Let the summer of 40 begin

When I was a younger girl, I never imagined I’d marry a guy my own age.

It’s not that I was into older guys.

Mamash, LO, as we say in Hebrew. Definitely NOT.

Older guys scared me. I typically dated guys who were maximum two years older.  This was my boyfriend demographic for many years.

Guys my own age were my friends; little brothers. Guys older than me by more than two years also landed in the friend zone; as the older brother type.

An older guy liked me once. He was in his late twenties. I was still in college. The difference between 28 and 20 at the time seemed immeasurable. He was also British. He drank premium beer from a bottle because he liked the taste. I was still a 25 cent pitcher, chug it to get drunk sorta girl. When I was drunk, I didn’t understand what he was saying. Something about football, something that rhymed.

A younger guy liked me once. I went on one date with him. I was worried about kissing him because I had eaten garlic pizza earlier in the day and the taste would not leave my mouth. But kissing him was the closest I ever came to kissing my brother. It was like that scene in Back to the Future where Marty kisses his mom in the car. We did not go on a second date. But we’re Facebook friends.

Once, just after I graduated college a much older guy liked me. He was a television reporter. Even though that held significant appeal to me, I was still too afraid of the age difference to do anything but flirt and giggle, flirt and giggle. When he called me on the phone to ask me out the next day, I screened his call on my answering machine. Multiple times.  Later, it came out that I was just one of many young co-eds this reporter asked out over many, many years of being married and on the news.

All that happened many years ago and is really the long way of getting to the fact that in the end I married a guy born less than two months before I was. And this summer, we both turn 40.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

And while I never imagined I’d marry a guy my age, I have to say there’s something comfortably fun about reaching this milestone together. And definitely about celebrating it — slowly and extended over an entire summer.  We kick it off in June with his (I’ve already planned a birthday weekend spectacular in Tel Aviv at the Dan Panorama hotel) and finish it at the end of August with mine (still a surprise hanging over my husband’s head).

In the middle? A summer of celebrating the unexpected pleasures and surprises 40 brings … because I am determined to manifest a magical summer. Let’s consider it an advance on my birthday candle wish.

Stay tuned and so will I.

 

 

 

 

Why yoga is the ultimate “ex”

I’m on again in my on again-off again relationship with yoga.

This, perhaps, is why you might find more typos in this post than normal. My right shoulder is a little upset with me. It’s even trembling as I type.

I’ve been practicing yoga — and practicing is truly the operative word here since I’ve never quite committed nor become expert — since 1997.

It was through an employee-friendly work environment at Scholastic that I found myself first sitting cross legged in a dimly lit room and mumbling “Ong Namo. Dguru Dev Namo.” At the time, Scholastic offered exercise classes to its employees after hours, in addition to a fully-equipped gym both during the work day and after. (My current teacher on Hannaton also offers yoga in the workplace. More corporations would do well to adopt this mindset and strategy.)

In my fickle 17 year relationship with yoga, chanting, and meditation; I’ve found that the only thing that’s really changed over time is me. Yoga stays the same. It’s my needs and my approach to the practice that changes.

I’m very fortunate, in that case, that yoga is willing to welcome me back, time and time again.

This time around I’m noticing, of course, how my almost-40 year old body can’t quite meet the floor the way it used to. Where I once prided myself on always getting my heels to the ground for Downward Dog, I now notice the inch of space between my heel and the floor. Where I once used to marvel at my inner innate gymnast, I now realize that gymnastics is really suited to the under 30 crowd.

Mostly, I’m noticing my mind more than my body, this time around. Interesting, I suppose, as my body becomes more of a point of struggle for me than my mind. Whereas I used to be less accepting of my mind both in yoga practice and in life — my anxious thoughts, my incessant inner dialogue; I’m now open to what arises.

IMG_20121225_182928

I truly notice, as our yoga teachers suggest we do, instead of judge. Not all the time, every time (there’s still some judging, especially when it relates to my aging body). But in most instances when furious thoughts arise during my practice, I find curiosity has replaced judging.

“They” say that women at 40 are in their prime. That women at 40 can have any man, any woman. That women at 40 find themselves at an intersection of confidence, knowledge, and life experience. That, at this intersection, we can choose to focus on whatever we want — career, family, relationship — and succeed.

