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Don’t Be IMG_6625 4 (2)Ashamed of Your Age…..

(First published in August 2011 in “Music in the Foothills”)

“Don’t be Ashamed of Your Age”…Or so the old Bob Wills and Cindy Walker tune says. As a 50 something or to be exact, a 54 year old folk singer, this song has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  This as I get ready to release my first CD at the age of 54 and get ready to plow on down the road of creative thought after 27 years of playing it straight and showing up at my day job on a regular basis.

It would be an understatement to say that my embarking on this journey in my 50s has been an eye opening experience. I have been told by several people to forget it.  That people in their 50s just do not drop everything and become folksingers.  Of course being the total clueless dummy that I am I ask “why”?  Am I any less of a person at 54 than I was at 24?  So here I sit guitar in hand, writing tunes that want to be written and making every attempt to share them with as many people as I can – wrinkles and all.

On a serious note though, it amazes me that people often judge those of us of a “certain age” in ways that suggest that we are “finished” and don’t any longer have anything to say. I find that this especially applies to older women.  In our society, it seems that when a woman reaches a “certain age” she is supposed to fit into a certain mold, usually in the background and usually doing things that do not involve getting up in front of audiences and howling out a tune.  If she does manage to do something, this often results with a pat on the head and a patronizing glance.

I am 54. I am proud of that.  No hiding it for me.  And no sitting at home with my legs crossed either.  Creativity does not stop just because I have a few wrinkles, or weigh a bit more than I did when I was 20. For those who believe it does end, how sad.  Because life is precious and fleeting and because if you were meant to create something you only have a certain amount of time to do it in this life.

Where this creative journey will take me I can’t say. Perhaps it will, as many people have suggested go nowhere at “54”.  But if it makes me and perhaps a few people happy, then it will have been well worth the effort.  And if I can convince a few of the naysayers who believe women of a certain age have nothing to say to change their mind then I will have accomplished more than I had ever hoped for.

I am 54….no 54 ½ to be exact.   This is something I intend to celebrate because I view it as a positive thing that I have come this far in life and still feel like I have something to offer.  I will also tell you this:   If I am lucky to still have my marbles in my head and a body that works when I am 94, I will celebrate that to.  And no…at 94 I will not be sitting at home with my legs crossed doing the things that society deems I should be doing.

If you are a 50 something artist with something to say then say it. Don’t let others, including well meaning family members make you think you can’t do it.  The truth is you do have something to say.  Something that you never could have said when you were 20, or 30 or 40.  We have an uphill battle in this society of ours which covets youth and dismisses age but the only way to change that is to get out and do it.  For those of us of a certain age, life is still a beginning of you allow it to be.  For those of you in your 20s, take heart:  You have many years left that will only get better and more enriching as experience and time shapes your life and creative thought.

 

The art of enjoying every sandwich…

First published in 2011 in Music in the Foothills

In the words of the late singer songwriter Warren Zevon “Enjoy every sandwich…” I have thought about these words a lot lately as I am releasing my first CD of original music at the very same time I am retiring from almost 28 years of working my day job.  Amazing how three little words can take on so much meaning and how these three little words can change the place you live and how you ultimately view life. Looking back, for me this change took root in the early 1980s, long before Mr. Zevon made those words public. For me I came to the realization that life was something to be lived when my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer.  He was just set to retire after many years of working for the State of California.  6 months before his retirement comes this diagnosis of Cancer, a diagnosis he would not survive in time to enjoy even one day of his retirement.  What was sad for me was that he was never able to fully realize his creative dreams and know what it is like to have put something out into the world that you are meant to do.   It is with this thought in mind, that I savor those three little words that Warren Zevon so poignantly said as he faced the cancer that would eventually take his life.  Of course my creative dreams took another 20 years to come to life but that is another story and so for now  I offer up the following thought:

I am constantly amazed by the numbers of people who as they grow older seem to let all the little pieces of themselves slip away.  They give up all of the things that made them who they were and end up simply living for the next reality TV program without realizing that the reality is really them.  Sadly for many of us the “sandwich” becomes something that is not to be enjoyed but is instead consumed by the stresses of everyday life.  Of course some of the giving up we do is necessary as work and family become a primary responsibility but it seems to me that giving these things up totally, is not only unhealthy for us so called “responsible adults” it is also potentially harmful for our children who stand to miss out on some of the greatest things in life – the sharing of creativity, ideas, and the joy that comes from doing the things we love.

I am also constantly amazed by all of the things society is telling people what they should not do. At the start of my recording project I heard this sentiment a lot.  Usually it was the statement “gee what is making you want to do this now?”  As if “now” means I am past all of the ability to be creative and to have something to say.   I am not sure why when many of us get older we give up on our ability to dream and to be creative, but for  me it is sad every time I hear the phrase “Why do this now?” when it might be better to say “Why not do it now?

I mentioned my Father’s death of colon cancer earlier in this article. I also mentioned that he was never able to fully realize his dreams.  My Father’s biggest dream was to write a novel.  He was a natural born writer, who worked for a newspaper in college and as a young man.  He admired writers like Hemingway, and Salinger and had dreams of writing a great big sweeping mountain of a novel just like they did.  He never got that chance, or I should say never allowed himself that chance.  I am of course grateful for his devotion and love, and also for the things that he gave my brother and me when we were growing up.  The life that he gave us was of course  due to his highly evolved sense of responsibility but I wonder often how all of our lives would have been had he just given himself that chance to create the thing he wanted so badly and to share it with us.  I often wonder if it would have changed the course of my creative life and made it happen sooner because I really believe that it is our children who stand to benefit the most from the realization of the dreams of a parent.  Dreams after all are meant to be shared, experienced, and savored.  To be able to do this as a family is one of the greatest ways to create memories and a lasting family bond.   It is also a way of giving our children a sense of where they come from and where they need to go in their own journey of life.

It does not matter what that dream is and whether it be music, art, literature, a love of science, history, it can only serve to enrich us young or old and it sure as hell beats the daylights out of Reality TV. So…the next time you reach for the remote to tune in to the latest reality TV program, stop for a minute and consider this:  Reality is something you create from your own imagination.  It can be enriching, frustrating, rewarding and at times difficult, but ultimately it is what makes you “you”.  If you allow it to, it will not only add joy to your life but also to those you love as well.

 

 

 

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