Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life Begins at Forty

Being Russian, born and raised in the USSR, I of course thought that we Russians invented this catchy phrase - it was one of the central messages of Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, the popular Soviet movie which won the Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film in 1980. But apparently, in 1932 there was an influential best selling self-help book by this title, written by Walter B. Pitkin, an American. Though he might also not be the one who invented the phrase, hard to say really, but what I know for sure is that I always loved the philosophy behind this phrase.

You see, I'm one of those weirdos who did not really get what was so cool about being twenty. Sure, there were plenty of good things and wonderful moments. But also, tons of complexes, lack of confidence, unanswered questions, often the feeling of being a white crow, an odd ball. As someone said once, when all the kids were having sex, I was sitting in my room, eating chocolates and listening to Beatles. (Here you may insert any other band famous for their love songs.) Yep, that pretty much was me. Listening to such Russian bands as Secret or Bravo, eating chocolates, knitting sweaters and of course daydreaming.

In some ways, I did not change at all. That's what struck me when I looked at these pictures. I feel so youthful. Not that I try or want to be young - I've just told you why. I feel that somehow my life really only began at 40. I think it's because I've lightened up. And I started actually really liking myself - just the way I am. I have never been a people pleaser, oh no, but in my 20's I did feel a lot of pressure from "the way they looked at me" or from trying too hard "to get it right", to get it "perfect". I was studying way too many ancient languages (those which are dead now - no one speaks them, no one can even say for sure how they were suppose to sound), serious literature and philosophy. It all was way too serious, and I was way too serious. And way to often had a broken heart. Luckily, the human heart is such a fascinating matter after all, it does not really break for real, just a little bit, and then it grows together, ready to love again.

I'm not that uptight serious girl anymore. But in other ways, I'm still the same me, the way I was 20 years ago. And I still prefer staying in my room to parties, and still love chocolate. The only difference is that instead of knitting, I now blog, and instead of listening to vinyls, I talk to my true love who (by sheer coincidence, I'm sure) also prefers talking to me over going to a party. 

And somehow, my newly started at 40 life makes it all right to be that weird girl with chocolates and dreams in her room. Somehow all she was dreaming about back then, came true.

I won't leave you without a couple of those songs I used to listen countless times in my 20s - on vinyl discs which either my brother, or my boy friend (not "my boyfriend" - just a friend who is a boy) bought for me, or at rare live concerts when the musicians (one band from Moscow, another one from St. Petersburg) would visit our town.

Dress - old, probably 8 years old, from Chico's
Vest - also Chico's, a year or two ago
Denim coat - thrifted (via Goodwill)
Purse - B Makowsky (via TJ MAXX)
Booties - Ecco (via Nordstrom)

And finally, after a year and a half, I need to buy new olive green tights - love green legz!



  1. love this cute russian bands!!!!!!
    although i looked like the complete opposite in my twenties - wild, partying, always the point of attention - i have the feeling that my "real life" started around 40 too. meeting hubby was the important part in that. and the therapy i took in my 30´s started to get grip in my system. i´m still some kind of wild, like a good party, and still people look at me more then usual but now i don´t "need this to feel alive". now i know what i´m worth. most days :-)
    i hope we will share some chocolate one day!!!!!
    ah - and your outfit is gorgeous - free, fun, chic! bonus points for perfect tights/shoes matching! hugses!!!!! xxxxxxx

    1. I'm positive that we will (share chocolates). :)

      I think it all boils down to me to "coming to your true self" at the end, whichever path any of us chooses in life. I picked mine, and I love it. :)

  2. These bands are an revelation to me, the only Russian bands I've seen are dreadlocked guys doing Bob Marley covers!
    Like Beate, I was a bit wild. I'd be out every night and rock up for work the next morning on a couple of hours sleep a night. I took risks, did mad things ad when i think back I'm often surprised I'm still alive!
    My life is different now and, like most of us, I'm a lot more comfortable in my skin with age and wisdom on my side.
    Love that dress, you're a sexy sight at 7.30am xxx

    1. You and I were twinsies in our twenties! LOL

    2. Oh there are so many great bands in Russia! I'm not into modern music these days, and don't really follow what's happening now, but back then, I listened to so many genres - including rock and even some heavy metal. :)

      I'm glad that you are more comfortable in your skin now - that is wisdom and true meaning of happiness to me.

