Aging Proudly: 5 Ways to Fight Back Against “Age-Defying”

68. And a half. That’s my age number, and I’m proud of it.

Or at least I’m working on it. Constantly.

My little grandkids will announce my age number loud and proud to anyone in line at Stop and Shop –  so why does part of me cringe when they do?

We’re Here to Love and Pass On Wisdom

In my best self, I, too, announce the number loud and proud. But…that little inner voice…the one fueled by years of “don’t admit you’re a grandma”, and “but you don’t look your age” , Zoom image enhancers, Insta photos of Christie Brinkley in a swimsuit (rockin’ it, as she always has, now at age 67), and countless ads for products that invite us to DEFY age, to DENY age, and to FIGHT age…that inner voice sometimes struggles.

And then, there’s plastic surgery for vanity’s sake. Don’t even get me started — and yes, of course it’s sometimes tempting – not the slicing of my face, just the supposed results.

I once voiced a documentary that mentioned a myth where a young man was advised to “seek out someone with grey hair, for they will be wise.” When did that wisdom become something to be feared, hidden – something shameful?

I’m frickin; wise, dammit!

My biggest teachers here are my granddaughters, ages 5 and 3 1/2 – and (of course) their mom, my daughter. If I were to act all coy about my age, blush with embarrassment when someone says the number (gasp!) out loud, or stare into the mirror obsessing about my wrinkles – what does that say to them about getting older?

Happy Proud Birthday, whatever the number!

Getting older. Is it something to desire (seems to be, until about age 21…), or to bemoan? In this world, where Gen Z is poking fun at Millennials on TikTok (yes  -insert eyeroll here – I know what TikTok is. Also Clubhouse.), when do we express respect – and admiration – for the wisdom that comes with age?

Women (especially) are trained to pick apart their appearance, to focus on specific parts that they’d like to “fix.”. Other people – especially those who love us – see the whole, not the parts. My grandkids look at me and only see pure, mutual love.

 

Five ways to rethink Age-Defying:

1 – Notice what you are telling yourself about your age.  Catch yourself judging yourself – or others – when a number is mentioned. Is it the number, or what you are telling yourself it represents?

2 – Question where any negative “stories” come from. Is it that magazine ad you just saw for Botox? Is it the sitcom where the older person (parent, grandparent, senior manager) is portrayed as an idiot? Is it something that was modeled for you by your own family or friends? (“oh, my god, I look so old in that picture! Rip it up!!”)

3 – Replace the words with another message. Not so easy. Models are hard to find. Compile a list of go-to phrases that work for you. I often remind myself that women (especially) are trained to pick apart their appearance, to focus on specific parts that they’d like to “fix.”. Other people – especially those who love us – see the whole, not the parts. My grandkids look at me and only see pure, mutual love.

4 – Seek out role models for age-proudness – and be one. Look for celebrities who haven’t had plastic surgery.  Which ones own their age without apology? Who has a sense of humor about it? Think Bette Midler, Sigourney Weaver, Sally Field, Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, Justine Bateman. Jeez, we all get older! We are LUCKY to get older. Hollywood, and advertising creators, just don’t often agree.

5 – Limit Social Media Overuse. Come on, seriously? Filters, photo editing, selfies that were the best out of 15. Instead: Learn something new. Take a class. Read a book. Draw a picture. Toss a ball. Take a walk somewhere where the trees are way oldewr than you are.  Expand horizons, that kinda thing. It’s what we’re here to do.

so….what next?

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Hello Again, Stranger!: Tiptoeing Back Into Small Encounters

How I’ve missed you, person I meet by accident. We’ve been in our caves, zooming away, and hiding behind our masks for too long.

Cheers!

Yesterday my daughter Ali and I went took her three little munchkins out for ice cream at a local shop located on a family farm. Afterwards we went out to see the donkeys (gotta get fertilizer for the corn crop from somewhere!), and in the blink of an eye our 5yo made instant friends with another little girl named Emily, and (blink again) suddenly our kid troupe of three was a horde of five kids – Emily had a little brother – running around as if they’d known each other forever.

Being able to go out somewhere and accidentally meet and talk with someone random is something I hadn’t even been aware I missed so much.

Ah, people.

And, as moms of any age do, Ali and I started to chat with Emily’s mother. They don’t live in our town, so it’s unlikely we’d run into them again. Still, what a nice ten-minute conversation – we covered sleep training, school in a pandemic, sibling rivalry, and ice cream flavors.  And then we each went home to our separate lives.

But – oh, how lovely. For the past year, most “meetings” with people outside our pods have been carefully orchestrated, sanitized, and/or with a computer screen between us. Being able to go out somewhere and accidentally meet and talk with someone random is something I hadn’t even been aware I missed so much.

Ah, people.

