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Women’s Power – on International Women’s Day

Swirling thoughts through my mind about the comments I’ve recently heard from older women, and I wonder why I feel a bit uneasy.  Just to give you an idea, here are some of statements overheard during “innocent” conversations:  I wish I was young and hot again, I’m getting my face and neck done, I feel like such an old hag, nobody’s going to hire me now that I’m in my 50’s, men in their 50’s only want younger women, I wish I could start a new career, but I’m too old, I look in the mirror and get so depressed, nobody looks at me anymore, I feel invisible.

I think you get it. With all these words, why wouldn’t it start chipping away at an aging woman’s soul? I like to use the word aging as it’s a part of reality, not a bad thing, just what happens in the cycle of life.

At 52 I feel I’m at my peak, not disappearing into oblivion.  As older women, we know ourselves so much better than we did when we were 20 something and trying to impress and please people who didn’t even really even matter to begin with.  We’ve now honed our craft to a point that we can teach others and be a valuable asset in our jobs, careers, children’s lives, and whatever we want to produce in the world.  We are at the TOP, not in decline.

Sure, our faces and bodies are changing, that’s a good thing, it’s nature and it’s the essence of being a human being, not a commodity that can only be useful if we are young.

So, on this International Women’s Day, let us proclaim that we are proud of where we are in the cycle of life, that we will no longer speak those words that break us down.  Instead we agree to empower and embolden ourselves and each other, realizing we don’t have to put up with any more crap from society and the media, that we are even stronger and more influential than ever before.

We have the power to create and move forward, not backwards in time wishing we were the new, shiny object on the scene.  Those days are gone, and what a relief to know we

now have the license to kick ass with passion and grace to fall into a life well lived. 

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Aging Out Loud

Melissa+Etheridge+wxTr1btZX8umI look at other blogs on aging and read the comments made by women to gage how they are feeling about growing older. I like the blog Growing Bolder.  A quote by singer Melissa Ethridge caught my eye: “I would not trade in my 50’s for any other time I’ve lived. If you’re facing 50, don’t be afraid. It gets so much better and you get so much more stronger.”

The remarks that followed were varied…here are some samples:

“Loved turning 30, 40 but turning 50 has me on edge.”

“Best age so far.”

“Oh lordy, I’m pushing 60. I’m scared, real scared.

“Not enjoying mine at all.”

I’m curious to know what others think about their age. Yes, it’s scary because we are getting closer to death, but a lot of our negative feelings may be coming from what society says and feels about aging. And the point is not to be silent on the issue. The real power comes from women sharing our challenges, fears, joys and dread.   This is the time to speak up because we have more wisdom to spread. We have made mistakes and grown, learned what’s important and what’s not, retired our need to get everyone’s approval and our constant need to feel “important.”

Come on baby boomers we haven’t gone through all this only to become invisible. If a woman is alone watching yet another wrinkle cream commercial she will inevitably feel bad about her skin, looks and maybe even grow depressed. She might turn to Botox, fillers, surgery spending hundreds and thousands of dollars to keep up a youthful appearance. I’m not saying that is wrong or bad; it just sends a message to the younger generation that looking your age is not acceptable.

I admit I was one of those who feared 40 and was terrified at 50. I noticed that many women didn’t want to talk about the aging process — one of the reasons why I started this blog. But we don’t have to be rock stars, actors or models to make a statement about age. We can talk to one another in neighborhoods, communities and blogs that challenge the status quo.

Melissa Ethridge

Rewrite your Script

 

After years of waiting for something amazing to happen to me, I realized the life I had was always happening but it seemed like it would never end. I can’t tell you the amount of years I wasted waiting for the perfect job, man, house, friend, acknowledgements, awards, money. Everything geared toward the outside to validate that I was part of the tribe. My mind was so tangled with the needs, wants and desires of others, I had no clue where to even find mine. It didn’t seem all that necessary as long as long as I looked good on the outside.

