GETTING OLD SHOULD BE FUN

Lately I've been thinking about what it would be like to be truly "old". Strangely enough, getting older has a whimsical allure for me.

WHAT DOES AGING LOOK LIKE TO YOU?

Lately I've been thinking about what it would be like to be truly "old". Strangely enough, getting older has a whimsical allure for me. Not so much the withering up and wrinkling part, but the freedom of being exactly who I am and not giving a hoot about what others might think of that. I'm already on the path to that point, but I haven't completely embraced it just yet.

I often think how lovely it will be when I reach the stage of life when I don't second guess myself when it comes to what I'm wearing or what I'm doing. I'm getting closer to that age and stage, but I haven't quite hit the "who gives a toss!" stage. I really like those sassy older ladies who are doing their own thing and throwing convention to the wind.

WHEN I AM OLD

I love the poem "When I Am Old" by Jenny Joseph. I discovered it many, many years ago on the door of a shop, and bought a copy of it for $1:00 - it was before the internet was invented, and before you could download a copy for free. What appealed to me was that it's not about being confrontational or radical in old age, it's about embracing the things you love and not conforming to society's norms just for the sake of pleasing onlookers. It's about having fun and doing silly things just for the sheer pleasure of it. 

When I Am Old.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens,
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple! 

by Jenny Joseph

RED HATTERS

The Red Hat Society, is loosely based on the first lines of the poem (my mother is an avid member of two or three chapters near her). But it's not for me - I think they've taken it in a different direction to the original intent - the ladies in the RHS seem to focus more on their appearance - the brighter and blingy-ier the better is their motto. It's about being seen and being a little bit flamboyant in your senior years.

For me, the poem speaks of wearing purple (or pink, or sparkle, or flowers, or tulle, or whatever) because it's bright and cheerful and makes me smile - maybe old ladies are meant to be more sober in their colour selections, but if it suits me to, then I will wear it regardless. I love the idea of dancing in the rain in my slippers, or eating something unhealthy because I feel like it, or wearing something impractical because it makes me happy.

EMBRACING MY INNER CRONE CHILD

I read an article by Elizabeth Gilbert about embracing your inner crone - I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable with having an inner crone - but I really like the idea of having an inner child and giving her free range to wear whatever she likes because it makes her smile. 


Who knows, my inner child might even be shopping in her PJ's, or her purple tulle tutu one day if the mood takes her! Isn't that the joy of getting old? You can do what you darn well like and nobody is going to really notice or care. All that conforming to convention that we're doing now won't matter down the track. I think it's one of the best parts of getting older - and I'm trying to embrace little bits of it along the way. I want to be well prepared, "so people who know me are not too shocked or surprised"!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you see yourself embracing purple, or satin shoes, or running a stick along public railings? Does it make old age sound like it could be fun? I really hope I get to do a few of those things before I'm stuck in a care facility knitting blanket squares.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple  With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me - by Jenny Joseph



Lately I've been thinking about what it would be like to be truly "old". Strangely enough, getting older has a whimsical allure for me.


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69 comments

  1. Yes! Getting old should be fun, if we're lucky enough.
    Like you Leanne, I don't see myself ever being a Red Hatter. I've met a few and wasn't impressed. They weren't warm or welcoming...not good brand ambassadors. And I didn't understand the flamboyancy, right down to pasting rhinestones on their faces. For an afternoon event. They came across as very cliquey. And like they were daring people to comment on their appearance, so they could strike back. Surely we are beyond that in old age???
    We should have the wisdom and confidence to dress to please ourselves and explore what pastimes interest us, despite what society deems acceptable for our age group. And we should have outgrown childish schoolyard behaviours long ago.

    Deb

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    1. My mum loves the Red Hatters Deb - but she's much more flamboyant (for want of a better word) than I am - she loves all the bling and I think they work on the premise "the blingy-er the better". I'm just not great with large groups of chattering women - it does my head in, so I don't see myself as a potential candidate.
      I do love the idea that the older I get, the less tied to convention I'm becoming - I've still got a way to go, but I'm hoping in another decade or two I'll be completely carefree and might just go shopping in my pjs!

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  2. I always loved the poem, When I am Old. Like you, I'm not really a red hatter (although I think they are adorable). I always hoped getting old would be fun. I have high hopes for it still. I plan to do all he things that I can't do now. I want to forage for mushrooms in the spring. I want to paint (landscapes and still lifes, not walls). Best of all, I look forward to quiet.

