A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: Life is short, let’s be less ‘crotchety old lady’ and more ‘cute little umbrellas poolside’


Do you ever find yourself searching the internet for something only to wind up going in a totally different direction, forgetting what you were looking for in the first place? That’s exactly what happened to me the other day. One minute I’m looking for an appetizer recipe and the next minute I’m reading an article about aging.

Talk about your downward spirals.

The article opined that you may be getting old if you think a retirement village in Florida sounds like fun.

My first thought was, “Who are you calling old?”

My second thought was, “What’s so wrong with a retirement village in Florida?”

The more I thought about it, a charming island bungalow, or maybe a condo with all the amenities and none of the upkeep was sounding better and better. As long it came with an unobstructed view of the ocean, I wasn’t going to complain.

That’s when it occurred to me. Maybe I am getting old. Maybe yearning for a new life at the retirement village is the first step on the journey to the crotchety old lady. You know, the one who spends her day in her rocking chair, pining for the good ol’ days and screaming at the younger generation as they walk by.

“Get off my sand!”

Yikes! That didn’t seem like the right attitude for an elderly lady living at the beach! And it certainly wasn’t the attitude I wanted to adopt in the future. Not at all.

The future I wanted was highlighted by social hours around the pool, fruity drinks with cute little umbrellas, and jazz music piping through the outdoor speakers. See me? There I am, over on the other side of the pool. The one in the floral sundress, tossing her head back as she laughs at that handsome man’s corny joke. A far cry from crotchety, I tell ya.

That quick mental comparison was enough to remind me that while there are plenty of things I can’t control about life, I can control how I step into it, each and every day.

The same goes for all of us. The attitudes we embrace, the values we live by, and the activities we engage in ultimately mark the difference between creating a life that’s regrettable (crotchety old lady) and a life that’s intentional (complete with cute little umbrellas in the drinks).

Sure, that realization can be intimidating at times. It can also be empowering if we look at each day as an opportunity to re-evaluate and adjust our sails, to do less of what’s not working and more of what is — and there’s no better time to start than today. After all, the future will be here before we know it. I trust I’ll see you poolside.

Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.


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