Make Midlife Prime Time with a
Positive Attitude Toward Aging
“As Boomers shed the skin of youth…they could be migrating into the most powerful years of their lives.”1
—Dr. Ken Dychtwald, Age Power
My best friend, Sarah, bounded up the steps of the jumbo jet, her agile body impressing me with its youthfulness. She appeared ageless. Sarah stopped at the top of the steps, turned, and smiled blithely. With a spirit of freedom, she waved and disappeared through the door of the plane.
Only I knew of the fierce struggle she’d encountered at midlife. Physical and emotional changes, including the darkness of depression, were now illuminated by energy, passion, and purpose. Opening the jaws of menopause and midlife had made her feel whole again, like a real woman. She even felt feminine. With the wisdom accrued from half a century of living, and with fewer family responsibilities, giving her more freedom to do the things she enjoyed, Sarah had begun experiencing the brightness and benefits of midlife.
Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; so we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at mid-day.2
Sarah, in choosing to be fabulous after 50, defies the most common misconception of midlife.
THE MISCONCEPTION ABOUT MIDLIFE
In a society that values youth and beauty, people often think of midlife as the time when the quality of both life and the body begin to deteriorate. We focus on a sagging jaw line, age spots, or a body that is constantly moving closer to the ground. But life is more than what we see, and life can be better after 50! Growing older can be fabulous if we approach this mile marker relying on the wisdom we have gained. Centuries ago, Publilius Syrus said, “It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity.” Maturity and wisdom elevate us to a higher plateau in life for even greater contributions to our families, neighbors, societies, and communities, as well as to our local church.
These are the proving years—the years when we reap the benefits of living well and thoughtfully. As Jane O’Reilly put it,
Fifty is a time of final options, but it is also a culmination, the prime of life, the beginning of seeing how it all turns out. Let there be less marveling at our wonderful preservation and more respect for the maturity of our mind and spirit. After all, the most important mission of a woman’s life is not to hold on to her looks. Our mission is the same as a man’s…to grow up. To ignore that goal is to exclude women from adult responsibility. Fifty is 50, and to deny that is to deny wisdom, experience and life itself.3
Perhaps, if you are approaching middle age, you are riding the waves of change that occur during this period, and feeling insecure. You may even be in the golden years, typically defined as age 65 and on. Despite changes in roles, careers, health, and relationships, we can always choose our outlook on aging and the many facets of growing older.
Dr. Ken Dychtwald has pioneered today’s concept of aging. He is president and CEO of Age Wave, Inc., an education and communications firm that advises industry and government on the social, lifestyle, and business implications of an aging America. He said,
I’ve spent the last 20 years studying aging and older people….When I got involved in the aging field it was primarily concerned with the sorrows and woes of aging. And while the concern among the professionals in my field was real and important, it seemed to me that by primarily focusing on the difficulties of aging—the terrible problems and enfeeblements that later years may bring—we were not hearing from the other voice, the voice of a more positive aging. There are people in this country growing old well—with vigor, with power, with style, with an interest in living fully and being part of the American marketplace.4
His term “Age Wave” refers to the huge demographic shift beginning in 1996, when the leading edge of the baby boomers—the 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964—turned 50 and merged with seniors to create an enormous senior society. Now, with millions of Americans over 50, positive aging is vital. In fact, there are more people over the age of 65 in the world today than at any other time in the history of the world put together.5
Einstein said, “Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we are born.” Whatever your age, it’s important to know that within every aging person lies hidden wealth.
MINING FOR GOLD
In Fabulous After 50, we’ll examine together the golden nuggets—the hidden wealth—of aging.
THE KEY TO AGELESS LIVING
Aging is inevitable. As we age, it is possible to sparkle like a jewel in the sun. With the proper mind-set, a positive attitude, a transcendent faith, and a practice of personal excellence, we’ll become brighter. The marriage of experience and mature faith gives us the opportunity to enjoy a rich older life. Trusting God is the key to ageless living. In times of insecurity and fear, which seem to increase with age, I know I must trust God.
