Countdown to 60

Aging on my terms - Daily musings in 500 words or less

Tag: women (page 1 of 4)

Life Changes – Part one

I didn’t intend to be in another relationship at 20, but there I was living with a man in a tiny home in Bend Oregon. I met Jeffrey in July of 1979 and by the fall of that year we were living together.

It only seemed natural to move my belongings and my cat in with his belongings and his cat. I had a kitten named Jeff when we met and it didn’t take long before my boyfriend’s name became Jeffrey instead of Jeff.

I had a gray cat named Jeff, then I met a man named Jeff Gray

Life was good in that little house at the end of a dead end street. We both worked and had friends and did all of the normal things young couples do. I was happy and what made things even better, was my best friend in the entire world lived just a few towns over.

I’ve written before that my brother Johnny was my best friend since childhood. Nothing change about that as we got older, except that we got even closer. He was always just a call away and I spent most of my days off at his place.

Johnny was in a relationship and even though he was only two years older than me, he was already a Daddy. It must have been hard for his partner LeeAnn, being around Johnny and me. We had such a close bond there were times when we inadvertently excluded those around us by getting caught up in our own conversation.

LeeAnn managed to hold her own though, and once Elizabeth was born, that baby girl was the center of our attention. It was great having my brother so close. Everything was falling into place and I was enjoying life.

My brother with his daughter

I turned 21 on May 10, 1980 and Jeffrey surprised me with a trip to Lake Tahoe to celebrate. We packed up the car and hit the road. I remember sitting in the passenger seat looking out the window watching the tall pine trees go by when all of a sudden I felt a profound sadness wash over me.

Jeffrey said I looked pale and asked if I was okay. I told him yes, but that something bad was going to happen, and there was nothing I could do about it. We didn’t speak anymore of it and continued on with our trip as we both wanted to enjoy our time together.

We arrived back home on Monday after our long weekend, and the first thing I did was call my brother to tell him about our trip. He didn’t answer, but there was no need to leave a message. I knew he would phone me back.

I was a little upset when it took him several days to call me. After all, this was my 21st birthday we were talking about, and I wanted to share it with my brother. We finally spoke the night of the 14th and unlike our usual hour-long conversations this one was short.

Johnny listened to me talk all about our trip and then just said, “I’m glad it was fun sis. Happy birthday. I gotta go.” Then he said goodbye and hung up. I remember looking at the phone after he hung up thinking, “that was weird”. Something didn’t feel right.

(To be continued…)

How I met Jeff

Moving to Oregon in the late ‘70’s turned out to be a lot of fun for me.

Disco was still popular and I would spend most nights dancing my heart out at the discotheque. There seemed to always be something going on in the city, which made it easy to find friends. And I had a great job working for a real estate developer.

Life was good.

Within months I met a woman named Judy, who was older than me and had two young boys. She sort of took me under her wing, and I instantly had a little family to have dinners and hang out with. It was nice for me to have Judy and her boys and I was happy I found her.

My friend Judy and her two boys

I lived in Bend for about a year and a half when I met someone else that would change my life.

One Friday in July, I was getting ready to go out with a new friend, my hairdresser. I enjoyed talking with her during my few visits and when she asked me out, I said sure.

Later that day, as I was home getting ready, another friend of mine dropped by. I was happy to see Richard, and surprised he brought a friend. He introduced me to Jeff and three of us chatted for a bit.

Not thinking much about it, I invited them to join us girls and was looking forward to a fun night out. We all met for dinner, but my new girlfriend was visibly unhappy that I had invited guys.

I was having a great time, but it was awkward because of her clear distain for the boys. I thought things would get better when we decided to go to a club after dinner, but they got worse. She was sure I was trying to set her up on a date, and not happy with me about it.

It didn’t take long before she decided to leave. And as she was leaving, Richard decided to catch a ride from her, leaving Jeff and I alone at the club.

We started talking and I learned that Jeff was a mental health counselor and enjoyed his job. He loved the outdoors, had backpacked through Europe with his guitar, and came from a big family.

He was very interesting and I found myself laughing at his sense of humor. It also didn’t hurt that he was handsome.

We ended up talking for hours that night. Jeff owned a little house in town and we sat outside in his back yard looking at the stars and talking about our lives.

I was surprised when he called the next day and asked if I wanted to go for a drive. And laughed when he said he wanted to take my convertible Triumph Spitfire.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the beginning of a lifetime relationship. I wonder if I would have done anything different had I known how it would all unfold?

