Aging with energy

“My mother aged so very gracefully. I wish I had engaged her more in conversation about how she was able to create such a fulfilling life in her older age. If she were alive today, I’d bring her to the next woman’s conference [I attend] to share a few life lessons.”

Barbara Bowes Transitions
Barbara Bowes
Transitions

I have just returned from a women’s conference… an author’s conference to be exact. Can you just imagine the noise and frenzy in a room with 100-plus women all talking about their life experience and the chapters and/or books they wrote? It was absolutely electrifying! The energy, the synergy, the camaraderie and excitement were exhilarating.

The conference was hosted by the Professional Woman’s Network, an organization that helps to promote women in the role of speakers, consultants, trainers and executive coaches. Most of their books are “self help” and/or inspirational books for women, and my goodness were there ever some fantastic stories told.

Keeping busy and young
Several books such as The Confident Woman, Tapping into your Inner Power, in which I contributed a chapter, is an anthology with over 25 women contributors and was sold out within minutes. Other books such as The Power of Change, Reinventing Yourself at any Age, BabyBoomers, Secrets for Life after 50 and the Women’s Survival Guide for Overcoming Obstacles, Transition and Change were also very popular.

Many of the women authors were invited to speak and to share elements of their personal story. One such story really touched me and helped me to once again revisit one of my mother’s truths and to better appreciate her older years. My mother aged so very gracefully and always claimed, “You’re only as old as you think!” For instance, she began golfing at age 50 and by the age of 78, she had been recognized for achieving a hole in one at two golf courses well known for their difficulty.

My mother always started her day with a cup of coffee and a crossword puzzle. She said this activity stimulated her brain, helped develop new vocabulary and warded off Alzheimer’s, the disease that felled her father. Mom was widely read and was a talented seamstress who seemed to be able to create unique designs that were well ahead of fashion. She knitted her way into a reputation for casual hats with a little peak in the front. She was also known as one of the best bridge players and bridge instructors in town.

Grass gets a going over
During the summer, Mom woke early and after her coffee and crossword puzzle she spent two hours cutting grass, followed by golfing, only to return and cut more grass. Every day routinely, she tended to her large flower garden and then went down to the lake and picked up little rocks, with the hope that incoming beach sand would settle and stay.

Yet my mother was a very modest individual. For instance, after she passed away, four years ago this July, I examined all her papers and was surprised to find so many awards and recognition items for her many years of volunteering. She spent more than 10 years as a volunteer at the library and many more as a church group president. Never once did she mention these accomplishments; no, she just carried on, staying busy, staying active and loving life. She was a role model for staying active but I didn’t realize it until I met colleagues at the recent women’s conference.

White-water legacy
One of the conference speakers was in her mid-60s and spoke about how she keeps an active lifestyle. She talked of a recent adventure where she accompanied her grandson to a one-week, white-water-rafting camp. The photos accompanying her presentation helped us understand just how grueling her experience was. Yet, in spite of bumps, bruises and kayak tip-overs, she never gave up. Instead, the speaker was proud she had engaged in learning a new activity that has become part of her summer leisure routine. Of course, from her grandson’s point of view grandma was one tough “cookie”!

Up until this lady’s presentation, I hadn’t thought much about the age of the attendees, and what can be accomplished in one’s older age. However, as I looked around the room full of women, I noted that indeed most were 50-plus with some individuals in their early 70s. It was interesting to realize that most of the 100-plus women had entered and/or were transitioning into a new phase of their life. Some were struggling and were seeking answers while others had inspiring stories to tell that energized everyone in the room.

It made me wish I had engaged my mother more in conversation about how she was able to create such a fulfilling life in her older age. If she were alive today, I’d bring her to the next conference to share a few life lessons.

Barbara J. Bowes is president of Legacy Bowes Group and is an executive coach, career consultant, columnist and radio host. She can be reached at barb@legacybowes.com.

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