Beauty Features & Editorial Parenting & Relationships

Sourcing the Moxie: Have You Seen Yours Lately?

Never mind the kids, do you ever find yourself wondering, “Where did I leave my moxie, and how do I get it back?” Symptoms include hearkening back all nostalgic-like to the days of that first Big Girl apartment, a time when you were possessed of sweeping artistic aspirations and the certainty that you would indeed Make Your Mark on the world. This usually kicks in after a few glasses and far too long spent sifting through old pictures of your fabulous youth.

Sure, said apartment was often rat- and/or cockroach-infested, you had nine roommates and your artistic aspirations tended more to do with trying to hook up with that hot guitar player from the band that only played parties, and who was actually kind of a jerk. Still, life seemed fraught with possibility, and you had yet to worry about anything relating to college funds for the kids, retirement packages and a market in full-on free fall — let alone anti-wrinkle creams and whether they even work.

Instead, there were all-nighters devoted to batting around half-baked philosophical ideals that sounded impossibly insightful at the time, friendships that seemed certain to last forever and lots and lots of cheap red wine — not to mention, the complete and utter lack of concern about the devastation that too much booze and not enough sleep can wreak upon the skin. More importantly, you were flushed with that mix of foolishness and fearlessness that only ever exists in the truly young — or the catastrophically drunk. The scariest thing in your world was figuring out the formatting for your first attempt at a resume and a job outside the service industry. Basically, life was profound with a capital P.

And now, thinking back to that ferocious creature that used to be you — us — is akin to reading stories about an entirely different person, in an entirely different lifetime, which kind of gets to be a bummer — especially when there are dishes to be washed, clothes to be folded, presentations to be prepared for work tomorrow.

So the question is: What now? Do we scribble a note to the husband/boyfriend/partner: Screw you, screw the kids/cat/dog, I’m taking the car? Do we join the legions of fellow women-of-a-certain-age and try to squeeze back into the ripped up jeans/mini-skirts/pleather pants (you know the ones) and horrify our families and friends with desperate attempts to be hip once again? That’s probably also a big hell no.

But there has to be a way to reclaim that sense of self, that ferocity, that — well, that moxie — which was basically the best part of being young. (Because seriously, think about it — no one wants to return to the days of having to hit up the parents for rent money, never mind the relentless terror of “What the hell am I going to do with my life?” that set in, oh, around 25.)

Maybe la crise has less to do with fitting back into the skinny jeans and waking up to a smooth, unlined face (although that would be divine), and more to do with remembering. Remembering that we are still wild and passionate women. That under the multitasking wonder women we’ve become — the ones who can juggle family finances, minivan runs, the latest family-friendly shopping lists, and busy careers (in or outside the home) — under all that lurks the same curious, wide-eyed, magnificent girls we used to be, the ones who thought nothing of stuffing some undies and a clever dress into a tiny bag and just taking off for an unplanned, last-minute getaway with their buddies.

Which isn’t to say we should drop everything, including our responsibilities — many of which are important and even meaningful. More that it’s essential to remember that spark that inspired us, to — oh hell, seize the day, if you will. Seize something … anything. And take risks, most of all.

I submit that it’s time to listen to that little voice (that’s gotten littler over the years) and start to figure out what we want to do with (the rest of) our lives. It certainly is for me.

Are you a writer? (I am.) Great. Do you still write? (You mean, like in the grand, sweeping way I once fantasized about?) Not so much, eh? (Erm, no — unless we’re counting stories about “Quick eats for the family” or essays on all that writing I’m not doing.) Do you play an instrument? (Does piano when I was eight count?) Sure — when’s the last time you cranked out a song? (Eee, where’s middle C again?) Or tried to pick it up again? (Yeah, no.) How about going to the movies — by yourself — and then maybe out to a cafe or wine bar with a book, no schedule in sight? (Le Sigh.) What about a completely age- and/or lifestyle-inappropriate hobby?

Like roller derby. The subject of this week’s feature, Kelly Timm, a.k.a. Bo Toxic of the San Diego Derby Dolls, has moxie to spare, and personally I’m feeling the need to pick at some of her scraps. Now, I don’t know that I’ve got the nerve (or knees) to strap on skates and fling myself around a banked track with a pack of wild women necessarily, but I’ve definitely got to do something, that’s for sure.

I’ll get back to you with what that something ends up being. I see this unfolding over time. Meanwhile, I want to hear from you ladies. What do you miss about yourself, the you that was way back then? What did you never get around to doing that you still dream about in those stolen moments? What are some of the ways in which you’d like to excavate that glorious young woman that still exists deep inside you?

Or if you’re one of those gorgeous rarities — the ones we all admire, even if we secretly hate them at the same time — who never compromised a damn thing, and who still lives life to the fullest, taking the world and themselves by storm on a daily freaking basis … how the sweet hell do you do it?

This is the conversation I want to have.

About the author

Melissa Henderson

With a "See ya, hate to be ya" to the giant parking lot that is Los Angeles, Melissa Henderson sold the car, stuffed her husband into a suitcase and moved back home to Montreal, Canada, where they both now happily roam the streets by foot. She is also Very Busy not working on several unfinished novels.

Trained in journalism and linguistics at UCLA, Melissa has worked as a journalist and editor (news and magazine) since 2001. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Brand X, Up! Magazine, Soundspike and Greater Long Beach, among other publications.