Thoughtful Thursday – Staying happy in the Autumn of my everything -Part One

This is part one of a two (maybe three) part rambling about being middle aged, a woman, and doing what I love.

As well publicized, I turned 51 just last month.  I told you, as well as my family and friends, and more importantly myself that I was a-okay with that fact.  Yeah, like my other choices are viable.  1) lying about my age – to difficult and frankly ridiculous  2) death.  Even less appealing than getting older or lying about getting older.   I have never been less sure of what I am supposed to be doing in my entire life. Less sure of who I am or why I am who I am.  Confused yet? Yeah, me too.  So I have set about try and figure me out a little.  As much as I might like to think I have “outgrown” the Spring and Summer of my life, it becomes more obvious the opposite is true.

I could fill my days with puttering around, keeping an immaculate home while slowing and surely loosing what little mind I have.  I could cook three meals a day, never have a dirty dish or article of clothing.  I could iron, sweep, mop,  and dust until my head explodes.  Not my cup of tea.  I want you all to read this next bit with the truth behind it.  And know that I am not in anyway being disrespectful to my mom.  I loved my mom, I miss her and think of things every day that I would like to tell her or ask her.  But as much as we were alike in some ways, we were even more different in others.  My mother liked to do things that she had complete dominion over.  I don’t know if she truly loved an immaculate house, but she had one. It was very important to her that no matter what time of day or night, if the door bell rang, everything was in its place.  Our toys were kept in our rooms.  We didn’t play in the other parts of the house.  When the boys were young, we had a play pen and they played in there with toys. We had toys outdoors but I can’t remember a time when my mom’s house wasn’t spic and span.  When I was young we even had cleaning ladies.  I don’t know what they are called in other parts of the country but down here, cleaning ladies.  I can only remember a few brief periods of time when my mom didn’t have someone employed.  And at times she would talk me into letting her lady come clean for me.  My house always drove my mom insane.  Too much stuff.  The sink always had something in it.  Laundry needed to be done and one has never really wanted to eat in my bathroom.  You could have had dinner in my mom’s bathrooms.  They were that clean.  At all times.  And I think it made her old before her time.  Fretting over things that really didn’t matter to anyone else.  My dad never saw one way or the other.  If he had arrived home and had to wade through dirty laundry and clean off the table before he could sit down to eat, he wouldn’t have cared.   My parent’s home always looked as if the realtor was about to bring a potential buyer by to see it.  As an adult I often felt a little uncomfortable there because I had lived on my own long enough to get out of some habits and I always feared one of the kids or I would leave a mess and that would be unacceptable.  I think those habits are sufficiently broken 🙂  The few times I had someone hired to help me, I felt like I had to help them.  I felt guilty even though I was paying them, that they were doing MY work.  It just wasn’t for me.

My mom had a sister named Dessie.  The complete opposite of my mom.  Sixteen years older and a horrible housekeeper.  Horrible.  Even to me!  She had one room that was keep clean in case company came. But leave that room and you were on your own.  I can’t tell you how many times I started to sit down on a chair and her scream “NOOO, the babies are under that blanket!”  That could have meant baby kittens.  Baby rabbits.  Chicks.  Who knew?  More than twice I was told “You will have to take a shower, the ducks are in the tub.”  You think I am joking??? Nope.  Why would I be surprised though since the billy goat had chased me to the point that I needed a bath. And my aunt and uncle lived in town.  Smack dab in the middle of town. If they had ever zoned they would have had to move.

