A Women’s Story: Hold The Wrath

A Women’s Story: Hold The Wrath

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Women’s News: What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 50s

Women’s News: What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 50s

Women’s News: What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 50s

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Shelley Emling

Editor, Post 50

In her new book “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg notes the ways in which fear can hold women back and the importance of pushing through that fear. She writes, “This book is what I would do if I weren’t afraid.” We asked women of different ages to share what they’ve learned about fear so far.

I’m a worrier and I always have been. Throughout my life, I’ve fretted over some very real concerns — like my mother’s illness that ultimately led to her death at the age of 58 — and over some not-very-real ones — like why I don’t have as many Facebook likes as my friends. But now that I’m 50 I realize — really realize — that all the worrying in the world won’t change a thing. And the things you fear are usually worse in your imagination than they could ever be in your reality. One of my favorite quotes has always been this one from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” It is my mantra. If you don’t confront fear, you’ll be pulling back from your life. After 50 years on this planet, I get it. But having said all that, there are still a few things I can’t help but be afraid of. And there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. I’m no longer afraid of change but I still get nervous when a train approaches, and the wind whips around me, and I’m certain for just a second that I’ll get knocked onto the tracks.

And so, here’s a list of eight things I know about fear now that I’m 50. It includes four things I’m no longer afraid of and four things that I’m even more afraid of.

I’m no longer afraid to say “no” to people. Or at least I try not to be. I’ve found that people appreciate your honesty – even if they don’t like what they hear – more than they appreciate hearing a “yes” that you later have to renege on.

I’m no longer afraid to speak in front of people. I just pick out one person in the crowd, pretend I’m talking only to him or her, and go from there. Also, I learned that the more you speak in public, the easier it gets. It really does.

I’m no longer afraid that other people are talking about me or critiquing me all the time. I recently interviewed Nia Vardalos of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame and she said something that rang so true I’ll never forget it. When I asked her what she’d tell her 20-year-old self today, the 50-year-old said: “Don’t worry so much about sucking that gut in. No one is looking. People are not focused on you all the time. So many people like to believe everyone is focused on them but it’s really not true. They are focused on themselves.”

I’m no longer afraid to leave the office after eight hours of work — even when everyone else sticks around a lot longer. I have three kids. Most of my co-workers don’t. My job is important but it’s still impermanent. My health, my family, my passions are not.

What I’m Still Afraid Of:

I’m afraid of rats. Always have been. They aren’t particularly hideous-looking creatures, but I just can’t stand them. In recent months, my husband has found rat droppings in our basement. And it completely freaks me out to the point that I refuse to go down there in socks. But I think there’s good reason to be afraid of rats. They carry diseases and parasites. And they most likely triggered the Black Death, which killed up to half of Europe’s population in the mid-14th century. Enough said!

I’m afraid of what’s going to happen after my kids all leave home. Yes, I realize I will be expected to celebrate my newfound freedom chock-full of unbridled “me time.” But I don’t want “me time.” I have loved focusing on the wants and needs of my two sons and daughter. Nothing has made me happier. When they leave, I’m afraid my husband and I will have nothing to talk about. I’m afraid I’ll lose my footing. I’m afraid I’ll be lonely.

I’m afraid of the loss of relationships. I’m afraid of pissing off friends to the point they’ll never speak to me again. People hold grudges. Maybe even more so as they age. And it scares me that friendships are actually much more tenuous and fractious than I believed them to be when I was younger. When it comes to my husband, I’ve seen enough of my friends go through the pain of divorce to know that I can never take my marriage for granted. At 50, I’ve learned to never say never.

I’ll get a lot of heat for this, but I’m afraid of the physical changes that come with aging.Fears over the onslaught of wrinkles and sagging skin are smoke screens for what I’m really scared of — mortality. In my head I’m still 21, so it bothers me when I look in the mirror and see a double chin and graying hair. Growing old in a culture that values dewy youth won’t be easy. At least not in my mind.

