The Swim To My 50s – Just Lettin’ It All Hang Out


She’s mighty mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out.  

That’s me, at least the letting it all hang out part. I didn’t necessarily choose to let it all hang out, it just – happened.  Particularly, around my mid section.  But in defense of my mid section, it’s been through hell!  I think the next 1/2 century of my life will be kinder to my body which is something to look forward to {yay!}.  


I used to think that being called a Brick House was the ultimate compliment.  After all, one of my all time favorite songs by The Commodores, claims that she, The Brick House, is a ’36 (Bust), ’24 (Waist), ’36 (Hips) = a winning hand!  And, that she makes an ‘older man, wish for younger days’.   Who wouldn’t want to be called a Brick House?  But now, at the tender age of 49.7, if someone were to refer to me as a Brick House {not that they’re lining up or anything }, I would still consider it a compliment – but for different reasons.  None of which have anything to do with my winning bust, waist or hips but rather, because of what a Brick House signifies.  

A Brick House is a strong, stable, sturdy and structurally solid building.  It can withstand the harshest of conditions including hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards.  Most importantly, it is resistant to any ‘big-bad wolf’huffing and puffing and trying to blow the house down.

I think many of us women (and men) fit this description of a Brick House.  We are often called upon to shield our loved ones in this way.  We stand strong and firm against anything or anyone who puts our families in danger.  We try to block the stormy outside forces from penetrating inside our walls.  And we protect our families against the packs of ‘big-bad wolves’ that linger outside our homes waiting to attack.  

Not to say that we don’t have days when we feel more like we are made out of cobwebs!  When we feel flimsy, vulnerable, exposed, confused and tangled up in the web of life.  But in the end,  this just makes us stronger bricks and more ‘like an amazon’.


So, go ahead.  Click on my About link above my blog and listen to the song, dance ’till you drop and keep your head up high knowing that you are mighty mighty and a definite winning hand!

The Swim To My 50s – {One-Two, I Can’t Buckle My Shoe}

A little tighter, please.

A little tighter, please.

First things first.  In my earlier blog I used the term ’50 Shades of ___’ after hearing that I would get more traffic on my blog.  The truth is, I don’t know if it worked.  My stats told me that my ‘views’ had increased, but it was probably just me checking to see if my views had increased that made them increase.  🙂 I did get a couple of new followers though.   
Swimming right along on my journey to my 50s, I took a look at my chubby arthritic fingers and thumbs.  They really don’t look as bad as they could.  If you have ever seen hands and fingers of a person with severe RA,  you know it’s not a pretty sight.  I am very fortunate that I don’t have such deformities but I don’t think I will be modeling for Tiffany’s anytime soon.  In my opinion, they don’t look like 50-year-old hands.  They look more like…46 {a totally random number I just chose}.  
 My knuckles, however, when inflamed, can serve as weapons, defending me from harm’s way.  You don’t want to mess with me during a knuckle flare-up!  
The good news is that because of this little problem, I am now the proud owner of this beautiful, shiny 2.0 karat…faux diamond ring!  Isn’t it gorgeous?  Don’t get me wrong, I love my engagement ring and wedding band my husband got me back in ’89, but there is no way those babies are getting past my killer knuckles.  Until I decide to spend a thousand dollars getting them re-sized, they will have to remain tucked away in my safe.
We all take for granted what we do with our hands and fingers on a daily basis.  We don’t even think about it.  Until, your hands and fingers don’t work they way they should!  I can’t tell you how often I have had to ask for help putting my bra on.  It’s not that easy to have to reach way back and try to blindly hook on the tiny hooks, preferably at the same time.  I know many men practice and have become quite apt at un-hooking bras, but hooking them on is a whole different story, especially when your fingers are stiff, swollen and throbbing.
Like the time I was stuck in my bedroom trying frantically to put my bra on and get dressed, so I could attend to the two workers I had hired to paint my living room.  They ended up waiting 45 minutes for me to come out to tell them what color paint I had chosen.  If only you could have witnessed my desperation and distorted maneuvering I had to undergo to get that small garment on.   I wanted to cry.  But most of all, I wanted to call the workers into my room and say, “Hey, men in my living room, ‘you guys mind coming into my room and giving me a non-arthritic hand and hook my bra on for me?”  
Fortunately, after 45 minutes, I achieved my goal without the help of my painters.
In addition to being pretty good at using my teeth to open packages and my toes to pick things up from the floor, I have gotten savvy at utilizing the many gadgets and user-friendly products out there that make my life easier.  One of my favorites is the bag of cooked/hard-boiled eggs that come already peeled!  Yes, they sell them in grocery stores.  Not only do I not have to boil the eggs, but I don’t have to use the fine motor skills required to peel the eggs!  I highly recommend them, even if you are arthritis-free.
One one occasion, when my older, ex-football player brother was eating dinner with us, I complained about having to bend my wrist in order to get the fork into my mouth to eat.  I expressed the wish for someone to make forks that are bent so that you don’t have to do the bending.  Within seconds, ‘Mr. Hulk‘ had my fork in his hands and effortlessly bent it.  He handed it to me and said, “Here you go”.
Well, I loved my fork so much that I used it every day.  Then, a wonderful friend of mine surprised me by running out to our local medical supply store to buy me the whole set!  Ta-da!  So, although I may not be able to buckle my shoe,  I can eat my already peeled hard-boiled eggs utilizing my bent fork, pain-free.
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The Swim to My 50s – 50 Shades of Scars


