Too often is the case that I find myself by week’s end scrambling to get to everything I set out to do but wasn’t able to during the week. And usually, I am not up to the challenge. At the close of every week I’m in a mad dash to return phone calls, do some writing and make progress on wedding planning. My difficulties don’t just lie in weekly tasks, I have the same problem with leaving the house. Inevitably as I try to get ready to leave my home be it for an appointment, work, running errands or leisure, I find myself in a mad dash. Needless to say, I feel perpetually stressed. Whether I am in a hurry or not, I feel hurried because I always seem to have an endless list of things to do.
After a long discussion with a colleague, I’ve come to realize I somewhere along the way lost a sense of priorities. Everything seems have morphed into equal importance. If I have to choose between taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat litter, and completing a writing assignment, I’ll take out garbage and clean kitty litter first. I rationalize doing small items first as thoughtless tasks that can be knocked out fast leaving more time to “concentrate” on important things like writing. Dido with leaving the house. If I need to get somewhere, and I only have a half an hour before I must get out the door, I’ll make the bed, clean up the bathroom and kitchen before putting on my makeup.
The truth is, I’ve been operating this way for as long as I can remember. Always putting must do items last thinking if I do all the little things first, I can get them out of the way so I can focus on what’s important. The pressure to live up to the standards of a multitasking world has got me running in circles. Well, after carefully examining all my routines, I realize I have simply been engaging in a well crafted but misguided form of procrastination. If I want a more orderly and less harried life, I have to make a better habit of setting up my priorities.
The first item of business is a to do list. I don’t have a regular schedule, so I thought I didn’t need to make to do lists. I was clearly wrong. Writing things down works. By making a list for the week I can see what requires the most time and instead of putting them last, I can give them top billing. It’s so simple I can’t believe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. Oh what headaches I would have saved myself in college if I had applied this rule to assignments and exam study. The fact is all those times I put the little items first, I was setting myself up for failure. All those small tasks may seem thoughtless, but they start to build up. I might have a clean home with a fresh smelling litter box, but that big writing project is now running behind and I am physically exhausted. Between being drained from all my chores, and feeling stressed over not getting any writing completed, I’m in no state of mind to do my best work. It’s not multitasking if you can never get anything important done.
When getting ready to leave the house to go anywhere, I know I have to start the night before. I am not one of those people who can pull clothes from the closet at the last minute and look pulled together. I’m also not a gal who can put makeup on in five minutes. So why do I constantly allot the smallest amount of time for getting ready in comparison to tidying up my home before I leave? By not embracing who I am, I never figured out what works for me. I can spend hours staring at my closet before I actually settle on an outfit for the day. I have to recognize I am the woman who has to pick clothes out, organize my handbag, and place them, along with keys and shoes by the door the night before. I am the person who has to make a list and put the big items first and save the small things for later.
I have to constantly remind myself the goal is to feel good about the work I do and be collected and calm when I leave my home. Doing what it takes to achieve my goals is the priority. If there’s a mess waiting for me when I’m done, it’s no biggie. What is a big deal is feeling stressed every time I do anything because I have an endless list of things to do.
As my fiance puts it, I have to start taking things off my list. Everything is not of equal importance. As much as I’d like to be, I can’t be perfect at everything so why put so much pressure on myself to do everything perfectly all at once? That’s a question I’ll have to answer some other time, right now I have to get ready to spend the day enjoying the fall foliage with my Boo. It’s a matter of priorities.
As I am wrapping up my search for my perfect wedding dress, I decided to take a peak at what a few famous women did when they took their turns down the aisle at 40.
Marcia Cross who was 44 at the time she married in 2006, wore a custom Reem Acra gown and accessorized it with a cathedral-length veil and Neil Lane platinum-and-diamond jewelry.
Molly Sims was 38 back in 2011 when she walked down the aisle in this beautiful dress by Marchesa and jewels by Lorraine Schwartz.
At 40, when Nicole Kidman walked down the aisle for her second wedding, she wore a
Mariska Hargitay walked down the aisle at 40 in a pale pink Carolina Herrera strapless gown. As a special detail, she had the groom’s initials and wedding date sewn in side of the dress.
When 44 year old financial and investment executive Mellody Hodson wed film director George Lucas this past summer, she glided down the aisle in a dress a classic bridal gown with off-the-shoulder straps and an intricately beaded bodice by Peter Soronen.
And finally we can’t forget our favorite fictional single gal, Carrie, who finally weds Mr. Big at 42 in a “dress by no one” but chose a satin pump by Manolo Blahnik for her something blue.
Recently I got to thinking about my past dating life. I couldn’t help but compare all the men I dated previously to the man with whom I’m choosing to spent the rest of my life. While there are some similarities between them all, tall and attractive with a slenderly athletic physique, there are some glaring differences. A lot of the men I choose to date seemed to be, well to put it bluntly, narcissistic and incredibly unfocused.
One of the things I wished I had learned in my 20’s was that men will treat you exactly how you expect to be treated. If you put absolutely no expectations on them, they won’t adhere to doing anything other then what pleases them, giving you very little if any real thought. Part of the reason I feel like men give off mixed signals, like – I’m not ready to be in a committed relationship – but I like you and I want to get to know you better – but I want to take it slow and see other people – is because we as women allow it.
