Older Life Wisdom - Middle Age and Beyond!

I’m 66, and feel pretty much the way I did 30 years ago. Maybe better, because I eat more fruits and vegetables and move my body more. I started yoga 20 years ago and still do the poses. It always makes me feel great, and my balance, so important in aging, is very good. Tree pose for the win!

There are numerous studies pointing out how critical friends are to health. But they can wax and wane over time. I felt quite lonely for a period in my thirties because most of my friends had little kids and they socialized with other people with little kids. Once their kids got older, we reconnected. I now have a circle of close friends of more than forty years, and I love the fact that we never have to explain ourselves to one another. We just know.

As far as clothing goes, I have always regarded it as a uniform. I want to signal to others that I am a normal 66-year-old upper-middle-class woman. As it happens, I am entirely unconventional and not at all normal, but I don’t particularly want the rest of the world to know it. So, wherever I am, I look at what other women are wearing and find things at the thrift shop that fit the parameters and are comfortable.

The exception is that when I go out to dinner with my husband, I wear Lilly Pulitzer dresses. They are too uncomfortable to wear all the time, but they are short and colorful, my husband loves my legs in them, and they make me feel sexy.

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My god, @allhat please keep talking. Every time you post a bit of wisdom on literally any topic, I feel like I’m being handed the keys to the kingdom.

I’ve just turned 40 this year, so I don’t qualify to give advice, but also might be just outside the window of commiseration.

I had a bit of a crisis when I turned 37. It was the year I considered myself to be ‘late 30s,’ and I wallowed for a bit in my aging self. For me one of the hardest things to accept was the opportunity cost. Like you mentioned, when you’re young you believe you can do and be anything, and you’re wrong, but you don’t know it. Aging brings the knowledge that you’ll never be an Olympic gold medal gymnast or the youngest person to land on the moon, but you still feel like many (most?) things are options. Then at some point you realize that your options are narrowing further and some of the things you actually thought you might do someday aren’t likely to happen. At this point we have to start prioritizing the ones that really matter. As a kid I desperately wanted to learn to speak many languages. Now I could learn one probably, but I would have to devote a lot of time and effort to it, perhaps to the exclusion of something else. Is that what I want to spend time on?? (Ha, like I have any time to myself these days, but you catch my drift - the kid thing was also one of those choices).

For me though, after getting past that mini-crisis, turning 40 has been magnificent.

Body

It’s cliche, but my (later) 30s were a time where I truly learned not to care about what other people thought of my body. I gained confidence in myself and the things I was comfortable wearing and doing. A weird thing has happened since I turned 40 though - I love what I see! Nothing has changed - I still haven’t lost the pooch from the babies, my arms are wobbly and the face lines are coming in. I wasn’t brought up body positive either. My mom is super insecure about her body, and that has only gotten more intense with her age, poor soul.

For some reason, now when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror when I’m running by, I love what I see. I feel sexy and cute and strong and gorgeous and it is a completely new and unexpected experience for me after turning 40. I hope you have a similar experience because it is so freeing, and I feel so appreciative of my feminine self, and so connected to the women of my family - past, present, and future.

I liked what PAWG said about exercise too. I exercise (and eat well) now for my own health, and not for any standard set by others.

Anyway, I’m mostly joining the thread to read what everyone else has to say. Thanks for starting it Meow!

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Pink Tutu and I share a lot of characteristics. The makeup thing above, except, you see for two years I was a theater makeup major in college. So, I expected to use makeup the rest of my life. I can’t. It makes my skin crawl.

So, I have over the years pared down what I do/when. If it’s a “normal” day, I probably do nothing, just bare skin. If I’m feeling like I have to do something, I"ll use lip gloss. If I’m going to be in the sun, I used to use a skin blocker that was tinted. Havent’ been able to find that lately… make up without makeup. I worked hard at finding my “capsule wardrobe” for makeup too when I was still working outside the home: foundation (or blocker) lipstick (used it for blusher/color with foundation too) and lip gloss, that’s it. Very formal? I’d go buy a mascara and get rid of it afterwards.

