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Shirley, You Can't Be Serious! – Starting over, 02-17-05

by LauraBelle

Can I say I just love Iyanla? I really had never heard much about her before Starting Over. But the things I have seen and learned, I just love. Today she says women don’t require their true wisdom until they hit forty. Currently at forty-years-old, I just want to say, thank you, Iyanla!

Candy’s feelings about aging is what Iyanla wants to talk about today, noting Candy is forty-four. Asked what she feels the age has brought her, Candy says experience and confidence. Iyanla wonders how aging is handled in Candy’s field as a corrections officer, and Candy acknowledges people have doubts of ability and performance at that age. Personally Candy sees her age in her graying hair, lines in her face and skin. Pressing on, Iyanla asks how Candy celebrates being forty-four, and Candy feels she just does that by being happy. For her assignment of the day, Iyanla would like her to chronicle what it is to be forty-four, and present the glories of it to her housemates, being she is the “wise” woman of the house.

Denise meets Rhonda in Beverly Hills, and wonders what’s ahead of her there. First they discuss Denise’s grades received from her husband, Ermanno, who had visited and left the day before. Denise admits to being upset about the Ds in listening and inappropriate behavior. She realizes since she thought she was doing so much better, she must do better listening to strangers and her housemates than with Ermanno. She wants to change this.

Denise has a challenge in front of her. Shirley owns a house in Beverly Hills and is inflicted with the same disorderly problem that Denise has or had. Denise looks at Rhonda and utters the immortal quote, “Shirley, you can’t be serious.” I had to laugh. Leave it to Denise to resurrect one of the best lines from the movie Airplane.

Before Shirley can even show Rhonda and Denise around her house, she tells them they have to go to a different entrance as the locksmith hasn’t fixed the front door yet. She apologizes for the boxes they have to step over in the entryway as she hasn’t gotten the Salvation Army over there yet to pick them up.

Rhonda asks if Denise is ready to prove her worth and prove Ermanno wrong. She is to use her skills to teach and support Shirley how she, too, can change. She would like Denise to clean the whole house and have it done by the next day at five o’clock. If she fails, she leaves the house, if she succeeds she graduates. Denise feels overwhelmed, but knows she can do it. At some point there will also be an organizational expert stopping by to support her.

Iyanla moves on to Group and tells everyone Denise is on an assignment. Iyanla carries on her discussion of aging and talks about how there are many more things to it other than the obvious physical ones of body parts falling, being picked up and added on to. Cassie says she is forty-one and feels like she is running out time to change her life. Rachael, at twenty-one, thinks she needs to experience as much as she can. Candy admits to being forty-four, and feels she is coming into her own, and better able to deal with things. Bethany is the exception to everything, as she says being twenty-one, she doesn’t remember growing up, but she feels younger than her age, and she wants to feel like a woman. Renee is very fearful of growing up as she believes after thirty it’s all downhill, and she’s twenty-eight. Oh, Iyanla, please set her straight.

Iyanla points out that at twenty, women want to be older to feel wiser, and at forty, women want to be younger to have the great body again. Cassie thinks she’s aged so much that she isn’t attractive to men anymore. Candy disagrees, she thinks men find older women more attractive. Asked what she envisions forty to be, Rachael says she wants to have a real cute gray strand in the front of her hair.

At fifty-one, Iyanla wants the women to know what to expect at fifty. At this point she says your body lays down and won’t even speak to you anymore, but there is so much more to it than the physical sense. She believes women have no good sense until they are forty and fifty is just that much better. Rachael wants to have a few more streaks at fifty and Cassie wants to have a house that is paid off. Iyanla wants the women to know what they can find at fifty if they look for it – freedom.

The soul of a woman, Iyanla says, is her heart, and it is never to late fix things or yourself, you just have to want to.

Denise is trying to figure out where to start in Shirley’s house, and notes she is cleaner than Denise herself. Yet, she does admit that she an Shirley are from the same messy image of their lives. While she is reflecting on all this, Shirley is wandering around talking about how there are no sheets on her bed and she has many unused empty flat boxes in her attic.