Me and my Triumph in 1979                       Countdown to 60 blog, how I met Jeff

Eclipsed by regret

I’ve been accused of having FOMO more than once. You know, Fear of Missing Out? Apparently it’s become such a big deal that it needs its own acronym. I used to take offense to it, thinking I was somehow a bad person because I had it.

I don’t really care anymore. I would rather be accused of having FOMO than regret. Which is where I am today, feeling regret.

Today is August 21, 2017 or as it will go down in history, The Great American Eclipse Day. For the first time in almost 100 years, the US witnessed a total solar eclipse. It was dubbed as a once in a lifetime event, if you could be in the path of totality.

But I wasn’t in that path.

I opted for practical, which is what I am most times. We needed to get work done on our house in order to sell it, and that took priority.

We were lucky enough to catch our 60% eclipse and it was cool. But I still regret missing the experience of the total eclipse.

In thinking about it this afternoon, I realize I’m not as upset about missing the total eclipse as I am about myself. There are times I tend to put focus where it doesn’t belong.

But I know now that my regret today is with me. I’ve been working on losing weight, getting strong, and eating healthy for over a month now.

Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

The truth is I’m putting in about 60%, at best. I’m riding my bike maybe once a week. I eat healthy foods, but then add a glass or two of wine each day, knowing full well it’s not good for me.

So why am I doing that?  Am I just being lazy or do I really not see that I am going to keep getting older and regret that I didn’t do the work it took to stay healthy?

I don’t want to look back and say, “I wish I would have…”. I can’t change that I didn’t make it a priority to experience the total eclipse today, but I can change my priority about my health.

Now I have a fear of missing out on not being the total person I know I can be.

Time to stop the excuses and get on my bike

Finding Home

The best thing about moving is you get to start over. No one knows you or your history. There’s no long established notion of who you are.

That’s how I felt at 19 in Bend, Oregon. I was determined to make a fresh start. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest was a little bit like growing up in a fish bowl. It’s not that all 2,000 of us knew each other; it’s more that it just felt that way.

Bend was two thousand miles away, away from my old life, and away from being the poor farm kid. With a staggering population of 15,000 people, for me it felt like a big city, and it was love at first sight.

I was told it would be tough getting a job, so I took any opportunity that came my way. Within a few days I had two jobs, the first as a telemarketer (which lasted precisely one day), and the other as a bus person at Original Joes, a local downtown restaurant. I was grateful to have any job, but I wanted to do something more, I wanted to “move up” in the world.

There were offices above the restaurant, and as luck would have it, my brother Charles worked for a real estate developer who conducted his business there. Charles heard that his boss was looking for office help, and recommended me.

I remember being excited about the idea of working in an office, but I had exactly zero experience. It was always easiest to get a job as a waitress, and as a struggling teenager, tips were the perfect way to have cash in hand. This opportunity seemed bigger, less attainable for someone like me.

So I was a little nervous walking up the steps to that office. I hoped I looked businesslike in my handmade dress. In the back of my mind I was wondering what I was going to do if I did get that job. That dress was the only one to my name.

My fears were they would be able to see past that homemade dress to the poor, already divorced, no experience, scared girl inside. So I took a deep breath, climbed the stairs to the office, and walked in with confidence, at least I hoped it looked that way.

Looking back now I wish I could have told the young me that most people are just like me. They too have fears and life experiences that were hard or sad. I would tell her, not to worry so much and trust that you’ve got this.

As it turned out, I did have it. On the other side of those doors were kind, unassuming people.

Just like the ones back home.


This is how I felt that day, like a little kid trying to get a grown up job

Do this, try that, this works better, don’t do that!

Low fat, high fat,

Low carbs, balanced carbs,

Do jumping jacks daily, don’t do high impact,

Never eat bananas again, just eat fruit, fruit is bad,

Bread is bad, grains are bad, eat whole grains,

Don’t eat legumes, just eat beans and rice,

You must do 60 minutes of cardo daily, just do 30 mins of cardo 3x per week,

Don’t eat meat, eat lots of meat,

Eat fish, don’t eat farmed fish,

The only way to lose fat is to exercise, there’s no need to exercise to lose weight,

No coffee, coffee is good for you,

No butter, put butter in your coffee,

Dairy is out, dairy is okay,

Eat everything, don’t eat anything,

No added sugar!


Okay, got that? Yeah, me too.


Trying to figure out what the best diet and exercise routine is best for you?

A look inside

I’m off today.

I don’t mean like off from work, I mean off emotionally.

We had a busy weekend working on a home we own that’s about six hours away from us. Each time we have been between tenants, we would head to the house to clean and paint and kept it looking good. We had renters in it for the past couple of years, and since they are out, it was time to go get it ready to sell.