Last time I looked at my makeup stash, I threw it all away, it was all years old and I had no confidence it wouldn’t make my skin crawl, red, breakout, etc.

There are jobs where you need the socially accepted amount of makeup and frankly I just liked the way it felt, but I’ve long since gotten over that, anxiety about my patchy skin tone, etc. I’m attracted to Jones Road and Boom sticks, but haven’t bought either.

Dealing with pain/issues: I’m going tomatillo picking this morning. I have had my coffee. I will have some toast and just before I leave, I’ll take an aspirin. I don’t have any idea what the ground is like where I"m going or how long I’ll be picking. It’s possible it could be very strenuous, or it could be very flat and open – I don’t know. Because of the uncertainty and knowing I"m going to be doing physical work, I’m taking the asprin, a sun hat, and a back belt. If I don’t need the equipment? Fine. If I don’t need the asprin? Fine. But better than throwing my back out in a farm field an hour from home, right? Or, just stressing my back so that I throw it out when I get home.

That kind of preplanning for the worst physical outcome is new to me in my old age. It’s not always easy to remember beforehand, but boy do I remember it afterwards!

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You’re too kind @rocklobster @mewokins so here are a few more thoughts since they seem welcome!

Summary

I think so much of getting older and life in general is choosing how you look at things. For me, I don’t associate physical difficulty with age since it started so young. So I genuinely don’t notice the things like “wow my knees hurt a little now!” because…I have way bigger pain than that and always have. Ditto body changes, lol, going from able to disabled in the way I did was so extreme that like, tiny fine lines or whatever…uh, don’t really phase me, lol.

But, even though I’m disabled I’m still a relatively young disabled person (so I heal like a young person, for example, that’s a HUGE advantage) and I do see some areas that are changing that are more in the realm of normal person aging. I think how I look at them and feel about them, though, is atypical and colored by my unique circumstances. For example, I will need a bottom tooth retainer thing in the next couple of years because I guess your teeth shift as you age? Who knew! If I wear it at night it will straighten them but if I don’t they will keep shifting and I’ll have more cavities.

I intend on doing it in the next 1-3 years. Now am I all “oh man now I’m old boo hoo sad” about it? Uh, no. LOL. Actually my first thought was, “Well that makes sense! My teeth have treated me so well for 35 years, I guess it’s time to give them a bit of extra attention.” and then immediately I felt like, “omg I am so fortunate to be in such a rarefied position that I can choose to do something that is basically preventative so that when I am actually elderly my teeth will hopefully be pretty ok and I can still eat delicious things!” My grandma has false teeth and says they are a huge fucking pain in the ass. She would have loved to live during such technology and to have been rich enough to afford it. So I’m actually kind of excited to get this done. It’s like depositing money in the market and waiting for it to compound. I think 70 year old AllHat will be like, “good call young and spry 35 year old AllHat” as she bites into an apple while zipping around the earth on her spaceship (LET ME DREAM!).

I am also having lots of food sensitivities out of nowhere! I have heard anecdotally this happens to a lot of people in their 30s and 40s. Weird! I am a food person, through and through, and I have always loved being able to eat anything. Some foods I can’t eat now are heritage foods for me, for lack of a better word: foods that are part of my culture that I ate from childhood on. But is this like, a dramatic loss I must now mourn because life has changed forever. Um, no. It’s natural and it makes sense! I spent exactly 2 hours being upset about it to get it out of my system, and feel sorry for myself, and then I was like, “let’s look up some tasty recipes!”

