Dolce Zitella's Latest Post, Life Lessons

Change of Life

My grandmother’s generation called it “the change of life.”  But nowadays, women of a certain age call it what it actually is: menopause.  Me, I like the phrase “change of life,” because it evokes the notion that when you reach a certain age, you’ve lived long enough that there’s not much left that scares you, and you’re willing and open to taking chances.  There’s the belief, and even the expectation, that you can actually change your life in some grand way.  Granted this takes a great leap of faith, with no guarantee of the eventual outcome.  But if you possess the will to change, the conviction to stick with your decision, and have support and encouragement from some friends or family, well…

Case in point: a friend of mine with a cool studio apartment and a great job in Manhattan left it all behind and moved to Denver.  For a man she was dating who swore he would never get married again.  Ten months later, they were engaged.  In a few months, they’ll be celebrating their seven-year wedding anniversary.  Another friend took a chance on an old house in the country that needed extensive work.  As she and the realtor stood in the kitchen, my friend turned on the faucet, and thought: if water comes out, I’ll buy this house.  The water flowed and it turns out buying that house not only changed her address, it changed her livelihood and led her to a new love.

Now I know what you’re thinking – these sound like the plots of Hallmark Channel movies, but I promise both are completely true.

However, unlike all those entertaining Hallmark movies, where the heroine always finds true love in the end, I stand firm in my belief that a happy ending can be anything you want it to be.  Which brings me to my “change of life.”

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be leaving my job of nearly 17 years.  As the news spread through my office, the same questions were posed to me.  Where are you going?  What are your plans?   And when I answer – that I don’t know exactly where I’ll land – I’m met with various reactions.  Some think I’m a little crazy, while others are proud of me, excited for me, and at least one colleague wishes she could do what I’m doing.

My change of life is not about a man.  It’s about how I want to spend the next years of my life.  It’s about purpose and well-being.  It’s about faith and resilience.

As a writer, I’m big on symbolism.  We are deep in October so everywhere I turn, in my quiet neighborhood, as well as on the city streets, I see mums in rich autumn hues of burgundy, pumpkin, and gold.   Mums are generally under-rated when compared to other flowers, like cheery tulips or romantic roses.  But, while tulips are synonymous with spring and growth, let’s face it, their delicate stems easily flop over.  And the roses of summer are fragrant but they are hard to grow.  Mums can weather change, and they don’t wither on the first cold day.  Just like women of a certain age who aren’t afraid of much, mums remain hearty and resilient.

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Life Lessons

Best. Resort. Ever.

It’s a one of those “best kept secrets.” This four-star resort that’s tucked away in a quiet town along the Hudson River is my go-to spot when I’m mentally stressed out and physically depleted.  The moment I arrive and set my suitcase down, the tightness in my shoulders is released.

My favorite room is awash in soothing, muted colors, and drenched in natural light.  The luxurious linens and scent of fresh cut flowers do wonders to lull me to sleep.  There’s no set time for breakfast.  Morning coffee is served on a private deck that’s a riot of color (imagine a Martha Stewart-like arrangement of hearty potted flowering plants and lush green herbs) overlooking an expanse of untouched woods where a rustle of leaves announces a family of deer quietly wandering through or a bunny rabbit darting by.

This place has the best bagels I’ve ever had in my life (it’s in New York, after all), and fresh squeezed tangerine juice.  Lunch might be an asparagus mushroom soufflé or, my favorite, the Caprese salad, with tomatoes and basil that were grown on the property.  And dinner might be an expertly prepared Italian, French, or American inspired dish like Chicken Marsala, Beef Bourguignon, or Barbecued Ribs.

The spa-styled bathroom is larger than my kitchen.  (Really, I’m not exaggerating.)  The white soaking tub glistens so brightly you need to wear your sunglasses.  And paraffin treatments for your hands and feet are available at no charge.

Besides these lavish meals and spa treatments, there’s laundry service and an open bar.  In fact, everything is free.  “Such amenities and you don’t have to pay?” you may ask.  “Where exactly is this place, and how soon can I book it?”

Well…you can’t.  It’s exclusive and they don’t take reservations.  It’s the house where I grew up.  And the people there are the best – my folks.

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