Seriously tweaking stereotypes: Guest post by Madeleine Kolb
The conventional wisdom in our culture is that turning 55 or 60 sets off a precipitous, progressive decline of the body and the mind. Blood pressure soars, arteries clog up, and brain cells die off one right after the other.
People who are aging, the thinking goes, need to retire and stay retired. They need to start thinking about moving to a retirement community and stop thinking about ever having sex again.
Growing up, I’d naturally gotten an inkling about these scary stereotypes. But I didn’t apply them to myself, probably because I didn’t get that I wouldn’t always be young. But when I actually did get older, the stereotypes didn’t seem to apply to me then either.
So I’ve been making it up as I go along. Some samples of things I’ve been doing (or have done) as I go along:
**Starting Career no. 2, working as a technical writer and editor in a federal agency, and retiring after 8 years.
**Joining Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org) and giving speeches on all sorts of exciting topics, such as
- Multitasking Madness
- What to Do in an Earthquake (very useful information in Seattle), and
- The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of Elvis Presley
**Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and learning to manage it without medication, using diet and exercise
**Meeting, dating, and then living with my BF
**Letting my hair go white and really liking the way it looks
**Starting Career no. 3, writing a blog about aging
**Taking flying lessons from my BF who—as a teenager–got his pilot’s license before his driver’s license
**Joining the President’s [Exercise] Challenge (www.presidentschallenge.org); earning Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals; and going for the Platinum no matter how long it takes
**Moving from Seattle to the Pax River area in Maryland this winter with my BF when he got a terrific new job there. As he says,
The technical term for this is a failed retirement.
As we all do, I’ve had some difficulties along the way, some hard times. But nothing specifically to do with aging. So I think I’ll just keep making it up as I go along and spreading the news about the positive realities of growing older.
Madeleine Kolb writes about the myths and realities of growing older at www.agemyths.com She lived in Seattle for many years and graduated from the University of Washington. Her first career was in the environmental field, working in Boston. Madeleine is passionate about reading, public speaking, writing, exercise, cooking healthful food, and birdwatching. She has a daughter who lives in Albany. You can contact Madeleine via her blog.