Plus, my stomach has been a god damned trooper! She has taken mountains of horrendous pain meds like a BOSS; I always thought of it as my iron stomach. Even still I can handle lots of meds that make others sick. How lucky given my needs! AND on top of that for 35 years I ate absolutely anything I wanted. Like, with total abandon too. Have you ever had a deep fried hot dog that is filled with cheese and then covered in ramen? I have! So now, as a rich person in my mid 30s I have to avoid a few types of food items? But can still eat millions of delicious things? That doesn’t sound like a tragedy to me. That sounds…normal. Some people have horrible allergies from birth and never get what I already enjoyed. And most people don’t live in areas with such diverse food as I do, so they don’t even ever try half the things I still get to have.

I basically don’t really believe in mourning the inevitable with the exception of the loss of a person or major trauma or lost ability. Other than that…I mean to me it’s the same as sobbing hysterically at the end of every day because the sun is going down. Life is constant change and it is all temporary. That’s both wonderful and difficult. But I simply cannot waste my precious time on this planet crying over things that will happen. I will get old or I will no longer exist. That’s a fact. My disability will get a lot worse over time. Fact. And? The show must go on!

I think very brief times of sadness are ok and vital at times, but they must be brief and followed up with a shift in view. And then you have to move on from them. Sometimes I give myself 2 hours, I set an alarm and say, “I have 2 hours to be furious or upset about this thing, and then I’m done and moving on.” I highly recommend that tactic. Get it out, but then get on with things. There are still flowers and breezes and laughter and delicious smells to smell.

When it comes to the whole doors closing as you age thing, again I don’t fully associate that with being old because a lot of doors slammed in my face when disability hit, so early teen years for me. I never lived with the delusion that I was unstoppable or had no limits or would never die. That’s a huge advantage now though it was extremely difficult and lonely then. Having been forcibly pushed out of the workforce, and out of hobbies, and unable to have kids, and out of social things- so those are losses that registered as such but I’ve mostly moved past them. There’s not that much time and I don’t want to spend it wallowing.

I can’t really imagine being sad about stuff I didn’t choose at all. Like I’m not sad that I didn’t teach English abroad. That’s a thing I could have done at the time physically, and I thought about it, and didn’t do it and now I’m definitely not able enough. It seems unlikely now that I’ll ever have the chance to live abroad, but I chose not to do it. I didn’t want to be in a school setting, I didn’t like the idea of being stuck in one place based on assignments, it scared me a little because I wasn’t well traveled, and I was really into the guy I was seeing (husband!) so I was like, “nah!” and did other stuff instead. I still think it’s possible we’ll live abroad, but if it never happens that’s literally because I prioritized other things. If I had done that I wouldn’t have had the experiences I did have, so many of which were awesome. Just like I don’t cry when I order the chicken and then…get the chicken, I can’t see being upset over something I clearly didn’t want enough to prioritize.

No one gets everything in life! If you prioritize making buckets of money probably you have less free time and balance. If you prioritize never denying yourself anything you probably cultivate less discipline. If you prioritize discipline and structure you probably cultivate less spontaneity. This is all natural to me and I want to live with nature not against it. I guess sometimes when I hear lamentations of being old or doors closing I want to ask, not in a mean way but in an honest way, “what is your expectation?” Because I genuinely don’t get it, like, is your expectation that you get all the options forever even though you clearly don’t want a lot of them? That you never get old? That the knees and back that you didn’t even have to think about for 40 some years are suddenly saying, “hey, we’re here! be gentler with us!” That doesn’t seem like a tragedy to me, it seems natural.

And I think my last thing I think about a lot in relation to this is the elephant in the thread which is AGEISM whom I’ve always considered the more popular sister of ableism. In places where no one would openly mock a person for being disabled it’s totally ok to do so with age. Right, boomer? We generalize and dehumanize anyone older in our society and I think this absolutely has impacted how terrified my generation is of aging and explains why people who are so young are concerned. I remember the first time I heard a woman lament her age. She was 23 and I was 21. She said I was lucky because she missed being the youngest person in the bar. I wanted to tell her I’d been bar hopping since like 17 but I don’t think that was her point :laughing:. But seriously, that’s really young. I remember when my completely able bodied friend turned 28 and had a bit of a breakdown over aging and wanting to go back in time. At 28. She said she felt “pre-middle-aged”. I also remember a guy saying that a bartender was “pretty hot for a woman over 25”. Check out any greeting cards sections for the cards about 30 being old and 40 being over the hill.