My aunt and uncle had a watch parrot.  Oh they had dogs too. Usually 2-3 small bulldogs.  But the parrot kept things in order and let them know if anyone was in her sight. And cats.  Lots of cats. Kenneth Richard had a litter of kittens by caesarean  (she never could tell what a kitten was before it was a year old) and was allowed to recover in the middle of  their bed while  Aunt Dessie and Uncle Orville slept on the couches with the dogs until Kenneth Richard got her stitches out and the kittens were old enough to move to the room where the parrots and cats lived.  And then the parrots, Polly and Bill helped Kenneth Richard take care of the kittens.  Polly would come waddling out of the room with a kitten in her beak.  Whomever was there would have to ooo and aaaahhh over the kitten and then she’d take it back.  And Polly talked.  So that added a whole other level of weirdness to the mix. Polly didn’t like to be alone and after Bill died she went through a grieving spell where someone or something had to be in the room with her.  When it got dark if none of the other animals had made it back into her room (yes, the parrot had her own room – she shared with the cats) she would set up a howl!  “Orville!”   “Dessie!”  “CATS!” “BULLDOGS!” .  Then she would wait to see if anyone responded.  If not she would screech “HELP ME! HELP ME!” until someone or something, did.

If you had taken my mom and her sister, put them in a bag, shook them up, I would have fallen out.  Just enough like each of them to make me a lot to handle.

Sorry, Thoughtful Thursday is running amuck in my brain this morning! But back to the subject of finding happiness in the sometimes, often times, mundane life’s work of a middle aged woman. One who could arguably be diagnosed with Adult ADD, all kidding aside.

Why is it that when a woman finally comes into her own,when she finally feels like she has the skills needed to actually make a difference in things, less and less she is needed to actually do those things?  Isn’t a mom’s goal to raise her children to be self-sufficient?  Able to not only see to their own schedules and plans and sometimes even meals, but quite able to make their own decisions, both small and life changing.  Don’t get me wrong, I practically refuse to make opinion about most important things in my adult children’s lives, much less a decision for one of them.  I have probably voiced my opinion more in the past 6 months than in the past 30 years concerning what my children, in my mind, should be doing with their lives.  Mostly, I keep my thoughts to myself about important things because, well, they ARE important.  And important things should be decided by those most affected.  And honestly, I have never wanted to be responsible for influencing them in the wrong direction and feel like I don’t know enough, don’t have enough experience in some situations to give anything other than a gut reaction.  They likely already have that.  Now, words of wisdom, those are harder to come by.  I have always preferred to make my own mistakes and have tried to allow my grown children the same luxury.  Or curse, which ever it turns out to be.

What do I like to do??? I love to bake.  I like to cook.  But baking is exceedingly more fun to me.  My husband likes to cook and really only likes to bake bread, so that all works out perfectly. However baking for others is frankly a lot of work.  A lot.  And it is nerve racking.  And not much fun at all to do by yourself.  See not only do have all the work to do alone, but you have the mess to clean up too!  It is encouraging and almost impossible to tell people “no” when they start off the inquiry with “OMG, I ate those little thingies, that were just heavenly…the best…so beautiful…” I almost feel selfish if I have to say no.  I am quite aware I am not the only person who can make petit fours.  I just might be the only fool who will agree to do it!

I like a clean, organized home.  However, only occasionally do I find real happiness in the tasks it takes to have such.  Yes at times, crawling around on my hands and knees cleaning baseboards is utter joy.  But most of the time, I choose to ignore the dust bunnies and coating of yuck on every surface of my home.  Living on a dirt road with a dirt drive doesn’t help that situation at all.  I can start cleaning in the back of the house and by the time I get to the other end, the back is dusty again.  Honestly, that is very little exaggeration.

