“Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage
And the braver you are, the more you will be rewarded”
The baby boomers, those people born immediately after the war have finally grown up and have joined the rapidly swelling ranks of the UK’s over 50’s. Generally speaking, mature adults in the UK today are healthier, have experience, knowledge, and more disposable income than previous generations and I find that being both over 50, and female at this particular moment in history is exciting and challenging. Speaking personally I feel comfortable with my maturity, and more importantly, I’ve finally come around to accepting who and what I am. At the age of 70 I love this time of my life and regard it as primetime and a bonus.
However, there does appear to be a division within the 50+ group regarding ageing, with the majority planning positively for the future, but a minority still feeling extremely negative about it. People like me positive agers, relish their individualism, are open-minded and are eager to embrace all the opportunities that life still has to offer. None of us who make up this increasingly large section of the UK population, reached this stage of life without some experiences, some good and some not so good! In fact many can be downright horrid, but nevertheless it’s taught us a thing or two. Along the the way we also acquire knowledge, some understanding and a little wisdom. Past experiences should prepare us for future happenings, and having been exposed to difficulties in the past it should make it easier to cope with present day problems. Consequently actions and decisions we take today can be influenced by our past experiences.
Knowledge acquired throughout life is invaluable and I feel very strongly that it shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste. It could be said that as we age we become chronologically advantaged as we age and we have so much to offer. Traditionally age was positively coveted and still is today in many societies in the world. Young people still seek knowledge and guidance from older family members or community elders and find them a source of great wisdom and inspiration.
These youngsters respect their elders for their individuality, independence and inspiration. They listen avidly to advice so lovingly given. By listening to the painful lessons learnt by the older folk these youngsters learn to avoid many of life’s predictable pitfalls. Surely this is how it should be? Sadly this attitude seems to be in decline in the UK and too many young people appear to belittle mature folk, we need to regain respect for older persons in our society. This major problem needs to be addressed quickly before it gets out of hand, ageism has become a fact of modern life and we must stop the rot or the young may successfully trample us down! We need to reclaim our position in society and be treated with the respect we deserve, and empower and re-establish ourselves as people who matter. We have a great deal to give to society, not least of which is experience.
As we have seen throughout history powerful women are well able to influence the course of events. Over the centuries both young and older women have been revered, not just for beauty, but for their strength of character. History has portrayed many females as a force to be reckoned with, however all women acknowledge the fact that behind every successful man will be found a strong woman!. (It is also said that behind every successful man lies a very surprised mother-in-law)
According to Greek legend, Paris carried off Helen of Troy, the beautiful sister of Dioscuri and wife of Menelaus King of Sparta to Troy, and this action caused the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy she returned to Menelaus. And in Roman times Queen Cleopatra’s captivating influence on Antony at Alexandria was immense, and although married, he succumbed to her spell and was soon at her feet. He subsequently divorced his wife Octavia. Such was Cleopatra’s power that he went on to marry her and to become consort to the Egyptian Queen. Back here in England in the 16th century, the virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth the First was all-powerful, and much respected by the men under her command. In the 18th century we had Catherine the Great, and more recently our Queen Victoria ruled mightily over her Empire, and her ministers, with a rod of iron. And to date not only Britain had a woman as Prime Minister in the form of the awesome Mrs Thatcher, so too did India, Israel, Sri Lanka, Norway, and Pakistan.
Today not only Queens and Heads of States deserve respect but ordinary women too. Successful career women are visible and prominent in business, politics, teaching, the media, and the law strong women in their own right, and their numbers are increasing. These top women are financially sound, and most women today are better off than they might have been in previous generations. (With the exception of those few privileged women in the past who are fortunate enough to have inherited family money). Today because of early retirement, many successful career women now have time – as well as money to spend and these two ingredients make it possible for some, freed from the constraints of paid work and family commitment, to indulge their fancies and fantasies. Women are finding it possible to do things in their later lives that previously they could only dream of. Being fancy free, and with a change in attitude to ageing, they no longer view this as a time for sitting at home, alone reflecting on the past, or fretting about what might have been. Increasingly many women use this as a time to experiment, experience and explore new horizons and attitude too difficult, if not impossible for the majority of ordinary women in past generations.
I am a single independent woman who feels, happy, confident and comfortable with herself. I am physically, mentally and sexually active and I love the challenge that modern life offers mature women. Being alone (but never lonely), and with my family grown and flown, I have more opportunity to do as I please. This new found freedom enables me to fulfil some of my ambitions, I can travel and meet new friends, reacquaint myself with old ones – and I am able on a whim, to change direction without upsetting anybody. I’ve time to play tennis, tend the garden, paint my oil paintings and mess about in boats. I like to think that I’ve still got a lot to offer, in both work and play. I am a superactive 70 year-old, but most importantly I’ve come around to accepting myself warts and all.