Don’t they say that? They say something like that.

I think there is truth in it. But in addition to confidence, knowledge, and experience, I think what women at 40 begin to develop is curiosity and wonder. It was always there — curiosity and wonder– lurking under the surface since before adolescence. But somehow was pushed down by either Self or society in order to achieve our personal and professional goals. Women these days take on the world. Control becomes our goal.

As I approach this intersection, and as I invite yoga back into my life, I’m noticing the return of curiosity and wonder, and the slow exit of control. The gentle inviting in of uncertainty.

Yoga knew I had it in me all along. But like the wise older gentleman in a May-December romance, understood I had to discover it on my own, in due time. Yoga knew that no matter how much he tried to convince me I was beautiful and perfect just the way I am, I would not be convinced. Not truly, deeply. I’d have come to that conclusion on my own.

As I laid on the yoga mat in shavasana today, I felt the aches in my tight hips and the pulsing in my under-used shoulder muscles. And I quietly laughed. There aren’t many things in life, certainly not in fitness, that are so willing to accept used up, broken down bodies. Then I thought to myself, maybe it’s because yoga doesn’t see us as broken. Yoga sees us as whole and complete. Yoga sees us as perfect.

And this I chose as my intention for the day as I sunk down into relaxation. Yoga sees me as perfect.

I Can’t Be Trusted

Don’t believe a word of it.
Not a letter.
Not even a space or a hard return.
None of it is to be trusted nor considered true.
At best, one or two or ten of my words will last longer than the quart of 1% cow’s milk shoved into a crusty corner of my ornery fridge.
I repeat; my song is sung in tune for the length of a long exhale.
After that, it’s expired.

I am hungry and so I hate food.
I am full and so the peach tree growing in my front yard is a gift.
I am tired and so I wish my children away from me.
I am rested and so my children are the suns and moons and stars and fairy dust of my existence.
I am needy and so my husband is my rock.
I am complete and so I want to run away.
I am pretty and so I strut the city streets.
I am old and so I hide in a darkened room behind the pages of a paperback.
I am smart and so I shout all my wisdom and thrust forward my chest.
I am a fool and so I cry the tears of someone who wasted her life away.
I am loved and so I write a poem.
I am lost and so I write a poem.

123 days

There are 123 days left until 40.

1 – 2 – 3

and like that I will be

Over the Hill.

Which hill?

The hill there

footsteps away?

The Tel?

Tell me.

Tel Hannaton through fence, by Jen Maidenberg

Tel Hannaton through fence, by Jen Maidenberg

It’s a curious time.

This tick tocking of clock

measured quietly

uncertain

alone

without labels I’ve grown accustomed to

a “Jean Val Jean” moment in time, says my husband.

“Who am I?”

1-2-3 and I will be 40.

Over the Hill.

Not Under it.

A blessing

Not dead becomes a blessing when

1-2-3

one is 40.

Remember when dead was unimaginable, unthinkable?

When youth was a fortress of solitude with its fangs sunk into the taut skin of our necks?

Sure, there was always AIDS hanging over our upper middle class halos.

And a little bit of cancer.

But now there is cancer

of everything.

It ate away at the fangs of youth — replaced them

Sunk into Breast. Stomach. Skin.

Now, there is the echo of anomaly

Brain. Lung. Ovary.

“What’s that?”

A tag. A growth. A lump.

1-2-3 and you become

Much too aware.

Too much care taken in the shower

soaping up lathering up the sides of once-breasts

Too much care taken in the reflection

smoothing sprouting silver down

Too much care taken in front of a lens

facing right, facing left, facing the side with less shadows.

Filter me.

1 – 2 -3 until 40.

Over Under but what about

On the Other Side

Kibbutz House by Jen Maidenberg

Kibbutz House by Jen Maidenberg

I hold out hope

that walking through the door of 40

is like opening the front door of the Gale farm

after a wicked storm.

1-2-3

technicolor works its magic

and life becomes more richly lived

in never before seen hues of

yellow green and blue.

* * *

 

Like my filtered photographs of Israel? Follow me on instagram for more.