Tag Archives: ageing

O is for Open

Ohappy dog

One of my goals for retirement is to stay open-minded, open-hearted, and open to new experiences. In a previous post, I mentioned that tightly-guarded look I’ve seen in many mature women. With clenched jaw, tense shoulders and narrowed eyes, they seem perpetually on guard, lest someone take away something from them, like yappy little dogs snapping at anyone who comes to close to their stash of chew-toys. You know the type. No one wants to pet these pests, for fear of being bitten.

Me, I’m more of a galumphing doofus type: say, a golden retriever. At least, that’s how I am on my best days. That’s not to say that I’ll want to play with every ball or Frisbee that comes my way, but I’ll try to at least give them a sniff. The older people I like the best, and strive to emulate, are those who cheerfully, playfully try new things. These are the active older people I see playing pickle ball or dancing at the gym, wearing silly hats at the Daffodil Parade (it’s a Tacoma thing), dancing to blues music at Jazzbones (one of our favorite live music venues), dressing up with a glamorous sense of humor at the theater, playing pool and darts at the neighborhood tavern, and chatting up strangers and neighbors.

Now, I don’t mean those aggressive types who loudly insist that they’re just as cool, hip, and trendy as the young dogs—like that annoying neighbor dog who never stops barking. “Hey, hey, hey—I’m not old! See my cool phone? My Lululemon pants? My hip-hop playlist? My thong?”

OK—getting a little silly with the doggie metaphors here. What I’m trying to wrap my words around is that open, engaged-with-the-world quality that I find so attractive in older people. And something I need to be open to is a different way of being in the world, now that my knees, my back, and my stamina will no longer allow me to boogie all night long. That’s cool—this old dog will stretch out for a snooze on the couch. I’ll be ready to chase the Frisbee again in just a bit. Life is good.

J is for Junior Senior

J

Warning

WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

by Jenny Joseph

I admit it: I signed up for AARP as soon as I turned fifty. While some of my peers do everything possible to deny/hold back their entry into the “golden years,” I dove in enthusiastically. Heck, I made a splashy cannonball. Kasploosh!

No one can hold back time’s progress, so we might as well embrace the life phase we’re in. Fifty-somethings aren’t quite senior citizens, but many of us become grandparents during this decade. I figure I’m a senior citizen in training. If fate doesn’t swoop down on me with a nasty illness or accident, I can probably count on another twenty-five or so years of active life, maybe more. I’m feeling optimistic about this post career/second career phase, and looking forward to becoming a fascinating, feisty old lady. Might as well start training now.

I’m actually getting a kick out of hanging out with older people and trying some typical “old folks’” activities. It turns out I enjoy golf, though I have a long way to go before I become proficient. Those white-haired ladies with a killer golf game are pretty impressive, you must admit. And I love my mid-day Zumba class, which is mostly full of older ladies—say, sixty and up. Molly, our sixty-something instructor, is a paragon of fitness and good cheer. I want to be like her when I reach that age.

Have you heard of Ashton Applewhite? She’s the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism and host of the funny, thought-provoking blog Yo, is this ageist? How about Dr. Bill Thomas and his The Age of Disruption Tour? Here’s a link: https://drbillthomas.org/?mc_cid=8f0cc3f0cc&mc_eid=d2e30cd7d3

These two consciousness-raisers are making great strides in changing the way we think about ageing, and are excellent role models for junior seniors like me. I have no intention of dying my hair gray—what is up with that weird trend?—but perhaps I’ll start looking for the perfect red hat, just so I’ll be ready.