We arrived on Friday night and were immediately disappointed by the state of the house. We’ve had renters in it before that have left it dirty and in disrepair, but this time was different.

The house was, for lack of a better word, worn. It was like stepping inside a once beautiful masterpiece, that was now faded and torn and lacking any luster of it’s glory years. It was sad to see it like that, and it got us down.

We set up camp and after dinner sat on the porch like we used to. We were pretty quiet and we both knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us.

We spent the weekend working hard, cleaning, painting, cutting down hedges and trimming trees. Sunday evening came way too quickly, and we ended up leaving much later than we had hoped. It was nearly midnight by the time we arrived back home.

So, I knew I was going to be a little tired this morning, but didn’t expect to feel the way I did. I felt, worn, like that old house. And I started to question if maybe I was once a beautiful masterpiece that was now fading and lacking the luster of my glory years.

Will some paint and trim help bring back the old me or will I need a complete overhaul?

Spending the day thinking about it, I think the real answer lies with who has been living inside and taking care of me. Maybe it’s time to kick out the tenant who is letting me get run down, and rediscover that person who respects and cares for me before it’s too late.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.


Self reflection is key

Here, there and underwear

You know that saying, “If they can put a man on the moon, then why can’t they…”? Well, if they have figured out how to put a man on the moon, why hasn’t someone figured out how to make comfortable underwear?

I don’t know about you guys, but us ladies have the oddest choices in undies. It runs the gamut between granny panties and thongs. We all pretend we don’t have any granny panties, but come on, most of us have a pair or two crumpled up in the back of our underwear drawer.

I bet you will find some boy shorts too, in that drawer. Who thought of those? They were all the rage for a minute and I still have a pair or two. I think I stopped wearing them about the time my husband was helping me fold our laundry, and he accidentally put them in his pile.

And I can honestly say I do not get thongs. Of course I tried them, back when they first came on the scene. And I even laughed when other women would say they were uncomfortable. I was working on being cool, and thong underwear were cool. That’s probably why I’m hanging onto the dozen or so I never wear anymore.

My go-to is a classic pair of bikini briefs. Bikini brief is a nice way of saying they are sexy, ie: bikini, yet comfy, ie: brief. And sometimes they are almost comfortable. The kind with the elastic in the legs stay put the best, but then you get those unsightly panty lines. I didn’t even know I was supposed to worry about panty lines until I was out with a friend and she rolled her eyes at a lady with an obvious butt outline under her slacks.

So I switched to the kind with the “soft” leg opening. The smart people at Fruit of the Loom, or whoever it was, figured out a way to make panties without elastic in the legs. Yep, they do look better, but try sitting, walking or movement of any kind and they will migrate right to the middle of your business.

Yesterday I was in Home Depot and was dealing with just said occasion. When I turned around a guy was staring at me. Great. Don’t judge buddy, I’ve seen your kind make “adjustments” too.

And before you suggest it, yes, I’ve tried the au natural route, or as you guys like to say, “commando”. It works for certain situations, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like a good everyday choice.

So what’s the answer? How do we get engineers to figure out how to comfortably cover our moons?

These are the important things I ponder at 58. But now I think it’s time I go clean out my underwear drawer.

I hate creepy underwear

The road to Oregon – Part one

One of the last pictures I have of me in Michigan

I left Michigan for the last time when I was 18. One freezing cold day in February of 1978, I was done. Done with school, done with the weather, done with that small town, and done with a relationship. It was time to move on.

My chance came when a friend was going to Springfield to visit her father and stepmother. She didn’t want to go alone, and asked if I would go with her. I came up with the $86 one-way plane ticket and packed a small yellow suitcase. Before I knew it, we were on a plane bound for Missouri.

We arrived late in the day, and when her father and stepmom picked us up, they were excited to see us. They took us out to celebrate at a restaurant at a Holiday Inn. After dinner a band started playing, and it only took a song or two before we were on the dance floor. I felt like I was a big city girl doing big city things. I felt brave.

We danced to every song and by the time the band was ready for a break, we were chatting with them like they were long lost friends. Most of my friends back home were musicians, and it felt comfortable and natural talking with them. It was easy to strike up a friendship in a matter of minutes.

As the evening wound down and we were ready to leave, one of the band members handed me a note. On it was his name and phone number. I smiled and stuffed it in my pocket and headed home with my girlfriend’s family.

Once inside their home, everything changed. Her stepmother was off to show my friend her room, while her father escorted me to the den, where I was to stay. He closed the door behind us, and looked me straight in the eye and said the only way I was going to be allowed to stay was if I put out.