Don’t allow the “old lady syndrome” to make you a shadow of the woman you are or could be. Some of our best and brightest women, though past the half-century mark in years, are climbing the ladder of success in the world—and the Stairmaster at the gym. This is the time to be bold, self-assured, empowered, and socially and politically aware. Viewing this time in our lives as a renewal is one way.
To keep your life from losing its luster in middle age, try to maintain a positive attitude based on the following proclamations:
1. I will stay young at heart. I will keep growing and going.
2. On my journey beyond youth, I will stay young at heart by living the moment, laughing, and embracing a positive attitude.
3. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ will empower me to experience the beauty of being an ageless person.
4. Knowing God through a daily time of quiet intimacy propels my life into universal and eternal living. It gives me wings to fly through my maturing life and reason to live well.
5. I will choose to live fully after 50, dreaming new dreams and investing my energies to the lives of others.
6. Investing in relationships for eternity gives life depth, breadth, and a reason for living well.
7. Excellent nutrition energizes me to live agelessly.
8. With proper exercise, I can rekindle my fire for life.
9. I will open the jaws of menopause with help from my doctor, great habits, and a great attitude.
10. To be 50ish, female, and fabulous, I will make the most of my best.
11. I will dance with anticipation every day of my life as I move toward eternity and my final home.
Fabulous After 50 is your personal invitation to a lifelong, and long-life, celebration. Congratulations! You are a woman of strength! You have survived disease and accidents. Taking God’s free gift of time and adding increased strength, faith, and new dreams will give renewed life to our remaining years.
I suggest that we set our minds at “young” and keep going. The ancient King Solomon reminds us that what you think is what you are. (See Proverbs 23:7.) Far too many women over 50 feel old, useless, and depleted. A small percent grab life and go with it. I want us as women to feel precious, empowered, and encouraged as we embrace our middle years.
Let’s walk arm in arm into the future filled with hope. Every day of midlife will offer abundant adventure and excitement if we maintain the right perspective.
QUESTIONS FOR IMMEDIATE APPLICATION
1. List five things you choose to do in your own personal life that will make your midlife prime time.
2. Write down (a) a higher goal, (b) a new activity, and (c) a deeper relationship that will renew your “second adulthood.”
3. What do you think is the secret of being fabulous after 50?
TEN WAYS TO CHEAT AGING
1. BELIEVE—in God; faith keeps you sipping from the Fountain of Youth. Women who have faith and attend worship service regularly live longer and better.
2. EXERCISE—Use it or lose it! Exercise your body, soul, spirit, and mind.
3. ATTITUDE—We are what we think. Some of us are growing younger, but most of us are growing older. If we work with energy and zeal, expecting life to be rich, full, and adventurous, that expectation will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
4. MAINTAIN PROPER DIET—A daily balanced diet from the “Food Guide Pyramid” (you can find it on your bread wrapper!). Take one multivitamin/multi-mineral dietary supplement daily.
5. LAUGH—Women who laugh, last! Laughter is a stress buster that lifts both our spirits and our faces. It juices the chemical endorphins in the brain, which make us feel euphoric.
6. KEEP MOVING—Get up and go! If you dread growing older because you fear physical deterioration and memory loss, your fears will likely be realized. However, if you use this time to keep moving and growing, you prescribe for yourself years of excitement and adventure.
7. LOOK GOOD—When you look your best, you feel your best, and you receive more positive response from the people with whom you interact.
8. LIVE IN THE NOW—Live your best now. Each new day is a new chance at life. Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is a check. Have fun spending it.
9. REKINDLE—Make your aging life burn with energy. It takes only a spark to get a fire going.
10. GIVE—You can’t out-give God or people.
Excerpted from "Fabulous After 50: Finding Fulfillment For Tomorrow" 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.