  3. So clean cut, the bands I mean! Love your matching tights and shoes! You do look light in yourself. I can hardly recognise the person you were. I'm glad you've found a lighter way, and someone to share it with! Love the umbrella accessory too! Very suave. xo Jazzy Jack

    1. What I tried to say with this story is that I was a dream nerd in my 20s. And at 40s, I actually enjoy the fruit of that nerdness. I'm at peace not just with me now - but with me then.

  4. Another gorgeous dress on you. With the umbrella you're reminding me a bit of the show Avengers.
    I felt as though my life got better when I hit about 45. I feel younger than that inside. I talk to people at work sometimes and feel like I'm their age, or near, only to discover I'm actually old enough to be their mother! Life does get better with age, or it can if we let go of things as we move along. I was so excruciatingly shy as a youngster I didn't really enjoy growing up. Now in my 50's I'm just starting to enjoy the freedom of not caring what others think about me. Freedom at last!

    1. Yes, that's what I experience too. I loved being a child and I had a very happy childhood. But growing up into an adult was tough. I had huge dreams, and went for many of them (getting in the program at the university which even my teacher told me I couldn't get in was one of them, a huge step, studying what I was crazy about, being - unexpectedly for myself - one of the brightest students, respected by professors I admired, graduation, feeling that I have wings...) - but there were also dreams that I did not know how to reach, and that was frustrating. I stayed in my room not because "I wasn't invited" - because it was my choice. I have never been bored with myself, and I never have felt that I missed anything significant. But all those people's "opinions" were bothering me. They still do sometimes, but much less so. Learning to let go is one of the essential things, and it is not very easy at 20. And that's exactly why, I think, life gets (or can get) only better with age.

      I like the comparison with Avengers!

  5. Well totally unlike you, if someone were to wave a magic wand and tell me I could be 20 again I wouldn't even think twice. I LOVED that time. I mean truly LOVED it. Every day was a new adventure. I had no idea what was around the corner. I didn't worry about anything and often, like Vix, wonder how I managed to stay alive. But man...I lived life out loud. It was a crazy wild, insanely wonderful time.

    I miss those days. I'm not as comfortable in my aging body and skin as you are. I'm learning though that I have to be okay with it. There is no other choice. I think if you don't miss that time it is easier to let it go.


    1. I absolutely agree with you about "easier to let go" part. But there were (and still are) many, many, many other things which were not so easy to let go for me (one of them - gaining a lot of weight, not easy at all to love yourself after having a "perfect body"). I too am learning to be OK with life the way it is.

      And as for wildness... I'm pretty wild, on the inside. No common rules or perceptions for how to live my life apply to me. I'm all about creating what I want - and it comes from the inside. Not too many friends in their 20s (and even less in their 30s) could share my wild dreams. But I live them - those dreams. Many, many dreams which people tell me are impossible, or I'm just "lucky". And at 40, I dream other, new dreams. There are more to come true. At 20, I only could believe that what I think is true. Now, I know that it is true. Yes, I love this age. :)

  6. love your dress and vest ensemble, you look really gorgeous, and also love your green booties and matching tights!, fab legs, dear lady!!
    And I agree with you (and also with many comments): I'm way better now than in my twenties, when I was feeling so uncomfortable with myself and with the whole world, and living a lot of awkward situations. I'm still rebel, and asocial, and still love staying at home reading a book, but now I'm proud of it!
    besos & life

  7. First, let me say I like the pairing of the hint of army green tights rather than the black...the obvious choice. Second, you must have delved inside my mind with this post. I was just told how happy I seem. I think what the person saw was a person who has grown to become quite pleased with herself. Like you, I no longer feel the need to please anyone else but Glenda. I LOVE that feeling. Nothing can compare.

  8. I love that dress on you, Natalia. I definitely speaks of confidence and a woman at ease with herself and her body, and that's a great way to be. I wouldn't go back either; funnily enough, I've just been writing a post about being a teenager, and I think the insecurities and fears I had then followed me into my twenties. From my 30s onwards, those have been my better years. And good times are still to come, I hope! xxx

  9. I love that dress and I LOVE (with upper case letters) that vest. I am enjoying the music as I write this and it is very catchy and takes me back to the eighties! I am like you in some ways, and was much more serious when I was younger. All I ever wanted as a child was to be a grown up and even in my twenties I just wanted to be taken seriously and seen as an adult. I had a social group and I did go out dancing but I was not wild by anyone's standards and had no interest in parties and being young and wild. I married at 20 so yes, there was sex (cough cough) in my life but I just wanted to be in an established career and have a family and financial security. I have significantly lightened up as I've aged, survived a failed marriage, raised a child and allowed myself to be who I truly am. Like Suzanne, I cannot say I am thrilled about my aging body but it is an inescapable fact of life so I aim to embrace it. I do often have that feeling of, 'oh my goodness how did I get to be this age already?' Where did life go?' But given that my family tends towards genes for longevity I like to believe I am only half way through. Am I happier than I was in my youth? Yes.

