Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about ideas and creativity. Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome as it turns an article into a discussion. They must, however, be in English to avoid spam getting in here.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

aging and changing

by Rain Trueax

Currently, as a writer, it might appear to someone around me that I have not been working hard. There's been needed research, but that's actually fun. I let my computer print off the needed pages-- no work for me. What I am mostly doing is mental as I let my story get populated before I start creating the scenes. Growing characters requires my slowing down and just thinking, letting the little mining town (fictional) become real in my mind. I don't take many notes although I have a yellow pad with some of the aspects on it. So, it's developing but I admit my thoughts are elsewhere.

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When I was in my middle years, I don't recall coming to a year and thinking-- this is important. Mostly, the importance came out of what stage my kids were in. When I turned 50 though, the fledglings had fled the nest, were feathering their own, and I did think-- what will my 50s hold. To celebrate turning it, I suggested my husband and I go to Oregon Caves, where i had last been as a child.

My 50s held remarkable good things. The year I would turn 56, we bought our desert home. Those were years I walked a lot, hiked places I never had, took photos of myself (glamour and sexy shots) for the fun of doing it. I think I felt more conscious of my looks than I had in any younger years. I read a lot of books on improving my life, figuring out what I wanted (If you are at that point in your life, I highly recommend In the Meantime.). I did a lot of sculptures, painted, took risks, and did things I'd never done before. I changed major things spiritually. To sum up my 50s in one word, it'd be adventure-- of the emotional and mental sort. My 50s were fun with some pain intertwined. That's what adventure is about though-- ups and downs.

Entering my 60s, the picture above here along Romero Creek, I found a new awareness. When I was younger, I was supposed to do this or that. I lived a lot of my life doing what i was supposed to do. I had lived a full lifetime at 60. I had gone through changes, taken what i wanted, let go of what I decided no longer worked. It hadn't been a big, glamorous life, but I felt good at where I was. From then on, whatever was left (if anything) was for me-- I could do whatever I wanted. I didn't need to do anything if I didn't want to. No more self-improvement books.
One momentous year came midway into my 60s with another significant date. I turned 65, which meant eligible for Medicare. The picture above was the day i went into town to sign up for it. I wanted a photo to memorialize it. I felt excited at the new time with being officially old, and able to get Social Security, although I waited a bit for that.

The next big change came the year I would turn 68-- and decided to become an indie writer with not only the books I'd written much of my life, but with new ones I was still writing. Until then, my writing had been more of a hobby than a serious endeavor. Becoming an indie writer led to amazing pressures and discoveries. When I could have been sitting on a cruise-liner, instead I was calculating how to promote a book, writing blurbs, creating covers, reading devastating reviews on my books, and generally moving into, what was for me, virgin territory. Again, it was a mix of joy and pain with no way to predict which would be coming that day. It really was amazing to take such a new risk (and sharing creative endeavors to be judged by others is an emotional risk. When the work is rejected or ignored, it hurts. Anyone stepping out that way will tell the same story). It was time consuming and hard work and in years where I would have expected to be sliding into a comfortable old age.

I wrote more books and they were about adventure, sex, heroes, women getting what they wanted, the land, places, and history. They always ended with making a reader feel good-- that's the promise of romances.

Though no one watched me, I felt self-conscious, as I laughed my way through royalty free modeling sites judging men and women there for being hot or not. He's not strong enough-- why don't they have more blond male models? I'd written books when it didn't matter that i had an image to represent them. It was important once i needed covers.

This wasn't the original cover for [Desert Inferno] but it was the first book I brought out as an indie writer. I needed an ugly man for the cover-- you know, the kind who actually is attractive but have those rugged features that make him not know it... They don't exist in the royalty free world but I see them now and again in real life-- without the nerve to ask them to let me use them on a cover ;). I tried many things but eventually got around the cover issue by emphasizing her and blurring him.

The year I would turn 70, we were supposed to be in Yellowstone but that was the government shutdown and the park was closed. We took our relatively new to us travel trailer in a trip around Oregon-- the eastern part of the state. It involved rivers, lakes, mountains, museums, more ideas, and finally I got to see Tsagaglalal, She Who Watches, a significant petroglyph/pictograph in the Columbia River Gorge. For years, i had wanted to see her and what more perfect time than now when I put so much into my writing. She fits a time as a writer, observer of life, but someone who still wants to contribute in new ways. (If you are into myths, this is one of them about her-- Legend of Tsagaglalal according to the Wishram people.)

When I read Barbara Ehrenreich's thoughts on being over 70, I related to it though I haven't read the book. I had never had a desire to get really old although I hadn't intended on checking out just yet. Still, this year, I'll be 75 and that is older than I expected to reach (I thought I'd die before 30 and once that didn't happen, I quit predicting a year). I am now genuinely old, the category where if something happened to put me in a newspaper, they'd describe me as elderly. I can see old age bodily changes far more than I ever did in earlier years- these are the reverse teen years.

Because of my age, I have made some decisions on what i would not do to stay living if something catastrophic hit. Those might, of course, change if something catastrophic happens to my health-- and for many of us, it will-- although, some just go. It's how my mother and father did it. That doesn't guarantee that it'll be that way for me. I don't fear being dead-- the dying process though is the worrisome part. You can't though get into your 70s and not think some about it.


Paul H McClelland said...

And it has been a great trip. Always watching and thinking, that is the girl.

Rain Trueax said...

I've had a good partner in Ranch Boss :)

Tara Crowley said...

Did you ever read Gail Sheehy's "Passages" books? I found them useful.

I love your term "reverse teenage years." Yep. The thing that I understand, now, and think you do as well, is life is endlessly fascinating - no matter what decade you are in. Each decade brings new discoveries.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

your insight and friendship through many of these decades enrich me.

Rain Trueax said...

Yes, Tara, in the years i was reading books to help me get a handle on my time in life, I liked that book and others by her.

We've had a rich friendship, Diane :)

Debby said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on aging. I relate to so much you said, had to chuckle in a few places such as no more self help books. It is good to have another's thoughts on this aging process so I feel less alone on this inevitable path.