Freedom 55 or why aging is awesome

As humans, we are in a constant state of evolution — moving from one stage to the next, and hopefully picking up wisdom and confidence that can be used in daily life.  

I recently overheard a conversation in the office where a young colleague asked her luncheon companions about their favourite age. Although I couldn’t participate in the conversation at the time, it triggered some internal reflection around my own ages and stages. 

As I approach six decades of living, I’ve concluded that THIS is the best age ever. 

Let’s start with the obvious: the alternative to hitting 60 is death — pushing up daisies, kicking the bucket, going tits up. While approaching the horizon of my 60s and beyond, I realize aging isn’t merely about adding years to life, but life to years, embracing each moment with a renewed sense of purpose and boldness. Let’s hear it for 60! 

On life’s bad patches

An awesome part of aging is that you get to see it all.

The good, the bad, the ugly. The mountain and the molehill; the ridiculous and the sublime.  

With such experience comes perspective, a sense of humour, and the sure knowledge that whatever shit hits whatever fan, you’ve GOT this.

On parenthood

I have four kids — each of whom are on individual paths, steering their own ships, and living their own lives.  

I miss the children they were, and I love spending time with the adults they are becoming.  

But parenting is a humbling experience as it serves to magnify one’s own shortcomings and imperfections. 

I find that as I age, I dwell less on the mistakes I have made and think more about the lessons I have learned. I wryly recognize that any lessons I have learned will be utterly useless to the children I’ve raised if and when they start having kids. Such is life!

On weekends

This benefit of aging is directly related to the item above. After two decades of weekends jammed with endless errands, sporting tournaments, fundraisers, and birthday parties, I have rediscovered Saturday and Sunday. 

Forty-eight whole hours that are all mine. More often than not, I do very little. And I love every minute of it.

On marriage

I’ve had one — and we just celebrated 31 years. 

There have been times (see “bad patches” above) where we could have cheerfully choked each other.  

But here’s the thing: I really like the guy I married and vice versa. We bitch and/or laugh about headlines every day with our morning coffee, even when we are in different cities.  

This age and stage has provided us with the opportunity to remember what brought us together, reflect on how we’ve grown, and engage in new adventures. How lucky are we?

On health and appearance

There is no getting around the fact that both of these take a hit as we age. 

Need proof? A couple years back, I injured myself while I was “swiffering,” and I now boast a complexion where zits and wrinkles happily coexist.

I take comfort in the knowledge that there are much bigger problems in the world than any physical ailments or deficiencies I might have. 

And I remember my Scottish mom cautioning me about women who didn’t age gracefully: “You don’t want to be mutton done up as lamb.”

On professional life

This is an area where getting older can be tough — particularly for women and for those looking to land a new gig.  

As someone who has had the dubious privilege of repeatedly hunting for work in my 40s, I believe (without bitterness) that ageism is an unfortunate reality.  

So I know I am blessed to be in a role where my skills and perspective are valued while I, in turn, continue to learn from younger minds and new ways of thinking.

I am also grateful for this age when I recognize colleagues wrestling with the dual challenge of raising kids and building a career. Now, that age and stage should come with a clearly labelled warning!

On personal confidence

Those who know me best can confirm that I have always been a bit chippy and somewhat direct. At about seven years old I told a very big bully who pushed my sister’s bike down to “FUCK OFF AND DIE!” Clearly, making it to 60 wasn’t a priority at the time.

Notwithstanding these early heroics, and to the surprise of some, there have been many times when I have been less than direct in asserting myself, particularly when I was younger and often in professional settings.  

I privately wondered then, and now, why I lacked the confidence that came so easily to other colleagues. Entre nous — I have spoken with enough women over a lifetime to know that this “imposter syndrome” thing is real, but that’s a whole other column.

Getting back to the awesomeness of aging

I recently had a revelation while buying a new car.  

For reasons we aren’t entirely clear on, my husband has typically purchased the vehicles in our home. He goes into research mode for weeks and then arms himself for battle. He hates it with a passion and always has. 

A couple weeks back, I decided to take him off the hook and go get the job done.

When I arrived at the dealership, I was met by an eager young salesman who quickly learned that: I needed to lease a car, I was willing to pay $X for it, and I wouldn’t tolerate any high-pressure sales nonsense. 

I was in and out in record time with a fun Jeep that me and my astonished husband love driving.  The experience was painless, because I really wasn’t kidding when I said I would leave if he pissed me off.  

I was secure in the knowledge that I had nothing to lose, and I would buy a car on my own terms. I can pretty much guarantee that this would have been a very different experience in my 30s. 

And maybe that’s the best thing of all about getting older. 

Humans are in a constant state of evolution — moving from one stage to the next and hopefully picking up wisdom and confidence that can be used in daily life.  

As I celebrate 60 trips around the sun this year, I am grateful that the lessons keep coming and that the journey continues.


The honest talk