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November 12, 2019
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The Mid-life Experience

Cindy Caruso
The Mid-life experience- forever young
October 18, 2019

If you’ve seen the 1989 movie Parenthood, which starred Steve Martin, you know what a fun and entertaining movie it is!  A favorite scene of mine is when Helen, played by Dianne Wiest, witnesses a blow-up between her young, unruly, newly married daughter and her son-in-law, and in the process finds out she’s going to be a grandma.  It’s one of those awkward family moments made even more uncomfortable by the presence of her gentleman friend who has just escorted her home from their first date. He’s seems unphased though and asks a question, which really, is a statement: “You’re going to be a grandma?”  Helen replies, sort of chuckling, “No, I’m too young. No, grandmas are old. They bake and they sew, and they tell you stories about the Depression.” Getting worked up, she continues with emphasis, “I was at Woodstock.   (shouting now) I peed in a field! I hung on to The Who’s helicopter as it flew away!”  

“I was at Woodstock” he replies.

“Oh yeah!”  retorts Helen, bracing herself with a drink. “I thought you looked familiar!”

I recall it was the 80s when I began noticing older members our generation expressing, “Wow, we’re really getting older” sentiments.  Boy, have we come a long way since then! We’ve welcomed grandchildren, retired from our careers, reinvented ourselves and adapted to interesting (right?) changes in our bodies. But does this season of life mean that we’re planning on endless days of sitting in the rocking chair? The answer is a resounding, “No!” We will not take aging sitting down! We never have, and we never will.  It’s practically written into our DNA. 

We’ve been called “the lucky generation.” We have a special story, with a special beginning.  In his blog, Generation Youth: The Baby Boomers and Everyone Else, Lor Gold explains it this way: “Baby boomers grew up in circumstances that previous generations couldn’t have imagined.  They were the heirs to something brand new — a modern middle class with the means and freedom to achieve unprecedented self-determination.”

As we came of age, bold, new strategies for product marketing helped define us. We had own music, our own clothing styles and our own vernacular. We were distinct, and we planned to stay young forever. Today, we still have that vibe. It’s what silently communicates to that young person across the Starbucks counter, “I’m as cool as you. I’m just older. And wiser.”

It has been said that we value individuality, see community and social involvement as important and seek creative ways to promote our health and wellness. Furthermore, we are hardworking, self-starters, wish to acquire things and view the future with optimism.

Let’s take these values, combine them with the freedoms that accompany mid-life, add a live-young state of mind and sprinkle generously with wisdom acquired over a lifetime. What kind of lifestyle do you get?  According to boomersnextstep.com’s article, 5 Surprising Baby Boomers Lifestyle Trends, here is what is trending in mid-life today:

We have an online presence and are utilizing tools of technology, contrary to some perceptions!

Many of us are putting off retirement and continuing to work – but desire a healthy life/work balance.

We continue to advance the status of women, many of them being powerful influencers in the workplace, at home and in other social spectrums.

We continue to educate ourselves. We are learning in the classroom, online and through other activities.

We have a thirst for adventure, which we quench through travel or other fulfilling activities.

And I’d like to add my own two cents: we value our friends and family and make time to be with them. Having grown up before selfies and smartphones, we have so much to offer younger generations in the way of human-to-human contact.

All this said, let’s be real. The older we get, the more effort it takes to transform a young state of mind into reality. My husband and I recently spent an afternoon hiking at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. But oh, you should have seen me that morning! Waking in the cold of a rustic, bare-bones cabin, I wondered how I would get my stiff body off that hard mattress and across the floor. This feat was somehow accomplished and later that day there I was on the trail, taking in the scent of green pines and gazing at a white mountain which glistened from last winter’s snow, all beneath a brilliant blue sky.  Was this day worth the effort? You bet!

We’re in a great stage of life. We can do things! Let’s care for our minds, our bodies, our relationships and our finances so that we can live young and live fully as much as we can, for as long as we can. I guess we really won’t be young forever, but I know we will make the most of what we’ve got today.

 

Cindy works as an employment development counselor, and is a mother and grandmother.  She has lived in Sonoma County for 28 years.