Friday, April 30, 2010

a new decade

Today is my birthday and I am 60 years old. I have spent 6 decades on this planet.

My first decade was spent growing up.

My second decade was spent breaking away.

My third decade was spent establishing my identity.

My fourth decade was spent raising my children.

My fifth decade was spent learning who I was.

My sixth decade was spent being comfortable in my skin.

Now I am stepping into my seventh.

I remember back when when I thought 50 was ancient. And then I turned 50 and I found out that 50 was not ancient, it was liberating.

Now I have stepped over into a new decade. Now I see clearly how little time is left. Twenty, maybe thirty years? That is no time at all. Considering how fast the last twenty years have gone by that time will go by in a heartbeat.

When I turned 50, my self image, the one I carry in my head of what I look like, underwent a change. It was no longer of that 30 something woman, it now reflected those added years but still not bad, still young...ish, still healthy, still capable of doing whatever I wanted to do.

Ten years later, I am still capable of doing everything I want to do but I am no longer unscathed by the effects of time. The frailties of the body are beginning to show. I now take thyroid meds, my cholesterol shot up, I developed arthritis in my thumb joints and I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. And my hands, my hands have aged considerably in the last ten years. Much more than my face I think. I peer at my face in the mirror and wonder whoever thought bright lights and big mirrors were a good idea. My hair is still dark though the threads of gray that weave through it are showing more. It gives me the illusion of youth as long as you don't look too close at the years etched on the face it frames.

While we still work at our art, the etched glass is a physical occupation...moving heavy pieces of glass, cutting stencils for hours bending over the table, the sandblasting, all the different aspects of this work are physical. I'm beginning to wonder how much longer we will be able to do it...a scary thought. As working artists, we have little put aside.

Still it could be worse. It could be a lot worse. I have a lot to be thankful for.

So I think my seventh decade will be spent enjoying every one of those fleeting days left to me, doing as much as I can while I still can and counting my blessings.


  1. Happy Birthday Ellen!
    A lovely reflective post. Hope you have a wonderful day spent doing the things you love with the people you love. :)

  2. Happy Birthday dear Ellen. That kind of clear, realistic assessment of where we stand really helps us value each and every precious moment. Have a wonderful weekend celebrating your life!

  3. Happy Birthday!!! 60 is the best ever! I turned 60 last year and this past year has been amazing!! You will enjoy it too.
    As for how long can you do your it as long as you can and find ways to make it easier on you. Find ways and tools to express yourself as your body needs more attention.
    And most of all...laugh a lot and have fun!

  4. You have lived a wonderful live! I'm hoping to be lucky enough to be able to mimic your existence just a bit.

    I wish you the best on the anniversary of your birth. What a wondrous thing, a Beltane baby, now I know where all the spice comes from.

    Happy Birthday Ellen. I'm sending a humongous birthday hug! I hope you get all you've wished for and so much more!

  5. A very happy 60th birthday to you Ellen. And ma you have at least that other thirty you mentioned...and as that would give me another fifteen I'll take 'em too.

  6. Happy birthday, and congratulations on completing 6 decades.

    I've done it all backwards, I guess - I learned who I am and how to be comfortable in my skin somewhere in my third decade, and I've spent most of my fourth establishing my identity and raising my children. But that growing up thing that you mentioned for your first decade? Yeah, I haven't gotten around to that one yet...

  7. Hey, Happy Birthday.

    I'll tell ya what I told a guy who used to paint extremely large canvases and lamented how he wasn't quite up to it anymore.

    "Just because you can't go fishing for marlin doesn't mean trout ain't tasty"

  8. I wish you a very happy birthday Ellen. Mine is in a week, and I'll be 50. I enjoyed reading your post, and the reflections on aging. The decade birthdays are interesting ones to be certain. I didn't really notice the others so much, but turning 50 feels significant for some reason. Anyway...happy birthday to you, and I hope this sixth decade is one of the best ones yet.

  9. Happiest of Birthdays Ellen! Such a beautiful, beautiful post I hope you don't mind if I link to it. I have been anxting a bit about the looming 50's, and you have put all of those fears completely to rest. Thank you.

  10. Happy birthday to you
    Happy birthday to you
    Happy birthday to Ellen
    Happy birthday to you

    60's pretty young yet...hang in there and enjoy...

  11. Happy Birthday Ellen!

    Have a marvelous decade.

  12. Happy birthday Ellen! I'm glad you're around sharing yourself with us.

    And look, serendipitously, I have a gift for you at my blog. Don't shoot me (ducking now)...

  13. How interesting that you really didn't learn who you were until your fifth decade. You'd think it would happen younger, but I feel like this is a common sentiment. Raising my coffee cup in a Happy Birthday toast, cheers to you :)

  14. Lovely post! Wishing you a very Happy Birthday and your best decade, yet! And remember, 60 is the new 50! :) Celebrate!

  15. This is a fabulous post! Yeah!!! My hands, too ... they are now my mother's hands. And the body falls away, little by little. But we're no different than anybody else who made it to this age. Gravity will have the last laugh, always.

