Beyond Youthfulness: Discovering Our Real Worth

I spent a good part of my early fifties in denial. I hadn’t yet realized that worth was greater than youthfulness. When I got ready for work in the morning, I saw the same face in the mirror that I’d always seen. I also felt years younger than my actual age. (Apparently, a lot of us feel this way.) When I first experienced discrimination or different treatment from others because of my age, I was taken by surprise. In my mind, I was still fairly young. The Myth that Our Greatest Value is Our Youthfulness It wasn’t until I saw myself…

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Six Months Into My New Chapter

Many years ago, I had a student from Kenya when I was teaching speech communication courses at Portland State University. During a discussion on cultural differences, I mentioned that in Western culture, we tended to put a high premium on productivity.We discussed how when we first met people in our culture, we tended to focus on what they did rather than who they were.  To some degree, what the other person did either elevated their status or diminished their worth.My Kenyan student quietly waited until our discussion was almost over. Then he said, "In my country, I can sit under…

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Why It’s Important to Pay Attention to the Long Game

After my children started school, I began thinking about some of my own unrealized dreams. By working part-time, I was able to put myself through college. After college, I felt like I needed to get a good paying job to justify having gone to school against the wishes of my former husband. I didn't have a long-term plan; I didn't realize it was important to pay attention to the long game.  I just worked because that's what I thought I should do. Wishful Thinking Wasn't a Plan My job did provide health insurance -something my family didn't have until I…

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Appreciating the Elder Women Who Saw What I Couldn’t See

I hadn’t thought about Mrs. Dempsey for over a half-century. I was thinking about this week’s theme, remembering, when Mrs. Dempsey’s name and face popped into my mind. I remember how white and soft her hair looked compared to her tanned and weathered face. She’d lived a good while before I ever met her. She was also a person who saw something in me that I couldn’t see. The Importance of a Caring Adult Mrs. Dempsey was my 4-H leader when I was in the fourth grade. Each week I looked forward to going over to her house after school—not…

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Discovering the Discipline of Gratitude

Yesterday, I was jogging (or more realistically, shuffling) up a hill near my neighborhood. Halfway up the hill, I could feel my body trying to fight gravity. My legs felt heavy, and I could feel my heart pounding inside my chest. I took a deep breath and then expressed gratitude for having legs that could still carry me and a heart that was still pumping blood throughout my body. As I kept pushing myself to move, I realized the joy I was starting to feel was more powerful than the discomfort I was experiencing. Focusing on gratitude has been associated…

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I’m Not Elderly; I’m an Elder in Training

Last month, I saw this headline on Bloomberg News: “America’s Elderly are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985.” The author of this article explained how people 65 and older are not retiring when they reach full retirement age. What? The author is referring to sixty-five-year-olds as elderly?  Wait, I’m over sixty-five (I’m 67), and I’m not elderly!  I’m an elder in training. Perceptions of 'Elderly' as Negative When ‘elderly’ is used to describe older people, the connotations are more often negative than not. Elderly is generally associated with individuals who are diminished or near the end of…

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Positive Aging Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum

When I finally acknowledged to myself that I was entering a new period of my life—a period of elderhood—I started preparing myself for this important transition. I anticipated finally being free to be the person I really was—a person without the constraints of my former workplace identity. I was looking forward to aging positively. What I hadn’t realized was that positive aging doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I read I studied, I contemplated, and then I read some more. After a while, I realized that most of what other writers and thinkers shared about positive aging I had finally learned.…

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Becoming a Boomer-Entrepreneur is a Learning Experience

Following our theme this week, I’m writing about my experience of becoming a boomer-entrepreneur (or as some people call it, a boomerpreneur). According to an AARP report, three in ten entrepreneurs are at least 50 years old. The report went on to say that 78% of entrepreneurs 50 and older said that the main reason they’d suggest starting a business was the “satisfaction of working for themselves.” Finding Purpose through Entrepreneurship I’m one of those people who wanted to do something I thought would be satisfying and could eventually end up generating some supplemental income. Because I’m one of a…

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Renewal, Rediscovery, or Reinvention? What Does Retirement Mean Today?

When people talk about ‘retirement,’ what do they really mean? I don’t have a good definition for my life after I officially applied for ‘retirement’ last year. To retire once meant that a person withdrew from work. In earlier times, a person who retired may have quietly lived out their remaining years and perhaps engaged in some leisure activities before expiring. When people ask me what kinds of leisure activities I’m now enjoying as a retiree, I have a difficult time knowing how to respond. My leisure activities aren’t much different now than when I was working. Yet I think…

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Creativity: Seeing It in A New Light Is Empowering

Following our theme this week, I’m going to share what I’ve recently learned about creativity. I used to think you were either born a creative type or you were not. Such thinking is not based on reality. I had also convinced myself that creativity is some sort of magical spark that can be forever lost. That probably isn’t true either. Seeing creativity in a new light is empowering. When I was a young woman with children at home, I played the piano nearly every day. I even gave piano lessons to neighborhood children to earn a little extra money. I…

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