Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Middle Age, Corsets, and Life

I've spent the last few weeks literally in the closet. I'm not sure I'm very happy about what happened there, but it forced me to face a few pounds and bulges I've been trying to deny.

Less than six weeks from now, I will be attending RomCon, a conference designed to allow romance readers to get to know their favorite authors, and I've agreed to participate in a workshop session entitled "Strip the Heroine." (See for more information.) Then, at the end of July, I'll be at the Romance Writers of America conference on a panel called "Dress for Historical Success."

I'd intended to wear my reproduction 1873 gown. There's just one problem: it doesn't fit.

No matter how I try to suck it in, the skirt just doesn't close. And the bodice doesn't button. Figure in several layers of petticoats, a crinoline, corset and chemise, and I know it's gonna be an uphill battle.

Lord, how I hate the realities of middle age. Or at least the physical realities.

Years ago, when my late husband and I first assembled costumes to wear on living history weekends, any extra pounds came off with just a couple weeks of dieting. Then, as I aged, dieting wasn't enough. I had to spend a few weeks at the gym. Well, I've hit another plateau. The diet and exercise aren't working. Where did all these pounds come from, anyway? Starvation and exhaustion promise to be my new best friends.

And, of course, a new corset. A tight new corset.

There's so much in life that changes with time. It's pretty easy to see it in our bodies—anybody over thirty knows what I'm talking about. But, these last few years, I've discovered there are some pretty good things about approaching fifty.

I like knowing who I am and being self-assured for the first time in my life. I like having accomplished things—raising a kid, being successful in my career, being able to take a chance on my dream. There's a bit of "carefree" in not having to come home from a day job and tend a family anymore. Relationships are easier. And I finally have the time to write.

All in all, life's pretty good these days, starvation, exhaustion, and corset not withstanding.


Mason Canyon said...

There is something about those 'extra' pounds after you hit a certain age I think they turn to stone and will be with us forever. Good luck with your events.

Thoughts in Progress

Rebbie Macintrye said...

Great post, Pam, and I agree: the compensation for the body "going south" is the confidence, wisdom and accomplishment that age can bring. And as a bonus, fifty plus years of living gives you a whole bunch of writing material!

Terry Odell said...

I'll be looking for you at RomCon!

Pamela Nowak said...

Oh, Rebbie, you are so right! What a wealth of material--events, insights, emotion, pain, joy, experiences! I find I tend to draw on all of them as I write as opposed to just my imagination--so different than when I first started writing.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Pam,

At a certain age, I put on pounds that were difficult to take off and worried about it. However, a few years ago, I became ill (not life-threatening) but I lost about fifteen pounds and am slim again. Of course, I don't like the way I did it! But life is so uncertain, I would never worry about a few pounds more or less again. As you said, the important thing is being in a good place in your life. Best of luck with all your work. I know what an excellent writer you are!

Joyce Moore said...

Pam: Loved your blog. I think any gal can relate to it, young or old or in-between. I haven't gained weight, it just, well, shifted to spots I don't like. That said, the years give something in return--a better understanding of human nature, a mellowness that comes with knowing who you are, where you've been, and where you're going, and also, all the experiences that make for the novels we're dying to write and don't have time for!

Joyce Moore said...

Pam: P.S. I love the cover of choices! It says everything, doesn't it. Makes you want to open the book and read.

Drue Allen said...

Pam: love it. And would you believe I heard a teen today saying that she wanted to wear a CORSET dress to prom next year? Yes, she was under 110 pounds. Goodness! As for approaching the big 50 (I'm nearly there), I like it too. I wouldn't go back in time for all the promises in the world--even if the promises included a size 8!

Pamela Nowak said...

Amazing how perspective shifts, isn't it? That 18-year old girl buying the prom dress likely would "die" at the thought of life's lessons being good things. I know my daughter would. I've grown from so many of the things I've experienced and am a stronger woman with all that "wisdom" to draw on. You know, I wouldn't even worry about the weight except I need to get into that dress and I know I will be healthier and feel better about myself if I lose 15-20 pounds.