  • Ah, little child sitting next to me on an airplane who gives me a sticker from her collection to put on my iPad case.
  • Oh, couple we chat with at the bar, talking about our families, our work, even (sometimes) politics.
  • Oh, woman behind me in the produce section who shares exactly how she can tell a melon is ripe. (thank you!)
  • And -for me – oh my audience members how I miss you. The exchange of energy, the shared laughter during the show or presentation, , the small chats afterwards.

How I’ve missed you. How I treasure you. These small encounters are little gifts from the universe that we didn’t know we needed, experiences to remind us that we don’t have all the answers, and that some of our plans need to be flexible.

Because: life.

Let’s inch out of this pandemic together, probably on tiptoe, but let’s never forget how much we can meant to each other – even in ways we took for granted, or didn’t remember to treasure, before we were isolated from them.

Stranger: welcome back. I appreciate you as never before.

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Unmoored: What To Do if Life Goes Adrift

I’m not a huge interpreter of dreams, but last night’s was a doozy. My home was about to fall into a sinkhole. ( What ?!?!  )

So I had to climb onto the roof, leaving behind all I had worked so hard to create.  Carefully chosen wallpaper, brownies baking in the oven – all abandoned; I climbed up, nearer to the sky (with a friend, identity unknown) as the house drifted into the water (I guess I had scored a waterfront property in this dream, wahoo) – destination entirely unknown. No map. Just safety from disaster, and no choice but to trust that we would land somewhere. Somehow.  And eventually we did land – on an island where my family was among others waiting to share this new experience.

I know where this dream came from. Life is like that now for me – unmoored. Maybe for you too. My business has changed. More people getting into voice-overs and narration – suddenly everyone and their grandmas have created in-home audio and video studios, (and so my cool set-up isn’t the novelty it used to be).and they are lowering price points.

Live speaker gigs with actual people have disappeared for now – or morphed into virtual presentations. Even audiobook narration (my constant staple in 2020) slowed down for awhile – so I ‘ve had more unscheduled time than I had before Covid, and have been feeling (like in the dream) adrift and unmoored. Not sure what to leave behind, not sure what the Universe is trying to tell me.

One year (and counting) into this pandemic, and I can barely remember what it felt like to have a jam-packed day and then gratefully collapse back home, grateful to slow down at last. Can you?

So – we adjust. I’ve jumped (or been forced to jump) many times before, and have always landed on my feet. I bet you have as well.

But in-between the old and the new, there is that time we spend adrift. Boats unmoored, not quite knowing how to navigate.

Still – there is a lesson in everything. I firmly believe that. I have to. I’ve been unmoored before – and, looking back, it always led me to greater things.

So – we adjust. I’ve jumped (or been forced to jump) many times before, and have always landed on my feet. I bet you have as well.

My husband deserted our family when my kids were 3 and 6, leaving me to fully support and raise my son and daughter. This led to a new career as a radio broadcaster, and also a drama teacher. It also inspired me to greater heights as an actor and voice talent.

After 17 years, the radio station decided suddenly to “make a change”. I felt lost (unmoored). This feeling led to time to write my book (Ben Behind His Voices) – and to my speaking career, national and international.

Two years ago, I discovered that my biological father was actually a sperm donor – and my whole concept of “family” had to change. This led to discoveries: a new genetic half-sister; a reinforced concept of the value of “shared experience” and that family is what you embrace.

Every job loss, every relationship gone pffft!, every empty space left when you lose something is also an opportunity. Sometimes you know where to steer the boat – sometimes you don’t. In that case, some faith is required.

  • Stop flailing and complaining
  • Let Go of the past
  • Listen to what the world seemed to be telling me
  • Trust that you don’t know – or control – everything. But you do have choices.
  • Take a New Step off the boat onto that new land.

How about you? When have you been set adrift in the past, and what happened (oh, hindsight, you fantastic teacher). What did you learn? What new things did the open sea lead you do?

Unmoored. For now. Where will you travel to?

 

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Dear Evi: Wishing You Simple Childhood Joys

Dearest grandbaby Eviana –

Simple Toys bring Best Joys

Simple Toys bring Best Joys

New Year’s Eve Day has forever gained a new meaning, leaving things like resolutions in the dust of a much more important focus: your birthday.

This year, you will be one whole year old on December 31, and you’ve already changed the world. Well – ours, at least. Your joy, your love, your needs, your snarky sense of fun and play…what an amazing person you already are!

And of course all other parents and grandparents feel the same about their babies. And so it goes, quite beautifully. But watching you grow in this past year has opened the window even wider to some nostalgia for a simpler time – and I hope, as your Grammy, to be a part of making sure these joys are part of your life.

A few truths you have reminded me of:

  • People need to play. It’s what you do all day, and something we all need to fit into our lives.
  • People love to learn. It’s not a “chore”, it’s a privilege. I see your face light up whenever you learn something new.
  • It’s fun to laugh. And your laughter has sparked so many laughs in me. I’ve missed that!
  • People want to connect. Differences disappear on the playground. As long as someone else (child or caregiver) is considerate, kind, and caring, there is no color or clothing that can be judged. We need each other. Love does indeed trump divisiveness.

