Listen to the audio version of this post here.
You may have noticed; I’ve been missing from your inbox for nearly two months.
I declared Intermission, intending to launch my second act as I healed after my surgery. Okay, so it may be more like the third or even fourth act, but you get the idea. I’m a new woman, and not just because of the shiny new screws in my spine.
I hadn’t planned for recovery to take this long, but as it turns out, right now is the perfect time for that fresh start.
Apart from finally being able to ditch the drugs and get through a whole day without napping … I’m celebrating a birthday this week. A milestone birthday.
I’m turning 70.
There. I said it. In a bold font, even. Why is acknowledging age so challenging? There’s an impulse to downplay it, keep it to myself, even shave off a few years.
It’s not as if my age is a secret. I mean, I’ve been around for a while.
You’ll find photos of me on Facebook with Eighties Hair. Because they were taken in the ’80s.
Middle-aged people tell me they used to listen to me on the radio. While their mothers were driving them to school.
And I just went to my 50th high school reunion.
It’s actually been 52 years since we graduated; our big shindig was canceled by Covid. Twice. We finally succeeded in throwing ourselves a party this year. We gave it a subtitle: The Class of ’70 at 70.
And get this.
To my chagrin, I had to go to the reunion still using a walker. Now that is a sign of aging.
On the other hand, I decorated that sign of aging with blue and gold pompoms. You know what I always say. When there’s an elephant in the room, don’t try to ignore it. Embrace it.
Age, and the physical issues that go with it, can feel like an elephant in the room. No point, really, in tiptoeing around them or pretending they’re not there.
We can try Botox and liposuction and dressing like our daughters. In spite of it all, we’re still the age we are. The calendar doesn’t lie. We might as well embrace the elephant, no?
Yes, the physical effects of passing years are real. Even the healthiest of us don’t have the same bodies we had at 30. Or even at 50. I may not be the only one who looks back at the body I hated at the time … wishing with all my might that I could look like that again!
I can’t, of course. At the same time, I’m not ready to just call it quits. Are you?
We need to show up.
Women of “a certain age” often complain that they’ve somehow become invisible. And that certain age might be one that seems young to me now. You’ll hear 44-year-olds say nobody notices them anymore!
I’m saying we don’t have to settle into invisibility, no matter how many years we have behind us. There are steps we can take on the outside and on the inside to make sure we’re seen and heard.
We can make the kind of impact we’ve always made. Get noticed the way we always have. And let go of the impulse to hide our age from the rest of the world.
In fact, I was ready to stand up in front of a roomful of my elders and talk about being “Vibrant and Visible at ANY Age,” until the pandemic put a crimp in my speaking schedule.
It might just be time to revive that, now that I have even more experience with getting older.
If you know a group that needs to hear my message, I hope you’ll get in touch. As I said, I’m back, and ready to book some gigs for 2023.
Meantime, it’s your turn. Is age just a number for you? Or have you been hinky about saying that number out loud? And are you ready to embrace that elephant?
What a great article Catherine! And welcome back. I’m not a fan of my number, 66 about to move it up a notch, but reading this has me rethinking why I hedge when I’m on a podcast by saying “60-something.” I’m proud of the life I’ve lived and continue to live full out, creaky hips and all. I’m eager to hear what your second-ish act is. No doubt it will be inspiring or at least encouraging to the rest of us women of a certain age to keep on showing up. We can’t be seen if we don’t right?
Isn’t that hedging interesting, Greg? I’ve been doing the same thing. For years! And we’re not alone–there’s a lot of pressure on women to fudge when it comes to our age. There’s also a lot of pressure to be “authentic.” And what’s more IN-authentic than hiding something as basic as my age?
I’m opting for the authenticity and a new talk about being vibrant and visible regardless of the number–or the creaky hips.
Simply marvelous, Catherine!
Thanks, Scott. I’m hoping to maintain marvelosity no matter what it says on the calendar.
Fabulous comeback by a most fabulous woman. Well done Catherine.
Thanks, Linda! I’m ready to own my number.
Thanks for this, Catherine. You look gorgeous – as always. I starting really feeling “old” when I was facing 69 thinking “70 is just around the corner” – who is going to listen to me? I have bucked up and continued to act like the 50-year-old my mind thinks I am. I consider some of my mentors who could never stop teaching (even after they had said all they really needed to say) and have learned to listen to myself – am I doing all the talking, or am I listening as well. (I have long had a “50% Rule” – I should only talk 50% of the time, no more). I appreciate knowing I am not alone in this journey.
Oh, I’m so familiar with that “just around the corner” concern, Erica! Well, now I’m rounding the corner. Guess what? It’s not as scary (or as depressing) as I thought it would be. Thanks for the reminder about listening. It’s so important. At any age.
Welcome back! Who doesn’t love an elephant in the room decorated with pompoms!!! You are a shining example of aging with style!! I think I am too! I don’t mind announcing my age…(68)…because I truly believe I wear the age very well!!
You wear it so well, you might consider having the age hennaed to your forehead! People would be shocked…and want to be just like you!
I’m not ready for henna, Karen. It was challenge enough to put “the number” in a newsletter! There is a value to being open, though, instead of treating our age like some kind of shameful secret. Women have done that for generations. And they weren’t crazy — women have also been penalized for their age for generations. Maybe we’re the ones to set another big shift in motion.
I enjoyed your column, for it’s “tell it like it is” tone, and “owning it” (but then again, that’s part of your beautiful personal style).
I’m obviously not a woman, but I am getting older — turned 65 in July. I’m quite comfortable with my age, because I look at each season of life as an opportunity to enjoy what is unique to that season. Yes, the challenges are different in each season, but also the joys and what we bring to the table when we show up as who we truly are, rather than wishing we were someone else (including a younger version of ourselves). I’m thankful for how I keep growing and changing — I feel like I’ve get quite a few good years yet, and that the world needs people who have lived more life and gained some wisdom by it.
Glad to hear that you’ve recovered well; best of success in booking some gigs. You definitely still have a lot to offer to audiences.
Thanks, John. Yes, you’re right about my tell-it-like-it-is style. Part of the wisdom that comes with age is knowing when to tone that down just a little bit. You’re right, too, about the growth and change that comes with passing years. The world does need us.
You’ve always seemed so young, I didn’t realize you were almost as old as me. Of course in my mind, I’m probably still in my 20’s. I now truly understand the meaning of the George Bernard Shaw quote, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Enjoy your the wisdom that comes with all those years.
Bless your heart, Stan! Thrilled to hear that I seem young to you. I’m enjoying the wisdom I’ve accrued so far … and hoping to become even wiser.
Dang lady, you make 70 look like 35!!! You are a powerhouse and a wonder, not only that you are beautiful inside AND out! Wishing you the happiest of birthdays!
Wow! I’d settle for making 70 look like 65, Love Ann. Thanks for your good wishes.