Who says chicks love scars?

Yes, I went there.  I used the phrase 50 Shades of ____ in my title.  I took the advice of a blogger who gives tips to new bloggers on how to increase your traffic on your blog.  They say that if you categorize or tag the phrase 50 Shades of Grey, or something close to it, that your blog will be seen by tons of people!  Gee, I wonder why that is?  I can’t imagine that anything having to do with SEX would attract readers.  Hmm, I am going to try it out and I’ll let you know how it turns out.  

In my last post, I examined the demise of my gravity-stricken breasts.  I had to accept this fact as part of the aging process and becoming an almost 50-year old.  I can live with this; I don’t hear my husband complaining.  

It was time to continue to navigate south-east and south-west of my breasts, to my arms and wrists in preparation for the big day. Have you ever confused your upper arms with your thighs?   No?  I get confused all the time!  I look in the mirror and swear that I am looking at my arms but realize that they must be my thighs because, well, they look like my thighs!

My sister {the one with the long eyelashes} can attest to this.  For many years, we have ‘nicely’ cursed our mother for giving us her arms.  How could she pass on this family trait to us?  It’s bad enough that my father is to blame for my butt chin, but now this?  ‘Tis the reason I refuse to wear anything sleeveless.  People might think I am standing upside down and flailing my thighs!  I vow to make my arms pencil thin by September 2, 2013.  I will welcome my 50s with thigh-less, shapely arms! Gulp.

Swimming along to my wrists, I am reminded of the demon that lives inside and outside of my body.  The one I did not invite in.  The one that at the age of 26, decided to invade my being.  The not so honorable, Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease.  I have mentioned him in my earlier posts.  For those of you not familiar with RA, it is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally, attacks flexible (synovial) joints.  In other words, it’s a {sucky} chronic disease with no {f-in} cure, that leaves you scarred, deformed {yipee}, exhausted and often, disabled, but who’s counting?


My wrists were the first victims of this vicious attack by, what’s his name? Oh yea, RA.  I will never forget during surgery on my left wrist, waking up, staring at the bright surgical lights shining down on me and hearing voices in the near distance.  I looked around and realized that the surgery was NOT over!  It was in process.  Feeling pretty loopy, I began to talk.  The somewhat concerned anesthesiologist, reassured me that I would not feel anything but that I had woken up a bit earlier than expected.  You think?  I was scared, but under the influence of happy drugs and began to tell jokes.  Not just any joke, mind you, they were butt jokes! I could hear myself telling them to my audience {two surgeons and an anesthesiologist} but I could not stop myself.  Where had I heard these butt jokes and why was I telling them?  I blame the very sloppy ragged scar on my left wrist on myself.  I must have had the surgeons in stitches with my butt jokes because they did a horrible job stitching me up and my scar is horrendous!

The scar on my right wrist is lovely.  A true work of art {in comparison}.    I do worry sometimes that people may think I tried to hurt myself since the scars are pretty visible, but in reality, the scars are vertical and not the typical horizontal scars one sees when a person attempts to hurt themselves.  And, they are located on top of my wrists and not under.  Sorry, not a happy thought.

So you see, scars do come in all shapes and shades.  All of mine have their own uniqueness and coloring.  During my next post, when I discuss my chubby arthritic fingers and my biggest scar of all, I will share some more stories with you.  


The Swim To My 50s – dAmN GRa-Vi-ty…


Living with two competitive swimmers in the house, I learned a lot about defying gravity when swimming.  My daughter’s coach always emphasized the importance of body position when swimming. The goal is to avoid gravity from pulling you towards the bottom of the pool!  Did you know that your lungs, full of air, act as a buoy wanting to lift your upper torso to the surface?  Pretty cool, huh?

