As a mid-life woman, I'm always looking for ways to see getting older as possessing more advantages than setbacks. Our intellect is established yet expanding, our influence flourishes, and we have the power to live out our values authentically. Plus, our earned wisdom allows us to cope as well as succeed. Most likely, we are comfortable economically and professionally.
If we really believe in all of this well-earned authority, why do we sometimes struggle with aging? Because change continues to happen, and those changes touch our bodies and our spirits. From serious health issues to minor age-related transformations, any of us can become discouraged or, worse, depressed. Plus we face the aging of those we love: our parents, our partners, our peers. Many of the sage guides we've always looked to for advice - from personal mentors and leaders to our favorite beacons in the public eye - have gone on to glory. We realize that now WE have to be the generation to be looked to. Are we ready?
All of this can be scary but it's also powerful.
Despite my personal annoyance with no longe looking and feeling thirty, I'm buoyed by the strength of the pro-age movement. Today, women in their middle years (and greater) not only retain physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual power, but build it. When I see others leaning into where they are, rather than running from it, their lifestyle resonates. Take one look at social media and advertising - heck, even Hollywood - and we can see aging well has a strong hold on society. It's inspirational!
Recent changes in my life are allowing me to let go of my hang-ups about getting older, too. Two years ago, I thought it was time for me to quiet my life into semi-retirement. It was nice for a little while. The laundry, cooking, playing with the dog, enjoying time with some friends, and waiting for other friends to get off work. Being patient until my children could take a break from work or school. Hovering while my husband completed his meaningful work day. Eager for inspiration to strike regarding art or writing. A lot of "waiting" was happening for me. A personal upheaval for a loved one helped me see my that my heart and mind were not ready to slow down.
That feeling of a need to get moving is now helping me embrace my age in new ways. Last year I opened a new chapter leading the marketing and advancement department for a 130-year-old intergenerational organization and beautiful community for older adults of every ability and income level, along with a small group of young women in danger of homelessness. Started by two sisters, donors make programs and generosity between generations possible. Delightfully, we also have an anti-agism message at our core. This, and the incredible residents we serve, are daily reminders we can do anything we put our minds to, no matter our age or ability level.
Sophia Loren said, “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” I'll take her brilliance one step further. That fountain of youth we tend to seek is always with us. We are every age we have ever been. And instead of overcoming aging, we can experience it with joy and power. A sparkling fountain of age is just as highly prized as that of youth.