New col­umn:

Eleanor Black tack­les be­ing 43

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Eleanor Black thought be­ing over 40 was a breeze un­til she hit 43 and a few things started head­ing down­hill. This is the first of a new weekly col­umn in which Eleanor tack­les the phys­i­cal and men­tal ef­fects of mid­dle age, re­fus­ing to be de­feated. Mother Na­ture is a smug lit­tle num­ber isn’t she?

I sailed through 40 with nary a pause. I didn’t feel any dif­fer­ent, re­ally, and the men­tal load as­so­ci­ated with cross­ing into a cat­e­gory I had been taught to dread – Mid­dle Age, land of shelf-bo­somed ma­trons and des­per­ate dudes in pe­nis cars – didn’t com­pute. I did not iden­tify with any of it, so I didn’t care.

Now I am 43 and some­thing is up. I am so tired. All the time. Some days I don’t ac­tu­ally know how I am going to scrape up all my age­ing parts, as­sem­ble them into some­thing re­sem­bling the woman I used to be, and get out the door.

I use up my pre­cious en­ergy stay­ing chip­per and pro­duc­tive at work, tick­ing off my list at the su­per­mar­ket, host­ing play­dates for my chil­dren, catch­ing up with friends – and most peo­ple are hood­winked. They think I am nice. My hus­band knows the truth: I am a mas­sive cranky­pants, some­one who’d live un­der a bridge in a fairy tale, ter­rify the vil­lagers and cackle as they ran away scream­ing. I would wel­come it.

I have lots of com­plaints. My hair is fall­ing out. My mus­cles are dis­ap­pear­ing. Walk­ing the dog is no longer a le­git­i­mate weight-loss strat­egy. My skin is break­ing out and going kinda crepey at the same time. My short-term mem­ory is patchy and un­re­li­able. My stom­ach in­sin­u­ates it­self over the top of my waist­band when I sit in the car. I can no longer get away with eat­ing cheese and crack­ers for din­ner. If I drink more than two glasses of wine I lose my mind.

I am ashamed to say I have started pay­ing at­ten­tion to shouty pos­i­tive peo­ple with head­band mi­cro­phones, like Tony Rob­bins. Do they have the se­cret af­ter all? Are they liv­ing their best lives, jump­ing on those mini tram­po­lines and drink­ing green juice, while I merely sur­vive? I am open to that pos­si­bil­ity. I am fed up with feel­ing fed up, so I am try­ing new things. I even bought a jour­nal to record my goals.

I don’t be­lieve in Marie Kondo, but I have pared my wardrobe back to just those items that flat­ter me as I am, not as I might be in a year’s time if I stop eat­ing may­on­naise and start do­ing hot yoga. As­sum­ing that any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is bet­ter than slump­ing on the sofa in a stu­por, I at­tempt to grab lit­tle bits of ex­er­cise here and there, like ta­pas for the body. If I had any get up and go what­so­ever I might in­ves­ti­gate the body ta­pas idea and see if I could mon­e­tise it, ’cos I have def­i­nitely seen worse fit­ness schemes.

Any­way, I can’t go on like this, mean and bloaty with pants that don’t fit. I am going to ap­proach the prob­lem of my un­fit, moody, over­whelmed 40s in the same way I ap­proach any­thing: re­search the shit out of it, try what sounds fun, and hope for a brighter to­mor­row. Why don’t you join me?

“I can’t go on like this, mean and bloaty with pants that don’t fit. I am hop­ing for a brighter to­mor­row.”

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