Notes from the third third of life

If you’ve been following along, you may remember that I never planned to live past 30. Hahaha it’s absolutely ridiculous to remember how committed I was to die young, hip, and a kinda-sorta outlaw.


Now look at me. I’m old. I’m scheduled to turn 70 this year (which takes a bit(!) of getting used to. 

But hey. Spending time in the third third of life brings some potent invitations, at least it has for me. The message the universe’s been sending me on repeat might read like this:

third third of life scroll

The full text of my imagined note from the Universe…

Yo! Sue! Stop complaining and bemoaning your wrinkles and sags, your ouch-y and underperforming bits (and while you’re at it, just about everything else you’ve been blaming for how you feel — money, love, housing, teeth!). Just stop.

Once you’ve reduced your kvetching and stopped spending your energy on pursuits and practices that aren’t really helping you let go, you’ll find a whole lot more time available. Use it! Actively appreciate your body as it is. After all, it’s your own personal meat suit and it’s still carrying you around, and allowing you to do what you’re called to do! Touch the parts that hurt, be kind to them. Soothe yourself (it’s the only self you’re gonna get!).

— With love, the Universe

[Note: If you’re curious about the third third of life and would like to know more, some recent posts about this very thing are here, here, here, and here.]

The third third of life is full of stuff to wonder, worry, and obsess about

From mortification to mortification. Sags and wrinkles, sure. Hair disappearing here and sprouting there. Some teeth not lasting as long as the rest of your parts. And then there are the other body breakdowns, traumas, and diagnoses. Scary. Painful. Big. Terrifying sometimes.

I’ve been reading Ram Dass again after decades; his death inspired a fresh look. In the ’70s, Be Here Now was my first introduction to non-duality and spirituality, which I promptly forgot about while immersed in my enthusiastic opioid (and many other drugs) pursuit.

It’s astonishing to revisit Ram Dass’ work now that I’m deeply immersed in a kinder and richer understanding of life and its miracles (not to mention sober), and to find much of what I’m beginning to see now so beautifully expressed. I’m glad to have him back in my library.

Ram Dass wrote two books about the third third of life — about aging and dying. If you’re wondering about or living in your own third third, I recommend Still Here and Walking Each Other Home, both of which are on my bookshelf. (These are Amazon affiliate links, if you purchase with them, I’ll make a few cents, thanks!)

Ah. January in California and the magnolias are starting to break through.

Divine neutrality, really?

For the last little while, and especially in this last year, I’m beginning to experience more moments of neutrality to changes, symptoms, outcomes, and how the people I encounter act toward me and feel about me (the latter is all sh*t I make up anyway!)

Like yesterday, when I had some hours of severe belly pain that I haven’t had in a while. This was a common symptom for me for years, and when it recurred yesterday, after a few minutes of freaking the f*ck out, I found myself cupping my belly and saying “Okay, fine. Be here for a while if you must, but please don’t stay.” And then I went to bed.

spring maple
Even the maple branches are beginning to bud. I watch for signs of spring. I survived Februarys in NYC this way, and now in California, I still look. Eyes for life.

This is very different behavior. No internet research about my symptom recurrence. No semi-frantic phone calls. Just kinda greeted it, asked it to please leave soon, and moved on. 

Or last January, when my back went out so bad it took me about 90 seconds to stand up straight and this lasted for about two weeks. This exact episode has recurred twice now. When it came the first time, I signed up for a yoga class. (What? Why? You may be asking. Good questions.) I could barely get down to the mat and while lying there, I heard/saw this: Symptoms and processes have no power over me and my sense of well-being. Which is a very big lesson to learn, and I’m learning it slowly. Lucky for me, life never runs out of stuff to deal with and react to.

I’ve read about this kind of awareness and neutrality before but until recently I was too committed to this idea (fact, I tell you!): My problems — my ouches, my failures, my losses, my fears — were just too big and too hard to be endured, let alone overcome. From this vantage point, all I can is doom and struggle, a sad and lonely life.

Even if you can’t see it or feel neutrality for yourself right now, do a little sky-gazing: Sit for a minute. Watch the sky. Watch it awhile and begin to notice how, just as the clouds and birds move through the sky, just so your own awareness. Become your own sky, and watch all the things — thoughts, ideas, concerns, fears, images, sounds, memories — float by. (Tip of the hat to Ram Dass for calling this path to awareness skygazing. I love it.)

Just as the sky has no sh*ts to give about what passes through it, just so your mind.

Fluid art

Pebbled Portal, painted tile

Hey I’m stoked to tell you that one of my paintings, Pebbled Portal, was chosen to be in the book that accompanies the Ovule Project wherever it will be displayed. Pretty wonderful.

Unnamed collage, travertine tile

And this pretty so-far-unnamed thing? It’s an acrylic-skin-over-pour collage on travertine tile. I’m about to start its coat-and-cure process and it’s available for pre-sale. Hang on the wall or use as a coaster/trivet. $150. Let me know if it belongs on your wall or table.

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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