My new West Elm gray velvet sofa.

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersI can’t think of a more enjoyable winter afternoon than cuddling up on my new gray velvet sofa, reading Anna Quindlen’s latest novel, Still Life With Bread Crumbs, and sipping a Starbucks VIA Latte.

First the sofa: In a recent The New York Times Style magazine there was a feature about writers and the places where they write. I noticed that quite a few of the writing rooms had one thing in common – each had a sofa. The sofa was the place where the writer sits, reads and has quiet time for creative thinking.

What a brilliant idea! I am a writer. I  need a sofa for my office too.

West Elm, life after 50, over 50, baby boomer woman

My new West Elm gray velvet sofa.

My friend J joined me for my sofa searching trip. We set off to West Elm, a contemporary furniture store to purchase a contemporary sofa. “I like the grey velvet couch with the blue pillows and blue throw as accents,” said J as we walked around the store. I loved the idea of a velvet sofa to sit upon for times when I want to let my mind wander. All items were in stock and delivered within the week. Simply marvelous!


Next the book: Anna Quindlen is one of my favorite writers. Anna’s new novel, Still Life With Bread Crumbs, is about Rebecca, a once famous photographer, who leaves her Manhattan apartment for the countryside and in so doing rediscovers her passion at the age of 60. With great stamina and strength, Rebecca meets new people, including a younger suitor, manages with much less funds than earlier in her life, deals with aging parents and a grown son, and comes to terms with a different, yet satisfying lifestyle.

Perhaps I enjoyed the story so much because I could identify with many aspects of Rebecca’s life, especially as I reinvent my own life after 50. I bookmarked several  passages that stirred deep feelings. Here are a few treasured clips:

When Rebecca leaves Manhattan: “She felt some strange yearning, but she couldn’t decide what it was for. Not for the city: it seemed like another country to her now, remembered, not felt.” (I too have yearnings, but am not sure yet exactly where they will lead me.)

As a mature single woman: “The dining room table in the home of a person living alone becomes the entire world, divided into countries: the area for the mail, for work if there is any, a small duchy set aside for the placement of one dish, one bowl, one fork. Rebecca looked at her table in the wan yellow light of the lantern and saw her life in all of its loneliness.” (I have those pangs of loneliness sometimes, even after six years of being on my own.)

When she has relations with a younger man: “She was a sixty-year-old woman: she knew that she was supposed to be remembering what went here and there, who did what to whom, except that the truth is, what goes here and there and who does what to whom changes very little from event to event, even under the best of circumstances. And while she was indeed thinking of some of that, she mainly remembered how Jim Bates had looked in that unpleasant overhead glare for just a minute, the look a small boy has on his face at the head of the table when his mother walks in with the birthday cake, candles lit. She liked the feeling that she was the cake.” (I agree with Rebecca, relationships are different the second time around, but they can be equally nice or get even better as we age.)

Rebecca’s insomnia: “In recent years what she missed most about her youth was sleep, that ability to fall into a hole of unconsciousness and land, softly and without sensation, at the bottom, to awake ten hours later rested and with skin remarkably uncreased.” (I miss my youthful sleep patterns too. I do. I do.)

Rebecca’s realizations: “Then when she really thought about it she realized she’d been becoming different people for as long as she could remember but had never really noticed, or had put it down to moods, or marriage, or motherhood. The problem was that she’d thought that at a certain point she would be a finished product. Now she wasn’t sure what that might be, especially when she considered how sure she had been about it at various times in the past, and how wrong she’d been. (Yes, yes, yes! Rebecca, I know what you mean. Do you ever feel this way during your life after 50?)

Rebecca’s reflections: “…she had begun to feel like her old life was a snow globe, something she’d once loved the look of and then outgrew. Or maybe it outgrew her.” (As I approach my first year anniversary since leaving my full time job my perceptions of my old life and my new life are similar to Rebecca’s.)

And finally the latte: “I saw an ad for your new Starbucks VIA lattes,” I told the Starbucks press office via email. “I’m excited that I can now make a latte at home with hot water and your instant blend. Please send some samples and I’ll gladly review.”

The Starbucks PR team was so nice. They sent samples of both varieties:

life after 50, over 50, Starbucks Via Lattes

The nice PR team sent samples of new Starbucks Via Lattes.

Caffe Mocha, made with dutched and natural cocoa, Starbucks espresso and natural dairy. It is really rich and quite tasty.

Vanilla Latte, made with Starbucks espresso, natural dairy and vanilla flavor. This one is velvety sweet like my new velvet sofa.

While I prefer the Skinny versions I usually get at my Starbucks shop, these VIA versions are a good at-home substitute for snowy days.

Meantime, as for my afternoon – a soft sofa, a great book and an indulgent latte – I rate this threesome a triple crown affair.

Judi