At first I didn’t realize what he was saying. So I asked, “put out what?”. He said either I was going to put out or get out. The look on his face told me what he meant. I stood there dumbfounded for just a moment and then I walked out the door. Just like that.

The brave feeling I had earlier that evening was gone when I found myself outside in the cold with nothing but a small yellow suitcase to my name. Searching my pockets I found a few dollars and that small piece of paper.

I managed to pull myself together enough to find a phone booth and dial the number that was given to me earlier. I was so relieved when Jonathan answered that call. I stood in the cold waiting for a ride from him, knowing I would never see my friend again.

I had no idea where I was going or what would happen. I just knew, for some reason, I could trust the musician that was on his way to rescue me.

Just the way I am

I started this blog less than a month ago. My intention was to share my story, and to be authentic along the way. I had this sense that I was racing towards 60 and still trying to figure out life. I want to reach that age feeling confident, wiser, and healthy.

So I just began.

But I’ve started things before. January 2016 I started a personal journal, again. This time, I vowed to write in it daily and keep track of my progress towards losing weight and feeling good. I took measurements and pasted photos in it. I got creative with different colored pens and drawings. I envisioned a diary stuffed full of photos and details about my life.

I not only lost weight, but I wrote in my journal daily. But somehow, neither of those things lasted.

When I look back at what I composed, I am beginning to understand why. Most of what I wrote about was what was going on around me. On the outside. I couldn’t even share with myself, in writing, what was going on inside.

I’m not sure I even knew what was going on within. I mean, I’m happy. I have a fun life. I don’t walk around sad or feeling like a victim. So what was the piece I was missing? Why do this? Why share all of these stories?

In these past few weeks, I’ve shared some of my deepest feelings about my life. And there is so much more to tell. As the posts are written, and the publish button hit, I feel a sense of empowerment. Okay, also a sense of fear.

And I bounce between those two emotions. I’m proud of myself for sharing these things, and I’m scared as hell that I did it. Last night I was filled with so much self-doubt, wondering what in the world I was doing. Am I just looking for validation from you?

This morning I got on the scale. I’ve lost 10 pounds. I feel lighter, and not just in weight. I realize I am very grateful for your validation. I am also grateful for the platform to release my fears and expose myself so that I can learn that I’m okay just the way I am.

Thank you.

Just the way I am

I am not Loretta V…

As a teenage girl, living with a single older father had its challenges. One time I got in trouble because he found a razor in the bathtub, and asked me if I was shaving my legs. I was in ninth grade.

We were living in Oregon at the time, and I hated it. I was going to a strange new school, and I had no friends. The first day of ninth grade, I met a girl in the cafeteria who asked my name. When I told her, she laughed and said her uncle had a dog named Loretta. That was also the school where I was teased for having “chicken legs” because I was so skinny. I wanted to go back home to Michigan.

My dear sister Linda is 15 years older than I am and like a second mother to me. She came to my rescue and told our father that she was moving back to Hart. And she was taking me with her. I was elated. We packed up her car and her three young boys, and headed back home.

That’s when I met Greg. He was two years older, my brother’s best friend, tall and blonde and so sweet. We hit it off immediately and before long we were dating. I was happy and busy with a new boyfriend, school and work.

Two teenagers in love

By the end of the school year, I was living on my own. My job as a waitress was enough for me to afford a small apartment in town. It was also a place for Greg and I to be together, and so we were. There was one problem with that situation though.

When Greg turned 18, it all changed. By then, Dad had moved back to Hart. One day the Sheriff stopped him in town and said they were going to bring Greg up on charges of statutory rape if my dad didn’t do something about us living together.

So being from a long line of young brides, my family suggested we get married. As a 16-year-old girl in love, I thought that was the perfect idea. I made my dress and Greg’s shirt. I picked Queen Anne’s Lace and we put them in jars of food coloring so I could have pretty flowers. And we got married.

We stayed in my little apartment and had friends over and acted like a married couple. But it was slowly falling apart as I finished school and worked, while Greg hung out.

We tried moving to a bigger city, in hopes of Greg finding a job, but he never did. I felt the weight of all of the responsibility on my shoulders and it was too much to bear.

I am not Loretta Vandenheuvel

At 18, I knew it would never work out. And so, I left. I moved to Oregon, and I didn’t look back. I filled out the necessary paperwork, and we got a divorce.

And I didn’t tell anyone for the longest time. I was ashamed, so I kept it a secret.

Until I met Jeff…but that’s a story for another time.



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