By now most of you are aware of the WSJ article that was published in May of this year by Ellen Gamerman, The New Rules of Middle Age Written by Women. What was more impressive was the responses from women on social media which yielded a follow-up article: ‘The Freedom of My 50s Is Amazing’: Women Share Stories of Midlife Reinvention.
What kind of Kuel Life would we be if we didn’t reach out to some of those women?
These are the women that HAVE stories to tell. Stories that may not make it into a WSJ but are far bigger and juicer than a FaceBook comment.
So, I decided to start telling these stories…. this is the FIRST.
Kim Friedman Landau, is a retired medical social worker and lives in Boston, this is her story:
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it’s come out of left field?
KIM: Once I left my marriage after 30 plus years, everything I did surprised me! Now, seven years later, I am quite used to the idea that I am always going to try new things and take chances in life. My long term friends, and my family, however, still wonder who this “new” Kim is !I love the camping trips we take several times a summer. I started biking and increase the number of miles I can ride in one day every year (last year it was 55 and my goal for this season is 63). And my partner and I are going to take Tango Dance lessons together this fall! I can’t wait to see what’s coming out of left field next!
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
KIM: The best part about my life is that there is no typical day, each one flows differently. If I don’t need to rush off, I have my early morning ritual of coffee on the couch, catching up on emails, national news and social media, and playing my word games. I always schedule in some form of exercise, typically walking several miles or biking a for good portion of the day.
I do volunteer work with cancer patients, periodic consultation work for a major medical research center, play a leadership role in our neighborhood community organization, craft beaded earrings that I donate to cancer patients, cook (especially in colder months), read, maybe write, and if I am lucky I get to have a 2 hour phone date with my bestie who lives in another state. The evenings are mostly spent catching up with David, meeting with friends, relaxing with a glass of wine and a favorite TV show.
KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?
KIM: Probably the one struggle left in my life is the negative body image issues I have had my whole life. It was ingrained in me at such a young age and nothing seems to help me get past that. I do know intellectually how silly and self-limiting it can be. Maybe someday I will stop worrying about what I look like, but until then it is an area of my psyche where peace eludes me.
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
KIM: First and foremost, with a strong sense of commitment and my own sense of integrity. I keep an ongoing daily list of things to do and continuously look at it, crossing out the items as I go along. My priorities are decided based on whether the deadlines are set by others or self-imposed, and some internal negotiations. I try to listen to my own rhythms and give myself permission to go with what it is telling me about how and when to tackle each item. A work commitment has no wiggle room, but a difficult personal phone call might be able to wait until after some self-care. Looking at a list with many items crossed out, and the sense of relief or accomplishment feels great! All items left are transferred to a new list for the next day. Seeing something on the list too many days in a row evokes enough guilt to get the job done!
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
KIM: Embrace it! Don’t look back with any regrets – everything you have done and experienced until now has made you who you are today. Either love who you are and your life or figure out how to evolve and change it! As we age, our purpose in life shifts – use your hard-earned wisdom to make that shift meaningful for you. This is a time that can be incredibly freeing – try new things, take risks, discover what you are really capable of! I am a breast cancer survivor, delighted that I have the chance to age, proudly sport my gray hair, and be part of a community like Kuel Life. I have friends who were gone way too young and aren’t here to even have this conversation.
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
KIM: What I think of when I feel vulnerable, it is always about whether I am “safe” with another to share my inner thoughts, flaws, insecurities, fears. If I sense that someone might be somewhat judgmental, distant, shaming, or looking to make me feel “abnormal”, then I feel exceptionally vulnerable and will shut down.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
KIM: Which life? My old one, or the one I am living now?! So hard to only pick three. Having my two sons, now ages 29 and 31 has clearly shaped most of my adult life and I have loved motherhood at every stage.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 51 “woke me up” in so many ways and was the start of my evolution towards recreating myself. Moving to a new city at age 59 to live with my partner has opened me up to so many new people and relationships, perspectives on life, ways of living and interaction with others, intellectual opportunities, along with the gift of a closer relationship with my son who lives here too.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
KIM: At one point when I was struggling with my life, I was telling my dear friend about dreams I had been having for years and I said, “someone is trying to tell me something”. Her response was, “YOU are trying to tell you something!” From that moment on I learned to listen to my inner self and trust her.
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
KIM: I believe we all stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us. For me personally that has meant any woman who has faced cancer without succumbing to the fear, or who has chosen divorce and ventured into the unknown despite the fear.
When I heard other women’s stories who had experienced what I was living, I felt their strength and was inspired to keep fighting, to take the leap, to survive, grow and thrive. Who knows what my next challenge will be, but I will certainly actively look for other women who have “been there” and guide me through it.
KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?
KIM: I hope so!I hope not!
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
KIM: At this stage of life, I am a big believer in self-care. I spend time by myself as much as needed, say “NO,” reach out to my “people” (partner, sister, friends, sons) to talk and process, I have let go of toxic relationships, I cry and laugh a lot, create art, binge on a good TV show, get myofascial release treatment sessions on a regular basis.
KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
KIM: The bucket seems to be empty right now. I have raised two wonderful young men. I have learned to love and honor myself as well as how to love someone else unconditionally. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined. I have learned how to live alone and like it. I have learned I can be happy and how to have fun. I have touched many lives and have allowed others to touch mine. I have eaten pizza in Napoli and escargot in France. What’s left, really?? So many things I want to do, but none that I need to.
AH . . .I would like a grandchild. I would like to someday dance on the beach, while eating full fat ice-cream, wearing a normal bathing suit with all my cellulite and saggy lumps visible, and to feel only the pure joy and see the smiles around me.