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Move Over Anti-Aging, It's Time We Speak of The Pro-Aging Movement

4min read
Lifestyle

Photo credit: Susielangphoto.com

I'm on Instagram. Yes, at 67 I'm on Social Media!! My page is @the.pro.age.woman, and over the last year, it has transformed into a community of 20K followers sharing content, conversation, information, and connections.

Let me start by sharing how this journey started.


In my early fifties, I worked as a fitness and wellness professional with female clients that were midlife and beyond. I was always inclined to coach women to be the best that they can be. I then began scouring internet shops for activewear and street styles geared toward my age group. And that's when I came to the realization that there was not much out there for the stylish, sophisticated, older active woman. What were all the fashion retail companies thinking? We are a huge market! Anyway, I did find things here and there, but, even now, there's still not much targeted to us. There began my experience with invisibility, and I certainly didn't like it.

I retired in my late fifties; although, I did continue a lifestyle of fitness and wellness.

Then in April of 2017, out of the blue, I was diagnosed with Marginal Zone Lymphoma. If you don't know what that is, it is a cancer of the bone marrow and lymphatic system. I had been void of energy for a few months prior; but, never thought it would be cancer. I was 65 years old, fit, strong, playing tennis, or working out almost every day. The diagnosis came as a total shock! After months spent trying to determine the next step, I started a 6 months infusion treatment. Trying to keep up with my weekly routine was daunting; but, I kept trying.

This was the catalyst for what was to happily, as well as surprisingly, come from that moment in time. In April of 2018, while recuperating, I remember thinking, "How can I turn this difficult life event into something positive?" I thought there's got to be a reason why this happened. I needed to find its purpose. I needed to replace all the negative thoughts with thoughts of how to move forward. As you can imagine, this was not so easy.

Well, after a short time, it hit me. I would create an Instagram page, incorporating my passions to provide inspiration, fashion, and fitness tips to women 50 years old and beyond. For many women at this stage of life, there's a feeling of invisibility and a not-knowing what comes next. I know, for me, there was a sense of "if not now, then when?" The thing is, this is the perfect stage of life to move forward, to dig deep and recognize our passions and act upon them. We have more wisdom, as well as a "care less what you think" attitude. We can be free to grow, transform, and evolve.

I started working on my new passion and purpose. I did what I could on my own, but I really had no idea what I was doing, so I began working with an assistant to help me bring my vision to life. She not only does that beautifully, but she teaches me what I need to learn. It has been a perfect intergenerational partnership. It's been fascinating and fun at the same time. So, as I continue to grow, so does my page. There's no telling where life can lead if you just go for it, and if you don't know all the answers, find someone to help.

Initially, my page was created to help women locate cool, edgy studios and street fashions for those wanting that. My perspective is we've earned the right to wear whatever the heck we want! Those "old rules" of what to wear and how to wear it are just simply "old news." As time passed, I needed my mission to be greater than I originally thought. This is when things really took off. I started building a community of like-minded women; that is, midlife and beyond; women that want to live with positivity, growth, involvement, learning, and don't just sit back and watch the world pass them by. As I encourage them, they encourage me as well. It's been a gift to me that I never expected. I began reframing what this later stage of life can look like, and wow, did this resonate with my peers. I call it Pro-Aging..no more anti-aging or age-defying for us. Pro-Aging is a new and exciting way of defining midlife and beyond. It is the idea that no one age is better than another; that we age on a continuum with each year, bringing a unique perspective and learning. It is the "New Age of Aging."

For me, it is making a conscious decision to age with positivity, that is, choosing to be active, relevant, and visible rather than to disappear and decline quietly.

There are definite challenges at this stage of life; but, we have to challenge these challenges by finding strategies to overcome them. We can learn through others' stories and experiences. Pro-aging is choosing to express who we are, to be who we are, and to lead our lives toward fulfillment. It is choosing to live as a reflection of our wisdom, our years of acquired knowledge, our intuitive instincts, our unique traits; while, utilizing our creativity and developed strength to follow our dreams. All this, while we appreciate and applaud our individuality. It's a time to encourage and uplift ourselves as well as each other... stop the negative judgments and ridicule.

Now, believe me, I know it is not an easy task to think with positivity where aging is concerned. It's a process to train your way of thinking. It can be two steps forward and one step back. Let's be honest; as I've said before, there are challenges at this stage of life; bodily and facial changes, economic concerns, health issues, as well as physical and mental fitness limitations. The trick is to continually reshape our mindset to take action, to make strides towards moving forward. It can be challenging, but well worth it.

Here are some helpful tools to help you pro-age:

  1. Firstly, try to be conscious of your thoughts and change the negative ones to those with a more positive twist. For example, see the wisdom, not the wrinkles. See the wonder of the way our bodies function, not only the size and shape of it. Yes, I am aware of how difficult this is!
  2. Keep busy with the things YOU enjoy doing (i.e., join classes or hobbies of interest to you). Get involved in group activities with like-minded people.
  3. Listen to your gut instinct. It will not steer you in the wrong direction.
  4. Take time for YOU. Learn to say no.
  5. Stay physically active for heart and bodily strength as well as for mental well-being.
  6. Eat healthy foods. Yes, you can indulge in moderation.
  7. Learn ways to manage stress.
  8. Create a sense of community and friendships. This is so very important. This is what Pro-aging is all about...continually growing and evolving, being bold and fierce while continually emerging. Let's be each other's cheerleaders and reach for the moon.

