Saturday, September 04, 2010

All I Really Love About Life, I Learned After Age 50

All I Really Love About Life, I Learned After Age 50

(with apologies to Robert Fulghum, who learned it all in kindergarten)

By Joan Price


Before age 50, I had a pretty good life. I loved my job teaching high school. I had discovered the joy of exercise, which eluded me before age 30. After a near-fatal automobile accident at 34, I turned life’s lemons into lemonade by morphing the fitness habit that had saved my life into new careers: writing magazine articles about health and fitness and teaching aerobic dance. By age 47, I had written a book.

I wasn’t so lucky in love. I had been married and unmarried to a very good man, who remains a close friend, then had a 25-year string (string? more like a giant ball of yarn!) of involvements – long-term, short-term, and casual. All warm and joyful, but not the love I sought.

At menopause, overheated and haggard from sleep deprivation, I switched from teaching sweaty aerobics at the crack of dawn to contemporary line dancing at dusk. That switch turned out to change my life… more about that in a moment.

Before age 50, I struggled to figure out who I was and wanted to be, and battled my way there. After age 50, that became easy. Rather than needing emotional kung fu to battle my way to authenticity, I could use a softer aikido approach and let what I didn’t want flow away.

After age 50, I understood that joy blossomed through living fully, whether I was single or coupled at the moment – learning new things, teaching (now in health clubs, dance halls and speaking engagements instead of high schools), keeping my own body fit and strong, interacting honestly and helpfully with others, and writing professionally. I wrote six more books after age 50!

I still hoped I’d find that special man to love, but I wasn’t putting my life on hold waiting. I realized I had to be the person I was looking for.

And then the love of my life -- artist Robert Rice -- danced into my line dance class and into my heart. I was 57 and he 64. We fell in love, and our joy-filled, spicy love affair propelled me to switch my writing and speaking topic from health and fitness to senior sex!

After five years of loving each other, Robert and I married. We knew he had cancer. We didn’t know we’d have only two more years together. I learned after 50 that we must treasure our loved ones while we have them, because at our age, we will lose them, or they will lose us. We must love fully and joyfully while we can.

I also learned how fragile we are, even when we do everything possible to keep our bodies and minds strong. On June 20, I tripped, slammed to the floor, and shattered my shoulder in ten places. My new book, Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex, was due to Seal Press five weeks later. I had put the book on hold for a year after losing Robert, when grief was my day job. Then I had spent the next year writing it. Darned if I would blow off my deadline for a broken shoulder! I finished the book – on time! – typing with my arm in a sling, measuring out pain killers so that I could focus.

Resilience: that’s the major lesson I learned after 50 and continue to learn at age 66. Life continues to amaze me. What delights are next?

Note from Joan Price: I'm trying to blog my way to the AARP Orlando@50 conference. This blog post is an entry in their competition to find the official blogger to travel to and cover the event. Find out more about the conference here.

12 comments:

  1. Hello Joan,

    These posts about you and Robert are so moving and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    If you ask me life doesn't really get going full swing until after 50. This is true for me anyhow. Life is good these days.

    I'm Imagining your shoulder healed with complete range of motion and you, Joan, blogging at the AARP conference. Who better to do this?!

    Best wishes from Paula!

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  2. Hi Joan,

    Sure enjoy reading your personal history; your endurance and perseverance inspire. Resilience certainly plays a role but you also possess the grace of a butterfly and the heart of a lion. Wish there were more blogs like yours that strike the right balance while telling the real story of the joys and the sorrows of life at 50, 60 and forward. Please keep it coming.

    Peter

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  3. Joan, what a compelling history you wrote here! How can I make the case to AARP that they name you an official blogger? Tell me and your other admirers! Good luck, Sally

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  4. Lovely post, Joan. My life has been very similar to yours in a number of ways. And I too have learned everything really important about life after the age of 50.

    Kathryn

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  5. Hi Joan,
    As a psychotherapist specializing in couples therapy, I really appreciate all the positive work you've done. Your open heart, your authentic voice, and the passion you put into your work is of great benefit to all of 'us over 50'.
    Good luck with your new book, it sounds wonderful!
    JC

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  6. Hi Joan,
    As a psychotherapist specializing in couples therapy, I really appreciate all the positive work you've done. Your open heart, your authentic voice, and the passion you put into your work is of great benefit to all of 'us over 50'.
    Good luck with your new book, it sounds wonderful!
    JC

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  7. Joan--I'm late for dance class with you, but I have to say that you're an inspiration in every way. What a beautiful story this is--of hope and faith and love. Thanks for telling it, we all need to hear it.

    Hey AARP--pick Joan, and you'll get the best!

    Carol C-E

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  8. Hardin ReddySeptember 06, 2010

    The wonderful thing about contemporary life is that it has no boundaries, and you can keep going in any direction you want as long as you can.

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  9. Thank you so much for all you have done. Your positive outlook inspires me. Life is good after 60, We just sometimes have to suffer some to enjoy the good times.

    Keep up the good work.

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  10. Joan, thanks for giving those of us approaching 50 a look ahead - makes it not quite so scary! Always enjoy your posts --

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  11. Thank you, everyone, for your comments and suppport. I was not among the three winners -- see their blogs here: http://blog.aarp.org/shaarpsession/2010/09/orlando50_blogger_competition.html.

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  12. Joan - sorry I won't be able to meet you in person!

    Thanks for the nice comment at TT.

    ReplyDelete

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