Like. Something is going on with all of this. Why are people who have lost nothing real to time yet (like partners or major ability, etc.) feeling tragic over just, being adults who are not young? It’s super unnatural. It speaks to me of a lack of something bigger and more overarching. I think a lot of it is finding a place to put fear. So I think it’s already being terrified, already feeling like things are bad all the time, and then suddenly you have a number you can point to as proof. It’s not me! It’s because I’m in my 30s now. My 40s now. You’ll understand how bad it is when you’re in your 50s. Just wait until your 60s! How many of us have grown up hearing this? I certainly did! Super infuriating as a young disabled person, btw, “you don’t know what pain is yet! wait until you’re my age!” Insert epic AllHat eyeroll, age 14 edition. The cautions from older women of “just wait, it gets so much worse” were everywhere for me and I’m sure for many of us!

You know what I, as young whippersnapper with some very unusual circumstances thought when I’d be condescended to in this way? “I bet you were a total fucking bummer at 16, too.” I would even look at the 16 year old bummers around me and be like, “yep, there it is young, that’s the prototype”. So many morose people repaint their youth as a golden age when it wasn’t. My now gone uncle said that age simply makes people more of what they are, in terms of personality. It’s like a megaphone. One of the major overarching beliefs of my life is that you should never take advice or information from someone whose situation or outlook you do not want. I don’t take money advice from people in loads of debt and I don’t take life advice from people who are super miserable. I just straight up don’t believe it, because there are so many people who are not that way. I’m lucky in the disability community because I’m surrounded by both extremes. Not all disabled people are like, living their best lives despite it all, lol. Some are! And those are the ones I gravitate towards. And some have stopped being people and become patients and I’m not into that. Sorry, but I just can’t! I think it’s ok to adopt that attitude internally to protect yourself from things that are just, not going to serve you. I’m always kind in person and I try to cultivate compassion for them, but I’m not going to take their word as scripture.

I have no wrap up other than that I want and hope to continue to adapt well to life. And I think there’s so much to look forward to! And things to be wrong about! Haha :laughing: And that thinking about ageism in the scope of all this is maybe warranted. Oh and mostly the Kimmy Schmidt quote which I most strongly associate with, “Age doesn’t matter. You can die at any time!”

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Thank you all so much for sharing experiences and thoughts. <3 I have been out of town so haven’t been able to reply quickly, but it’s definitely allowed me time to do a lot of reading and pondering rather than reacting (always good, lol). Here are some themes that are really resonating with me.

  1. Redefining career accomplishment to what makes me happy and meets my goals

I’ve really, really enjoyed this, honestly. I feel somewhat guilty for not caring about the hustle, but I don’t want to be a boss. I want as little management as possible. I want to learn things and do cool things. And I don’t really care about marketing. It’s fine and interesting enough, but it’s just a bill payer. And that’s okay. Maybe one day I’ll be a full time writer. I’ll go back to school to be an engineer. I don’t know. Both have seemed interesting, but the latter especially I’m embarrassed to admit.

  1. Using the newfound vantage point of this age to embrace that life has limits and plan accordingly

A few people have said that being aware of mortality and the frailty of ability is a great kick in the pants. I couldn’t agree more. I’m at the point where I’m a little paralyzed and overwhelmed by it. Hence why I’m taking action haha.

  1. Having the life experience to be confident in being new at something without worrying about opinions of others

Yeah dude! I work at a queer organization in a creative field. So I am moving forward and going to die my hair the way I want. I did something subtle this time but I’m going all out dark purple or pink fringe this time.

