a few weeks ago, and I have the tell-tale brown smears all over the back of my hands and on my ankles to prove it. I’ve been down to the gym at least once this month and actually reached level 2 on the cross trainer – which is easy as, if I can pause to catch my breath each minute. I’ve even sat in the bath and contemplated the future for my winter bush; then decided it was way too much effort and decided I can rock the burkini instead this year.

 

I went through the annual public degradation of shopping for ‘swimmers’ last Sunday. I’m not sure what I was setting out to achieve other than an even lower self-esteem about my body. It was probably that cheeky glass of wine at lunchtime that gave me the Dutch courage to try and squeeze my lard into numerous itsy-bitsy swim suits that were obviously all designed for Barbie Dolls, and that I never had a chance in hell of fitting into.

Pulling Off The Beach Babe Look  In Middle Age
Does my bush look big in this?

 

Or it might have been because in ten days time I will be exposing my white whale of a middle-aged body to the beach in Hamilton Island, and if I don’t find something new, very soon, I’ll be stunning the beach with my old Speedo cossie, that bags around my flat ass and whose white detailing is now a fugly shade of yellow.

 

I’ve never been able to pull off the beach-babe look. It’s hard to find a cossie that you look good sunbathing in, as well as being able to do lengths in too. And as you know, I’m a VERY serious athlete. I do own one semi-flattering full-piece that makes my boobs look fabulous when I’m posing on the sand, but the minute it gets wet, the lycra becomes super-baggy and my breasts start to drag along the pool floor.

 

Sizing is complicated when it comes to swimmers, and that puts me in a bad mood from the start. Where I can usually squeeze myself into a generous size 12 in other clothes, I’m always a size 14 in swimmers.

 

And don’t get me started on the boob issues. It’s difficult to squeeze anything over an A cup into flattering swimmers and the full-pieces that are designed for middle-aged women, with great big pudding bowls for your boobs, make me feel like I’m trussed up like a turkey.

 

Then there’s where the costume finishes around your bush. I refuse to get a Brazilian but 90% of costumes make it compulsory unless you’re happy to sport the Eastern European look. And Kurt would probably have something to say about that….VERY LOUDLY…on the beach.

 

If you’ve got a spare $200 + to splash out on a Miracle suit or something similar, that sucks winter’s cake and wine in so you can’t breathe, you’re laughing, but I can’t justify spending such a ridiculous amount of money on a piece of fabric that’s no bigger than a cushion cover. Frankly, I’d prefer to invest in a new cushion cover.

 

So I suppose, it’s back to the wide-brimmed hat and sequinned kaftan again this year.

 

How do you pull off the beach babe look?

Have Your Dreams Changed Now That You’re Middle-Aged?

(WARNING: Complete Waffle Alert)

 

Yes and No. Let me tell you why.

 

English: Sweet dreams dreaming of snowhite and...
English: Sweet dreams dreaming of snowhite and the seven dwarves – painting by Franz Schrotzberg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my first dreams, (aside from marrying Donny Osmond or Prince Charles), was to become a cook. I was queen of the cheese scone, Macaroni Cheese and Bechamel sauce growing up – back in the seventies, some time before they discovered Cholesterol – and I believed that I had the potential to be the next Masterchef.

“A COOK!” my father spat at me in horror, “but what about all that money I’ve spent on your education?”

 

So I didn’t become a cook – even at home.

 

Then I was inspired by a beautifully illustrated version of The Wind In The Willows, that was given to me as a Progress Prize at school, (notice the emphasis on ‘progress’ rather than ‘first’ or ‘second’ prize), and characteristically impulsive, I decided to become a writer and illustrator of children’s books instead – the only flaw in my plan being that I couldn’t draw to save my life and I was ‘progress’ level in English.

 

"Macaroni" and cheese. No macaroni w...
“Macaroni” and cheese. No macaroni was available, so I used sedanini instead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I did what every twenty-something with hidden talents and ambition does in a mild panic because their peers are all being offered fantastic jobs and I couldn’t even get an interview – I gave into my poor self-esteem. And that decision – to settle for what I COULD do, rather than what I was passionate about, has haunted me through the years.

 

But what about my personal dreams? Surely, they must have been more successful?

 

(Feminists, close your ears).

 

I’m not ashamed to admit that all I ever really wanted was to breed more of me and be happy – Disney has a lot to answer for. The old man never really stood a chance. (Although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wanting the fuck off house, Mercedes and diamond rings at certain points in my life, too).

 

So, have all my dreams been fulfilled, or have they changed now that I’m middle aged?

 

Again, yes and no…

 

Have Your Dreams Changed Now You're Middle-Aged?
Disney Couples Pt 2 by G-nuinart at http://www.flickr.com

I have the beautiful children, the bald but ‘fit’ husband and a cushy life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world; and for the most part I have been healthy and happy. I still aspire to be the next Helen Fielding, and Kurt may well be beautiful to me, his mum, but he has also been sent as a lesson from God, to remind me on occasion that the perfect package doesn’t truly exist in life and you have to earn true happiness.

 

But the icing on this middle-aged cake is that I have a more informed idea of who I am and what I want now. I’m a very different person to the woman I was in my twenties, who had so little confidence in her own abilities to succeed. I have ‘experience’ to fortify me now, and out of that experience, some wisdom has evolved.

 

FUCK, I sound old!

 

How many times a year do YOU catch yourself saying ‘if I had my time again? or, ‘If I’d known then what I know now,’ like I do? We say it because it’s true. if I’d had this wisdom and confidence back in my twenties, my work life would certainly have gone in a very different direction. But luckily, the wisdom of maturity that I’ve acquired with age, also reminds me that regret boxes are futile and only serve to drag us down.

 

So what I’m trying to say, (badly…and I know I’m waffling but it’s been a tough week), is that the real difference in my dreams in middle age is that I’m excited about them now – whereas in my twenties I felt threatened by them, like the walls were closing in and I was going to run out of time. The sort of sad truth is, I really AM running out of time now but just as the pressure to look good has dissipated with age into unimportance, so has the pressure to appear ‘successful’ in the eyes of my peers. I don’t fucking care what people think of me now and it’s wonderfully liberating.

 

I only care about my personal goals.

 

And perhaps my dreams are a little more realistic now, too. They still involve my family, (who remain the most important thing in my life), and my small career goals, but mostly they involve my passion to enjoy life and live it to the full with the people I care about.

 

Here are my middle aged dreams:

 

To spoil and then hand back my grandchildren, once I persuade my kids to have them.

 

To earn a living as a writer.

 

To be able to guarantee that my children remain healthy and content with their choices in life, are driven by happiness and not money, and are NEVER tempted to pour miserably over a regret box.

 

That the old man and I can tolerate each other for another thirty years and be like that couple in The Notebook and die at the same time, so that neither of us has to live without the other. Because that would be very strange.

 

That we’re not disappointed in the retirement we’ve worked so hard towards and that when we get there, the old man doesn’t start rearranging the kitchen cupboards or telling me how to food shop.

 

Have your dreams changed in middle age?