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In Praise Of Older Women (And Men)

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I've got aging on my mind right now. Last Spring I celebrated a not insignificant birthday. Who am I kidding? They're all significant now. Everywhere you turn somebody's bringing it up (age, not my birthday):

The U.S. presidential race started off being all about age. Marco Rubio being too young, Bernie Sanders being the oldest candidate ever and how, to all the experts' surprise, Hillary Clinton wasn't connecting with young women. One of this year's Screen Actors Guild Award nominees was nine years old. Had he also been nominated for an Oscar he would have been the youngest in Oscar history.

Women, and men, spend billions, maybe trillions of dollars each year on anti-aging products and hair dye. Smart, talented people in their 50s can't get jobs -- they're told they're too old.

So is it any wonder we lie about our ages, go into debt so we can go under the knife and rich old men have gorgeous young babes dangling from their wrists and pop Viagra more frequently than breath mints?

It doesn't surprise me. But I am bemused by it.

What's so great about being young?

A few months ago I watched Isabel Allende's Ted Talk on living passionately at 71. It really inspired me. I've done a lot of thinking about age and aging since, and I've come to the following conclusions:

2016-09-07-1473258078-4899898-416212004_2dda731d00_oisabelallende.jpg
Image of Isabel Allende at TED 2007 by advencap, Flickr through Creative Commons

It's not "youth" I want. It's "time." That's what sucks about getting older. All of a sudden you're staring down an expiry date. And despite all the violence and hatred and bigotry and poverty and hypocrisy that surrounds us, I still believe it's great to be alive and also that this is a great time to be alive. So sue me, I want as much of it as I can get.

I know who I am, I like who I am, I'm comfortable with who I am, I'm not out to impress anyone.

Technology makes almost anything possible, we don't have to limit our dreams anymore. There are also so many bright, inquisitive minds out there and, again thanks to technology, their ideas and solutions are easily accessible to us.

They give me energy and make me excited about the future. It's only going to get better and I want to be around, and functioning, to see it, learn from it, contribute what I can and enjoy it. How old I'll be doesn't matter to me.

Don't know about you, but I am much braver now than I was in my twenties and thirties

I know who I am, I like who I am, I'm comfortable with who I am, I'm not out to impress anyone. I take chances much more readily, I don't second guess myself. I know what I want, what I like and what I don't. And I have the confidence, and the balls, to avoid, like the plague, anything or anyone annoying, frustrating, toxic or disappointing. I appreciate time much more and I'm not willing to squander even a second of it.

That's what experience does for you. That's what making mistakes, surviving them and learning from them does for you. That's what being able to look at yourself, and your life, through a rear-view mirror does for you.

Which is also why I'm wiser now. Life has made me so. And it's good, really good

Yes, my hair is grey and I like it like that. I've made peace with my wrinkles and I love that I earned them living a great life and having a fabulous time.

If it was up to me I'd live happily without my sore shoulder, my stiff neck and some of the aches and pains I don't remember having before. But when I'm disciplined enough to start my morning with stretches or pilates I'm a different woman.

Meryl Streep said it best when she turned 60: "I'm very f*cking grateful to be alive. I have so many friends who are sick or gone, and I'm here. Are you kidding? No complaints!"

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