Getting Old is Fantastic!

Anna Quindlen, Author

Anna Quindlen is 59 years old, and she thinks the same way I do, so today, I’m going to borrow from her new book to make my own points about age:

It’s odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again.

Dr. Christiane Northrup says that after menopause, we’re more like we were at eleven years old. That little gal had dreams, and wasn’t embarrassed that she was smart. Anna Quindlen gets it. She’s accessing her inner eleven-year-old, and she’s digging it. Here’s more, and these quotes are all from her new book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.

I wouldn’t be twenty-five again on a bet, or even forty. And when I say this to a group of women at lunch, everyone around the table nods. Many of us find ourselves exhilarated, galvanized, at the very least older and wiser.

There are a good number of youngsters who read AnyShinyThing, and I’m guessing this next quote is going to make them feel a lot more excited about getting older:

(at this age)…we’re unlearning so many lessons, about how we should live, be, work, feel. We hold our fingers up to the prevailing winds of custom and behavior and think, nope, that’s an ill wind. It’s not that we question authority, it’s that we question who gets to be an authority in the first place….For me, one of the greatest glories of growing older is the willingness to ask why and, getting no good answer, deciding to follow my own inclinations and desires. Asking why is the way to wisdom. Why are we supposed to want possessions we don’t need and work that seems besides the point and tight shoes and a fake tan? Why are we supposed to think new is better than old, youth and vigor better than long life and experience? Why are we supposed to turn our backs on those who have preceded us and to snipe at those who come after?

Oh, Anna. Thank you.

BTW, if you got a bad link to last week’s post, I apologize! I was trying to multitask, and I accidentally hit “publish” when I meant “save draft”. The subject of the post was making our own powerful milestones and expectations for the second half of our life, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Here’s the link, and again, sorry for the confusion.


  1. says

    So glad I stopped in this morning…can’t remember exactly from where. You’re just the kind of voice I love to hear. So I’m subscribing….you know, so I won’t have to figure out how I got here in the first place. Do I sound like one of those lost women standing in a mall parking lot, keys in hand, desperately lost, very confused?

    • says

      Barb, it’s just that at a certain age, our RAM is so full. If only there was a way to dump now-useless data (like the name of our kid’s kindergarten teacher) and free up more space. I’m glad you’re going to be a regular. See you next Friday.

  2. says

    You know how much I agree with this post and your own unique brand of menopausal wisdom. Thanks for putting it all so beautifully. Your blog is a delight to read: rich, informative, and inspirational.

  3. says

    You’ve really struck a major chord here, Lynne! I love what Anna Quindland, Christine Northrup and you have to say about the beauty of making it to our age in one piece! My 11-year old self was painfully shy so something transformational has happened between now and then -therein lies my story. But I must say,that 11-year-old loved to read and hang out with her family and friends so that part is true. I’m not dying my hair. I’ve earned every silver strand and I’m loving life at my age! Wonderful post. Thank you!

  4. says

    I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago titled “Being 10, Being 60″ and am delighted to read that it feels like that, because it is like that! Thanks, Lynne, for finding and showing us such lovely affirmations. Always.

  5. says

    In the first place, I don’t think of us as “getting older” – I have as much energy at 64 as I did at 18, and am way more interesting (just ask me, I’ll tell you!) I believe that as each new generation inhabits their winter years, the idea of “old” will fade away – it is simply a number. Most of the people I know that are my age or even a decade or two older are still vibrantly interested in learning new things, sharing what they learn, and savoring their stroll through life’s journey. As you say, even if I choose to sit and meditate rather than be actively productive, if attuned to my passions I am NOT old! Life is way too precious to fritter away ‘striving to become’ anything…we are already quite something :)

  6. says

    So, I’m wondering what women are striving to become eg. Alice in Wonderland? I think that it’s more than just making yourself happy. We need to reach out especially to those Adults 50 Plus (both women & men) that are searching for some meaningful things to do in their pre-retirement or retirement lives. I believe that without having a purposeful passion in your later years it will be very difficult to get an upward curve (in happiness) for the 50 Plus demographic. Let’s start with Lifelong Learning and go on a self-discovery journey for the purpose of finding what the right fit is for you to be a part of our active, creative, productive and useful society. More consumption will not achieve happiness but ‘productive longevity’ has a great chance to startup a new paradign for Adults 50 to be increasingly happy for themselves and others. Thanks for listening.

    • says

      Joe, I think it’s about being aware and mindful. Even if a person only wants to sit and think quietly for the next ten years, my wish is that they do it with full commitment and understanding. Don’t sleepwalk thru your life, in other words. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. says

    I have been at my folk’s cabin in Wisconsin where I have everything the writer needs for inspiration except internet, (maybe that is a good thing) I have been missing reading Any Shiny Thing, so I headed to local library to reconnect. Loved this post, love anything written by Anna Quindlen, love the way you make the aging game glorious!

  8. says

    Lynne, you’ve become my new guru to aging gracefully.
    To be frank, I would have loved to recovery the first ten years, but after that I was a rebellious dink head. But somewhere inside I’d determined that life would begin at age forty…and it has. Except for the redistribution of certain features, I’m likin the journey even better than I thought I would.

    • says

      Hey, Kickstart, welcome to AST. Thing is, we have to stop obsessing about the bad stuff – it’s there; I’m not trying to say it’s not – but there’s a lot of good, too. Anna Quindlen, in her book, quotes a Gallup Poll of almost 350,000 people about their satisfaction about being certain ages, and there’s a curve upward (in happiness) from age 50 thru the 80s. So you have a lot of satisfied company!

  9. says

    Anna offers some wonderfully hopeful thoughts on the aging process. I believe that, as long as you have your mind and your health, as long as you continue to be interesting and interested, you can indeed have a rich “old age.” Sadly, too many retreat into cocoons, wrapping their fear, anger, and hurt around them like a blanket when they should be reaching out.

    • says

      Debbie, I think part of that is fear, and part of it is that we’ve been raised to believe that there’s no second half, that after a certain point, you’re pointless. Maybe our generation can turn that thinking around, and people can start dreaming again.

  10. says

    I was very devilish at age 11 and now that I’m 59, I believe that side of me is coming back. I spent years as a disease to pleaser. So glad those days are over.

    Reading this post has inspired me to look forward to the fun I’m about to have. :)

    Thanks, Lynne.

  11. says

    I’m fifty-three and these are the best years hands down! That’s an interesting thought from Northrup about us being like our eleven year old self after menopause, isn’t it?

  12. says

    For me the magic number was 30, until that point when anyone asked my age I had an instant reply. After thirty for some reason I had to go back and count the years when asked. Educators today emphasis the importance of life-long learning. If we remain active and continue to learn as we age, we retain a sense of youth and whatever age we are feels younger.If we are one of the lucky ones without serious health age I feel we grow younger with age.

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