Then something funny happened — I turned middle aged, and guess what…ding, ding, ding. No more waiting. This is really it. Next came the question, do I continue living my life like something will suddenly barge into my life and say, ok, now (old) lady, it’s time?

It’s just more of the same except for experiencing more hormone flare-ups aches and pains and wrinkles. It suddenly occurred to me if I wanted anything to change, it would have to be an inside job.

It was despair and relief at once. Fear that I wouldn’t be the cutest girl in the room anymore (people may not even notice me, especially younger ones), many won’t want to know what amazing thing I’ve pulled off, who my new boyfriend is and what concert I just attended.

While I teeter on the boarder I’m about to cross I’m filled with excitement and curiosity.

Aging humbles us, it’s true, but it also awakens us to how precious life is and how very fragile.

I challenge you, should the middle years be a time to shut down or time to finally get started? Should it be time to hang out or to stop messing around? I mean I would like nothing better than to plop down with a bowl of popcorn and watch Family Feud and Judge Judy every night.   But my soul is truly craving more. Souls were encoded to accomplish.

In our hearts, many of us feel that we’re finally really ready to do something radical. Whatever it is we’re here for, we’re itching to do it now.

With what’s going on in the world, there’s more opportunity than ever to get active and creative. The pink pussy hat was probably knitted by a kick ass grandma. On no, no more nice girl, though if that’s in your nature fine, but be authentic at any price.

It’s your last chance to get it right. The generation now experiencing midlife cant stand the thought that this was all for nothing. While we may be depressed that we’re no longer young, were ecstatic that we’re no longer clueless. Remember those prolonged butt stares in the mirror and asking friends how your boobs looked in your low-cut blouse. Does he like me? What will they think of me? Those days are gone. And really, did you ever really like that catcall from a rangy, tobacco chewing construction man hanging from a line anyway?

Now is time to burst forth in your greatness without the encumbrances of wasting time wanting people to like you for being what’s expected, not what’s real.

You might call it the recovery from “youth-it-its”

You are not too old. You are right on time. And you are better than you know.

You can slip back and forth but you can snap out of it13567311_10153801677361376_7199853490098444068_n

Midlife is our second chance. If you want to spend the years you have left simply reenacting the dramas of your past, you can. The same scrip will indeed be coming around again for your review. It always does.

But if you choose, you can take the script and give it an awesome rewrite, totally get on top of your material and take a bow at the end that blows everyone away or maybe only yourself.

Youth is Overrated

This New Wrinkle project has been a journey for me. Like a news reporter, I started with a clear angle of how I wanted it to go, specifically focusing on the fear of aging. But after talking to a friend of mine, Barbara, who is about to turn 60, I started to get a new perspective. She told me that she’s actually happier at this age than any other. Ok, you hear that stuff from time to time, but listening to her pour out her thoughts and feelings, I knew it was truly how she felt.

Youth is overrated,” she said. “You take so much for granted and spend so much time and energy on meaningless things.” I took an inventory of my life and realized all the endless time I spent obsessing over what someone said or what I was going to wear, or if he liked me.

At a certain age men and women take a look at their own mortality. While this can be intensely painful and scary, it’s also a chance to get serious about what really matters.

“Now I want to do things that make a difference in the world, to truly love people for who they are, enjoy the things that make me happy,” Barbara said, “like birding and photography.” She went on to say, “Fear of getting older was weighing me down until I realized that I had the power to release it.”

At the same time I was writing this blog I took a quick break to browse Facebook (admit I am a bit addicted) and the first thing that popped up where these words from author Brene’ Brown:

“I think midlife is when the universe places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanism that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.”

These two wise women inspired me to spread their views on the joy of aging instead of the fear of aging.

Newwrinklethemovie.com is really about my coming to terms with growing older. It gives me an opportunity to help create a dialogue that is sorely missing in our youth obsessed culture. I hope you will contribute and talk to other women and men about your feelings as we all take this journey together.

