I couldn’t resist a good road trip this morning—rubber soles to the concrete – a glorious 4 ½ mile victory jog up a hill and down the highway. I’ve slowed down over the years, but I love the feeling of freedom I get when I can cover some ground and get outside in the fresh air.
Often people wave when I’m out and about on one of my jogs. I wave back; I live in a very friendly community. Today, as is occasionally the case, someone waved and give me a “thumbs up” when they saw me jogging down the highway.
A few years ago, when I first noticed someone holding up their thumb as they passed me in their car, it pissed me off. At the time, I thought it was a condescending response to seeing an older woman out shuffling along the road. Now I see things differently.
Responding with a New Attitude
This morning when someone drove by and gave me a thumbs-up, I threw my arms in the air and gave a victory pose. After all, I am an older woman – an empowered older woman who is celebrating one of the best years of her life. I’m also anticipating that l will continue to enjoy my life to the fullest whether I live another day or another 30 or more years.
As research suggests, many of us grow happier as we get older. I’m now at that point where life is more interesting, exciting, and enjoyable than it has been decades. As one of my friends said about her own experience as an older woman (though she is much younger than I am), she is “more fun, more confident, and wiser” than she’s ever been.
I read and write a lot about ageism – stereotyping and prejudice against older people. I do realize that we live in a youth-centric culture and ageism is a huge problem. But now I’m starting to think that my own responses to aging have enabled ageist treatment at times.
Refusing to Feel Invisible
When I was in my early sixties, I did everything I could to deny my age. Sometimes I was actually afraid of other people knowing how old I was – especially people at work. Other times, I allowed myself to feel invisible when people couldn’t immediately see the “new and improved” person I was becoming. I had to learn how to make myself visible again (at least when I have chosen to do so).
More recently, I have found that by proudly embracing and celebrating my age, I am allowing others to not only celebrate with me but to anticipate all the happiness and freedom that could be theirs in the future as well. I love being 68 ½ years old. Life is good and it just keeps getting better.
The next time I’m out jogging and someone gives me an encouraging ‘thumbs up,’ I just might add a happy dance after I do my victory pose!