“Nan didn’t like a lot of people,” the lovely college student said at Susan’s memorial service on a rainy Saturday afternoon, "In fact, she barely tolerated them.” The mourners laughed in recognition, lightening the somber mood at the historic old-English-style Bryn Mawr church.
She was right. Eighty-year-old Susan wasn’t a warm and fuzzy woman. She didn’t sugar-coat anything. She would rather “tell it like it is” than wrap her words in a pretty package that didn’t convey her point – and she always had one. Susan's straight-forward talk, competitive behaviors, and those recent tattoos weren’t always comfortable for a lot of people in her upper crust crowd.
Yet, on that rainy December afternoon, Susan's granddaughter stood before the congregants in the pew-packed church and showcased Susan’s forthright energy as shared three things she learned from her grandmother, starting with “Never Act Your Age.” She shared how much she loved that her grandmom kept up with college lingo and always gave her a straight answer. "Nan was my 'go-to person' when something happened," she said, fighting back tears. And she seemed amazed - and tickled - that her grandmother got both her tattoos in her seventies.
When she finished, three of Nan's other grandkids spoke. They expressed childlike delight in Susan’s “boundless energy and appetite for adventure.” They told the mourners how they loved that, “no grandchild's game, play or project was too small to warrant a road trip.” And how, when two of Susan’s granddaughters ran the most recent NYC Marathon, “Susan scrambled from borough to borough on foot, cab, and subway to catch as many sightings as she could of her two granddaughters running.”
About about those tattoos…one of them was on her ankle. It said, simply written in beautiful cursive, “Grace.” When I saw it a couple years ago, I asked Susan why “grace” and, without missing a beat, she said, “Because that’s what we all need.”
You know, we Victory Chicks are sometimes admonished to “act your age” and dress “age appropriate.” Okay advice if you feel like moving into [what I call] Alfred Dunner style. Susan didn’t. She didn't act her age. If she felt like swimming and didn't have a bathing suit, she'd take off her shirt and swim in shorts and a bra. Susan's no-holds-barred behaviors served her until the day she died.
What about you? Are you tired of acting your age? Do you find being “age appropriate” makes you feel bored out of your mind.
As you head into the New Year, here are three ideas for bucking the system and putting some jazz back in your life:
1 – Do something you thought was too late to do
What do you regret missing out on when you were younger? Some event or travel, starting a business, getting a certain degree? Susan got her Master’s Degree in midlife and, in like manner, I know one midlife Victory Chick who is studying for the LSATs with the intention of becoming a lawyer. Yes, she won’t have the career she might have had at thirty, but at sixty, with more experience, more compassion, less need to get to the top, etc., she will help people in a way she never could have in the past.
Or what about finally writing that book you always said was in you? Take a class, join a writer’s group, make an outline…whatever small step you take, do it!
What is it that your age is saying it’s too late to do? Screw it – do it anyway!
2 – Learn something new.
Neuroscientists say that you can create new pathways in your brain. If old ones are dying off, learning something new can make a difference. You can learn another language, take up quilting, become an expert in local history, study astrology or spiritualism, or anything else that you’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing
3 – Revisit your childhood
Go back to your old neighborhood and see what’s still around…and who. What do those old streets make you think of? What did you and your friends talk about when you shared your dreams for when you grew up?
Were you a reader? Then make a goal to read the entire Nancy Drew series again, or Little Women, or something that will remind you what you dreamed about in those days.
If none of these things tickle your fancy, what does?
The truth is, age matters when you make it matter.
If you have the ability to do something and the willingness to take action, you can do it. Sure, it might take you a little longer than it might have twenty or thirty years ago. So what?
Don’t forget, now you have more self-confidence, polish, people skills, and lots of other things you didn’t have then. Maybe in those days, not having those things kept you from being your best self – and having your best life.
And, one of two things will happen: if you die, you will die doing something you love. If you don’t die, you’ll make your life richer, love it more, feel good, and have something to look back on when you are older.
Here’s your second chance – or third or fourth. What do you want to do that you think you're too old to do? Take out a piece of paper right now and jot down a couple ideas. Then DO something.
If you need a way to get started, and some support, you can get it with me at the Savvy Sizzle Master Class starting on January 8. Take a look at what I have for you…and sign up today!
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