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    1. I think you've caught the exact same vibe from the poem that I had Heather - that freedom to just be yourself, doing what you like in your own timeframe and not worrying about whether others think it's a waste of time. I love the idea of just doing things for fun and not being tied up in all the strictures of adulthood - sort of a second childhood but with a little bit of responsibility thrown in for balance.

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  3. LOL Leanne, I actually looked around for a RHS near me to join at one time. I loved reading the book about their beginnings. We were at the horse races one day and saw a group of them who had sponsored a horse. It was pretty funny seeing all those women in purple dresses with red hats.

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    1. My mum loves going out with the RHS ladies - they get so much attention from people who don't know the story - it really panders to their outgoing natures. I'd be a dead loss at all the giggling and chatting - but I'd be great at doing my own thing in whatever I felt like wearing on my own terms.

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  4. I've wondered what the Proverbs 31 woman would be like as she got older, and I suspect not much different to how she's described in verses 10 to 31. She too wears fine linen and purple gowns Leanne, so you'll be in good company there. She is virtuous and capable, trustworthy and generous, clothed with strength and dignity, laughs without fear of the future, and her words are always wise and kind.
    "Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised". That's the direction I want to keep moving as I grow old.
    BTW I like your new "byline" xx

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    1. The Proverbs 31 woman always freaked me out a bit Sue - then I realized she had some servants to help share the load - but she's still pretty full on! I think I'll aspire to being a little perfect - I seem to be getting more laid back these days and not so hard on myself to be the "perfect Christian woman". I'm hoping that I'll still do a good enough job for my husband to praise me and my children to call me "blessed". And thanks for noticing the change to the byline - I thought it needed tweaking :)

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    2. Oh my goodness, there's a "perfect Christian woman"? I must have missed the memo!! ;)

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  5. I absolutely agree! Growing old SHOULD be fun. I used to work with the elderly and disabled and there was one glorious lady who wore bright colours and the most impractical clothing (especially on outing days!) and she was so deliciously happy that only the grumpiest of grumps could dislike seeing her.

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    1. Oh I love that - "deliciously happy" Wouldn't it be lovely if we were all deliciously happy in old age instead of miserable and whinging? I want to be having a laugh and wearing bright colours and a bit of sparkle and splashing in a puddle or two when I'm old - it will be great fun.

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  6. Hi, Leanne - Recently, I've been thinking a lot about this too -- in a very positive way. There is so much 'release' in aging - things that would have bothered me previously have now lost their power. I'm not sure how or when that happened but I'm embracing it! Great post and awesome comments. (I tried to reply to Deb's comment but my computer would not let me).

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    1. Yes - Release is the perfect word Donna! It is about letting go of all the expectations that are put on us - being good and being what people expect. Just becoming ourselves and giving our inner child permission to play - maybe a little bit of fancy dress and a dance or two in the rain?

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  7. I really enjoyed this Leanne. I hadn’t heard that poem before but now that I have, the red hatter ladies group makes sense to me. Like you, I don’t think it’s for me, but good on them for being bold. As I’m travelling around I’m seeing lots of older women and recently told my daughter that I’m determined not to become a ‘beige old lady’. I’m aiming at having adventures for as long as I can. Great to read this timely post!

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    1. Beige is soooo boring isn't it Deb? And being prim and proper and trying to conform to everyone's expectations. I love that the older you get, the less you have to fit in the box. I don't see myself slapping on a red hat any time soon, but I certainly won't be worrying about the fashion police when I'm 80 - maybe I'll dig out a bikini again - some of the cartoons of old ladies in bikinis make me smile :)

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  8. I read that poem in junior high, and when the RHS first started showing itself, I immediately recognized the reference, but yeah, they've gotten so big it seems like it must be its own type of conformity. But I haven't read their bylaws, so what do I know?

    I don't think I'll do the kinds of things mentioned in the poem, more because I don't like my slippers to get wet, and I don't find joy in running a stick along railings, but on the other hand, my husband and I together already do things that seem slightly shocking to our near and dear, so ... Yeah!

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    1. That's it though isn't it Red? It's about doing what works for you (and your spouse) without conforming to what everyone else thinks is the "right" thing to do. I'll never be going out with large gaggles of women in hats, but I'm hoping I'll still be going out somewhere and making people smile when they see me - not sitting at home watching the world go by through my window.

