Friday, June 17, 2016


This summer, my husband was asked to present at a conference for single dads. They wanted him to create a presentation called a Single Dad’s Toolkit--a compendium of resources and strategies to help single dads cope with, well, being a single dad.

Every Friday, I receive a Weekend Writer’s Toolkit email from the Story Circle Network. This email contains resources and strategies to keep your writing practice going over the rest for the weary writers, I suppose.

Across the worlds of business, education, mental health, medicine and technology are toolkits of one kind or another; a compilation of devices or tactics to help one succeed at a training or deal with a transition. They are digital or actual, videos, pamphlets and downloads. Or, as I recently discovered, brown cardboard boxes.

I make a habit of ordering from, not because I am embarrassed by my crazy sex toys or secret anti-fungal remedies in my orders. I just like the convenience of having my purchases delivered to my door. It’s particularly nice in the winter so I don’t have to brave the cold and snow for deodorant. For over ten years, my chosen brands of toothpaste, shampoo, moisturizer and lip balm have arrived at my door at practically a moment’s notice. (Seriously, these people get things to you fast!) As I opened my last shipment and placed all my purchases together on the counter, I realized that what I had ordered was my own toolkit--a toolkit for aging.

As a woman gets older, she needs, or at least I need, more stuff that adds moisture to my skin. And hair and nails and almost everywhere else. Because we’re drying out, aren’t we? This last time, I found some things that supposedly help with that. I found a new shampoo and conditioner; one “defies age” and the other is “ageless.” The conditioner is a dark beige color and the shampoo is purple. Purple! Isn’t that the color of all those shampoos you used to watch being poured onto the heads of the old ladies when you went to the beauty parlor with your mother? (And had to wait while she sat under the dryer and couldn’t hear you complain about having to read about Goofus and Gallant in last year’s Highlights magazine for the umpteenth time? Wait. I just realized. I read Highlights magazine at the beauty parlor. Ironic.)

My aging toolkit didn’t stop at shampoo and conditioner.  I ordered a lotion to darken my legs so the blue-white skin from winter wouldn’t blind anyone when I went outside in shorts. I ordered a potion to lighten my hair so the remainder of my somewhat blonde would blend with the increasingly abundant gray. I used to trust the sun to do those jobs, but not anymore, so I added some SPF creams for face and body. And even though I’m not sunbathing, I will still need to replenish the moisture that apparently just evaporates now with some after (no) sun lotion.

I never thought of myself as an “age-defying” person. Except for the occasional frightening moment when I see my face in my 10x lighted mirror , I typically embrace my aging as part of the whole experience of my life. I should look different if I’ve lasted this long and done this much, shouldn’t I? Of course I lament the loss of more supple skin or less saggy arms, but I soon forget about it (which is one of the nice things about age). There may come a time when I am not able to be so positive about it, so I am feeling pretty lucky with what I’ve got.

And a toolkit doesn’t hurt, either.