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Lisa Oppenheimer

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Seven Things I Thought I'd Outgrow by 50

Posted: 06/27/2013 7:58 am

Ah, the wisdom of being a grownup: the ability to let go of the insignificant stuff, the smarts to embrace the important.

Apparently, I'm still growing. Thankfully, some of the crucial insights of adulthood have stuck. I now know that mixing peppermint schnapps with blackberry brandy -- or really anything -- is just gross. I understand that staying home on a Saturday night (or a whole weekend) is so not a form of punishment. And I never, ever, ever complain about having to take a nap. But despite my completely idealistic youthful beliefs that I would one day feel entirely grown up, there are still a few things I'm waiting to either let go of or outgrow:

Adolescence: Here's the fantasy: that I'd be done with Clearasil when I got to Oil of Olay. Here's the reality: that Oxy 10, Clinique 1, and SPF 50 have made my face a paint-by-numbers project. Extra points for shopping in the adolescent and anti-aging sections at the same time. Ha ha, Mother Nature.

Hair fixations: Frizz fears of my youth led my husband to suggest 26 years ago that we get married in a meat locker. He was only half kidding. Nearly three decades later, my hair still tortures me. I've become used to friends asking why I'd ever blow out my curls, as if what's been hiding beneath my flattened, plastered tresses all these years is the equivalent of wide-plank wood beneath 70s shag carpet. But I can assure you that what's actually under there is neither Julianna Margulies...nor even Howard Stern. It's Albert Einstein (at least I was spared the mustache). And despite being certain that by age 40, I would have cut off my hair and embraced my inner poodle, I still hold on to the security of a ponytail in August and plan important life events around the dew point.

Quarter hoarding: I haven't used a coin-operated laundry machine since 1986. Fun fact -- since 1987, I've actually had my very own washer and my very own dryer in my very own house that I've been able to go to at any time without having to either buy a pizza or pay respects to my dorm's self-appointed Quarter Master. But memories of bartering for the all-powerful 25 cent coin remain so vivid that I covet quarters as if their absence will lead me to have to go back in time and rifle through my laundry bag for either a pair of dirty Gloria Vanderbilt jeans or my Wednesday underwear on Saturday. This pointless fixation (lots of parking meters don't even take change anymore) means not only that I am irrationally satisfied when the $5.07 for my coffee and bagel nets me 93 cents in change (three quarters!), it also ensures that my purse is always heavy enough to be used either as a weapon of self-defense...or a boat anchor.

Happy dancing on snow days: My last blizzard reprieve was during the disco era (Blizzard of '78! No math test!), but I still get an inexplicable sense of relief at the words, "No school." I also feel strangely compelled to watch cartoons.

Over packing: Unlike all the ultra-efficient women who've learned how to fit everything they need for two weeks into a purse, I still pack like I'm heading to camp...with a trunk. The process always optimistically begins with a tiny pile of miniature expectations ("Let's see, for three days in Florida, I'll need a pair of shorts, a couple of shirts, a bathing suit, sneakers...") until I start heaping on "necessary" items (contingency formalwear -- because you never know when you'll be unexpectedly invited to a ball by a visiting Duke) and generally packing as if Disney World is a developing nation.

My crush on David Cassidy: It's been a lot of years since "I Woke Up in Love This Morning," but I still get jealous when I see the sixth-grade photo of my friend Darryl sitting on Keith Partridge's lap. At least today I wouldn't leave my husband for him. Probably. And don't even get me started about dear, departed Davy Jones.

Sleeping 'til noon: just kidding. I'm up at 6:00 a.m. like the rest of you. But a girl can dream.

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  • A Good Friend

    Better yet -- a few: one who makes you laugh, one who listens without judgment and one who challenges you.

  • A Good Book...

    ...always on hand to return to.

  • At Least One Great Love Of Her Life...

    ...and preferably more than one. Letting go of the idea that there is a "one and only" person out there for you is a sign of maturity. By opening your mind and your heart to the possibility -- the reality -- that you can fall in love again, you remove a big obstacle to happiness.

  • A Go-To Purse...

    ...that's never out of style.

