Lynne, Beth, Kathy, and I slip our hiking shoes back on after our two-hour walk along the shores of Lake Michigan. The shimmering sun highlights the silver in our hair, as brilliant as the American white pelicans that soar above. We’re getting ready to hike the sand dunes now, followed by the long wooden stairwells that will lead to higher vistas. I interrupt our animated conversation.
“Did your moms do this when they were our age?” I ask.
My friends seem confused. What we’re doing is ordinary fare.
“Do what?” says Beth.
“Take long hikes. Climb cliffs. Fly across the country for the weekend just for the sport of it.”
“Never,” says one, then the other, then the other.
I’ve heard this before. Visions of our slower-paced sixty and seventy-year-old mothers cleaning house, gray kinky-curls setting off their flowered dresses just so, sweep over our memories like waves on sand. Or maybe it’s our grandmothers we’re remembering. Or a little of both.
One thing we know is that we four, and most of our peers, have broken the mold. We feel, behave, and maybe even look years younger than our forebears. And for good reason. Given welcome advances in medicine and wellness, surer paths to good mental health, and more knowledge about nutrition and exercise, we really are poised to live better, if not longer.
As a result, we have sandwiched ourselves between the more confined generation of our mothers and the pulsating lives of our daughters, who are seizing options we could never have imagined, and we’ve created our own definition of old.
“Well, seventy is the new fifty,” says Lynne light-heartedly.
And sixty is the new forty.
Fifty is the new thirty.
And silver is the new glamorous bombshell blond.
I cling to these promises as I consider signing on to write a monthly column for the magazine Business Heroine, a publication packed with empowering wisdom for the entrepreneur who says she will, and does. (http://businessheroinemagazine.com/) What can I ever offer these inspirational women? These charismatic titans who have infused the business world with the best of womanhood: talent, leadership, positive energy, a strong sense of self, authenticity, inclusivity, mutual encouragement, compassion.
After all, I’m a baby boomer. I toddled in the 1950s, teened in the ‘60s, and designed my adulthood around those midcentury ways of being. Career? Choices? Changing the world? What’s that?
But what I did develop during all those years, even in the dearth of options women know today, were insights from my experience, which will never bear the tag “Wisdom is the new… anything.” Wisdom is still wisdom.
Indeed, it’s the very texture of the silver strands that salt my coif.
So I’ll write from my experience. My observations come from a long life rooted in discernment, from hard-earned successes and devastating failures, and from the lessons I’ve learned from having made more mistakes by now than any of my younger counterparts.
My face doesn’t match the young, confident, vibrant visages that grace the covers of Business Heroine. I offer something slightly different.
I bring the perspective of one who was raised under the typical 1950s ways of being.
Of a pre-feminist baby boomer who didn’t “get it” until she raised extraordinary daughters who do.
Of a senior who has grown to say she will, and does.
Copyright 2014. Maggie McCann Pike.