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  9. what a great poem and musing on your part leanne.. I dont feel the need to take it literally but definitely love the essence and permission of this piece and without a doubt it is yes please from me. I want to be an old woman(still) in love with life and living it on my own terms. and like you leanne I reckon I am moving in this direction . I am much more likely to chat to random strangers about anything , in a queue, passing in the street, wherever about whatever. I am not sure if there is much more I can do to shock the young ones but I can see a difference between our generations where they are still tightly bound up in the appropriate codes where us grandparents are much freer . not disrespectful but freer ...

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    1. I love the freedom that comes with getting older Sandra - and I think the older we get, the freer we are from what society considers to be the "norm" We can choose which bits we want to keep and which bits we are happy to throw out the window. I'm planning on laughing and singing (and maybe even dancing when nobody is looking) and generally not waiting for anyone's approval.

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  10. Definitely love the idea of being silly for no reason and wearing whatever makes you happy.Personally have quit dying my hair and I don't worry about my clothes being so matchy matchy these days. Maybe I'll make it to purple and red one day! You never know.

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    1. I think we can all gradually morph into being weird and wild old ladies Ness. It doesn't happen overnight so I guess each little step is one closer to being free of all the rules and expectations and starting to dance to beat of our own drums.

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  11. Yep I agree, growing old should be fun. I would love to walk to the shops in my PJs but maybe would be just a little too crazy.

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    1. I think it's a bit out there too Suzy - but by the time I'm 80 I might not care, I might just throw a coat on over the top and head out in my winter jammies and hang the consequences :)

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  12. I am Leanne’s mum and I am a member of the RHS. I enjoy dressing in purple with a red hat, wearing lots of bling and having lunch at different cafes, restaurants, wandering around the shops, going to a movie or show. Just socialising with a group of ladies over the age of 50 and not caring about what some people might think. A lot of ladies tell us that we brighten their day and often young men comment on how they love our hats! It sure beats sitting alone at home every day. So I would definitely recommend joining a RHS group in your area. It is world wide, with approx 80 clubs in Western Australia alone. So all these ladies can’t be wrong, can they?!!

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    1. Hi Mum - my favourite Red Hatter! I completely agree that getting out and about is waaay better than spending your later years sitting inside and moping. I think what I like about the feeling from the poem is that it can be different for all of us - one person's red hat is another person's sparkly shoes, or never wearing a bra again, or dying their hair pink - or maybe rainbow (that might be me - I could be a unicorn when I'm 80 - and it will be fabulous!)

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    2. Great to meet you Leanne's mum. I love your attitude. My mother is 98 and up until just a couple of years ago was still going out and laughing with her girlfriends. Having friends, knowing how to laugh and socializing are so important as we get older. And now I need to look for a tulle skirt (I like the long styles I've seen in some ads) so that I can have some fun with it!

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  13. I have so started my 'Cronehood'! I don't talk with people I don't like, I say no thanks to events that don't thrill me and try to try new things . As far as my clothes go I was looking in my favorite Thrift store for a light weight sweater and saw a lovely sweater set. In my hand I almost bought it before I got a grip on myself knowing I don't have or want to wear conservative sweater sets any longer !

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    1. You know something Haralee? I think Cronehood and Childhood have a lot in common - kids don't talk to people they don't like and they wear clothes that are more fun than sensible if given a choice - so I guess it's a regression thing and we'll all be rocking old age :)

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  14. I look forward to being old enough that I can say what I think whenever I like and not curb my word choices, wear what I like and not have to look chic or stylish, and let my hair be grey and not worry about my roots showing. I'm just wondering what the age is? I'm not ready yet, but I can see it coming like a sunrise.

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    1. I'm the same Leah - not quite there yet (and I don't want to use it for an excuse for becoming rude and belligerent) but I can feel the reins loosening and I'm liking being given my own head more.

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  15. I want to be Sophia from The Golden Girls or Elka in Hot in Cleveland! That's my goal!
    Sadly, I've seen a lot of 'Inner Children' in pictures of shoppers taken at WalMart. Kinda ruins the appeal! :)

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    1. Those Walmarters never left their childhood Diane - to do it properly you have to have been a grown-up in between. That way you can choose which parts of your childhood you want to have fun with - without grossing people out :)

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  16. Leanne,
    Thanks so much for your reflection. I've never been one to conform to outward norms and customs but your thoughts made me wonder what has shifted in me as I do feel more free as I age than I have all along. While I could care little of what people think about my appearance and habits, I think my fear of rejection manifested in workaholism and becoming the helper. I'm finding that with age comes a freedom from any need for approval. While the convent stripped me of the more wild, rebellious side of my youth, I think it certainly reinforced the helper workaholic -- and this is what I'm hoping to let go of as I age. You might appreciate following the 'wild woman sisterhood' on facebook.

