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On Passion And Little Old Ladies

Barbara Morris, R.Ph.
Mar 9, 2008
Recently someone suggested that I open every issue of my newsletter with a "passion statement."

"You need to start with making a passionate statement abut what you believe and why you are doing this (in every edition).

What a great suggestion!

So, what am I passionate about when it comes to aging?

I am passionate about ignoring chronological age and instead, living my perceived age. If more women did this, there would be fewer little old ladies toddling around.

I am passionate about eliminating "age" as a tool to discriminate - an evil still very much with us. For example, rivals of presidential hopeful John McCain are taking potshots at his 70+ age, insinuating he may not live long enough to complete his term if elected. (Disclaimer: this is not a plug for John McCain.)

The age issue is valid to a point. But look, every candidate regardless of age could die while if office. Isn't this why we have a vice president? Our culture has not caught up with the reality that in the past century the lifespan has increased by 27 years. But something tells me that even if this were common knowledge, older people would still experience discrimination. Our society doesn't value older people all that much.

I am passionate about transforming traditional retirement from a period of decline and wasted potential into a fulfilling stage of life driven by the power and wisdom of maturity and on-going engagement in seamless, productive growth.

I am passionate about promoting the awesome strength women have but often don't use because they are not encouraged to do so by a culture that thrives economically and politically on the often avoidable deterioration that accompanies advancing age. (In fewer words, debilitated old age is big business.)

And above all, I am particularly passionate about helping women avoid becoming little old ladies.

You don't have to become a little old lady. And for the record, little old lady-ness has nothing to do with gray hair and wrinkles or if you weigh more (or less) than you did 25 years ago.

"Little Old Lady" is not a nice term. It's even offensive and is usually used to demean an older woman. It's a term that probably should never be used, but let's deal with reality. We all know a little old lady when we see one. And when we do, we should resolve that "It's not going to be me."

How do you avoid becoming a little old lady?

There are many ways, but avoidance starts in your head. It starts with overhauling your own stereotypical thinking about what you consider "old". It means you exchange fixed "this is all I can or should do" thinking for "I can do anything" thinking. The former is little old lady thinking. The latter is ageless, passionate thinking that guarantees growth and achievement. Little old ladies are passive "acceptors". Ageless women are like perennial flowers. They constantly bloom and put forth new growth.

In her blockbuster book, "Bold Retirement" author Mary Lloyd comments on oldness: " 'Old' is not a pretty picture - wrinkled, rumpled, slow, stupid, easy to anger and insistent on our own petty needs. Greedy. In the way. Is that you? Sure as hell isn't me."

Sure as hell doesn't have to be you or me!

You avoid becoming a little old lady by deciding, at least by age 40, that you will not buy into the prevailing senior culture, which is a culture of decline and decay. Avoidance must be a conscious decision or else you will be sucked into a lifestyle that will define how you ought to live and how you ought to be as a "senior." Little contributes more to development of little old lady-ness than the conformity of the senior culture.

At age 40 you devise a plan that will help you grow, stay productive and facilitate realization of your full potential as long as you live. That means you will not opt into a lifestyle that has as its focus living life as a pastime. You will engage in a lifestyle that has meaning and purpose with some angst thrown in. All stress is not negative. When stress helps you grow, it has value.

Once you reach maturity what happens is largely up to you. I say "largely" because you are not in total control of your life. The unexpected happens. It's how you deal with the unexpected that matters. You have the capacity to be a bloomer as long as you live, and no matter what happens, and you can incorporate that mentality into the way you live your life.

Why am I screaming about this? (And you do hear me screaming, don't you?) I passionately believe every woman can avoid becoming a "little old lady". Every woman should and could be vital, vibrant and productive until the day she dies. Role models help. They demonstrate that in spite of our culture that promotes decline instead of growth in later years, it's possible to ignore the culture, as well as with the number of years you have lived, and achieve everything you have ever dreamed of achieving.

One of my favorite role models is Dr. Helen Harkness. For inspiration, get a copy of her genius work, "Don't Stop the Career Clock." Her thinking is profound and unique and I guarantee it will help you be an ageless bloomer instead of a little old lady.

Another favorite role model is Mary Lloyd. You must read her "smack on the side of the head" book, "Bold Retirement." Her wit and wisdom is piercing and memorable. It will turn your thinking upside down and possibly, inside out. It's what you need to avoid becoming that dreaded Little Old Lady.
About the Author
Barbara Morris is a pharmacist and author of Put Old on Hold. Visit her website at http://www.PutOldonHold.com and sign up for her content-rich newsletter.
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