Living Your Best Life at Any Age

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The Time Machine Question

”What would you tell your younger self?  Ah, the time machine question.

I was recently challenged to write about what I would tell my younger self.  Obviously:  “Keep writing!”

I wrote as a young girl. When did that stop?  Probably when my mother read my biographical journal and made fun of it.  So younger self:

DO NOT STOP WRITING BECAUSE SOMEONE DID NOT APPRECIATE WHAT YOU WROTE

I was so excited to take journalism in high school.  I learned Who, What, Why for the first paragraph.  I learned a little about typesetting.  (How quaint) but I did not stay with it.  Why?  The teacher did no like some mannerism and suggested journalism was not for me.  So younger self:

DON’T LET SOMEONE ELSE’S OPINION STOP YOU FOR DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO

Marriage, teaching, motherhood, divorce, mid life.  When did I stop writing?  Why?  Then  at last — law school.  Law school is all about writing.  Difficult, challenging, REAL writing.  I even wrote a law review article. Great practice even if it was not published.  Actually it was quite prescient and I took a stand. As I recall, it was something about what defines “close relationship” and could that include an unmarried partner.  Not bad for 1995, is it?   So, younger self:

TAKE A STAND AND WRITE ABOUT IT

Passed the bar, opened a law practice.  Passed another bar, opened another law practice in a different state. Even though bar exams involved a lot of writing, it is not the creative writing I craved.  That budding writer was still dormant.

One day as I was building my new business, I received a sales call from a local newspaper.  You know — the one you would get at the bank or the car wash?  They offered me the opportunity to write a column – an advertorial I learned.  I  jumped at the chance.  That column jump started my writing.  I wrote a monthly column.  I got a lot of business.  People came into my office with the column in hand.  But also, I was getting great feedback about my writing.

After a few years that newspaper folded —literally.  By then everyone had websites and my columns easily transferred to a blog on my website.  That lead to joining a reticent bloggers group which was the start of many writing classes, retreats and ongoing groups. I officially considered myself a writer. I even published a book.   Younger self:  Why did you have to be 60 before you started writing?

YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO BEGIN AGAIN

I continued the blogs relevant to my business and at 70 I started this blog — Not Your Grandmother’s 70.  Actually I started it a few months before as I wrote about my grand adventure through the Grand Canyon.  Here it is seven years later.  I am still writing and I have committed to writing another book.  I invite you to take the journey with me.  And the note to younger self is the tag line of this blog, later book:

YOU CAN REINVENT YOUR LIFE AT ANY AGE

I am told blogs must have pictures. So I will add some photos of said younger self.

Now it is your turn:

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

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In Defense of Football and Homage to Mrs. McLaughlin

”You really need to understand football, all of you” was a command from Mrs. McLaughlin.  (The same Mrs. McLaughlin that I credit with making me take college prep classes which changed my life)

So we learned the basics of football.  First and Ten — do it again.  What does that mean?  Scoring, offense, defense quarterbacks.  All the basics. We learned it because it would make us more rounded.  I am not sure if any of this sank in at the time but today, more than sixty years later I pay homage to Mrs. McLaughlin.

Football was not important at in my young marriage years.  I married a scholar who eschewed team sports.  Or individual sports, or most anything other than backpacking and hiking.  His favorite gambit was to walk into a room where people were watching football and ask “What inning is it?”  No.  Football was not a part of our life.  Expect for one game and tha game has become my often repeated family story.  (Number 14, I believe).

I had to look up the year.  Thanks, Wikipedia!

The expansion Seattle Seahawks of the NFL played their first game ever on August 1, 1976, a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Kingdome.

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Yes!  Seattle had a new stadium and a NFL team.  My husband’s boss invited us as their first guests to share their season tickets.  Husband, of course, realized it was a command performance and an honor to be invited.  He did not do his what inning is it bit.  Of course, thanks to Mrs. McLaughlin I could be somewhat conversant.  The Kingdome is gone.  The husband is gone.  Football and the Seahawks remain. And, I have a good story to tell.

If you are not from Seattle, you may not know that the Seahawks are a big deal.  Fans are known as 12s.  Every Friday starting in late summer you will find bank tellers, baristas and folks on the street wearing their 12 shirts.  Those in the know where players numbers and hope your number doesn’t get traded too early.