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    1. I've always thought I was fairly much my own person Janet, but I also know that I have walked the line of what a "nice" woman does and says - someone who is so busy worrying about everyone else's opinion that she has squashed herself into a box - I'm looking forward to the lid opening more in old age - and the real me jumping out and saying - "Tah Dah!!"

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  17. I've always loved that poem for exactly the reasons you do. The freedom to be yourself that comes from age...and not have to conform to societal standards.

    My mom is a Red-Hatter because like your mom says above, it gives her wonderful outings instead of sitting at home. My mom is totally not into the bling at all... but loves the companionship.

    As for me, I realized that I'm more comfortable in some bolder colors these days. Finally moving away from work "uniform" of black pants and sweater sets. I'm even thinking about buying a summer sundress! And not caring how "bad" my arms might look in it.

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    1. Pat - you get it too! It's not about becoming a Red Hatter (although good on you if that's how you want to live your senior years) it's about choosing what makes you happy - regardless of whether it fits into other people's neat boxes. I'm thinking I could wear a lot more interesting stuff once I let go of the conventional way of thinking and just choose what I love - and colour will be a big part of that - we'll see each other coming!

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  18. Your son may stop visiting you if you do too many things in that poem! Haha! But I love that purple tulle skirt, that is truly fantastic. I think getting old is freeing in the sense that it is more acceptable for old people to do strange things "because they're old" - getting too caught up in what others think is definitely a burden I'm all too keen to get rid of. I hope that I make God big and people small the older I get (as a book I once read stated). Xox

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    1. I think Sophia will still love me if I start rocking a more "out there" look :) And I think that getting old and being free to be your true self doesn't necessarily conflict with being a woman of God - if we are authentic in our Christian walk then we can be bright and bold and free and godly - all at the same time - how cool will that be? And I guess the kids will just have to get on board for the ride :)

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  19. So much here about societal and familial expectations that I know I also consider. However I like to do more solo activities now realising I need my own thoughts and space in which to create and people watch. I am. however, getting more bold in my choice of outfits as I get used to my #everydaystyle pics. I think no-one can be a harder 'judge of ourselves' than us. Then I ask, why am I letting this still dictate what I do.
    Thanks for the interesting and thought-provoking post.
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week's optional prompt 26/52 is Thank a Teacher.

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    1. Denyse I see you as being so brave: with your cancer journey, with going out to cafes when it would be easier to stay home, and with sharing all you different outfit choices. I think that's what the poem alludes to - reaching an age and stage where we're brave enough to own our choices and enjoy them.

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  20. I like your positivity and how you look at the bright side of things and don't follow what people are doing or think they're supposed to do. The poem is also very powerful, just like this post. Thanks for the good read!

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Omar - it probably doesn't really apply to you yet, but in years to come you might like to eat sausages and keep things in boxes - and that will be something to remember and smile about!

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  21. Wonderful post! Like you, I don't want to have an inner crone but be joyful to everyone I meet and wear whatever I want... Like this Saturday, I'm spending the weekend in Austin with my best girlfriends since high school. Austin is super casual... SUPER CASUAL... but I'm going to wear my last Fashion Friday outfit because it gives me joy! Austin either has aging hippies who wear Birkenstocks and don't shave under their arms, or millennials with spools and rings in their face! Let them stare! I'll just stare back! xoxox, Brenda

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    1. It's all about being brave enough to own our own taste and choices isn't it Brenda? I think we spent so long being caught up in not embarrassing ourselves or not offending others - and now as we get older we can let some of that go and just accept ourselves and enjoy that acceptance. And you'll rock that outfit!

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  22. I'm not a fan of the word 'crone' either, Leanne. And I don't want my inner child to take hold either. Childlike behaviour that I see in some elderly seems a kind of dementia and scares me to death! I think we have to come up with a whole new word befitting our new and free state of life. I'm off to cut grass, I'll give that some thought.

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    1. I think crones and children are about becoming free of conformity Karen - being able to ignore the strictures of other people and the hoops they want us to jump through - and just be ourselves in all our glory. I love the idea of becoming more "me" and less what others expect me to be. And BTW I've never mown a lawn!