    I hope you celebrate like crazy, in spite of the scary amount of $ you had to pay the plumber. Life is short.

    Carpe diem!

    L'chaim and LOVE

  16. Wonderful post!Our birthdays are only a day apart as it is my birthday tomorrow. Tonight in Edinburgh the Beltane Fire Festival is taking place atop Calton Hill. The fires are lit for your special day. It's great to be a beltane baby. :)

  17. Wonderful post. How exciting that despite some signs of physical issues that you have vital visions. (I will reach the same milestone in ten months.)

  18. Happy Birthday! You share the day with my dad.

  19. Thank you Becky. I have had a wonderful day.

    Thank you Bonnie. It's easy to look back and see where I was, now I've reached a point where it is easy to see where I am. And I will have a great weekend. My husband has organized a small party for me tomorrow with our friends.

    Thank you SueAnn. That's good to know cause 60 is freaking me out just a little. My older sister is happy though, now she's not the only one to have crossed that line.

    Thanks Magaly. All this time and I just found out I'm a Beltane baby. It explains so much! hee hee

    Thanks for the wishes Jeff and I wouldn't worry about that growing up thing. It's highly overrated.

    True enough John, true enough. Thanks. Who knows, you might find me in your class.

    Oh, thank you Cynthia. I'll send you the little essay I wrote when I turned 50. Half a century. It was a big one mentally but 60 is just incomprehensible.

    Thank you so much Brenda. And no I don't mind at all. Here's something funny though. Marc followed a link from Craftweb to another link to your blog and saw your post. I could hear him yelling from the other room because I hadn't told him. How uncanny that he found it!

    Thank you Judy. You are the first to sing to me today. The second was my sister but just by minutes. And yes, 60 is still young yet.

    Thank you Butternut. I intend this one to be fully conscious.

    Thanks Dana. I am thrilled to have so many people that blogging has brought into my life. And thank you so much for my 'gift'. (smiles sweetly)

    thank you so much Joanne. The fifth decade was my 40s. I think people are confused by that listing because the first decade is the 'ones'...0 - 10 (not that you are). I think we, as women, are subjugated by all the things and roles expected of us...dutiful daughters, doting wives, involved mothers, that's it's not until half our lives are over that we get the time to get to know who we are instead of who we are supposed to be or maybe even who we want to be or think we are. By the time I reached my 50s, I had let go of all those expectations and settled into who I am. You know the saying, 'know thyself', by the time I was 50, I could say yes, I know myself.

    Thank you so much Marguerite. I'm looking forward to every minute. And party party tomorrow. Perhaps not cajun style, but fun will be had.

    Reya dear, thank you so much. The body falls away but frees the spirit. And I am in good company. No more days to waste!

    Thank you Sophia and happy birthday to you. Someone else who is near and dear to my heart also has his birthday tomorrow. I wish I could be there for the bonfire! Yes, it's great to be a Beltane baby.

    Thank you Paul. I am lucky that my physical issues are so minor comparatively. There is so much to be happy for. I blaze the trail for you.

  20. Oh Gail, I didn't mean to miss you. Thank you and tell your dad happy birthday from another.

  21. Thank you so much Moannie. I see you inadvertently got left out of the queue (in the comments). I will do my damnedest to give them to you.

  22. I love this post and I love you for posting it - I am going to send it to my 78 yo MIL because she acts 40, thinks she is 40 and is going to live into her 120s - and your post sums her attitude nicely.

    I hope you don't 'm ind that I share your words - I will let her knw where I got it and why it means so much for me to give to her.

    You are one specail woman. Happy Birthday.

  23. Happy belated Birthday Ellen...

    I absolutely love the wisdom in this post. You sound truly amazing :)

  24. Happy Birthday Ellen. (I thought you were much younger. You're not acting your age, missy!) I love how you broke down your life in decades. We don't realize how each section of our lives have a different purpose. We think we're just plodding along. Can't wait to hear your summary of the seventh.

  25. ellen - superb post! yeah, i am three years past fifty and loving the freedom of not worrying about my appearance, my defects, and everything else that used to carry such weight. however, as na act of kindness to myself i don't look in the mirror very often. steven

  26. Happy Birthday darling one. Happy happy day! Wish you had come on the Bahamas Cruise with us sisters.... the more birthdays the better. We'd have treated you like a queen and made you wear the tiara!

    Love how you measured out your decades. It really does put time into a new perspective, doesn't it?

    On the other hand... your comment yesterday about "getting yours" makes me believe there's still a little bit of life left in ya.

    So celebrate and pull out all the stops. Enjoy, my friend. You are a delight. And in case you didn't know, 60 is the new 40!

    Go girl!

  27. Hey--very happy birthday and many, many more (happy ones). I'm not so far off the 60 mark myself, and I love the way you've expressed it.

  28. Belated happy 60th to you! Your attitude will continue to take you far. I hope you had a wonderful day. :)

  29. Happy Belated Birthday!

    thanks for the beautiful job!
    please visit me via the link for new meme or awards.


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