I'm so looking forward to watching where the Pro-Age evolution takes us. It certainly has been and will continue to be an exciting ride!

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From $0 to $3Billion In Sales: Serial Inventor Joy Mangano Shares Her Entrepreneurial Secrets

How many times have you looked at something and thought: I wish this did more? And how many times have you thought long and hard about what else you could make it do, if you had the resources, time, and a factory-load of people working for you?


We've all certainly been there. Whether we were 5 and inventing a flying Barbie, or futuristic football, or 35 and looking at the kitchen imagining a self-taught robot that would help with the nightly dinners. We've all come up with what we thought were million dollar ideas - but almost none of us follow through because we're already too busy, and somebody else has probably invented it already.

For one woman, this very sequence of events took place when she was just a teenager. Unimpressed with her dog's collar, she created a new one with florescent sides (making them more visible to cars at night) that would fit more comfortably on a dog or cat's neck. But because of her relative youth, the collar was never produced, and a year later was released and patented by another company.

The girl, Joy Mangano, vowed this would never happen again.

Fast forward to 1990. Single mother-of-three, Mangano has a bigger, bolder idea. This time, the Miracle Mop is born, launching her career as an entrepreneur and setting her up for a life in the spotlight with her product launch on QVC. Between then and now, Mangano has accrued 100 patents (for products like the Huggable Hanger and My Little Steamer) and her company, Ingenious Designs is worth over $50million.

This story was told in Hollywood by David O.Russell in 2015 with his Golden Globe winning movie, Joy. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Mangano served to highlight the difficulty of entrepreneurship and instruct on the minefield of patent disputes.

Mangano's latest product is one she says she's been working on for her entire life: a journal, a manual and a self-help for entrepreneurs wrapped up in her book, Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave and Creative Life.

SWAAY spoke with Mangano about the necessity for this kind of book in this age of entrepreneurship, and how it will resonate with aspiring female inventors and change-makers.

Drawing on her success and the pains it took to get there, Mangano has penned a book that will no doubt be a bible for those looking to take their flying Barbies or futuristic footballs to market. "I️ believe it will be a resource for people they can keep coming back to," she remarks. "This book truly is a lesson for anybody - in their careers, no matter what age."

Her family have been crucial to the whole process of building her brand and expanding Ingenious Designs, for the last 17 years, and have informed many of the chapters in the book. "I️ am fortunate enough to work with my children, family and friends and they were completely integral (to the books production)," says Mangano. Her daughter Christie serves as SVP Brand Development, Merchandising & Marketing Strategy having worked with her mom for thirteen years. “She's my left brain," laughs Mangano. Both her son Bobby and other daughter Jackie have worked elsewhere before also coming under their mother's umbrella. Bobby currently serves as Executive Vice President of the company and Jackie is involved with the fashion side of the business, which is certainly no mean feat, as she is also involved in styling for the upcoming reboot of The Murder on the Orient Express.

"When you can do things in life - work and follow your passion with people you love - it makes it all that much more meaningful and pure happiness."

The launch of her book signals new territory for the serial inventor, who has her first opportunity to tour the country and speak to those whose homes she has appeared in for the past 15 years on QVC and HSN.

"This is really one of my dreams," she comments. "I️'ve always wanted to go around the country and meet all of my customers and this is one way to do that. It couldn't be better."

"95% of my customers are women so I️ can't help but be an advocate always."

While on tour, Mangano is destined to meet a host of people that will tell her of their inventions or start-up ideas, but none more so than the millennials, who are completely reinventing the notion of entrepreneurship. Mangano hopes that through the book aspiring female entrepreneurs will be able to take solace in the fact they don't have to do it all. "I️ truly believe - this is a generation I️ watch, a lot of them work for me and with me - today, more than ever, they think they have to do it all."

"Dressed beautifully and in a meeting, they'll say 'I've been up since 5. Dressed the kids. Fed the kids.' And then (after work) they'll come home, have quality time, bath time. And I️ say - you can miss a game." If there's one thing she would invent for millennial women, it's this very advice, she says.

Rather than a product, or an item, it's this advice that, contrary to the millennial mindset, you don't have to be five places at one time or working 20-hour days to get where you want to be. Instead, Mangano has sections of the book that will inform on how better to manage your time and your ideas - to employ her methods - so you can become successful with (a little) less stress.

When asked how social media and the digital age has influenced her real-world inventions (like mops, hangers, steamers and pillows), Mangano chuckles. Technology, rather than impairing the invention of real world application actually opens up a 'wider range' tells the inventor. “It opens up a direct - to - consumer feedback and enhances your platform."

"With Instagram and Facebook my customers communicate with me. That's critical for looking at what you do and for the future of what you do."

Out of the dozens of things she's invented, Mangano won't say what her favorite is. "What am I️ most proud of? That's hard to say - that's like asking what child do you love the most and I️ don't think I️ could be prouder of any of them."