An Anthem for a Certain Age
When is it you become a person of a certain age?
As I was drifting off to sleep on the eve of my recent birthday, I recalled a comment I’ve heard so often in conversation with friends in Hollywood. “If you’re a woman of a certain age you can’t get arrested in this town.” Everyone nodded, like it was a given, a looming sentence we all should prepare for, a label slapped on our foreheads without our say.
The history of the label, which could be put on a man or a woman (most often placed on women), doesn’t have a flattering origin either. It dates back to the 1700’s when Lord Byron coined the phrase to refer to “spinsters” and “unfortunate women” without many prospects.
Today it calls to reference an age range or place in life that’s unspeakable, as in too old to mention the number as it would be embarrassing if it's said out loud. A certain age is also defined as “intentional vagueness.”
It got me thinking, it’s time to reclaim and reframe this label. To own it in a new way.
This trip around the sun I find myself contemplating confirmations, things I’m sure of. In fact, certainties. Things that are not vague. The assurances. Internal nods. The knowing that comes after years of trying, and doing, and being. Self-trust that is sharpened with age.
With this idea, a certain age becomes the age of certainty. Yes! I am a person at the age of certainty.
Even more to the delicious point:
I am a woman of certainty.
The beauty of this is it honors the aging and saging process because it's always evolving. It takes time and seasoning for true certainty, can’t-rock-my-axis kind of certainty, deep knowing but-of-course certainty, quiet wisdom certainty. God, that’s a good feeling.
It’s knowing and living your core truths from which you don’t waver. A sense of certainty is being clear on the yeses and the noes.
I am a woman of certainty.
It’s a sense of home, where, in a world of uncertainties it’s grounding to know this in your core.
So, as I reflect at birthday time, as I do every year, here are a few things of which I’m certain.
For me, certainty is not about being set in my ways but it’s having the discernment and self-awareness to know what’s right for me.
I own my story, not anyone else’s.
Most of the time people don’t notice your shortcomings. They’re busy dealing with their own.
Being well-informed means looking at and trying to understand all sides of the issue. Not easy at times, but important.
Curiosity is way more productive than judgment. Be curious, not judgmental.
Kindness matters. It opens doors, seals connections, and makes people feel safe.
Pauses are vital. They hold promise and provide the breath for solutions and answers and calm and rest and integration and genius, and time to catch up.
Smile, it releases tension.
Underindulging is satisfying.
Spending time with great books and great writers makes me a better writer. And person.
Saying “I love you” breeds vitality. My friends and I tell each other we love each other all the time.
Life is creativity in motion. We are always creating, whether it’s drama or opportunity or connections or works of art on the page, spreadsheet, or canvas – creating with intention builds a life with meaning.
Resistance is a constant force to reckon with. I find leaning into it helps find the path through it, in other words, just take the next step, write the next word, get out the door, pick up the phone.
Our greatest teachers often show up unexpectedly. And they keep showing up until we’re ready to learn what they’re there to teach us.
Balance is the place between effort and ease.
Joy is always bubbling beneath the surface.
Animals are the highest form of angels.
Our quietest fears are where we feel uncertain. A good question to ask is, what am I uncertain about right now?
And, as a woman of certainty, I’m certain there are still many things I’m uncertain about. I welcome them with curiosity.
Care to join me?