Yes, I know, head concussions, injuries and all that.  Football may be losing favor.  There is also the flack about a certain player kneeling for the national anthem but in Seattle, and many other cities the local team still sparks enthusiasm.  And let me come to football’s defense

It builds community and interaction.  In these days of only digital communication it is fun to gather with others in a common endeavor — cheering our team on.  Most people have their local favorite place to gather.  I have had “ladies watching Seahawks and eating and drinking groups” at my house. We gather in our local favoriate hang outs.  My personal local establishment refused to have a television for many years.  They do now.  Business is booming on Sunday afternoon.  When watching the Seahawks politics takes a back seat. The only politics is the local interloper with a Cubs or Steelers shirt.

When the Seahawks won the the championship and were on their way to the Super Bowl the town was jubilant.  Police and pedestrians were hugging each other and sending high fives.  We are Seattle.  We are polite.  We do not riot.  Not the football folks anyway.

I am not one to normally wear sports caps but when traveling it is amazing the people you meet if you are wearing a Seahawks hat.  I got high fived in Amsterdam.  As I said — community.

A friend of mine is a sports announcer and she has a presentation called “Talk Sporty to Me” and she makes the point that you don’t have to know a lot to engage in conversation wherever you go.  Just be able to talk about that amazing last second field goal that won the game or some other memorable play.  She even publishes talking points for us weekly.

So once again I am thankful to Mrs. McLaughlin.  Along with English composition she taught me something I could carry into my late years. One of my friends, a lovely person in her 80s, is the Seahawks number one fan.  She remembers that first game in the Kingdome.

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And of course I have to add this all time favorite.  Grandson’s first super bowl.

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And here he is now.

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Another Trip Around the Sun

Seven years ago I started this blog on the eve of my seventieth birthday. It’s been an on and off situation. Sometimes people even read it! So if you are good at math you can determine that I am now 77. Holy Thor. I’m not sure I know anyone that old. So once again I am determined to get at it.

Yes, blogs are old school. Well so am I. I actually do have instagram and twitter accounts just to prove I can but here I am in my old school format knowing someone somewhere will read and smile of be inspired.

So let’s see what has happened since I started this blog.

TRAVEL

I promised myself more travel. And Travel I did.

I went down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in a wooden dory sleeping in a small tent. I went to the Caribbean, Alaska — twice, Cabo San Lucas and a very luxurious trip down the Rhine River to explore the country of my birth. This year I did an expedition cruise along the Northwest Pacific Coast. It had some strenuous hikes and some lazy beach walks.

So travel I did and will continue to do.

My goal for the next year is to be a little braver about going by myself.  I find that small groups or small ships are the best way to travel single.  Some of the cruise lines are being more accommodating to single travelers.  Stay tuned for more adventure.

WRITING

I promised to write more.  I accepted a challenge to write a Sunday blog every week.  I did that.  For about two months. I have attended all sorts of workshops to help writers. And yet I don’t feel I have been writing.  Then this happened.

Despite my protests, I really am a published author.

My promise is that next year there will be another book. A life book?  An inspirational book?  We will see.  But write I will.  I promise.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Ok, here I think I can really claim success. What I am most happy about is the number of people I have introduced to each other. My home hosts parties, creativity groups, writing groups (put that on the to do list) and accountability groups.  I will write future posts about building your tribe and staying socially active as a very important to living a vital life at any age.

Thank you for reading this far.  I promised a group I would write a blog post before our next meeting.  Hmm.  An hour to spare.

And now for your amusement is the gramma birthday picture.  Might be the last year for this.

 

 

 

The Time “Just Not Screwing Up” Worked

Some successes come with a resounding “Yippee”, and a spin around the room. Passing a bar exam comes to mind. Some successes take a while to sink in.  And then there are the ones you didn’t realize were such a big deal until much later.

Often when looking around for inspiration for a Sunday blog post I peruse my photos. This collage popped up and it took a little while to realize the story it brought up.

3243F4AF-E86A-4C72-B88F-600DE2A5DB24This is a collage of some of my “professional head shots” in the 80’s. The short hair is  the latest and comes in the category of ‘what was I thinking?” There’s a story behind the necklace I will tell another day. Today I reminisce about the time just before these.