The organization expert arrives and suggests Denise and Shirley tackle the hardest room first. She suggests making the rooms a clean slate, and then start putting things back in. She urges her to take water breaks here and there and to not burn herself out.

Rhonda checks in with Cassie to let her know the adoptive father hasn’t called back yet. Cassie doesn’t want to keep waiting, she wants to mail her letter. Rhonda urges her to wait a little longer; hopefully while he thinks on it and talks to his wife, he will become more willing. Cassie reads her revised letter, and the only thing I hear coming out of the revision is anger. Apparently Rhonda hears the same, as she asks Cassie what the disempowering part of the letter is. She points to the part where she says she signed the original adoption agreement in trust and faith. Rhonda says she won’t get anywhere if the adoptive mother feels attacked.

Cassie is so confused. She says when she is nice, people tell her to toughen up, yet when she does, people tell her to be nice. Rhonda tells her by being disempowering, it isn’t proof she was right. She says it takes great courage to turn an adversary into an advocate. Cassie just still feels very lost.

While Candy and Bethany wonder what happened to Denise, and what kind of assignment would keep her gone the whole day, Denise is arguing with Shirley about a giant suitcase. Shirley wants to keep it because it’s old and probably worth money. They look around the house for somewhere to put it, and Shirley suggests a closet that happens to be the only clean area of the house. Denise suggests why mess up a good clean area. If you aren’t going to use it, toss it. Eventually Shirley agrees, and Denise feels like a life coach teaching Shirley how to make all the changes she herself has worked on for eight weeks.

Rhonda comes to check in on Denise and Shirley’s progress. She checks the top of the fireplace mantle and finds dust. Denise claims to have dusted the books, but Rhonda still finds dust. She tells Denise to pay attention to D E T A I L S. Denise finds the skiing machine residing in Shirley’s bedroom, in front of the bed with no sheets. She hops on and has so much fun, Shirley says, “I want to be like her!”

Bethany and Candy move on to a workout with Marcus. He wants to talk about workouts in connection with age, very appropriate since Candy is more than twice Bethany’s age. He tells them they can basically do all the same things. He says the only real difference is that older women need to stretch more. Watching the two of them work out, though, he says Candy isn’t like many forty-four year old women. She knows how to challenge herself. Quit limiting us, Marcus, I liked Iyanla’s comments better.

Back at the house Candy meets with Iyanla again. She says coming in to forty is a good thing. She says it means not letting numbers define who you are. She admits to already holding an AARP card. The reason is her boyfriend is 60; they had started dating when she was thirty-three and he was forty-nine. He had hang-ups in the beginning, but she didn’t. Iyanla asks what will happen since he is most likely to die sooner, and Candy says there are worse things than being alone.

Rhonda and Cassie meet again to try calling the adoptive father again. Cassie admits to being nervous but still feels closer than ever before. Once again a message is left on is answering machine. Rhonda asks Cassie what she wants to do; it is time for her to make a decision. She says even though the experts don’t agree, she has looked in her heart and and knows she needs to go directly to her son. She believes in her heart that contacting him would help, not hurt him. Rhonda gives Cassie the next twenty-four hours to decide how to move forward.

Candy presents her Coming In party to the other women. She tells them she has learned she has had a lot of gifts in her life. She would like to give the women advice on growing old with style. She pulls out one of the glamour shot pictures she had taken of herself a few weeks back. She says even at forty-four she still has to have girlie stuff, and pulls out her lingerie and heels. She passes around pictures of her eight children, noting two of them are still at home. She tells them she has a lot of time left to do whatever she wants to. The journey is half the fun, and getting there is fun too.

Denise is winding up her day at Shirley’s. She admits to being teary-eyed seeing herself eight weeks ago in Shirley. She wants to show her roommates and herself she can do this. The cleaning is now energizing her. She is going to go back to the house, dream of her husband dancing naked and her being there at home with him. Maybe she could use Candy’s lingerie and heels.

To me the Starting Over house is about learning. Everyone learns there, and if they don’t, they aren’t taking full advantage of what is there. From Rhonda everyone learns to live their lives without fear of moving ahead. From Iyanla they learn courage, that it’s okay to believe in themselves. And from the other women, they learn about themselves. I know I have.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

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