The Perks of More Candles on the Cake – Getting Older Gets Better

iStock_000012608221_Double Birthday Candles

It’s my Birthday this week.

And I am firmly of the belief that it is far better to have a birthday than not – Right?

Which is why I have never understood why some people, unfortunately, it seems this happens more with women than men, speak only in whispers about their age.  Try to evade it when questioned.  Or say coyly – I’m 55 plus – or of a “certain age” – or 60-something.

Why would you want to hide your easiest achievement, something you accomplished just by showing up year after year?

So say it loud, say it proud, I am soon to be 63.

And judging by how my 62nd year has been, I expect 63 will have even more of the perks that getting older has to offer.

Perks you say?  Perks??  You may wonder if I’ve lost it. Tell me, Nancy, just where are the perks in the as-we-age bodily aches and pains? Do you find  benefits in the illness of friends or family? Is there an upside that only you have discovered to death and grieving?

No, of course, not, I’m right there with all of you who experience the many woes that accompany the aging process. I don’t mean to minimize them at all.

But in the past year,  I have found, rather surprisingly, for I am definitely not at all a Pollyanna-sort-of-person, that there are some wonderful aspects about getting on in years. Unexpected Perks! –  that balance out the less fun parts.

I count at least 10 Perks– Here’s my List:

1.  The older I get,the less I care what others think of me. Very liberating.

2. If I start a book, I no longer have to finish it. If it doesn’t wow me, I can put it down and move on to the next good read. No guilt.

3. I’ve given up bristling when someone calls me “ma’am.”

4. Resentments? Old hurts? Not so much. It uses up less energy to leave slights in the past.

5. I’m just as opinionated as ever, but I am trying hard to mute my critic voice. If a friend happens to think that wearing a certain tight blue dress that shows her every figure flaw is an appropriate look, then fine for her. My lips are zipped.

6. I still care about my appearance. I do slather on skin cream every night that promises to “rejuvenate, renew and restore” even though I know it won’t. But I have made a few concessions. I am no longer a prisoner to my blow dryer. And recently I tried a radical experiment and actually left the house to do an errand without wearing any mascara!! And life went on.

7. I know that not everyone I meet will like me  -or “get me” – and that even if they do, they will probably like my husband more. Fine.

8. I don’t expect my adult kids to live their lives in ways that will make me happy. I did my best as a parent, they’ve now grown and flown (mostly) and their jobs are to find their own paths, not to follow mine.

9. I still worry a great deal – mostly about things I cannot control (like my family’s health; curious, because I rarely worry about mine) – but I try to worry about only one thing at a time. This is progress for me.

10. I’ve started to say “I love you” more frequently. I’ve always said it to my husband, kids and family. But as I get older I realize that I love lots of other people to whom I am not related.  It’s good to love your friends, too, and to tell them so. Aging has made me more affectionate. Who knew?

**********

Back to #1 for a second – while it is true that the older I get, the less I care about what others think of me – the reverse has also occurred. The more candles on the cake, the more I care about what I think about me.

As my standards for others relax, my self standards ratchet up. I expect more of me than I ever did.  I’m in charge, I set the rules of how I live my life from now on. And I’m pretty demanding!

Turning 63 = Liberating, Terrifying, Exhilarating. Carpe Diem!

17 Comments

Filed under Adult Kids, Aging, Baby Boomers, Books, Empty Nest, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Men vs Women, Semi-Retired, Women

17 responses to “The Perks of More Candles on the Cake – Getting Older Gets Better

  1. >Which is why I have never understood why some people, unfortunately, it >seems this happens more with women than men, speak only in whispers >about their age.

    i don’t care about who knows my age but i don’t like birthdays. at all. probably because i hate being the centre of attention. (well, that and they represent little more than another year of decline and decrepitude.)

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  2. Happy Birthday! There are certainly perks as we age and coming to embrace it is certainly one.

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  3. today is also my birthday – I am 52. I too worry less about what others think about me and also my critical voice is silenced – my friend still wears leather pants – they make her feel good – they make me feel that the best part of wearing them would be taking them off!!! ( and possibly not in a sexy way either!!). I have finally ‘let my kids go’, I still worry about them but as you say, their paths are their own, not mine – it give me freedom to follow my own AND they actually comment that they hope to be like me when they reach my age( although at 24 and 19 they obviously think I am ancient!!).

    Thank you for alllowing me to believe that I am not the only one out there who can be make up free to the supermarket ( but not all the time!!).

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  4. Trishas Gmail

    Brava. You told it like it is. Maybe that’s another change with age: we still know when we ought to be “as” but we give ourselves permission to say “like”. Like I said: happy birthday, Nancy!

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  5. I’m with you, sister! I’m delighted to be turning 60 later this summer. At 14 years sober, I’m having the happiest days of my life. I’d like to make a point about that “ma’am” thing, though. Having been raised in the deep South I assure you that “ma’am” has nothing to do with age and everything to do with respect. I was addressed as “ma’am” for the first time as a library assistant in the 8h grade, and I was thrilled. It hurts my heart that “sir” is acceptable as a mark of respect but that “ma’am” is often taken as an insult.

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  6. momof3

    Happy Birthday!

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  7. Thoroughly enjoyable and very Nancy! And Happy Birthday!

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  8. I’m almost your age and while I still care about what others think of me, I find that I’m more forgiving with myself. Happy happy birthday! 🙂

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  9. Miriam Daniel

    Nice and all true!

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  10. Devonia Cochran

    Happy Birthday !! Agree , agree ! I am 66 and I reached number #2 around 52 yrs old – lol ! I was killing myself at work , leaving at 3am nearly every Friday and Sat night ( new position as school librarian ) , and it FINALLY dawned on me — I do NOT have to finish a book !

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  11. Andrew Gilman

    Good one.

    Andy Gilman Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  12. Love this Nancy. Happy Birthday!

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  13. bethhavey

    Love this, Nancy. And I’m with you on almost everything. This week I was honored by iSenior Solutions, so I have to admit to being one!! But I still bristle at ma’am. But it’s all relative. In my 50s the guy at McDonald’s asked if I wanted the Senior Discount. I didn’t behave very well that day, I confess. Take care, Beth

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  14. Happy Birthday Nancy. Not only don’t we have to finish the book, don’t have to finish the magazine article or newspaper story either. I find I am now treating myself to NOT reading distressing stories about violence in the world–the ones that bring on nightmares. How informed do I have to be at my age?.
    I also like your #8–though it is mighty hard to let go and realize your kids are going to live the lives the way they see fit and not make the decisions you would make–and manage not to make major mistakes. Age has its comforts and rewards.

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  15. JC

    At 50, I felt liberated to say what I wanted to say. At 62, I find I don’t care enough to say what I want to say-who really cares??? Not me!!! A friend tells me at 70 you can’t remember what you wanted to say in the first place so you are really happy.

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  16. LOVE this! I’ll come back and read this in a month when I turn 65.

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  17. Sounds liberating. I loved #7 because there are some days I’m 100% in that mindset, but some that I can feel myself (awkwardly) trying too hard.

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