One of my careers was teaching a job finding workshop. I had all sorts of teaching materials I assembled every Sunday night in preparation for the following week’s class.  One of our friends opined:  “Why don’t you stop telling other people how to get a job and find a real one yourself?”  Ouch.  I had a job!  I was paid.  Not that well, but I was paid to teach this five day workshop.

Cballenge accepted. I used the skills I had been teaching others and set about landing an executive position. This was the start of the mandate to hire women in executive positions so my timing was good, although at the time, I considered myself merely a suburban housewife.

I applied to what was the largest employer in town — Paciic Northwest Bell.  One of the seven regional bell systems. Somehow my resume landed in the right spot and after an initial interview, I was asked to participate in a role playing interview. One of my mentors told me that if they were spending that much money on me they wanted to hire me and all I had to do was “not screw up.”

I can do that — not screw up.  I think.

When I arrived, I was given an in basket and told that I had a specific amount of time to sort the in basket and prioritize.  I don’t know much about the rest of the items but one item was a dentist appointment that morning.  Somehow I had The wherewithal to figure out that I had to cancel that appointment as not being a priority.  Don’t screw up, remember. Next were mock meetings with my mock managers.  This was fun. It was role play. I can do that.

The afternoon was spent reviewing a case and preparing a presentation. Since I had not gone to business school I didn’t know that this is pretty standard B school stuff. To this day I can remember that case and my recommendations.  Remember, it was all fun and I was just trying not to screw up.

Fast forward to the appointed day I was to phone my contact in HR.  (It was called Personnel back then). When he asked me how I was I said “You tell me.” He told me I was just fine and he was prepared to offer me a position as a marketing executive.  With real money.

Was it a “Yippee” spin around moment?  Momentarily, yes. Especially when I found out that only 1 in 20 survives the role play to be offered a job. So much for just not screwing up. If I had known that I would have been too terrified to open my mouth.  Then as I got to my new recruit training class, I discovered that all my new colleagues were younger, seemingly brighter and had business degrees.  Yikes. Susie homemaker goes to the corporate world.

But I did survive.  Long enough to get some impressive headshots.

What were some of your “Yippie”, spin around the room moments?

Is It True No One Reads Anymore?

“No one reads blog posts anymore” is something I heard a few weeks ago.  Perhaps no one reads anything longer than a twitter feed anymore. I am told Instragram is where it’s at.  #donotmakemeread. Pictures of cats, babies and beautiful cupcakes?  That’s all we want?  We communicate by hashtags now.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

This was written in March 2011 — in anticipation of turning 70 that year.  There have been stops and starts in the years between.  This year I committed to revive the blog with a new post every Sunday.  Today I look back at the beginning.

The baby boomers are now well into their 70’s and continue to be a force even though millennials seem to be taking over.

As for me?

I am still a practicing attorney

I tweet not so much but now we have added Instragram, LinkedIn and I am still on Facebook

I am not up to an iPhone 8+

Still doing Yoga but Bikram has waned a bit

My passion is connecting people and I love entertaining at my home.

Oh, and I published a book.  Six Word Lessons for a Peaceful Divorce (available on Amazon)

My financial plan only needs to go to seventy because that’s all the longer I plan to live”  A financial planner quoting a client.

I was quite taken by this comment from a financial planner sitting on a panel with me on retirement planning.  It was a week before my sixty ninth birthday and I didn’t think I was THAT old.

What does 70 look like?  People look a little surprised when I tell them my age.   I’m not 70 yet, you understand?  I am only 69 1/2.  But I’m getting ready.  There will be celebrations and a major physical challenge. More about that later.

Do you notice that we count babies’ ages in months?  I  think we do that until 24 months.  Then we go to 2 1/2, etc.  I remember my grandson announcing he was 4 3/4.  At some point we get more vague.  We are 20 something or 40ish.  Then the even more general “middle age”.  I once heard the definition of middle age is ten years older than you are.   I am always amused at a 60 year old refering herself as middle age.  I guess if you are going to be 120 that would be true.  At some point we go back to being more specific.  Betty White described herself as 84 1/2.  We go full circle.  Although I have never heard someone describe himself as 960 months old.  And then we have our descriptive names:  infant, toddler, pre-schooler, kid, tween, teen, young adult, and then we have the gap until the indeterminable middle age and the dreaded “senior citizen”.

