My sixtieth birthday is this weekend. If I were a native American, I would just now be starting to get a little respect. If I were in China, I would be revered for my knowledge and sought out for my sage advice. If I were in ancient Greece, I might be an oracle. But in my neighborhood, I am just the slightly saggy lady who is married to the accordion man. I have acquired wisdom along the way, however. And now that I am in my seventh decade, I am qualified to give advice and make shrewd observations.

PEOPLE ARE MEANT TO EAT CARBOHYDRATES. I know that fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and fiber. Lean meat has proteins. Whole grains help lower cholesterol. But a nice pile of mashed potatoes can soothe the soul. Toast with honey gives one the energy to fight traffic, run all those errands, rise above office politics, and discipline unruly siblings. Mocha lattes can banish minor depression.

THERE ARE TOO MANY BEAUTY PRODUCTS TO CHOOSE FROM. I have dedicated some of my waning energy to keeping up appearances. But looking in the beauty aisle or scanning Vogue magazine can produce anxiety attacks, which do nothing to allay the effects of aging! And dermatologists are getting into the act, which further confuses the issue. If Dr. So and So says that this cream will banish eye bags, and Dr. Whatsis says that this masque will plump up naso-labial folds, and then other medical experts tout cleansers, toners, and brighteners, what is one aging woman on a budget to do? My mother, who some say was quite glamorous until her late eighties, used COLD CREAM. PERIOD.

REALITY TELEVISION IS LIKE HEROIN. Nobody likes to admit this. But there wouldn’t BE all those shows about multiple births, little people, Dr. Drew, bariatric surgery, coroners, and survivors if we didn’t watch them. I keep discovering new ones to watch: like the one about hoarders, or people who save pit bulls, or parolees who become florists…

BEING RETIRED IS VERY FUN. PEOPLE SHOULD TRY TO RETIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I used to have to leave for work at seven each morning, drive a half hour, and then work until 6:30. I liked the job, and loved the people. Then I retired. My God, what a revelation! Retired people can GO TO THE STORE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AFTERNOON. They can go on vacation at a moment’s notice! If you don’t work, you can wake up and decide to turn over and go back to sleep! Retired people don’t have to juggle any schedules, call in sick, or worry about rush hour traffic. They go to the movies on Wednesday evenings, spend entire afternoons at the library, and take yoga lessons and cooking classes. It sucks to work.

RAISING CHILDREN IS IMPORTANT WORK. BUT IT TAKES A BIG CHUNK OUT OF A WOMAN’S IDENTITY. I spent my childhood waiting to grow up. Then I became an adult, and spent twenty-odd years as a working mother. It wasn’t until those girls left home that I discovered that I AM A WRITER! Evidently, I have been one my whole life, but I had to get all that maturing, child raising, wage earning and homemaking out of the way in order to be the real me!

AS LONG AS YOU HAVE PROBLEMS TO SOLVE, YOU ARE YOUNG. Challenges engage the mind, and keep those synapses firing. All of us need something to charge at. And while I am on the subject of staying young, it is youthful people who always have something to look forward to. Old people think that all the important milestones, such as marriage, children, and grandchildren, are finished. Vital people always have something cooking: a trip, a dinner party, seeing the bulbs bloom in the spring, or having a facial. I, personally, look forward to checking my email every day, seeing how many coupons I can use at the store, and finding new things to top with Cool Whip.

Now that I am filled with the wisdom of the ages, I will sign off with perhaps the most valuable advice that I could give anyone:

Life is not worth living without at least one cat, preferably Siamese.

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