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In a Word: New Year Changes Made Simple

Bah! Humbug! to New Year’s Resolutions.

I mean, seriously, have they ever really worked for you? If so, then you are a stellar human being and – seriously – I applaud you.

So this is for the rest of us.

what's yours for the new year?

what’s yours for the new year?

Simple instructions: pick one word to focus on in 2017. (Come on, you can do it!. Write it down, in your own handwriting, and place it where you can see it. And see what happens this year.

I don’t wanna pre-judge your word, but I find it’s best to pick an active verb, something that can translate into action when you it spires you – otherwise the magic can’t really happen as well. It kind of pays there like a dead fish.

Words like: dream, hope, believe…they’re nice and all, but rather inward-focused and passive.

On the other hand, what happens when you:

  • Share?
  • Hug?
  • Finish?
  • Simplify?
  • Organize?
  • Upgrade?
  • Weed? 
  • Focus?
  • Listen?

Feel the difference?

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#TrumpPanic? Five Reasons to Choose Hope Instead

(Author’s note, 2021 — I wrote this over four years ago, trying to find the silver lining. I was wrong about Trump. He did not rise to the job. But I stand by my right to have held onto hope, and still do. -Randye, 2/27/21)

. pollyannaI am not a Pollyanna.

Well, maybe a little bit.

But, two days after the Election, I’m tired of feeling my stomach in knots over something I can no longer control. I’m tired of anger. And I’m sick of literally losing sleep over the reality of Donald Trump as President.

So I am choosing to hope. I am choosing love. And I’m surprised at how many people are trying to talk me out of it.

Maybe you are celebrating Trump’s election this week. Maybe, like me, you are in one of the first four stages of grief: Denial (“this can’t be real!”) Anger  (“It’s not fair! Who is to blame?”), Bargaining (“Is this bad news reversible?”) , Depression – (“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”)  

But, sooner or later, we’re all going to have to get to a (guarded, realistic) stage 5: Acceptance – (“It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”)

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Five Good Things When You Take a Facebook Break

For the past couple of years, I have begun the fall season by quitting Facebook – cold turkey – for ten days. This year, I liked the results so much that I haven’t gone back yet, except to check notifications for only a minute or so.  I swear. So far, I have hardly clicked “like”, and (gasp!) haven’t even read my birthday messages that came in during the dry spell.

But it scares me to go back into the FB world for even a moment – because the addiction might take hold again. And, truth be told, I am so much happier without it.

I find, to my surprise, that the “sacrifice” I chose to mark the start of the Jewish New Year has turned into an enormous blessing.

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The Five Phrases to Ignore, for a Happier Life

Advertising is everywhere. Every day we’re bombarded by images and words that suggest – gently or insistently – that our lives suck. Or we suck. Or at least, that things could be a lot better, and why the heck are we sitting around just enjoying the day?

Well, yeah. Things could always be better, I guess. Of course, they could also be worse. But with everything that urges us to see our glass as far from even half-full, how do we stay positive?

better%20homes%20and%20gardens%20march%202008

magazine cover now

IMG_0001

magazine cover of the past

Two simple things to try. One is to spend just one day ignoring advertising. I did this once and was amazed. For instance, avert your eyes from:

  • Billboards (focus on the road, btw. hmmm)
  • TV/radio ads. Fast-forward doesn’t really count, tho it helps. Better yet, turn off the TV for just a day, if you can.
  • Magazine covers. They are big ads for “you suck, open this magazine to get better”.
  • Store windows, on people’s T-shirts, on social media. Ads are everywhere.

A second method is to just Talk Back. The ad phrases can be replaced in our minds (not just deleted) if we are aware of the. Here are five to refute:

Must Have – Other than the essentials of survival, including people to love, there is nothing we “must have”.” Not the latest fashion. Not a hot tub in our homes. Replace this with “Might be nice to have, but I’m OK ”

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When Did Happiness Get So Complicated?

Let me guess what you’re thinking (because I would be too):

What?!?! Another website about happiness? Seriously? What for?

So – just search on “Happiness” on Amazon.Today, I saw: 603,506 results for “happiness”

What? It’s enough to make you want to give up before you start. Plus, some of these books are, like, 300+ pages long? Who the heck has the time to read all that?

happinessWhen did happiness get so, well, discouraging?

Sometimes the short and sweet piece of advice is the one that gets to you. That’s how it has been for me, and so I want to share these easier steps with you, in bite-size chunks that nourish anyway.

I’m no expert, if a graduate degree in happiness matters to you.  But my story so far, like yours, includes both heartbreak and healing – and happiness as a choice. So many people have asked me for advice about this, and have also shared some – and so this blog was born.

Firstof all – the choice of the word Happier. Not Happiness, but just – happier. Why? Because no one is happy all of the time. Nor should that be the goal. There is no emotion without contrast. But – can we be happier? Sure! We can increase the amount of happy thoughts, happy moments, happy talk.

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