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  23. Today's aging is certainly not like our parents' who seemed to be "old" at 40 or 50! My mom has gone the way of dementia, sometimes acting like a child when she is tired. She's in a nursing home these days but seems to do OK. I believe our generation will age more gracefully albeit a bit stubbornly as we refuse to be known as "old" or "seniors." Loved this post, Leanne!

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    1. Yes, we're a whole new breed aren't we Terri? When I saw that poem many years ago it spoke to something in my heart that said "I want this kind of freedom" and as time has progressed, I'm wanting it even more. I soooo don't want to be the boring, frumpy old lady in the nursing home knitting blanket squares!

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  24. Hi Leanne, I've never been one to conform to outward norms and societal expectations. I put more emphasis on fun as I age and know people who died in their 50s. YOLO!

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    1. I wish I could say I'd never conformed to the norms and expectations Natalie - but it would be a lie! I have been sitting (squashed) in a little box for most of my life - now the lid's open I'm slowly pouring myself out and spreading my wings and absolutely loving the idea that it will keep getting better!

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  25. Hi Leanne, still a fabulous post after the second reading. Another great #MLSTL this week and I've shared everywhere! Let's go have some FUN! :)

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    1. Thanks Sue - I reckon we're going to rock old age - we'll be blogging and networking and laughing and living large - what more could we ask for?

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  26. Leanne your post made me smile.it wasn't too long ago that I suddenly realised that I'm happy to be who I am and have no concern at all what others think of me. There is such freedom in that. I have no idea what brought me to this point but it's a great place to be. To my mind it's a huge advantage of ageing

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    1. I think I'm getting to that point too Jennifer - I'm thinking and worrying a whole lot less about what other people think and expect and focusing more on what living authentically means to me. I feel more "real" and that is the first step on the journey to dancing in puddles when I'm old :)

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  27. I love that poem. I am trying to find my path into older age. It's a process.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Cherie - old age seems so far away, and yet we're getting closer every day (weird isn't it?

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  28. Who have voiced so many of my own thoughts here...
    I do long for the day when I can (finally) give up caring what others think and simply embrace me. I am getting there... baby step by baby step... but I must say the #MLSTL community is helping me step out with confidence!
    Pinning for future reference :)

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    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying the #MLSTL group - it's such a great bunch of bloggers and I feel like everyone on there is my friend. It's also a really good collection of people all doing Midlife slightly differently but all are choosing not to fade into the woodwork and start wearing twin sets!

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  29. I love this, Leanne! And all the great conversation it inspired. Old age should be fun. That's a big part of the reason I am trying to care for my body now. I'm counting on it carrying me through some adventures--big and small--for years to come. I love that I am becoming more open and less self-conscious (not there yet, but becoming) as I age. I want to embrace to the freedom to just be and enjoy life's experiences. Here's to us being us--whoever that is and whatever color "hat" we decide to wear!

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    1. Exactly Christie! It's not about the hat colour, it's about the freedom of being ourselves and letting go of some of the strictures that society places on us (or maybe we place them on ourselves?) I think I'll care less as I get older and that will be really liberating.

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  30. Leanne the hard part for me is deciding when I am old. lol I am trying hard to step out and be who I am meant to be. Every day on this side of the grass is a good day and should be full of fun. Great post Leanne.

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    1. My sister in law commented that she is turning 60 soon and how could that even be possible. Old age is certainly getting pushed back further and further - I don't think we'll be "old" until our 80's at least Victoria - so I'm starting the letting go process now - so I'm well and truly ready by the time I get there.

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  31. Getting old WILL be fun! I will make it so or die trying...Seriously, I fully intend to enjoy my time left on this earth and worry less about what others think about it.

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    1. Which is exactly the way it should be Kim - we've conformed to the expectations of others for 50+ years - time to loosen the reins a little and start doing things and being things that we want to be - not what we think others want us to look or behave like (within reason of course!)

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  32. BTW, I forgot to mention that I absolutely love both of the pictures with the tulle skirts that you attached to this post. They've inspired me.

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    1. I have a bit of a "thing" for tulle too Jennifer - maybe we'll be both be rocking a tulle skirt or two as time goes by - how cool would that be?

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  33. Hi Leanne,
    By old age, I looking at the time when I have retired from my work. I have at least five years to go now. Once I have retired I would do everything I couldn't do when I was working. Some of them surely are travelling, reading and writing.
    (Came here via MLSTL. Shared on social media.)
    -- Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.com

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  34. You know what? You had my attention with the great graphic of the tulle and tennies. And then that poem! Oh, my, growing old should be fun, and freeing!!

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