Suzanne Reisler Litwin: 59

This doesn’t make sense. I was just 8 years old, dancing ballet as a night light with my friend Alissa. At that age I wanted to be a ballerina so badly. They were so graceful and pretty and looked like little musical jewelry box dancers. But I also wanted to play tough games with the boys and prove that I was just as fast and just as strong. There was nothing a boy could do better than me.

This awkward imbalance is still a part of my landscape. To be graceful as a ballerina and strongly equal to anyone. Hence the names Suzanne, Suzie, Suz, Sue and Steve.

Honestly, I was just 17 years old with a fresh driver’s license in my hand, borrowing my mom’s car to take my friends to the Orange Julep. Or drive up north to go skiing for the day. Such glorious freedoms which I still do enjoy. However, now I can’t forget my wooly leg warmers for my achy, ran too many kilometers, knees. I can’t forget the extra layers of clothing because I tend to get colder faster and I can’t get on the hill without peeing a couple of times before.

But I won’t stop because I’m a warrior woman!

The year was 1987 and I was a bushy tailed 24-year old starting my teaching career at Trafalgar School for Girls. The senior girls nearly ate me for lunch. In time, I tamed them with lollipops and silly family stories. Today, I’m still friends with some of my early career students. I feel like a grandmother to their children.

Having children has blurred my time vision. They were babies, then annoying teenagers with tutors, dance shows, hockey practices and games, pick-ups, drop-offs, and late nights with worries. Those years were so busy and fast the only way I clearly remember them is by reading my journals.

The stuff goes into the house; the stuff goes out of the house. The salary goes in and the salary goes out, the food goes in and goes out, the day begins and ends and the seasons keep changing… We are all growing up and older, but…

This doesn’t make sense to be 59 when I feel like 39.

And… I’m not a mirror person. I’ve never been one. I use a 10x time mirror to apply my make-up and I do a check, check right before I leave the house. That’s it until the end of the day or if I have a class or an appointment. Okay, maybe the occasional glance in the car, but that’s it. I don’t seek my reflection in windows and mirrors.

Lately, I’m shocked because what I expect my reflection to be is not my reality.

I’m surprised at the older person looking back at me. I feel so youthful, but I don’t look as I feel. “Thar ain’t a match Lady! Send in da maintenance crew!”

I know, I know. I should do all the stuff which preserves my youthfulness, but I just haven’t brought myself to the table or the chair.

When I was in my later 30s, I complained to my brilliant dermatologist that I wanted to fix all the little lines I was getting. He said, “Why take a perfectly healthy person and put them at risk?” I live by his mantra. However, 59 is beckoning my youthful vanity.

When I get a rise of vainness seedlings, I look at my beautiful mother and I see how aging is graceful and spiritual. I should live by her mantra: “I am the Captain of this boat and I will go down with the ship!”

Should I also go down with the ship like a good sailor does? With each day that passes, I get older and I don’t seek the repair chair, I guess I am going down with the ship. Although the life preservers are on board the boat too! 😉

I guess you do what makes you feel good. I cross country ski and I don’t look in the mirror and the day blends into the next day – I’m content.

I suppose someone in their 70s and 80s would consider me a “yute”. I know I’m not, I just don’t know how I got here so fast. But, the 100 personal journals are created from a respectful length of time, so it’s real, real older.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad about getting to the edge of 60. I’m not escaping the truth. I just can’t get a handle on the time spent so quickly. All the bananas and cheese I ate. I all the kilometers I ran. All the hours I spent in the garden, and skiing. All the lesson plans I wrote, delivered and papers I corrected. The gallons of tea I drank. The words and words and words I wrote.

THE TOILET PAPER ROLLS I WENT THROUGH!

A fair chunk of time, my millage is accumulating.

This is not a reflection essay as that would be a 100-page paper. This is a “pause in the performance” essay to reflect on being here now. I am Living in the 59th Now and I don’t know how the hey this happened so quickly.

Now what?

The plan is to continue along this wonderful path with hopefully a few bumps in the road. To enjoy every day I am given. To give back as much as I can. To appreciate all the small and big things in life. To be a better me today than yesterday. To make the world a better place one step, one person, one article at a time.

Will I accomplish all this? I will try to.

Will I continue to misspell, use improper grammar, poorly chose punctuation, and swear like a bandit every day? Oh, ya! How’s about hitting the curb, feeling sad for things I can’t fix but want to and eat way too much candy? Oh, ya! And worry about something every day. Me bad, ya!

Be annoying? Oh, ya! That one is for my children, their biggest complaint about me.

So, what do you do when you’ve come to realize you are old-ish and no longer youth-ish, and want your tush-ish to pop-ish?

ACCEPT-ISH with a smile and move forward young man.

Keep On Keeping On: Curtis Mayfield.

“Call in the Maintenance Crew or the Zamboni!”

It still doesn’t make sense.

— By Suzanne Reisler Litwin

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