Writing A Delightful Little Book on Aging was not born of a purposeful intent, rather it was a happy accident that changed everything about my life. In my mid-sixties, I was committed to getting published, and I found a few websites that wanted articles from an older woman’s perspective. One of the fun things about writing on the internet is that you get feedback from the audience you’re addressing.
As I began to address issues of aging in my own life through articles and posts, I was surprised to hear from so many women who, like me, were fighting the status quo.
We didn’t want to be thought of as old, irrelevant, or insignificant because of the number of years that we’d lived.
So how old is old? Ask someone who is ten, and they’ll tell you thirty. Ask someone thirty and they’ll say sixty, and ask someone sixty and the answer may be eighty. But old is not about a number, it’s about an attitude, and therein lies the tension. We’ve all known or heard about that woman who thinks that she’s old at forty-five. Her attitude has contracted to believe that life isn’t good anymore. Similarly, we’ve heard stories about women who continue to hike and bike into their nineties. Theirs is an attitude of expansion.
Old age is difficult to define by a number because age is a container that holds all different kinds of experiences from health to disease, from vibrancy to isolation. This is a good time to age. We know a lot more about the benefits of diet and exercise than our parents did, along with the benefits of a positive attitude. And while none of that is a guarantee that aging will therefore be easy, those things can and do benefit us as we navigate our accumulating years.
If we think of old as a destination point or and end, then we are likely to give up the things that keep us engaged and active in life. Life is loved through our participation. Beauty and creativity are born of a life well lived. The thirst in the heart to be alive and engaged with the world is too strong for most of us to want to listen to toxic messages from Madison Avenue. We don’t want to be seen as done or used up. And to rail against this creates an energy and attitude in ourselves that is the essence of getting older but not being old.
In writing about aging, what I discovered is that I was a part of a growing consciousness that is celebrating age as opposed to fearing it.
There are a lot of things to be afraid of as we age. Big Pharma targets older individuals with scare tactics about all the terrible things that can happen to us unless we ask our doctor for a certain drug. And no matter how much Athleta we bought in our thirties and forties, the fashion fitness industry would have us believe that no one over fifty hikes, rows, or goes to Pilates.
Unfortunately, this industry has yet to catch up with the idea that health and fitness are sexy at any age.
So after three years of writing about these topics, I had an idea to put together a compilation of things I’d written about and turn it into a book. And that was the happy accident that I tripped over. As I started to pull pieces together and organize them, I realized I’d been writing about positive aging for a while. Not only that, but everywhere I looked, women mid-life and beyond were finding their voice and staking their claim to live life vibrantly, wisely, and beautifully.
A Delightful Little Book on Aging is a message about positive aging that I hope will make growing older feel less fearful.
It’s a book about growing spiritually and psychologically rich from the experiences of so many years. It’s not a how-to or a self-help book, just a collection of life observations and vignettes from my own life story that underscores an optimistic outlook for the future. We are, after all, connected by our stories.
It was after the writing of this book that I felt a growing urgency to advocate for positive aging, to spread a message that as women, we don’t get used up, we get more creative. There is still room to dream in our lives, room to awaken to deeper aspects of who we are and what our purpose is, allowing for authenticity to bloom in an organic way. This is the legacy that I hope my generation will leave to its daughters and granddaughters.
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Stephanie Raffelock is the author of A Delightful Little Book on Aging (She Writes Press, April 2020). She has written for The Rogue Valley Messenger, Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, Care2.com and SixtyandMe.com. Her podcast, Coffee Table Wisdom, promotes healthy aging in body, mind, and spirit, and can be found wherever you get your podcasts.