I would rather eat ground glass than call myself a senior citizen.  (unless it is for movie tickets or a very deep discount or the lifetime pass to National Parks)  Middle age for obvious reasons just doesn’t work anymore.  At my last birthday I took a big gulp and announced to the world that I was entering my 70th year.  On September 22 I turned 69.  Please don’t tell me I am only as old as I feel.  Some days that would make me 120.  Some days I look in the mirror and don’t recognize that old person.  Other days I look pretty good and on top of the world.

I am slightly ahead of the baby boomers, the first of whom are turning 65 this year.  They are exploring new territory and I seem to be the forward scout.  There are no role models for me.  What is your image of 70?  I am guessing it is not me.  Some things about me I am guessing are not typical:

I went to law school in my 50s and I continue to build my own solo legal practice, and not just show up a couple times a week

Twitter

I am active on Facebook

I just traded my Blackberry for an iPhone  (I have had an iPad for several months already)

I’m an avid fan of Bikram Yoga

I  purchased and read “How Not To Act Old” and “How Not to Look Old”.  This means I am learning to avoid skin colored hose, text with my thumbs and not my index fingers, and never ever wear dark lipstick.

I have found, however, that I prefer my own company most Saturday nights, rarely hit the latest happy hour, and have eschewed on line dating as just not having the patience to do the getting-to-know-you dance.  I don’t consider that a sign of old age but merely a sense of being discriminating with my time and energy.  I don’t suffer fools gladly.

This is not to say I don’t have an active social life.  I am very active in several community organizations and attend many “networking” events.  I have a small group of female attorneys we call the Law Ladies.  We meet once a month and the members are my daughter’s age or younger.  It seems most of my friends are my daughters age.  They have started asking me about menopause and, frankly, I don’t remember.

This is just some background to explain the premise of this blog.  I know there are fitter, more active, more attractive 70 year olds or older.  Think Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Gloria Steinem.  And that  is just the point.  I am not an outlier.  I am what 70 is now.  I hope to offer a template for my baby boomer sisters (and brothers) who are entering these so-called golden years.

It really is not your grandmother’s 70.

 

Why I Speak Out

“Oh, I don’t talk politics, you can’t change anyone’s mind.”  I often find myself “preaching to the choir” feeling I can’t possibly make a difference.  But that’s not true.  I do believe we can and should shine a light.  We can make a difference.  Whenever I feel that it’s no use, I remember an incident from my earlier years in which I am really glad someone had the nerve to confront me about something I had just said.

It was the early 60’s.  I was in college and John Kennedy was running for president.  We did have students who were active in politics and they had display tables in the student union building. I was completely naive about politics but I liked the idea of hanging around smart boys.   As I was walking past a display table of campaign materials for JFK I made some uninformed sarcastic remark. I believe is was a snarky remark about Jackie Kennedy.  I don’t even remember what I said but it was a regurgitation of the, shall we say, low information folks that comprised my family and my neighbors.  I lived in a blue collar neighborhood where racism and religious intolerance was rampant.  My people were intolerant of different races, different nationalities, Jews, Catholics and about anything else that made for “us and them”.   I think my comment was a repeat of the neighborhood ladies’ gossip.

A nicely dressed, very polite young man approached me.  He was the kind of young man I was desperate to meet and impress.  Oh, yes, I had impressed him all right.  Impressed him with my ignorance.  In a charming, but authorative manner he explained why I was wrong.  The blood rushed to my head.  I was mortified.  He saw me as a stupid blonde freshman and I had proven the point.  Never again!

Not only did I learn to be more informed (I did ultimately become a strong Kennedy supporter) but I also learned that just one person speaking out can make a difference.

I think of this often as I listen to folks I perceive to be ignorant.  Perhaps I can present information that might actually have impact.  Someone might actually listen.  I believe it can happen if we do it with respect.

I also speak out in what I call “preaching to the choir”.  I feel it is important to let others know that they are not alone.  Perhaps that will give that person the courage to confront a dumb blonde who has potential to learn.

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