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Wed, June 19

Middle-aged Musings: When reality slaps the 'older' you

I hit one of the goals in my "Fit Before 50" personal quest this week. It made me feel pretty good to do that.

It also made me think how delusional I was about what my life would be like at 50 back when I was 25. Did I think I'd be struggling to overcome high blood pressure and massive weight gain? Heck, no.

My future self was slender, fit, ate whatever she wanted, was wrinkle-free and had nothing that jiggled that shouldn't jiggle. She was financially secure and traveled frequently. (Wait, did I just describe Barbie?)

Anyway, Future Me most certainly did not live paycheck-to-paycheck, resemble a bowl of Jell-O and possess more lines than a window screen.

Beautiful Future Me didn't suffer from those night sweats that we "ladies of a certain age" deal with. She didn't put back stuff at the register when she realized her checking account was too low.

The only thing this fantasy chick and I have in common is that we were both going to be newsroom leaders by 45. Ok, so it took me two years past that to achieve, but who's counting?

It also took me a few of life's infamous hard knocks to reset my assumptions about my life at 50. Now, I no longer make assumptions, for one thing. If I don't make something happen, it just won't happen. If I want to get more financially secure, I need to be proactive. If I want to get healthier, it won't happen by eating my beloved cheeseburgers. (Drat!)

I learned during the rough patches that my dream of a five-bedroom house sitting on three acres, with a swimming pool, isn't what makes a person content.

It isn't the size 6 figure (last seen on me in 1978) that makes the woman.

It isn't the latest model car that defines your success.

It's all about the people who make up your life and how you interact with them.

My children are just normal young adults who fall on their faces occasionally. I don't need to validate them with "Look At My Special Offspring" Facebook posts. I'm proud of them for being who they want to be, not who society wants them to be.

My husband is as flawed as I am (gee, I hope he doesn't read this column!), but we love each other and have a tight friendship with one another.

My job is demanding and far from perfect. But so am I.

That 25-year-old me wanted Future Me to have the best car, house, clothing, furniture and trips. Status was so important to her.

If there is one thing I want my children to take away from my experiences, it's that none of those things are important. Not one of them. I don't want them to look back at 48 and judge their life as a failure or success based on their possessions and lifestyle.

I want them to look back and smile at all the meaningful family and friend relationships they've been a part of.

Sappy, mom-sentiment aside, is it wrong that I do want them to be successful enough at 48 to own a house with a mother's apartment in it? That's kind of my retirement plan ...

Until next time, Robin


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