If only the air in our breasts could defy gravity, we’d be golden!  I have lot’s of air in my breasts (or is it fatty tissue?).  Instead of visiting my cousin (the plastic surgeon), perhaps I could just go to the local gas station and fill my breasts with air!  It’s free, quick, easy and has a minimal recovery time.  I think I’m on to something.

This idea came to me after beginning my exploration of my almost 50-year-old body, from my neck down.  I couldn’t help but focus on the inevitable. Hello down there!  Where did you girls go?  Yes, a wonder bra helps, temporarily, but then what?  This reality is definitely a reminder of my mid-life and something I’m going to have to accept.  On September 2, 2013, they will look exactly the same as they do now. Sigh.

After I recover from this realization, I will resume my inspection of my torso.

The Swim To My 50s and… Butt Chins

This ‘long distance’ swim to my 50s is a lot of work! It’s only March and I still have a lot of body parts left to examine, not to mention my feelings, reflections and deep thoughts about turning 50!

I compare this process to going to the dermatologist and having them check out every inch of your body for any suspicious moles/spots that don’t belong.  Except that, my findings as much as they are not welcomed and do not belong,  are not malignant, only annoying and depressing. I am going from head to toe in this process and have just finished inspecting my lips, mouth, cheeks, chin and neck.

I am no Angelina Jolie, but my lips are shapely.  They are not cracking, thanks to my addiction to Chap Stick which began at a very young age.  I don’t know how it all started but do you have any idea the panic and trauma I experience when there is no Chap Stick in sight??  My mouth begins to feel dry and I have an urge to swallow often.  Next, is the prickly feeling I get on my lips.  It starts off mild but soon escalates to a full-blown big-time prickly feeling!  I begin to feverishly lick my lips  which only makes things worse!  Then, the frantic search begins for any tube of Chap Stick I may have lying around. I keep one in all rooms of the house and in my car.  But, every once in a while, I can’t find one, or worse yet, the tube is empty!!!    Oh, the horror.

Never, ever leave the house without lipstick on!  These are the wise words of my Puerto Rican mother.  Ay Dios Mio,  what would the neighbors say?  I began taking my mother’s advice at the age of 13 (when I discovered lip gloss) and haven’t stopped since.  I am probably going to die of lead poisoning from lipstick use, if the Alzheimer’s or Rheumatoid Arthritis don’t kill me first, but at least I will look good!  Here is a pic of my Puerto Rican lead-filled lips. 🙂


Now, above my lips, is something I don’t like to talk about very often. Ready?  It’s my mustache!  Si!  I have one!  I have been bleaching, plucking and waxing since the age of 2 (I should have started then).  Short of doing electrolysis, I have tried it all.  It continues to grow back darker and with a vengeance! What is a girl to do?

Inside my mouth are a nice set of teeth, thanks to the joint effort of my orthodontist and dentist back in ’85.  I had just graduated from college and begged my parents to pay for my braces as my graduation gift.   Growing up, I had a pretty large gap between my front teeth.  I could floss with a rope.  How I ended up having so many boyfriends, is still a mystery to me!  But, at 24, I had what my dentist called a Hollywood smile.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my pearly whites and made sure I smiled at all my High School reunions, to show everyone my new gap-less teeth. Well…that gap is coming back! Yes, they are separating again!  How can I possibly face my 50s like this!  Time to call my kids’ orthodontist to get a new retainer.

It’s a good thing my cheeks are in good shape these days.   When I am not on a mega dose of Prednisone, which gives me that moon/chipmunk face in addition to making me lose my hair, life is good.  I have always had a love-hate relationship with Prednisone and it usually involves my cheeks.  From now to September, I don’t anticipate being on a mega dose (if my body behaves), so I should be all set!

Butt Chin – a chin that has a small/large dent in the middle.  This, according to Urban Dictionary.  Really, do they have to call it that?  Well, I am proud of my butt chin!  It’s…special!  I share this lovely facial feature with many famous people.   There’s Peter from Family Guy ,   Image  he’s got a beauty! And how about  Danny Zuko from Grease?

Then, there’s the beautiful, Sandra Bullockhers is a bit more subtle.


After 9/11, when we had National Guards manning the airports, I had a bizarre and creepy butt chin experience!  I was traveling by myself probably to Puerto Rico, and was walking to my gate.  Approaching me was a guard in his camo uniform with a rifle by his side.  I was puzzled but understood the importance of his presence there.  He stopped me and with a ver sly smile told me that he would not let me pass through to my gate until I smiled and showed him the dimple on my chin!  What??? I didn’t know how to react so I tried to walk past him but he said it again!  I was beyond shocked and feeling very uncomfortable.  I gave him a dirty look and continued walking to my gate.  The nerve!!  He did not stop me again but I am, to this day, angry at myself for not reporting him. The jerk!

