When you get dressed in the morning … don’t forget to put on your attitude!
Most of us grow up planning for fairytale lives stocked with immortal health, and eternal love. We daydream of raising children, spoiling our grandchildren, and traveling after we retire. Then, without warning, and without a back-up plan, John Lennon said it best; “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Becoming a widow is never by choice, but surviving it is. The women chronicled in From Granny Panties to Thongs, The Mourning After, went through hell and back before landing on the other side, and the other side meant something different for each of them. When they were ready to live again and to love again, they discovered that their mental reference book was filled with postings from college years, careers, marriage, dinner parties, and diapering. It did not include one memo on what to do the second time around.
Mature women in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and even in their 80’s, experience the same first-date-jitters as they did in their teenage years. They stress over what to wear, how attractive they are, what they’ll talk about, and whether or not they should offer to pay. Much like they did in high school days, they will try on every outfit in the closet, and then shudder over their drawer of dated granny panties and harness bras. The important part was that these women made the brave choice to begin their journey. Though their stories are different, they all took flight with one essential life accessory – ATTITUDE.
Whether dating younger men, giving online dating a shot, throwing out their dated moo-moos, or ignoring the pleas of friends and family telling them that they weren’t ready to date – when cloaked in attitude they found that the journey was much more interesting. They took chances, didn’t worry about the judgment of others, and carried a sense of humor with them at all times.
One woman talked about the day that she woke up, quit her support group and decided to begin a future that wasn’t centered on grief. She had lost her husband a year earlier and at 58, knew she had to take a deep breath and dive back into the land of the living; “I forced myself to quit saying no to every invitation, and I started going to dinner with anyone who would ask…men, women, friends, acquaintances, former students, anyone! My rule was, as long as you weren’t a rapist, homeless, or into child porn, I would go to dinner with you.”
That took place 20 years ago, and she has since married a wonderful man. Her advice to other women is to look beyond. “Look beyond a little pot belly or a balding head; look beyond a corny joke or a silly remark; look beyond too tall or too short. Just look beyond the shallow things that may seem imperfect. There are a lot of nice men out there, but you can‘t go looking with a magnifying glass. Instead, take time to peel off some layers and look a little deeper. Look for sensitivity, integrity, compassion and above all, kindness. If you find those qualities, then you’ve got it all.”
Not all of these ladies rode off into the sunset with Prince Charming, and some of them will tell you that they kissed a few toads along the way. No matter though; they will also tell you that the decision to begin your journey is far more important than the outcome. We do have a choice each day in regard to the attitude that we will embrace. We cannot change the way that people will behave. We cannot change the inevitable, the inescapable, or the unavoidable. The only thing we have complete control over is our reaction. Whoever wrote the old adage, Attitude is Everything, was brilliant. What does attitude have to do with happy endings? The answer is everything.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/Rob Bayer