 

Women’s Worth

Did you know that 62 percent of the female population in the United States is over 40?  Though this powerful group of women have accomplished so much, many are experiencing extreme fear over the aging process and going from mild to drastic measures to ensure they will still be relevant to society.   The message from the cosmetic and plastic surgery industries is if you don’t look youthful, you are no longer of value.

And numbers show their massive marketing campaigns are working. A report put out by Realself.com showed that one in five middle-aged women are considering plastic surgery. These women represent an estimated market worth more than $75 billion. There is every incentive to make women feel fearful and unhappy about growing older. Whatever you do, don’t show any signs that you’ve lived a life of happiness and earned those laugh lines, or times of sorrow where those frown lines are well deserved.

I talked with Susannah Woerner a RN who gives Botox injections and has a booming business.

So I’ll leave you with this question: Instead of giving away $75 billion to plastic surgeons and corporate mega-executives so they can buy their second homes, what if we take that money and spend it on improving the world? Now that’s something to feel good about.

50 is the new Who Cares

I remember my fear about turning 40. I thought the gig was over, that men would no longer look at me and that my job prospects were dim at best. Last year I turned 50, and I wish I could say I accepted it with grace, but more with dread and sadness. Even though I don’t have children, I’d become a grandma overnight. I still see myself as a young, vibrant women. However, a quick glance in the mirror (especially with fluorescent lighting) squashes any hopes of my seeing a dewy faced, ageless beauty.

But the fear is not just about looks, it’s about getting closer to death. I used to hear people say from time to that life is not a dress rehearsal. But that’s exactly how I lived my life, always waiting for something to happen, until then I would stay safe and cozy inside my comfort zone. “One day I’ll take those piano lessons.” I know I will travel, soon.” “I would love to learn Spanish, but I’ll do it later.”

You get the picture. These things don’t come unless you make them ha13567311_10153801677361376_7199853490098444068_nppen.  And I’m now taking action and cultivating my passions and hobbies.  For example, today I took a 20 mile bike ride, recently planted a garden, and I’m just about to sign up for tennis and voice lessons.  These are things I always wanted to do.  I’m no longer saying tomorrow…it’s now.

The beauty of getting to be a half-century old is you no longer have to be in denial. Time is running out. You have no more to waste! The fist step is to practice acceptance. Once you accomplish this you can move on and truly start living –maybe for the first time in your life. You can make it a wild, vibrant, exciting adventure. The trick is not to dwell on how you wish things were different.

So what is acceptance? You’ve heard the Serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. This is a very wise verse used in twelve step programs across the globe. These words from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous sums it up nicely: “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

This is so true when it comes to the aging process.  By going out and getting Botox shots, cosmetic procedures and body enhancements, you are in denial and only delaying what one day you will have to confront, an aging body that will enviably die. Until then you will cling to the complements you get when people say you don’t look your age; crave those moments when people ask you what’s your secret. But those comments just delay time, time you don’t have if you want to evolve. You accept where you are in life and then the miracles can begin.

You start building from a firm foundation that will carry you through the second chapter of your life. As I gain more acceptance I witness myself being in the moment as opposed to the past and future. I do what I can in this second, a fresh creative time to explore and express what’s inside. You don’t have to worry about what people think about you. Your mission is to live the rest of your life as fully, genuinely and courageously as you can.

When I think back on my youth I can honestly say I worried about the most absurd things mostly related to my looks and the need for the world to validate me. Yes, I was going out to conquer the world so that I would be important. I wore high heels, short skirts, tight pants and created drama wherever I went. I can honestly say I’m glad those days are gone. This is the time to be who we truly are, shed ourselves of all the outward pressures and expectations that so absorb the young, and become the women who no longer care what people think.

It’s time to show up and be seen, our next act, not a dress rehearsal.