  • Great Black Boots... go with everything.

  • A Comfortable Bed and Bedding

  • A Good Vibrator

  • A Treasured Hobby

  • A Secret Crush

  • A Regular Exercise Routine...

    ...ideally one that involves friends.

  • At Least One Amazing Travel Experience

  • The Grace To Accept A Compliment

  • A Recognition Of Your Strengths...

    ...and how to use them.

  • A Handle On Your Buttons...

    ...and how to deactivate them.

  • An Appreciation That Gratitude Is The Basis For A Happy Life

  • The Experience To Know That Loving Is An Act Of Giving, Not Receiving

  • The Understanding That Money Is Not Happiness, Power Or Security...

    ...but just a tool to help you get the things you value; and that you can often get many of them without a lot of money.

  • A Love Of Life-Long Learning

    Life ends when your mind shuts down, not when your body fails you.

  • The Smarts Not To Be A Victim

    Self-sufficiency is part of wholeness.

  • The Awareness That The Grass Is NEVER Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence

  • The Ability To Laugh At Yourself...

    ...and with others. A sense of humor is a great tonic for the mind and soul.

  • Fearlessness!

    With decades of experience under your belt, you know how to move forward with courage and confidence.

  • Belief In, And Support Of, A Cause Higher Than Oneself

  • A Quiet, Verdant Place... disappear and appreciate Mother Nature.

  • Eight Hours Of Sleep On A Regular Basis!

  • Louise Percy

  • nunimine

  • The Ripe Report

  • "That You Really Didn't Have To Put Up With All That Bs...

    ...and you are perfect just the way you are." --Esther Petrilli-Massey

  • "Hopefully A Wonderful Relationship...

    ...and 'true' self confidence and self esteem." --David M. Logan

  • "All Of The 'Stuff' Doesn't Matter."

    "The big house you wanted...well, as you get older it gets empty. Then you want to downsize and purge the stuff!" --Patti McGee Thompson

  • "Know That Spark Inside That Connects You To What Really Matters."

    "If you let it take the lead, you'll deepen toward more honesty, creativity, meaning, purpose and joy." --Christine Castigliano

  • "Their Own Bank Account"

    --Kathy Abriola

  • "That Beauty Is Not One Size Fits All!"

    --Patricia Crisafulli, Huff Post Blogger

  • "The Ability To Say 'No' Without Guilt."

    --Pam Darville

  • "Successful Adult Children Who Do Not Live At Home."

    --Pam Darville

  • Beth Turnage

  • Lori McCoy

  • Celeste Bateman

  • "An Expensive Piece Of Jewelry That Was Purchased By Herself."

    "A really good sex life with a least one partner (past/present) a knowledege that info. constantly changes and we have to keep moving with it." --Linda

  • "Have The Courage To Stand Up For What You Believe In Without Fear Or Apology."


  • "A Relationship With The God Of The Universe."

    --Cheryl Meglio

  • "Reconciliation With 'MOM' Whether She Is Alive Or Deceased."


  • "What Other People Think Of You Is None Of Your Business!"

    --Irene Dittrich

  • 'Don't Sweat The Small Stuff', Don't 'Spin Your Wheels' Over The Insignificant....

    "The ability to prioritize what is important, will truly impact your life, or has significant negative consequences vs what is just an 'issue' that gets under your skin, or a perceived problem that is more trouble than it truly is worth. We often tend to get wound-up about things that really aren't as important as we think they are. If we stop and think---'Will this truly have a positive or negative effect on my life (or others'), or is it just something that is bugging me and I'm spinning my wheels trying to deal with it?'" --Chris

  • "Her Own Income."

    --Geri Brin

  • "How To Keep Her Heart Healthy."

    --Geri Brin

  • "Having The Confidence To Take Your Own Self Out To Dinner...

    ...when no one is available to go with you." --"Lucy and Ethel"

  • "By 50 A Woman Should Take A No Guilt Day At Home In Her Jammies Whenever She Needs One."


  • "Regularly Scheduled Manicures, Pedicures And Fresh Flower Deliveries."

    --Anne Marshall


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