  1. Celebrating my body for what it has done, does now, will do

This exact same thought occurred to me a couple weeks ago as I was driving. My feet were feeling sore. And I was like, well they’ve done a lot of walking. Going to go soak them in a nice epsom salt bath! And I thought about how nice it is to have a moment for my body to slow me down and really consider instead of bustle bustle bustle, and to do something nice for myself.
5. Enjoying the beauty that makes me feel good and doesn’t matter so much to another’s standards

I love this so much! I’m also doing more thoughtful cloth buying and guilt free make up spending. I’m allowed to do things that feel pretty. I don’t have to feel guilty about it.

@Frecks, I actually think I’m going to do one of those racy photoshoots haha. Mostly for me! Though I am sure my husband will think they are awesome, too. LOL.

I forgot about this as I was writing my original post, since it may feel so second nature now, but I am MUCH more comfortable in my body now, kind of like what you said @rocklobster.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the most people who are sharing what they’re excited about in their older years, the really awesome things that have happened to them in new life stages, and the things they loved about their earlier life stages. I think this is the crux of what I was hoping for in this post - a new way of looking at things, because I don’t buy into or want to endorse the idea that once you’re over 30 you’ve lived your best years, or that the magic of life is in the “firsts” of youth.

I think, as peers, friends, mentors, that gift of perspective is something we can offer each other. Especially in a society that is all about the veneration of youth and the invisibility (yes, ageism, for sure) of those who are older. The constant messages of society are devaluing and a pretty big bummer. This post was a way of me cultivating some really good messages from creative, thoughtful people.

Thanks <3

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Re ageism? Weirdness at the time: my hair went gray and men suddenly didn’t “see” me anymore. That was odd. Long term I love it, because the only man I really want to see me I live with!

Also, the not being seen as sexual, sexually attractive, etc. is remarkably freeing, as was just becoming asexual. My hormones drove my fragile emotional state amok for decades. Not having that is a HUGE blessing!

People can be as ageist as they want in my direction; I don’t care. I spent my youth fighting PTSD/myself and I largely won. It took 50 years and a lot of resources. Do I care if you find me attractive? Want my life? Think I have anything very worthwhile to say? Uh, not really. If I know you, that’s different. But from a distance?

Be my guest. Call me old, worthless, ugly, boomer, stupid, whatever floats your boat. I spent most of my life in a war and won. Your opinion of that, as someone who doesn’t know me, affects me not at all…

I do think automatic bias is usually wrong and I work, personally, to try and overcome mine. But a long time ago I realized that the only person who’s morality/ethics/standards I really have to worry about are mine (or my partners’).

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Thanks, I think?

I do love a sweater, but it’s been a hot summer. I wear dresses a lot. I’m wearing this purple dress today.

I wore this blue floral last week. (I know, I did have a sweater on. It was cool that morning! I took it off later.

And many others that I don’t have pictures of. And all the jumpsuits. I wore a jumpsuit to work last week. I have at least four jumpsuits now.

(And yes, this adults-only restroom at work has words on the wall telling us to be kind. A different one reminds me to dream, or something. :roll_eyes:)

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I love that purple dress! It’s giving modern fairy tale princess vibes but with a dash of :wink:

Also maybe people here would be interested in this blog? I actually think it’s even better to just google image the terms “advanced style” because you get lots of the best of.

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The Sartorialist is also great and shoots people of all ages, here are some gents!

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Oh and I forgot to post this! A great place for wisdom from a place of experience.

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These are so awesome!

I’m wondering if maybe i should start a pop culture thread for media that features 30+ protagonists! Having media and inspiration has been great for my general weight body positivity.

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I like the purple too; great color!

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I was going to suggest that there are tons of “mature” (ie “senior” fashion insta type people out there but I didn’t know any specifically since I don’t really follow fashion I just see them sometimes and am delighted. :slight_smile:


I don’t have anything deep to add to this convo. I’m 46 and childless (though having G certainly saddle’s me with plenty of responsibility a “normal” pet owner does not have). I would say as I have gotten older I have noticed I give less of a shit what people think about me. It’s not zero, but I definitely care less. This is not to say I am a slob and rude and etc. But external validation is less important, and that is really freeing. I don’t do exactly the same activities as I did in my 20s, but I am still plenty active, and I expect to be for decades yet. Yes it takes a smidge more planning. Youth is wasted on the youth and all that. But I earned these grey hairs and I earned these wrinkles. They are an outward expression of my lived experience. I don’t want to cover them up. And if I do (maybe I want to dye my hair a fun color), it’s because I choose it, and not “society”.