    You asked me if I have any help with getting food. The answer to that is sometimes a little bit. Mum gets groceries for me when I cannot and if I ask for help she will peel and chop veggies for me so cooking is easier or make casseroles for me. Because I cannot eat grains I do not eat sandwiches and cereals, which is a nice quick way of getting a meal. I try to make big batches and freeze things when I have good days.

    I am so happy that you have your dream life now. Your family is just so sweet and lovely and your life does indeed look like a very full and happy one. I am so glad you have that. xoxo

  10. What a cute dress! Looks amazing on you.
    I agree with you: I don't know what is so good in being 20 :)) I was an awkward, shy and {забитая} adolescent :) At 40 I finally realized that I don't need to prove anything to anybody. Thank you for your honest post! I enjoyed reading it.

  11. Oh, I loved Bravo then, too! And Mirazh. Though I had no time for daydreaming: I gave birth to my daughters at 20 and that was rather busy period in my life. So, you studied dead languages...oh my! You were some kind of a girl I guess! And how great it is that your dreams came true.
    Lovely dress and I like the colour of your tights.

  12. Ой, спасибо огромное за музыку!!! Особенно, за Леонидова - как-то я забыла про эту песню, а ведь она была одной из моих любимых... Кстати, я тоже не особо радовалась о том, что мне было 18-20. Ну было и было. Вся жизнь была в трех работах, универе, книгах, вязании, собаке... Были, конечно, вечеринки, но с самыми хорошими друзьями.
    Жаль даже, что сейчас народ смотрит на все другими глазами, теплоты той уже нет, все спешат жить.
    А что до возраста... Настоящее мне нравится больше - именно потому, что на душе спокойно, и в голове намного меньше заморочек и комплексов. x

  13. I love your blog! Your denim jacket with embroided details is fab! Let me know would you like us to support eachother by following eachother on GFC?
    Have a nice day,
    Sonia Verardo

  14. I fully agree with your words, Natalia!! In my teen ager years I have often felt myself sad and I didn't like anything about me... now that I am 50 I think there is nothing wrong with my actual life and I see the world in a positive way...so, life begins at forty!!
    You look very nice and confident and that is so important in life...isn't it? :-)

  15. One of the down sides of the English language is that it is practically impossible to use a word 'boyfriend' without it having a romantic connotation...with time I have settled with using 'friend' so that an explanation of what I mean can be avoided. However, even friend seems to have its connotations. Well, what can we do? I've noticed how I always need to expand the information and include 'she' or 'he' pronoun in the next sentence. Perhaps this need is an instinct towards gender marking transferred from my own mother tongue? or is it just an usual thing people do?

    I do think we get more comfortable in our own skins with time....and most of time it is a good thing. I'm not sure what I would say changed with me (or about me) over the years...perhaps learning to lean more on myself and less on others? With years I seem to be turning into more of an introvert than I was...and I don't think it is a bad thing,either.

    My twenties are still on..at least for another month;) but I can honestly say I'm happy to be turning thirty soon and that nothing about the process of ageing scares me. I'm afraid of time passing by ( I must admit to that) and not achieving things I wanted, but lately I've been learning how to appreciate living in the present.

    When I think of my early twenties...I really don't regret all the months I spend locked in my room learning Old Slavic (reason why most students of Croatian language transfer to another study in the first year)....and I don't regret any amount of time I have put into building my own knowledge...if for nothing else, than for being able to answer questions children ask me...I don't think I have missed anything of value by spending so much of my time behind books. Besides, my teen years were turbulent enough, it makes sense I was looking for something else in my twenties.

    Now, back to the outfit. I really think you look gorgeous! The animal print dress is fabulous and so well paired with that black vest...really a winning combo!

    The embroidered denim shirt is also lovely!