Living Your Best Life at Any Age

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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?

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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.

I Wrote a Book and You Should Too

I learned this week that no one reads blog posts anymore.  Well, that just makes me sad. But I just keep writing them whether anyone reads them or not. So there! As you have probably guessed, this blog is my fun writing. It is keeping the mental juices flowing, building a community and holding me to a commitment since I committed to a blog post every Sunday.  Sometimes the Sunday blog post doesn’t get published until Wednesday or sometimes later but it is definitely my exercise in keeping a commitment. Some of my friends are holding me to it and asking about it. (Thanks Kim)

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Manifestation and Other Woo Woo Stuff

I was listening to an audiobook today in which the author talked about manifestation and all that woo woo stuff.  She approached it with amusement but yet a touch of seriousness.  She pointed out that one cannot just sit poolside and manifest a great job, a lover a new car.

Funny story for another time but I actually do know a person who manifested all of the above poolside.

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Why You Should Consider a Mastermind Group

I have been writing a lot about connection, accountability, and developing social circles.  Most are very informal, but there is a variation that is more formal that has made a tremendous difference in my life. The groups go by different names but they are basically a variation of the timeless principle of the mastermind group.  (more…)

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