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Talking About The "A Word" - Aging - All The Single Girlfriends

Talking About The “A Word” – Aging

What does growing up mean to you?

Mar 28, 2011 by

Can we start to talk about getting older with each other?

I love that this blog is for single women over 40. I love reading about the realities of dating over 40 and about the challenges of approaching 60.  I especially appreciate the fact that the women on this blog represent different generations.

Before retiring at the end of 2010, I delivered numerous sessions about generational differences in the workplace. I know a lot about how differently the four generations view their work, relationships and lives.

(And just in case you need reminding, those four generations are: 1.Traditionalists, born between 1925 and 1945

2. Boomers, born between 1945 and 1965

3. Generation X, born between 1965and 1980

4. Millenials or Generation Y, born between 1980 and 200. (The dates might be a bit different depending on what you Google)

My Gen X daughter Erika was born in 1974 and many of the attributes of her generation apply to her: independent, skeptical, role-morphing, information-rich, ‘works to live’ (as opposed to the Boomers who ‘live to work.’) She is also funny, compassionate, smart, quirky and deeply caring. She is a Hospice Social Worker which tells you something about her.

We are pairing up to deliver workshops that start conversations between my generation (slightly beyond Boomer but mainly Boomer identified) and hers (Gen X) about the topic of aging.

It’s hard to miss the societal change of the Boomers who started to turn 65 last year. Up to last week, we could even talk about the ‘Silver Tsunami’ without feeling a stab of compassion for the sufferers of the real thing.

This past weekend we started the conversation with two other parent/adult children pairs. The six of us in the room represented all four generations.  We shared our individual histories and we talked about the cultural influences that affect us. I will be blogging about some of what I learned and am thinking about the whole topic but thought I’d start at the beginning.

Here are some of the questions we asked and the topics we touched on, which I hope to shape into future workshops. I believe they will lead to the kinds of deep and honest conversations I want to have with my girlfriends and anybody else who wants to engage.

  • What does it mean to be ‘grown up’? When did you start thinking of yourself as a woman, not a ‘young woman’?
  • What age do you think of as ‘old?’ What does that mean to you?
  • What important things did you learn about aging from your parents?
  • What are you learning about from your children and younger colleagues about how they approach the world?
  • What does aging well mean to you personally?

Let me know what you think, I want to start talking!

Photo credit: Rob Lee

 


About the Author

Rebecca Crichton Has Written 40 Articles For Us!

I try to stay aware of one main concept: We see things through different lenses. We get caught in our own belief systems and most of us are pretty attached to being right. I am one of those inveterate Life Long Learners. I like new ideas, new experiences, new people, new challenges.
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6 Comments

  1. First of all, it’s really refreshing to hear Generation X described in favorable terms — “independent, skeptical, role-morphing, information-rich, ‘works to live’ (as opposed to the Boomers who ‘live to work’), as you put it in your article. As a Gen-Xer myself, I used to get so aggravated when the media first started talking about Gen X and bemoaning our “lack of a work ethic,” our “lack of political values or ideals,” and so on and so forth.

    In any case, I’ve been fortunate because one thing my mother (who was born in the Traditionalist generation but is really pretty un-traditional in all sorts of ways) taught me is that aging is not a curse, and that each passage we make through our lives, whether it’s turning 30, 40, 50, menarche or menopause, the first gray hair — it’s all good and it’s all natural. The most important thing is to truly LIVE until you die.

    My mother taught me that it’s never too late to take a big risk and do something that’s important to you: she opened her own business, a retail store, in her mid-40s, and continued to operate that shop until she retired in her late 60s. Now at the age of 42, I’m getting ready to make a cross-country move to Seattle with only the stuff I can fit in my car (including, of course, my cats).

  2. I never had any issues getting older, and had always thought that I’d make a great “elder” when I reached the appropriate age. When I turned 50, however, I realized that my head was still 35 while my body was doing all the aging! It took me a while to reconcile the two, not by “thinking like a 50-year-old” – and what is that, anyway? – but by retaining my ageless sense of play and childlike wonder, no matter how old I get. – SerenaK

  3. “Old” seems to be a moving target as I get older. When Elvis died I thought, “Well, gee, he was already so old.” (42, heh.) Now, when I read of someone’s death at – say – 72, I think “Oh, what a shame, so young!”

    It’s a challenge – how do we live life to the fullest, recognizing we have an increasingly finite amount of it (and not getting depressed by that ticking clock)? On one hand, I’m grateful that I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, to enjoy simply being. On the other, I wish I’d gotten the idea sooner and engraved memories on my brain that are now only very dimly recalled moments. And, as I thought just yesterday – “Wow, it’s Spring again! And, I’ve probably, if I’m lucky, only got another 30 of those left.”

    And, like it or not, 50 IS NOT the new 30. Our bodies continue to age, according to our genetics and their own clock. So, we’ve also got to balance good sense with positive attitude.

    • Rebecca Crichton

      Mary, I agree that this is a topic that requires a willingness to stretch our definitations of what is possible and isn’t as each year passes. In addition to the absolutely critical good sense and positive attiduete you mention is a a healthy dose of compassion for ourselves as we age and a commitment to finding the activities and people who will support and accompany us as we discover what aging means. Thanks for your response.

  4. What interesting questions! I don’t know what age I would consider “old”. It seems to depend on the person, as if it were really a combination of physical and mental factors that are specific to an individual.

    I do consider myself solidly “middle-aged” at age 42. Sometimes I’ll say this and someone will protest, “Why do you say that? You seem so young!”. Usually, I say something about finally being old enough to order young people around, but what I really mean is that I feel old enough to do whatever I damn well please, like the old ladies wearing purple. I am no longer a “young woman” in my mind because with youth came all sorts of anxieties and a lack of confidence that I’ve long since left in the dust.

    I joke that my chickens now think of themselves as Full Grown Egg Laying Hens and thus they do what they like, including breaking into my lettuce garden or eating the cats’ food. I am in my Middle-Aged Ladyhood, and like the chickens I do what I want, including quitting my boring job or asking out any single man who seems interesting. It’s like being a teenager and thinking I know everything, except with actual experience to back it up! :-)

    • Rebecca Crichton

      Bonnie, Love the hen analogy. There is much to learn about how to age from our animals and your stories always add another dimension to the mix. And yes, I think getting older should mean we can do what we want and not feel quite so fearful about what others think. A good friend says, “I am the boss of me, I can do what I want.” She says it a bit like either a feisty 5-year old or a snappy senior and I always laugh. Thanks.

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