Lucky for me, no one has ever commented on my neck.  It’s just a neck,  nothing special.  I have yet to feel the need to cover it up with scarves in order to hide any wrinkles or folds, yay me!  It is a nice almost 50-year-old neck!

In my earlier posts, I promised that I would talk about my cousin the plastic surgeon.  Although I have not had to pay him a “visit” yet, and I have decided not to get my butt chin fixed, he has recommended a product to tackle those horrible brown spots!   It’s not a cure-all but definitely reduces their appearance. I share this with you only because I am…nice.  Check  out,

Until next time when I go  from my neck down!

The Swim to my 50s-Gracias, Pope Francis!

Our new Pope is 77 years old and he got the job! Do you know what this means?  That…you can still succeed and accomplish great things after 50!  This news has made me rethink and ponder my attitude towards the big day coming up.  At least for a day, that is.   For a whole day I felt that maybe it’s not so depressing to get older and that the best is yet to come!  Until, I resumed my task of exploring my body from head to toe in preparation for the “big day”.

I took a look at my ears, forehead, eyes and nose.  When I say look, I mean a real look with a 10x little mirror that magnifies every pore on your body and more!  For the love of God (and the Pope), why?  Why did I do this?  Let’s just say I could see beyond my epidermis and into my cells, blood vessels and bones!  Well, not really but it was that magnified!


My ears are round and small; what do you know?  They suit my small shaped head.  This pleases me, except that I can’t get the image of my dear grandfather (God bless his soul) whose ears grew as he shrunk, out of my mind.  We are talking huge!!!  Every time we visited with him they were bigger!  We stared and wondered how much bigger they could get.  So you see, I fear that my nice small ears will begin to grow and grow and grow.  I will be punished  for staring at my grandfather’s ears as a child,  I know it!  Something I will keep an eye on.

Have you ever stared deeply into your forehead? Not the most exciting thing I have done lately, but something a 49-year-old must do!  The verdict:  a small,  round unassuming, somewhat wrinkle-free slab of skin.  Not too bad.  Except for the visibly despicable brown spots!!! Yes, I have them and I loathe them.  I mistakenly let the little mirror wonder down to the rest of my face, and they are everywhere!  Why, oh why haven’t they come out with a solution for brown spots and for stretch marks for that matter!   I will come back to the topic of brown spots at a later date when I tell you about my cousin, the plastic surgeon.

Eyebrows are ok.  I have not been brave enough to venture to my local mall to sit in front of hundreds of people, while a nice quiet lady threads them!  Ouch!   I will stick to my archaic method of plucking, thank you very much.  I would however, love to get them shaped.  I will add this to my turning 50 to do list.

Now, bear with me.  I promise that I am not all shallow and vain.  In future posts, I will delve into my spiritual and meaningful thoughts about turning 50.  Let me tread through the outside part of me first. 🙂

My wonderful husband of 23 years, has always told me that he fell in love with my eyes before he fell in love with me.  He loves my big brown eyes.  The same ones I used to stare at my grandfather’s ears.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like my eyes, but where in the world did my eyelashes go?  I admit that I never had long vivacious (Stephanopoulos-like)  eyelashes like those of my beautiful younger sister, but they did exist.  Why is it that the facial hair you don’t want is the hair that keeps on growing but eyelashes just stop?  So, I thought I would experiment and do what millions of women are doing now.  Wear fake eyelashes!!  I decided that getting the whole set would look too fake so I bought a package of  individual lashes that you can glue on to the spots  you want.  How hard could this possibly be?    Well, after several attempts at placing the lashes in the right spot without getting the gooey white glue in my eye (that stuff stings) and looking like Tammy Faye Baker once I got several to stick, I had to stop.  FYI, the gooey glue stays stuck on the lashes and is hard to remove.  Mascara will have to do.

Except for the f-%#$@ brown spots, my nose is a pretty average nose.  Not too pointy and not too wide.  I won’t be running to my plastic surgeon cousin any time soon for a nose job.  I am however, worried about my olfactory capabilities, or lack there of.  I’m not saying that not being able to smell very well does not come in handy at times,  as I discovered when my son borrowed my car to go fishing and spilled the little can of maggots all over the interior or when my daughter finally brought home the 3 week old coffee mug with milk still in it, from her locker at school.  But, it’s studies like these,   suggesting that there may be a connection between a dulled sense of smell and Alzheimer’s, that make me lose sleep.   One more worry to add to my master list of what-ifs!  Makes me wonder what Pope Francis’ olfactory capabilities are.  Hmm.