I love to sew.  LOVE IT.  I love to make aprons and embellish things.  I often said, even out loud, that in another place and time I would have loved to design and make children’s clothes.  Well, actually I did.  I sewed a lot of what the youngest girls wore.  Simple little dresses, from simple little fabrics with deep double hems and covered buttons.  With little embellishments on the cuffs or collar.  Nothing bold.  Understated and delicate.  I have made many an apron.  But to only sew aprons – I would be one of 50 thousand women making aprons and attempting to turn them into a business with a profit.  Sewing is one of those things people want you to do, often beg you to do because they either don’t have the equipment, or are not suited for the detail work.  However, it is difficult to determine what a handmade, well made garment is worth.  Some will pay $75 for a pair of pants that they are two cupcakes away from having to give away, but they think $40 for an apron that will last them the rest of their lives is just ridiculous.  But yet,  I still enjoy sewing and seeing other people happy with what I make.  I really do.  I LOVE  tucking a little lavender sachet in an apron pocket, folding, ironing, wrapping in tissue paper, writing a little note thanking them (sincerely) for allowing me to make them an apron that will be useful and loved and hopefully passed down, and then packaging and zipping it off to a place far away to someone who appreciates the handiwork and labor that went into it.  Sewing is as much work as fun.  And anyone who sews knows that.  Anyone who doesn’t can’t imagine that.  And on top of all, a woman who is serious about sewing needs a place to sew.  A place that is for no other purpose.  Having to drag out and put up takes more time than you have to give to the project.

To be continued…

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Susan…The 50’s are confusing…but exciting at the same time. When I was in my early 50’s ( I am now 56 ) I questioned everything… and felt lost for a bit. I honored how I felt…but asked for guidance at the same time.

Out of all this…came the awareness that my self worth was not about what I did… but about expressing my feminine spirit each day… by being a caring, kind and loving human being…and using my gift and talents to add beauty to the world. This is my joy and passion.

Express your authentic self Susan…and do what brings you joy… it is that simple.

To me… success is being my own authentic self and living from that truth… and whether you know it or not… so are you…so cook your heart out…sew those aprons…and by doing so… you honor all women and our feminine spirits.

Victoria in Houston

I whole heartedly agree with Victoria on this subject. I’m just a bit older than you (55) and have felt the same way as you are feeling. I just want to tell you that right now with a few personal issues aside, I’m happier and more content with my life than at any other age range so far. You’ll get there as well, I’m sure.
I volunteer at a Senior Center and I’m the “kid” there. (smile!) I think that really helps with my attitude on my own aging. I am going there hopefully with grace, humor, and a sense of well being. Take care.


My only advise to you would be to live each day doing the best that you can and go by your gut (listen to that inner voice that when you are quiet~tells you whats what) My biggest problem was I had a severe brain injury at 51 that presented a whole other set of problems~I was just lucky to still be here and age became a none issue for me.
I so very much enjoyed the part about your Aunt Dessie and her animals!!!!!!!! If you wrote a book, I would stand in line to buy it. I loved what you shared as I am an real animal lover and sounds like Dessie was too! If I begged you, would you write more about her?


Love Dessie! Please write more about her! I would be standing right in line with thriftmaven if you wrote a book! I laughed at 4am when I was reading your entry. (Couldn’t sleep). You are an amazing woman, be proud of who you are. You have so many followers that obviously think you are pretty amazing! Have a good, productive day. I may just have to purchase one of your aprons!


Thank you for this entry. I loved it all and am waiting anxiously for part 2 and 3. I love your honesty and humor. It’s comforting to read your story particularly on day when I’m dreading those mundane tasks.

I’m 36 and your story of your mom and her obsession with a clean house is very familiar to me. I keep waiting on my clean gene to kick in but I’d rather just spend time with my kids or sew or scrapbook. I’d love to hear more about your sewing space.


Wow, I feel like I could be writing that. I’m 48 and recently quit my job because back problems mean I can’t sit or stand for 8 hours a day. Other than that I’m really not disabled. I have a child in college and 2 in high school who are all quite independent. So, I’m struggling with who I am and what I should be doing. I love to sew and sell some of what I make. I love to bake and sell at farmer’s market. I garden. I lay in the hammock and read books. My house is cluttered with crafty stuff and pets. My husband is fine with whatever I do. However, I’m having trouble finding contentment in what should be a perfect time for me……I don’t feel as productive as I did when I brought home a paycheck. Perhaps I should also blog about it…………