OK, this week I'm going to try something different in my blog. Over the past couple of weeks I have been supplying you with tools and mechanisms and gimmicks and doohickeys that will make you life (hopefully) simpler, richer, easier and more productive.
We touched on better ideas for health, exercises, credit cards, senior discounts and websites.
Instead of me trying to convince you what the world has to offer you as you experience your 50's, I'm going to give you concrete proof that:
1. What you set your mind to can be done
2. You need to be healthy physically to be healthy mentally
3. Nothing is out of your reach
4. You don't have to grow old "ungracefully"
5. Life IS getting better every year
Many times the best education comes from seeing how others have done something rather than listening to the "teacher" all day.
This is your choice on how you want to live your life. There is nothing I can do that can make that decision for you. I can only hope to make that decision easier.
So, I have been searching high and low for great real life examples of folks just like you and me who have made a completely positive transition in their life once they discovered that there was more to life after hitting the 50 year old mark.
My first story comes directly off the pages of the blog created by Barbara Hannah Grufferman,a nationally recognized author, columnists and expert on life after 50. Her blog entitled "The Best of Everything After 50" is a fantastic consortium of ideas, websites, fashion tips and expert advice on how to make your 50's the new 30's.
Please take the time to read this blog entry entitled "Life After 50: 6 Reasons Why Turning 56 Was Far Different Than 50"
It goes right to the heart of the matter that I have trying to present to you as the "teacher" Like I said, if you don't believe me (which is understandable), maybe you will believe Barbara.
A few weeks ago I turned 56. To commemorate and celebrate, I ran 5.6 miles around Central Park. It felt good knowing I could run that distance and still be fit enough to join my husband and daughters at a birthday dinner downtown a few hours later.
That's a sea change from when I turned 50. Then -- what now seems like a lifetime ago -- running two miles would have been out of the question. I was out-of-shape and stuck in the mire of midlife madness, believing that gaining weight, feeling invisible and throwing in the towel were the only solutions to aging.
Years of media messages had wormed their way into my brain, tempting me to pull the proverbial blanket over my head, ready to give up and give in. I started to believe the articles, research and reports telling me that women over 50 are powerless, averse to change, glum, cranky consumers, unsexy and should step aside to make room for the infinitely more beautiful, desirable, hirable, acquisitive and loveable younger generation. Worse still, they all conspired to convince me that the only true path to happiness was to look younger, at any cost.
Luckily, I snapped out of it, came to my senses, and decided to research and write my first book, The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More. I started running (with walk breaks), doing 20 push-ups every day, held a Plank position for 60 seconds, changed how I ate . . . and basically took control of my health and my life. The pounds came off, my health check numbers improved, and by my mid-50s I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. Good enough, in fact, to run in the New York City Marathon last year to celebrate my 55th birthday. (I followed the Jeff Galloway program which calls for slow, gentle running with walk breaks . . . perfect for every post50 body.)
- Got fit: Since turning 50, I've taken control of my health in ways I never thought possible: running every other day, daily push-ups, and eating well are all part of my life now. I'm 12 lbs. lighter than when I turned 50, and one size smaller. And, as a result of doing push-ups and the Plank, I'm working to keep osteoporosis at bay. On top of all that, my energy level is much higher, giving me the strength to do all the things I want to do, and need to do as I get older. That's good.
- Found my style: When I turned 50, my hair looked like roadkill on top of my head. And no wonder: I'd been highlighting and blow drying my natural curly hair since the '70s. After I decided to make drastic changes to every aspect of my life, embracing my hair was part of the new program. At 56, my hair is the healthiest it's ever been. When I turned 50 and more wrinkles emerged, my first reaction was to cover them up. No more. Now, my makeup is lighter and fresher (taking less than 5 minutes to apply), and I've adopted a simple, classic fashion style (see chapter on fashion for details on what experts like Diane von Furstenberg urged me to wear to look my best after 50). I've never felt more comfortable in my own skin. That's good.
- Embraced my age: When I turned 50 I was confused and unsure about what it all meant, and was hesitant about revealing my age. Media messages almost convinced me to give up and fade into the woodwork. But I didn't. Instead I turned myself around and made "embrace your age" my mantra and helping other people over 50 to do the same my mission. I'm proud to be 56 and will be proud--and grateful--at every age. That's good.
- Became fearless after 50: I was afraid of what was ahead for me after i turned 50 because I hadn't yet taken control of my own destiny. But once I did, I got rid of fear just as quickly as I threw out my blow dryer. We can't control getting older, but we CAN control how we do it. It's a choice. We can either allow ourselves to become invisible, living in fear about what lies ahead, succumbing to whatever is going on in our lives that could pull us down (and, as we know, there's always something). Or, we can embrace each day with joy and without fear. We can take control of our health, and take care of ourselves as we take care of others. I chose to forge ahead, embracing my age, embracing my life, getting ready for what's next. At age 56, I am infinitely more fearless than when I was 50. That's good . . . especially because of my next reason.
- Entered the 'sandwich generation': When I turned 50 and grappled with my own view of aging, my mother and mother-in-law were engaged, involved, and relatively healthy. This year, both were diagnosed with Alzheimer's and have spiraled downward so quickly that our heads are collectively spinning. In six short years, both have gone from living independently to needing full time care. Our small family is doing everything it can to keep up with the pace of their decline . . . but it isn't easy. At the same time, we have a freshman in college and a freshman in high school, making me an official member of the 'sandwich generation'. Worrying won't help, but planning, taking action, and being fearless will.
- Remade my career: After spending decades in the magazine publishing world, then the international conference business, I arranged to take a few years off to be a full-time mom. My sabbatical was short, and when I turned 50 I was ready to re-enter the workforce but was scared out of my wits. My resume was solid, but I knew that going back to my old industries was not the right choice for me. After going through my own personal re-evaluation and transformation, it was clear that being a writer, speaker, and champion of positive aging and women's rights was my new calling and would be my new career. Between the ages of 50 and 56, I wrote a book (my second will be out this year), appeared on all the morning talk shows, tons of radio programs, and contribute to some of the best known and regarded media in the country. It was accepting who I am now, embracing my age, and living without fear that allowed me to create my next chapter. At 50, I was confused, afraid, and lost about what I should do. At 56, I am ready for anything. That's good.
Today's example is for the wonderful women in their 50's but the moral of the story holds true for both sexes.
We'll have another tomorrow.
Thanks for joining me and stay tuned !!!