Fortunately, I am not the type of person to fret too much over things that are out of my control.  Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has taught me many things, some of which are strength, humor and a Never Give Up attitude.  So, although I did not come in first in today’s relay, I had fun swimming to my 50s with you!

Next post will take you into the world of my lips, mouth, cheeks, chin and neck!  Remember,  Good Things Come to those who Bait.

The Swim to my 50s


No, this is not a blog about a 49-year-old athletic-inspirational woman who swims from Cuba to Florida right before her 50th birthday and lives to tell about it.   I apologize if the title misled you and understand if you exit now.

This blog is about a regular 49-year-old woman who just realized that turning 50 sounds pretty awful, and who wants others to share in her misery. You see, that woman (me) really believed that it would never happen to her.  She strolled along her 20’s, 30’s and 40’s in complete denial.  And now, the inevitable is only six months away.

It so happens that I am one of the youngest in my circle of friends.  I don’t know why that has been the case (I won’t lie to you, it’s been kind of nice)  but I do know that I am blessed to have these wonderful “older” people in my life.  By older, I mean that they have already crossed over to the dreaded 5‘s.   There are a few friends and relatives who are  younger, but I take comfort in knowing that they are right behind me and will soon suffer.   So, after hosting two 50th birthday parties and attending many others, I must now face my dreaded Big 5-0.  How I hate the sound of that.  Who ever came up with that dumb saying (The Big 5-0), must die.   It’s such a cliché and does nothing but make me want to swallow a package of laxatives and disappear.

Loved ones are beginning to ask me what my plans are for my 50th and what I would like to do.   I’ve even been invited to go on a trip to Iceland with a fellow 50 year old-to-be.  Isn’t that lovely?  Now, all I think about is September 2, 2013 being right on my behind. The thought keeps popping into my mind like an annoying text notification on my phone.  I keep hearing that BEEP when I least expect it.  BEEP, “You are going to be 50 soon”. BEEP, “Men will NOT be looking your way”. BEEP, “Your breasts are no longer buoyant.”  So, I decided to tackle this beast the way I always attack what comes my way, by writing.  In addition to the fact that my brain stopped functioning at 35 and I have no memory,  I thought documenting my feelings and thoughts would be… fun.

So, before I reach this milestone, I have some things I need to settle (S), explore (E) and accomplish (A).   I have decided to call it my “SEA” to 50.   I love the ocean and would love nothing more than to ride the waves right into September 2, 2013.   Let’s see if I come out of it feeling as depressed as I feel now, or perhaps better prepared to face the years ahead.   Not unlike someone who has just been told they have only 6 months to live;  I feel a sense of panic, urgency, dread, denial, sadness, regret for what I didn’t do and scared for what is to come.

Aquatics is a theme in my family.  Although my husband Dave, has a passion for and prefers land and open space to water, he and my son Matt, are avid fishermen and spend a lot of their free time near or on the water.  My daughter Ali, like her father, swam competitively in High School.  As for me, having grown up in Puerto Rico, I have an adoration for the beach and am the happiest when I can be by the ocean.  Thus, this blog will have an aquatic theme to it.  Having said that, “Step up, swimmers take your mark; GO!.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today is my first day documenting my journey to 50.  I will begin this long distance relay by concentrating on what really matters; Appearances & Vanity (what else?).  I will  explore my body from head to toe to see if it’s ready to reach the finish line.

Let’s start with my head.  I’m pretty happy with the shape of my head.  It’s small, nice and round, no bumps or cone-shaped areas,  yea, it’s a great head!!  Phew!  Now, for my hair.


I know.  It used to be a pretty curly, shiny black color.  My mother in-law reminded me of that once.  So I must continue to color it.  I do it at home to save money and it lasts me about 5 weeks.  I am due and need to get right to it, perhaps tomorrow.  I could use some help doing the back though.  Anyone?  I will use my trusted brand, nice’neasy by Clairol.  I can’t possibly welcome my 50’s with grey hair!


The good news is that I do not have a dry scalp.  I do not need Head & Shoulders at this time in my life but I do need to moisturize my once-shiny hair.  It is dull and full of frizz but I refuse to stop burning it with my hair straightener! Oh, and have I mentioned how much my hair is falling out?  I could provide Bruce Willis with a whole new head of hair!  My long-term use of prednisone for my Rheumatoid Arthritis is mostly to blame.  Let’s hope I have enough hair left on September 2nd.

Tomorrow, I will explore my ears, forehead, eyes and nose.  I bet you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation.  A 49-year-old has to do what a 49-year-old has to do!  Time is up for now.  GONE FISHING.