Right around March 1, 2020 I colored my hair for the last time. It wasn’t planned. I have been coloring my own hair for so many years now I can’t even remember when I first started. Fortunately because my hair was light brown to begin with, when gray started showing up back in my 40s it was easy to just go with lighter hair color—out of the box. I liked the way it looked, was pretty easy to do, and didn’t cost much. Why not? Then COVID 19 hit. About six weeks later when I would normally recolor it, I paused. Was it necessary to bother at all, at least until the pandemic was over? Now, 12 months later I am completely gray. With one vaccine shot in my arm and things looking better, the question is coming up again: Do I want to stay gray or go back to blond? Perhaps more importantly are the questions behind that question: Does gray hair automatically mean I look old? If yes, then what is wrong with looking older anyway—especially when I sort of am?
Looking back I realized I haven’t written about positive aging in nearly a year. Sure I believe it is still possible and highly desirable. However, nothing new presented itself that hadn’t been said before, or was compelling enough to share. Plus if I’m honest, my brain was more interested in just getting through the day/month/year, with all the upheaval in my life and the world, than it was to expand my thinking. Then a couple of months ago I was offered a book from a renowned French philosopher about aging that had me asking myself whether he might offer something new on the subject. Not only did the book have me rethinking some of my preconceived notions about aging and happiness, but it also required that I look up more words in the dictionary than I have in years. While I’m the first to admit I’m usually more attracted to pop-psychology, I’m fairly certain that continuing to stretch our minds and perspectives is one of the healthiest things we can do if we want to age in a positive way.
When I was younger I can remember listening to my parents and their friends at dinner. On more than one occasion, the condition of their health or that of their family or friends, would take over the conversation. While they seldom complained, I still considered their discussion beyond boring. I also smugly vowed that I would never become one of those-kind-of-people when I got older. Guess what? Things sure look different from the other side of the timeline now. And after Thom and I have navigated a few health ups and downs during the last couple of years, that particular topic of conversation has gotten far more interesting. [Read more…]
Four years ago I began publishing a list of the best blogs and websites on retirement and positive aging that I could find on the internet. I started it because I wanted to have a list of sites that I can continually refer to myself, and I thought it would be helpful to others as well. However, I am selective. I know that my time and your time is very valuable, so before I recommend another site, I want to make sure that they offer something I find worthy of our attention. I also tend to avoid sites that are more about making money than helping, are overly technical or financial, or put a focus on fashion, food or politics. Remember, SMART stands for Sustainable, Meaningful, Aware, Rightsized and Thankful. I do my best to suggest sites that I think fit those categories.
This last week I happened to find and listen to an online interview of a woman named Karen Sands who calls herself a positive aging futurist. While I’ve never really thought of myself as a one, and I’m guessing you haven’t either, she made a convincing argument for why we should all at least think about it. Why? Because as I’ve written about before, and she confirmed in her own way, if we want to know where we are headed in life, having a clear destination is critical. That doesn’t mean you can’t adjust or change as life unfolds. But it does offer a target that will likely include a future we want to experience. [Read more…]
A couple of weeks ago I cohosted a series of four podcasts with Kathe Kline of Rock Your Retirement. Kathe let me pick the topic of each of our discussions. After finding and selecting four articles I thought sounded intriguing, Kathe and I then spent 30 minutes discussing each of them from our individual perspectives. And although the podcasts are currently being edited and won’t be available until August, one of the topics stuck deeply in my mind. That topic is contentment. And while the word and concept sounds vaguely pleasant and benevolent, I must admit that I’m beginning to realize that I’ve overlooked its greater value and importance. [Read more…]
One of my favorite parables is the story of the light wolf and the dark wolf. Most of us know the light wolf as those parts in the world and in ourselves that are kind, loving, peaceful and hopeful. At the same time, the dark wolf represents all that is angry, fearful, greedy or hateful. Which one is most prominent in our lives? Simply—the one we feed. In other words, whatever wolf we focus on the most—nourishing it with our attention, time, words and Facebook posts, that’s the one that grows and multiplies. The good news is of course that even if we realize we’ve been feeding the wrong wolf for far too long, it’s never too late to make our light wolf strong, healthy and the biggest part of our lives.
This parable came to my mind after finishing a new book by Mary Pipher called, Women Rowing North—Navigating Life’s Currents & Flourishing As We Age. Some of us may remember Pipher as the author of Reviving Ophelia. That book, written back in the 1990s, shared thoughts on the [Read more…]
Two years ago I began publishing a list of the best blogs and websites on positive aging and retirement I could find. Now, for the third year in a row I want to continue to promote and provide exposure to those sites that I believe deserve recognition. Like most of us know, it is very easy these days to get lost in the shuffle of the blogosphere. But what I’ve also discovered is that most of the authors and blog publishers in this field especially, are passionately committed to spreading the word about how great it can be to get older. This year I am even more excited and enthusiastic because the research and news continue to show that nearly every single person who ages (no matter what their current age) can look forward to a longer, more meaningful and yes, happier life as they grow older—retired or not. Want to know more? Then check out my updated list below of the best resources I’ve found from 2018. [Read more…]
On a clear day the sun always casts a shadow. In fact, the brighter the light, the more vivid the corresponding silhouette. That is why any complete discussion about positive aging requires the acknowledgment that a dark side exists. And while I am certainly not a professional who understands all the implications, I do think it is important to explore how it may affect us as we age. That’s because no matter how optimistic we remain about aging, none of us knows for sure what our complete future holds. And, like with all shadow work, it’s SMART to accept its existence as well as how it can potentially affect our lives if we want to experience the days to come as an authentic and whole individual.
Every now and then, if we are lucky, we find an author whose words seem to speak directly to us in ways we wish we had said ourselves. That’s how I felt when I first found a book written by Palmer Parker over two decades ago. So, when I learned that his latest book touched on aging, I didn’t hesitate to send him a Facebook private message asking if he provided review copies. Not only did he respond personally by email (because that’s the kind of man he is), he sent me an autographed copy hot off the press. His new book, On The Brink of Everything—Grace, Gravity & Getting Old is a collection of essays that covers aging well along with other topics facing the world today. For all of us who appreciate a wise, authentic and often transcendent voice about issues that matter, it is my deep pleasure to introduce you to Parker Palmer. [Read more…]