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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: A new decade

The time has come for me to celebrate, as the saying goes, “another trip around the sun.” This past year has been unlike any other. Now, there is an understatement! A year ago, friends and I attended a local event, complete with a disco theme. We ate and drank and carelessly danced the night away. I don’t think any of us realized it would be one of the last public events we would attend. A month later the world turned upside down.

It is understood that this year, the celebrations will be a bit subdued. Small group activities only. Selfishly, I had hoped for something on a larger scale. This particular birthday is a big one. The kind that ends in zero. The start of a new decade. The decade that often ends in claiming some of the funds that has been removed from my paychecks during my entire work life. The decade that often ends with retirement. This decade is the first that, to me, sounds old. But old is a state of mind and many assure me, simply a number.

One of the nice things that happened last year was the formation of a weekly meeting of women on Zoom. A girlfriend and I started the group as a way to cope with the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic — back when we thought it might be a month or two — we invited women to join us and we (primarily my friend) would find other women to share their expertise. At first the topics were things like making our living space comfortable or simple at home exercises or how to cut our bangs. We had a local therapist discuss the difference between stress and grief. We would follow guided visualizations and learned to relax and remembered to simply breathe. We tried to stay away from politics and lost a few guests when we failed. We stopped scheduling speakers and began discussing topics of interest. Over time, as people got back to work, the group became smaller and more intimate.



These days our weekly group is primarily my friend’s friends, and family. We are in several states across the country – Florida, Georgia and here in California. Usually less than a dozen of us log on and spend an hour together. We have watched romance bloom and die. We have witnessed the joy of first time grandparenting. We have offered support after the loss of a spouse. We have shared our COVID experiences. We discuss the news of the day. Mostly, we connect with one another.

For the most part the group is a bit older than I am (save one), the group has decades on me. They are not my picture of what women in their 70s and 80s look like. All are still active, some still working and volunteering. Most are married, but others embrace being on their own. None of them are “done” and most are barely slowing down. Last week they were kind enough to help me ease into this next decade with some wisdom about aging.




The common theme – own it! In bullet points, the messages were to enjoy each day, to stop judging (myself and others), to learn to say “no” and not do anything I don’t want to do, to take care of my body with exercise and to take care of my mind by doing things that give me joy and replenish my spirit, to learn to speak my truth and stop putting up with other people’s crap and to stop worrying about what others think of me! Apparently, the older one gets, the less one needs to dwell on what others think. While the body may be wearing out, the confidence that comes with knowing there is less time in front of us than there is behind us has its benefits.

My takeaway from all of it is that as we age, we learn to let go of the nonsense. Women tend to be pleasers. We are raised to be caregivers. The older we get, the more important it is to let go of other expectations and to really enjoy each day. Life is short and getting shorter. It’s important to take care of our physical health and our body — which needs a daily walk, time outside and a good stretch! Oh, and comfortable clothing is essential – goodbye belts, high heels and high fashion.

This is our time to do the things that give us the most joy and our time to stop doing other’s bidding. Putting ourselves first might be the most challenging of all — and difficult for those around us to accept – even more reason to do so! Mostly, it’s time to sop waiting to turn a certain number to claim our own lives. There is no time like now to do the things I yearn to do and to ask others to help if help is needed. The only drama we have time for is on the stage or television.

While the pandemic limited my plans for a grandiose birthday celebration, nothing can stand in the way of my determination to spend my next decades being true to myself and going after what I deem important. I am grateful for all that I have, and for those I love and hold dear. This is a decade of letting go of that which does not serve me and standing up for myself. There is something to be said for finally being at the age where I can embrace the simple fact that what other people think of me is none of my business. Now if we can just get the world upright again …

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.

 


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