Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Senior moment

Way back in the 1960s I had a revelation. I was only in my twenties when the Women's Movement was born, and I learned about Women's Lib, as it was called then. I was raised to believe that biology is destiny, that because I was born female, my life was meant to support a man's career and that having a career of my own was silly. My parents told me that going to college was a waste, because I would be spending a lot of money just to find a husband. So I didn't and instead got pregnant and got married (in that order), a mother at nineteen.

I read Betty Friedan and remember the chapter in her book called "Housewifery Expands to Fill the Time Available" or something like that, and I wanted a way out. I found it.  I did end up going to college in my thirties, night school after divorce. This story is familiar to a lot of women. But what stayed with me from Women's Lib is that I could be anything I wanted, that I was smart and talented.

Now the time is different. It's the first decade of a new millennium, and the world has changed. Just yesterday, I had another revelation, as profound in my thinking as the first one almost half a century ago: that aging and entering into old age can be transforming, just as freeing as the first revelation.

How many of us have heard the saying that they are having a "senior moment"? All of us, and I am no different. I've used it myself. What I learned yesterday is that having a senior moment is actually setting foot into another reality. I happened to watch a PBS show called Retirement Revolution: The New Reality and was stunned to see beautiful elderly people gracefully dancing and moving in ways that don't look like young people, but like gazelles. They have a dance studio in Manhattan called Paradigm. These people inspired me to celebrate my age. Carmen de Lavallade, 78, has been dancing for 50 years and says she has no intention of letting age stop her.

I also learned in the section on Use It or Lose It that the brain has a real advantage as it ages. The right brain or the left brain tends to dominate our thinking when we are younger, and as we age, we begin to balance this out by using both sides equally. This gives us wisdom, and the ability to think in ways that we couldn't do very well before. Mental challenge and stimulation causes the brain to form new dendrites all through our lives.

I woke up in the middle of the night with this post forming in my head. It's early but I felt compelled to get over to the computer to write it all down, because I want to share with you this exceptional program on PBS. I also discovered a wonderful link while browsing for a picture, an artist who has a website called Birthing the Crone: Aging into Full Creativity. Helen Redman is my age and has a wonderful body of work to explore here. Enjoy!


  1. Thank you for the info and links.
    Carmen de Lavallade certainly doesn't look her age. I hope I'm that agile at her age.
    Sunny :)

  2. Life is what you make of it, I think. If you want to be happy, you can be happy. It's a matter of want. I've know people who have terrible tragedies to cope with and yet keep a smile on their face (you). They are happy people and deserve their senior moments. Other people are old before their time and some people are rich and healthy and still not happy. With age comes a contentment, doesn't it, but it's not complacency, it is real contentment. The ability to be happy in one's own skin, even if it is getting a bit saggy. Have a great day today. Dance like a gazelle and sing like a lark and keep your smile going strong. X
    Blessings, Star

  3. We too, himself and me, are discovering a new freedom now that the boys, (his children), are in their twenties. We have taken up walking and are planning on discovering new places to enjoy this pastime all of the UK. Age shouldn't define us, we should define it.

  4. Dancing might not be quite as exciting as sky diving. But I'd go for it. It may be your "moment" to shine on the dance floor!

  5. Thanks for posting this DJan... and when my grandson goes home, I am going to click on those links!

    I think that you are a born writer... Imagine blogging in your sleep!

  6. I agree with the "use it or lose it" philosophy. I may not be able to do much physical movement anymore, but I keep my mind busy. I think it is just as important to exercise our brain as any other muscle.

  7. Don't you love it when you get those inspirational blog posts just waiting to be shared? Well, this one is fantastic. I love the idea that women (and men) can age gracefully. Thank you for sharing this info - it goes a long way to bring peaceful aging into focus.

  8. I have two left feet, but I give it a whirl anyway..not ballet..just rock and roll..usually by myself house:)

  9. Dancing could be a nice way as well hiking, skydiving and other sports activities. It can makes us feel younger and active. Going out with friends, laugh and chat once in a while can help us cope with senior moments.

    One more thing...don't forget to wash, tone and moisturize hee hee. Love you DJ.


  10. In a parallel life I'm a dancer. Maybe we're dancing together? Let's kick those feet to the moon...

  11. I remember the days when "a woman place was in the home", and it was later in the century than one would expect. It was the late eighties in Anchorage, I took a client out to lunch and some where in our conversation he made the statement that "there are too many women in the workplace, they are taking jobs away from men". So help me, if he had not been a client I would have decked him.

    I am a firm believer in 'use it or lose it', mind and body. Great post DJan.


  12. How motivating!! I agree that aging is a wonderful process of continuing growth of spirit and mind. My body aches, but I can ignore that for the privilege of getting to grow wiser and older.

  13. I enjoyed your post very much and went to the website of Helen Redman. It looks interesting and I bookmarked it. The thing I like now is that I can stay up late and not feel guilty – and if I want to keep reading a book – I can. I read the book a Feminine Mystique when it came out and the thing I got out of it was don’t do too much house work! The more you do the more you’ll find, so take it easy.


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