Also mid-40s is not like “almost dead”. Haha. With lifespans, that’s only approximately halfway there! And truthfully you could die at any moment, so plan for the future but live for the moment. You know that old saying (is it an old saying?): noone on their deathbed ever said “I wish I had worked more.”

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I love all of the points of view I’m reading here and how everyone is approaching aging as another step on the adventure of life and not like your life is ending. If you’ve followed my journal you know that I really struggle with my relationship with my mom and I try to basically do the opposite of what she would do in every situation. She turned 50 last year and acted like it was the end of the world. She made a ton of posts on facebook about how she was turning “the dreaded F word” and how that means she is OLD and on and on and on, basically begging for attention and for people to tell her she doesn’t “look” like she’s 50. It’s so refreshing to see people on this thread who aren’t approaching aging that way. Thank you everyone for sharing, and @Meowkins for starting the thread.

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Thanks, @NewGig and @AllHat. I think I look good in purple. It’s one of my colors. Except, I don’t like purple all that much. That might be the only purple thing I own! Oh, well.

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My mum’s a bit over 50 now and she is just growing into herself. Its been great to see. For her, she watched and admired her grandmother, who had an amazing witchy silver streak in her hair.

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I think I physically looked more or less the same for so long that the last couple of years have been a major shock for me. I just kinda assumed that physical signs of aging would happen (hand waving) sometime way later. In the last few years I noticed wrinkles and it seemed like my friends suddenly all looked older. Not to mention that I started getting hot flashes, which was alarming! I wasn’t ready for changes but am getting used to it and getting mentally ready for aging sooner than I’d expected. It’s like I blinked and am suddenly in my 40’s.

Have you heard of the jellybean theory? There was this great explanation but now I can’t find the awesome website (think it used jellybeans to explain, someone must know the site I’m talking about), but basically it said that time is perceived to pass faster as you get older because every year is a smaller percentage of your total life. Time is definitely speeding by for me. I think I will blink again and then I’ll be 50, and then 60, then 70. I was telling Marmalade that if Emma lives to be 20 and is a grouchy old lady cat, I’ll be 60 years old!! I’m sure it’ll all be way too soon.

Anyway, lately I’ve been feeling like life is short and getting shorter and I should go do things that I want to do and not put them off until the “perfect time”. And I should try to be fit; I don’t want to get osteoporosis. I’ve spent the majority of my life like a couch potato but it’s never too late to change and start new habits! So I think you should go and live, do things that bring you joy, and take care of yourself :heart:

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One thing I remember from a very young age, I looked at what I called the “Palm Springs Ladies,” and didnt want to be like them. Too much makeup. Youth or age inappropriate clothes far too long, wrinkled faces and “young” hair…

I decided Id never dye my hair. Except as I started to age, first I got graying temples, and that was fine. Then I got a white line down the middle of my skull. I did NOT want stripes or as my brother called it, “looking like Cruella or Pepe LePu,” so I started dying my hair.

Then I switched to color enhanced shampoo. Years ago, I gave it up. These days? My hair is still ombre, but the front of my head looks like someone dipped me in bleach. Shock white in front, brown at the back. The stress and PTSD came out that way. So its weird. And most of the time my hair looks white. And sometimes it doesnt. I keep trying to find a way to exploit the weird, unique way Ive aged, then just give it up and put it into a ponytail. I just dont have the patience or give a damn…

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I’m reading Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow and a strong theme is the maiden, mother, crone tradition. I’m transitioning from a mother to a crone and I honestly dig it. Crones have more fun.

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