i’m new at getting old

“Prove it,” barked the cranky train conductor as I flashed my digital train ticket (MTA eTix app) proclaiming my senior discount ($7.25 from $14.75).

“Thank you for the compliment,” I flirted; here’s my Medicare Card; I’m 65. “Well, keep doing what you’re doing,” he winked. Millenial guy sitting next to me: “You don’t look like a senior.” “Yup, I am. And I know sh*t,” I proclaimed. And, that’s the first take-away of this essay.

As I shift into this chapter of old(er) age, I embrace the surprising discounts and respectful recompense, bristle at the suggestion that I’m beyond excitement and possibility, and am boastful about my valuable experience and expertise in both business- and life-walk.

And then I got to thinking. When did I acknowledge this shift in age-chapter perception. I still work (like a dog), running my business, racing to meetings, recalibrating goals and get-ahead strategies. In fact, I’m in the process of developing the most exciting idea for a new company with innovative technology that keeps me up at night—in a good way!

It’s frontier territory for us baby boomers; we’re more physically fit than previous generations, we’re more energetic, we’re looking at career shifts to augment Social Security (the best monthly bank deposit!) – not just live out our days on it. Yes, there are the realities of certain age-imposed limits (But once you have that hip-replacement, you’ll run like the wind!) and, perhaps, financial limitations lurking. But here’s the truth: this getting-old(er) thing has some great perks and surprising new balances!

For me, that balance has been to prioritize leisure and volunteerism with jam-packed days of biz commitments.

We grew up during a time of having to prove ourselves. The sixties shook up the existing complacent culture and created a surge in women seeking careers, exploring sexuality and expecting equality in the workplace and at home. Generationally, work became the fierce focus; the status of travelling, creating family priorities and coveting luxury items did not exist. Actually, those tenets – today’s expectations of the good life – were shunned upon in the seventies. Designated as frivolous, off course.

But now, spending time with friends, travelling, and hanging out with my grandchildren hold important slots on my iPhone calendar. It’s the best medicine in the middle of the week. (For all of you who have grandkids, you know; for those on deck: you’ll see…indescribable joy).

Another reward of old(er) age: acceptance. For a long time, I grappled with forgiveness. To those who wronged me, mistreated me, took advantage of me or overlooked me: I do not forgive you (lol). Don’t be angry with me, but I think forgiveness is over-rated. Why should we forgive someone who has deliberately caused us pain and discomfort? But acceptance? Ahhhh. So liberating. Acknowledgment that this happened. And time to move on.

Medicare: Thank you! Better coverage for half of what I was paying my provider through work. Yeah, at first, I felt a little embarrassed when I presented my card – that admission of my age, but then… giddy when I would check my bank account and see there was room in the budget for Le Bernardin.

Dating: In the years of dating before I was married, I was anxious to please. Will he like me, am I pretty enough? Now (post marriage), if he isn’t a gentleman, interesting and into me, I have two words, “Check, please.”

Lightness: You never stop worrying. But it takes on a different lens. Part of it is the clarity of acceptance and part is an enlightenment about what’s truly important. My current mantra is: I wanna spend five minutes on the problem and the rest of the time on the solution. And with this lightness, comes a certain sprightly attitude and demeaner. In the words of Picasso, “It takes a long time to become young.”

Mr. Train Conductor: This is my proof.

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