Tune-up for getting old (er)

photo-203Life was going along smoothly. Kids okay, no tension at home, easy job compared to teaching. I was revved up for the three-day pre-nuptial Ethan and Steph celebration in Minneapolis last weekend.

Surprises at a family gathering…is anyone surprised? Old childhood insecurities popped up. I’m not getting enough attention. Nobody knows who I really am. I’m under-appreciated. I’m feeling awkward. 

I’ve gotten tired of blaming my mother for any of my fears that were hers. She’s been gone for nearly 30 years. I’ve already changed my life once, perhaps even twice or more. Picked myself up and drove cross-country to Tucson when I was 56. I’ve been here nearly 12 years. I’m on my third career as a writer/editor.


Recognizing my lack of confidence in Minneapolis, when I got back to Tucson I scheduled a therapy tune-up. I want to be strong and happy at Ethan and Steph’s wedding in May.

Old stuff emerged when I least expected it. I was a big-time worrier when I was younger, not a difficult girl like Lena Dunham, who expected therapists to fix everything. But I used to call all my girlfriends for reassurance when a problem arose.  I was a ruminator. At age 60 I finally submitted to anxiety medication. And that has made all the difference.

I’m not a worrier anymore. I’ve been happy living in the Tucson sunshine.

But I’m already old and getting older. My kids are all grown-up, launching their own lives. Will I ever be able to retire, write my own stuff?


Maybe I’m too hard on myself. I had a good time in Minneapolis — but not a perfect time. I loved seeing my kids so happy. We had fun conversations with interesting people. We had a lovely time cycling around Minneapolis, crossing the Mississippi River.


“You’re in transition,” my therapist said this week. It was a bit of a jolt. I’m going back to see her next month.




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4 Responses to Tune-up for getting old (er)

  1. “You’re in transition” – I love this, Sheila. A good reminder that no matter what age we are, we’re still in the middle of our lives, with all the challenges of being fully human, fully ourselves. And never too old to grow.

  2. Carol Shutt says:

    Great piece, Sheila! I’ve always loved the metaphor of life as a series of swinging trapeze bars. We spend a lot of time grasping firmly to our bars and happily staying right where we are. But every so often, we release our hold and (scarily, if that’s a word) fly through the air to the next bar. The part I always loved about this metaphor was what I was told next. The most authentic and important learning in our lives takes place not on the first bar, or on the bar we reach, but in the air itself, as we make the TRANSITION. This has always helped me to think of transitions more kindly…they are not a bad thing. Just hard. Be well. xo

    • sheilawill says:

      Carol, Annie, thank you for your support! I think of transitions as exciting although at first they seem scary. Who wants to stay on the same bar forever?

      I love you dear women pals!

  3. Gwen H. says:

    Loved your post, Sheila. I feel in transition myself. Liked Carol’s comment too, about swinging on the trapeze. Very apt.

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