If a guy is giving you the I want to be with you but I don’t want to put labels on our relationship speech, you don’t have to settle if it’s a thousand miles from what you actually want. Yet time and time again we put up with mixed signals because we think this guy is cute, funny, nice, smart etc. But the truth is, if he isn’t interested in dating you according to your expectations, he isn’t a guy you need to be dating. For years I dated guys who set the terms of our dating. Looking back I can’t believe I went along with this for as long as I did. Most men I dated were never really marriage material to begin with, yet I continued to let most of them set the perimeters of when we saw each other and how often we were in contact making it clear I was one in a few on rotation.
One of the first things that attracted me to my fiance was his focus, along with his confidence. I recall him telling me in regards to a girl he was once interested in, who seemed to have focus issues of her own, that he was boyfriend material, not just someone to date. I remember thinking, wow, who says that? He clearly knew that he was not interested in competing with other guys for a girl’s attention and he was only interested in girls who wanted to be in real relationships. Rarely had I met a guy who was so open and clear about what he wanted. Until I met my fiance I thought men were incapable of wearing their hearts on their sleeves. And thus a new standard was born. Once we began dating I noticed and appreciated all the little and big ways this guy was special.
First, he paid attention to the details. He listened when I mentioned I always wanted to learn the differences between wines and then presto, we were on a surprise date to a wine tasting class. I got text messages regularly letting me know I was in his thoughts. We quickly developed our own code words and had nicknames for each other. Our relationship developed with ease and it felt as natural as breathing. No pretense, no games, no mixed signals – we were firmly both on the same page. From that point I promised myself no matter how our relationship ended up, I’d never go back to dating the way I had before. It felt so right to be with someone who was focused and committed to the relationship that I knew I could never again date anyone who wasn’t able to do the same.
So while it took me until my mid 30’s before I had this revelation, it’s a standard I encourage for anyone still wading around the dating pool. Whether you are a teenager in your first relationship or you are well into adult hood, the same advice applies. Know what your standards are in a relationship and hold steadfast to them no matter what.
When I was a young woman of oh lets say 23 years old, I fell in love with the group TLC. Each member brought their own unique style to form an innovative girl group that didn’t just appeal to the male eye candy standard. Left Eye brought around the way brass and clever rhymes. Chilli was the natural beauty with a sweet light voice. And T-Boz had the flyest hair and that killer husky vocal that was the very essence of tough and sexy. Their catchy girl power theme songs included What About Your Friends, Creep, No Scrubs and Waterfalls and they dominated the music charts at the height of their careers.
This coming Monday, October 21st, Crazy, Sexy, Cool: The TLC Story debuts on VH1 at 9pm. As a fan I am definitely looking forward to watching this docu-drama about the most successful selling female group of all time. The remaining living members of the group (rapper, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez died in April 2002) have been on a promotion tour for the film and the ladies are just as dynamic and timeless as ever.
Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas is 42 (pictured on the left) and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (on the right) is 43, and despite financial hardships, health issues and relationship disappointments neither one of these ladies seem to have aged. The two have announced, in addition to the biopic and the release of an accompanying soundtrack, they are in the studio preparing to release all new music as a duo, something the group has not done since Lopez’s death. With all the interest surrounding the group with this new film, fans like myself can only hope this new momentum keeps these talented ladies in the spotlight.
It looks like our favorite felling hella good rocker is pregnant with her third child. Stefanie, 44 and husband, fellow rocker Gavin Rossdale, 47, have yet to publicly confirm the pregnancy but the baby bump was on full display this past weekend as the Rossdale’s went pumpkin picking in California. It’s always great to see women proving that it’s possible to conceive a child in your 40’s. Congrats to them!
Today is my 43rd birthday. All week long I’ve been in a peaceful state of mind. For the first time in a long time I don’t feel the need to make big plans for my birthday or even do anything particularly special. Perhaps it’s because I have settled into a place of contentment and for that I am truly grateful.
Of course things are far from ideal and no where near perfect. There are certainly areas that I wish I could say were more firmly put into place. But instead of seeing these things as failures, I see them as challenges yet to be conquered and the best part is, I now know I will not only over come any issues or setbacks but will exceed them.
A year ago I will candidly admit I was in a dark place. My past, present and future seemed to be melting into a bleak and sad stew of pain and sorrow which felt almost inescapable. Yet I did manage to get out of the darkness and even though there were days I crawled on my knees, I did eventually make it to the light. And for that I am grateful. I am grateful for the times when I couldn’t walk but could still crawl. I am grateful for the days when I could walk but still could not run. And I am ever still grateful for the ability to try every day to push forward.
So no matter that I am still not where I always thought I should be at this age, I am grateful that I simply am here. Right where I am right now is exactly where I am happy to be and for that I know I am blessed.
One of the best things about being an older woman is knowing when to walk away before it’s too late. Despite wanting children, Fox, 49, says she knew the man she was about to marry was not the one for her. If she were younger could she have had this same courage?
Could you walk away from your dreams of having your own family despite the fact that you felt the man you were marrying was not the love of your life? I have several friends from college who married at a young age who knew their men were not “The One” but chose to marry any way because they wanted children and a sense of family.
While these women are still married today, I can’t say that they are happily married, but they do have children whom they adore. So I guess the real question is, do we really have to make these kinds of trade offs to “have it all”?