Clips and Tips on Aging

In this video blog I take a look in the mirror.

Age Equality

I had a dream last night that I was watching the TV news and instead of seeing only young, flawless fresh-faced women, included in the dialogue were older women with lined, experienced, mature faces.

At first it seemed odd as it’s something you rarely see in mainstream media – except for maybe the token “old lady” with $100,000 worth of plastic surgery. You know who I’m talking about. Mysteriously these people disappear from the screen, like yesterday’s news.

But watching the images and hearing the voices of these brilliant older ladies, I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin, not a sense of fear but a sense of hope. Perhaps I too had more to say despite my collegin-challenged skin.

You might call it age equality.

In this dream, the audience wanted to listen to these women who had been in the trenches, who had covered multiple political campaigns, wars, disasters and had the mental and physical scars to prove it. In other words, they had substance and it meant something, something more than a soft face.

This is not to take anything away from those young, ambitious reporters. I too started out as a TV journalist when I was 22. But that unspoken line drawn in the sand once you’ve reached a certain age – now that you really have something to say – you’re no longer relevant? WTF?

I think of a courageous anchorwoman, Dana King, of KPIX-TV in San Francisco, who had been to Kosovo, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Honduras, Iraq, and too many other places to mention.   But, perhaps her biggest battle since being a journalist of 24 years was to tell her boss she no longer wanted to color her hair.

King serves as an inspiration for women in all industries. By taking one simple act, she chipped away at the current paradigm. It’s something all of us can do in our own way to stand up for age equality.

 

Strength in Authenticity

I love strong, authentic women who are no longer trying to prove how perfect and well put together they are – no signs of stretched, wrinkle-free faces with large, puckered lips. Somehow it makes me feel more free and courageous enough to withstand what the media bombards us with on a daily basis.

As a television news reporter for most of my adult life, I always tried hard to present myself as the perky, cute blonde. I knew that was what was expected of me and I played the game. So it came as no surprise, when I turned 40, I began to panic. Everything I had known had been based on my youth and looks and to be fair, some smarts were involved.

Then I found myself single in my forties and began dating. That led to this blog and the journey to make a documentary based on the stories of older women, their concerns, fears and inspirations. This is not something talked about in our culture and it’s time to change the paradigm:

San Francisco media critic Jan Wahl sums it up this way:

 

Old Lady on Board

What is it about calling someone an old lady that is so insulting?  I found myself pondering that question after a man, in one of those monster trucks, attempted to pull into my parking space.  The red-faced, bearded gentlemen then yelled out, “Fuck you old lady.”  Now I didn’t mind the cursing, lord knows I use the “F” word on occasion.  It was the “old lady” part that hit hard.  Keep in mind this man was probably a Donald Trump supporter and had a small wee wee, but nonetheless, I couldn’t shake that remark.

Those two words are designed to be offensive and derogatory.  It brought back the memories of when I was on a date with a guy who told me, at the age of 42, “Women in their 20’s hold the most power.”  He went on to say, “The older a woman gets, the more power she loses.”  I also thought of all the other remarks about older ladies in books (she was on the downhill side of 40), advertisements (you’re only as young as your neck), and the comments actresses get as they age.  Even sweet Star Wars princess Leia had to defend herself against the barrage of hateful tweets from critics who felt the need to tell her she’s aged badly.  The 59-year-old actor replied, “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well.  Unfortunately it hurts my feelings.” Some comments might be intended as a compliment, such as “you look good for your age,” yet it still sends a message that growing older is an undesirable and frowned upon part of life. 

What if we took this “old lady” thing and turned it around?  Yes, I’m old, so what?  I like who I’ve become and what I’ve accomplished, and I will not be cut down because of our culture’s obsession with youth.  It’s a paradigm shift, that will require women and men, young and old, to pay attention to the words they use.  Also for women not to take offense when a burly man blurts out, “Old Lady,” kindly say, “Thank you.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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