“We don’t grow older, we grow riper.”
Pablo Picasso, 1881–1973
“[The righteous] will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
A candy company packaged jelly beans in a plastic champagne bottle with a label affixed to the top of the bottle that read, “How Sweet It Is.” The colorful advertisement on the front of the bottle yelled, “If things get better with age…you’re approaching magnificent!”
I bought that bottle of jelly beans. It now sits on my desk (and has been refilled several times), as a reminder that, though the world tells us otherwise, we can get better with age. We are approaching magnificent, interesting, unique, and sensational years. Though we may fight against the stereotypes of aging, along with poor habits, ingrained lies, and negative role models from our past and present, all of us women still dream of aging sensationally. In Sensational After 60, we will search out how to do that!
A sensational 60-something woman has an aura of excitement about her, and those around her can sense her zeal.
Squeal with Zeal
The aging race is a crowded track! The National Institute on Aging projects that, by 2040, 87 million Americans will be over 65; by 2080, it estimates that there will be 5 million centenarians.1 Imagine how the world would be if every woman who turned 60 were characterized by zeal!
The aging race is a crowded track! Dr. Ken Dychtwald said that “by 2040, the National Institute of Aging projects that 87 million Americans will be over 65. By 2080, there are expected to be 5 million centenarians.”2 Imagine how the world would be if every woman who turned 60 was characterized by zeal!
Imagine your 60-year-old life clad with a cloak of zeal. Americans are starting to view older people in a new way. Aging is not what it used to be. The second half of life has become, for many, a time of creativity—not a time to finish the story but to write entirely new chapters. The age limit on physical and mental fitness is expanding. Many older people are heroes well past their 60s.
Everything Old Is New Again
To grow and stretch, one must be bold and venture into the unknown, leaving behind the comfortable safety and sameness of life, as one has defined it. I stepped out of my comfort zone in 2000 when I decided to participate in the Ms. Senior Alabama Pageant.
My goal, as I stepped inside the well-lit arena, was to learn all the colors and facets of my personality. Maybe a facet or two needed polished. I desired to become more interesting, to make a new friend, to open a new window or door—maybe even a whole new life. On the day I entered the pageant, I wrote in my diary, “I feel energized. I feel empowered.”
Find Your Philosophy of Life
My own gem of wisdom was centered on my faith. “With God at the core of my life, I believe in positive aging,” I said. “Surfing the age wave into the new millennium, I will age with good health, power, style, and zeal.”
What is your philosophy of life for the second half of life? Where do you find meaning and purpose for your aging years? Write it down on paper. This philosophy of life will help you determine your priorities as you age. Many senior women who demonstrate vitality, talent, and high energy in their latter years do so as a result of some undergirding purpose.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
What better time than our 60s and beyond to step out of our comfort zone and embrace new experiences.
Paint Your Aging Picture with Prayer
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec once said, “Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” If age is a work of art, we can all learn to be better artists. Faith in a living God, who loves us extravagantly, will add bright, living colors to our picture of age.
USA Today ran a front-page article entitled “For Seniors, Prayer Good for Body as Well as Soul,” which read,
The devout have long believed that prayer helps gain admission to the hereafter. But the study suggests that regular prayer, Bible study, or meditation, may have important benefits in the here and now.
Harold Koenig and researchers at the Duke University Medical Center studied 4,000 Christian men and women age 65 and older from 1986 to 1992. The study published in the Journal of Gerontology found that seniors who rarely or never prayed had a 50 percent greater risk of dying early. Proof that fairly healthy seniors who regularly study the Bible, pray, and assemble at God’s house, can add years to their lives and life to their years.4
Another one of my role models, Pearl Dychtwald, is not just adding years to her life as she ages; she is also filling it with fun and service to others. After reading Fabulous After 50, she wrote to me, saying,
Fabulous After 50 is the perfect book for me, as I will be celebrating my seventh-seventh birthday next month. I am happy, in my senior years, to be sharing whatever skills I have learned in my younger years. I volunteer and teach tap dance to a many women in my complex. They love it, and I love it. I take them out to entertain others at nursing homes, and it becomes a very happy occasion for the elders who live there.5
I hope that when I reach 77, I, too, will consider those in nursing homes as my “elders”!
Boost Your Energy
Here are four basic practices that will help women in their 60s boost their energy levels, keeping them young and active:
Practice good health habits—the “trump card” of aging well.
Keep exercising; it provides fuel for aging.
Maintain enthusiasm (which literally means “God inside”) about life.
Take control of your heart and attitude.
Guard Against Energy Zappers
Look out for these energy zappers, which often cause women to feel sluggish and depressed:
• Poor health
• Lack of exercise
• Lack of sleep
• Poor diet
• Lack of anything to anticipate
• Shallow relationships
• Lack of purpose
• Negligent soul care
Women over 60 must steer clear of these energy zappers so that they can maintain a positive approach to day-to-day life. This is the lifestyle that enables women to maintain optimal health—physically, spiritually, and mentally—allowing them to live longer and better.
“Remember the past, imagine the future, celebrate the present.”
—Shirley W. Mitchell’s Diary
Questions for Reflection and Application
1. List three ways that you can make your years count, instead of counting your years.
2. How can you make your life “squeal with zeal”?
3. Brainstorm ways in which you can share your experiences, wisdom, and skills with others.
Seven Simple Secrets for Being Sensational After 60
1. Redefine your life.
2. Step out of your comfort zone.
3. Celebrate every day. Choose to focus on one gift each day.
4. Write down your philosophy of life. You’re already on your way when you’ve put it into words!
6. Share with others the skills you have learned.
7. Keep your zeal alive!
Excerpted from "Sensational After 60: Loving Life All Over Again" by Shirley Mitchell. Copyright © 0 by Shirley Mitchell. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.