As mid-life awakenings go (I refuse to call it a crisis), mine has been pretty tame. Quite ho-hum actually. I left my husband with a bang one day last June and never looked back, travelled to Europe with my daughters in July, moved back in with my parents in August, moved into a new home in September, lost 20 pounds, and was falling in love by October. Hmmm, maybe tame is the wrong word.
Needless to say, while the external changes have been sweeping, the changes in me have been profound. I’ve been floundering to find some answers. What do I want to do? Do I still have something to contribute in this space? Am I shouting into the void? Just who the fuck do I think I am? And then, last night in the most delightful way, I found the question that shall forever more guide me.
What would Cher do?
As a child I was devoted to the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, tuning in religiously every Friday night to watch Cher deliver the best one-liners with deadpan accuracy directed at Sonny. With every flip of the hair, and tongue in cheek quip, Cher was the very model of an independent woman to me, even if at the age of 6, I had no idea what that meant.
And then she was gone. The show was cancelled, and I, like so many others moved on. For many in the entertainment industry, they would have moved on too if their show was cancelled, believing they’d already peaked. But what would Cher do?
Cher, would say, “Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.” And then she pulled up her fishnet stockings and went on to win an Academy Award, three Golden Globes, an Emmy, and a Grammy. Cher will peak when she’s god damn good and ready thank you very much.
In January, we took in The Cher Show at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York City. We sat down not really knowing what to expect and ended up taking the most delightful trip down memory lane together. Like anyone newly in love, music is a great way to find moments of connection in the lives you had before you knew each other.
With a fantastic recap of Cher’s life story under our belts from The Cher Show, and her music and legacy fresh in our mind’s we donned our concert jackets last night and headed out to see her in Ottawa. And when the queen herself took to the stage and asked “What’s your Granny doing tonight?” it dawned on me that Cher was the hero I didn’t know I needed.
I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes my feet get a little sore in my Birkenstock’s. So I know that the stilettos Cher was dancing around in on stage had to be causing some discomfort, but you never would have known it. She commanded the stage in every costume, and although you would have expected her voice to be somewhat diminished at 73, it was defiantly strong. Cher doesn’t want you to look at her and say, “What a great performer for her age”, she wants you to look at her and say “What a great performer.” Period.
We all need someone to look up to, and as someone quickly approaching the half-century mark, I am not looking backwards to thirty year olds for inspiration but ahead to who I want to be like. So what would Cher do, if she was me? She’d be kind, but firm, and tell me to carve out the life I want on my terms. And she might throw in something about not being a whiny bitch about it. One never really knows what Cher is going to throw out.
I’ve read every manner of self-help book in the last eleven months, looking for answers, but it was Cher in fishnet stockings, and a leather jacket who showed me the way.
Now excuse me while I go dust off my stilettos. You haven’t seen the last of me yet.