My good friend, Lynn, and I were talking about the passing of months and how quickly time seems to be going. I said that I really like June because it is like Friday. When she asked me to say more about that, I explained that if June is Friday, that means July is Saturday and August is Sunday. And then, oh horrors, September is Monday.
What Are You Holding Onto?
I explained further that, although it was many years ago now, I still associate September with the start of school. I liked school, but I didn’t like going back after summer vacation. Lynn asked how long it had been since I’d had any involvement with academia. I thought for a bit and then said that I’d stopped teaching in university in 1975. That was 47 years ago. I had been involved in “school” for 38 years. Hmmmmm. She asked me how long I intend to hang on to this feeling about September. Hmmmmm.
And then she suggested that I think about my practice of not wearing white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. I’m from Southern Ohio, and in Southern Ohio one does not wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day…particularly not white shoes. I have been gone from Southern Ohio for 55 years, and I’ve now lived in California for 26 years. In Northern California one can wear white well after Labor Day since September usually is our warmest month and October often is wonderfully warm too. Hmmmmm.
All this got me thinking. I don’t know that when I wear white makes any difference at all, but how I feel about September greatly affects my mood and my feelings about fall in general. And that does make a difference.
And now I’m curious about what other things I’m holding on to from 50+ years ago. I sometimes state that I’m afraid of lightning. Well, I was very afraid of it when I was a child. It certainly is something to be paid attention to if one is in any kind of a vulnerable situation, but am I still really afraid of lightning? I think not so much. What about people of color or of a different sexual orientation? We didn’t even speak about “them” when I was a child. Now I think I’ve gotten past all that. But is that really, really true?
And what about my attitudes toward things like money, sex, politicians, police officers, and so on? What, if any, lingering feelings do I have about these and many, many more people and things? Is what I always thought was right still what I want to think is right, which automatically makes something else wrong? Or have my feelings quietly changed over time?
What Have I Learned?
As women over 55, one of the issues each of us needs to address is: What did I learn about aging, older people, and older women in particular? Do thoughts about “being old” make you think, “Oh boy, not me! Uh-uh! Not any time soon!” If so, you are destined for unhappiness as you do get older and older—but the irony is, even if we dread aging, we do want to get older! I’ve looked and looked and I can’t find who said this quote, but it’s a good one: “Everyone wants to live to be a ripe old age, but no one wants to get older.”
Right now spend a couple of minutes remembering what you learned about aging and older women. Be specific. Get a clear image. Stay with that for a little bit. And then get a clear image of yourself today, and of any women friends you have who are a bit—or a lot—older than you. Does your reality today match what you learned as you were growing up? Oftentimes the images we have and the current reality are very different. If that’s true for you, take note of it and be specific about the differences.
What Do You Want Your Life To Be Like?
Now think of yourself 10, 20, 30 years older than you are today. What do you want your life to be like? What is your image of the woman you want to be? And be very specific about that too. Finally, what do you need to begin to do, or continue to do, to be that woman with that life?
You’re not going to have the life you want for yourself if you hold on to patterns, values, and habits that you’re dragging with you from years ago and that no longer serve you.
Putting In The Work
This work is not necessarily easy, or even fun, but it can be very rewarding because you get to design the life you want for yourself and then figure out how to live it. It’s also best not to do it alone, so ask several friends to join you in your exploration. This can make the whole process more fun and often more successful. Or you are welcome to join us in a Prime Spark group where you’ll have the chance to meet new women who are eager to be on the same path you are. However you decide to do it, start the journey right now of defining the next decades of your life, just as you want them to be. September is almost upon us—and this year, I will be wearing white.
The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another, learn and grow together, and further the mission of Prime Spark. Membership currently is closed but will reopen very soon. If you’re interested in joining, please send an email to [email protected] and ask to be placed on the waitlist.
Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the charge to change how older women are seen and treated in our society. She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take responsibility for their futures. Sara is the author of three books. She also has over forty years’ experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was director of training and development for a Fortune 100 company. Sara was also an executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!