4min readLifestyle 31 October 2019
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- Listen to your gut instinct. It will not steer you in the wrong direction.
- Take time for YOU. Learn to say no.
- Stay physically active for heart and bodily strength as well as for mental well-being.
- Eat healthy foods. Yes, you can indulge in moderation.
- Learn ways to manage stress.
- 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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Help! I'm Sick of Seasonal Weight Gain!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
How would you deal with the seasonal weight gain that most women experience? I've put on literally 5–7 lbs around my waist/butt/lower thighs and it's the bane of my existence. Getting dressed hasn't even been fun lately:( I know it's "normal," but how do I battle the psychology behind this?
- McFattie in Brooklyn
Dear McFattie in Brooklyn,I'm sorry to hear that the winter blues is making your zipper hard to close. Personally, I roll with the rolls during the dark and frigid winter season, while chalking the glutton up to a basic survival mechanism. The feelings that accompany being out of shape and not wanting to dress cute (because your clothes don't fit well) can be both demoralizing and a blow to your self esteem. In this fantastic post, the author suggests great techniques that include keeping things in perspective and to "Ignore the panic," "Get curious" about your weight gain, and to keep it moving by "getting out of your room." Best of all is the advice to "Remember all things that are more important than this." If these head games don't serve you over time, and you still feel low, there may be deeper underlying reasons to your weight gain. In this case, I suggest you speak to a qualified therapist.
- The Armchair Psychologist