In the end, if you constantly think that growing older implies a downward spiral, then that’s exactly the scenario you’ll create. Worrying about the future — too much — is a waste of energy. I’ll close with a quote from Katherine Paterson: “To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelley-emling/what-i-know-about-fear-50s_b_2863040.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

A Message From The Creator

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A Women’s Story: Hold The Wrath

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Wendy Plump

Reporter and author of “Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (And Other Affairs)”

One of the things that surprises me most about infidelity is that anyone is shocked to the point of awe when it happens.

I’m not talking about the wife or the husband, who may certainly be blindsided; they have every reason to assume the most abiding loyalties from the marriage. I’m talking about everyone else — those standing on the outside looking in, full of judgements. Why are we so shocked that adultery occurs, and that marriage — especially a long marriage — can be haunted by a partner’s attraction to someone else?

People view the “sin” of infidelity with such fury that it brings about all sorts of ruin from outside the marriage, regardless of how the couple chooses to deal with it. It is viewed with such condemnation that the couple doesn’t even get to choose their own course of action; the public does it for them — people who don’t have to live with the consequences. Is this necessary, or even right?

There are about 121 million married and cohabitating Americans right now, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If I had to guess, I would wager that infidelity has, in one way or another, affected about 120 million of them — even if it’s just through a neighbor, or a friend, or a physics professor or an actor or a movie watched on a Saturday night. If this is true for even a fraction of married America, it seems like it would be smarter to punt the scorched-earth policy towards adultery and allow, instead, for a moment of pause.

Adultery is so firmly attached to the ideas of sin and damnation that no one wants to go over there for a closer look, which is a missed opportunity. There is the larger issue of why people have affairs. It makes sense to grapple with that once in awhile, if only to flex our own marital perspectives. I have grappled with infidelity from both sides, as betrayer and as betrayed. So I know that the why deserves more scrutiny than it gets. Sadly, it is one of those issues like alcoholism or gambling or teenage pregnancy that — wag your finger at it all you want — happens nonetheless.

Not everyone who commits adultery is a demon. Not everyone who remains true is a saint, or even necessarily a good spouse. Monogamy is a challenge for many adults. It was a huge one for me, and for my husband. There is much to be weighed during a commitment of decades. There are the promises, the circumstances surrounding them, the beauty of the union versus a natural inclination to others, the happiness of the marriage versus the happiness you suspect is available elsewhere.

It is a rare spouse who never, for one moment, considers the tidal pull of another. That consideration is painful for both, even if nothing happens. But when it does happen, does it really need to be fatal? Having been through both ends of adultery, I think divorce is a lot worse than recovering from a spouse’s affair. I do not think there should be more infidelity. I just think there should be less divorce because of it.

This is not an argument for betrayal. It is just a solicitation, if that’s the word, for more understanding. And some serious reflection about why we pile so many expectations onto the fragile back of marriage. When those expectations are dashed, we react by condemning the cheater and yanking their achievements — no matter how justifiably earned — out from under them. General David Petraeus provides just the most recent example of our collective wrath towards cheaters. His storied career was over within hours of the revelation. That is too pre-emptive for someone like me. But it really should be too pre-emptive for everyone else, too.

I wonder if there isn’t a better way of dealing with the lure of infidelity apart from the single refrain, “Don’t do it!” Adultery happens anyway, often and everywhere.

There are so many reasons given for it. Boredom. Sex. Loneliness. A longing for connection. Some of them are fair reasons. But in the case of long marriage, I wonder if infidelity isn’t simply a matter of wanting to feel again the way you did when you first fell in love. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine you will never feel that level of passion again, or extend it to anyone else. That is a lot to give up forever. Monogamy has to be worth it. It isn’t, always.

We use the phrase “teachable moment” in reference to the lessons that arise for our children about bullying or fighting with siblings or sharing their toys. Infidelity is a big issue for married people along the same lines. The prevalence of it in our culture and in our lives could be considered a teachable moment for the adults in the room.

As for the why of infidelity, that is for every coupled adult to puzzle through. Considering the millions of marriages and couples out there, that is a lot of potential whys. And about that many answers, too, all of them useful as cautionary tales to take up and read and learn from if ever we are shocked to the point of awe by our own circumstances.

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-plump/hold-the-wrath_b_2853699.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

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