a middleSage publication

Growing old(er) gracefully

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)

There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)

And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

growing older gracefully graphic









Growing older.  Gracefully.

First I must embrace the “old” part, I think, however, I prefer “older” right now.

Oh, it makes a difference.

So many of my “friends” are in their 30’s and even their 20’s….I think of them as my peers and then I hear “that’s what my mom always says”.  The age difference is driven home.

I used to work in the field of aging support…a non profit specializing in support for the elderly and families of the elderly through out the continuum of care. Aging looked unattractive.  Families were burdened with care and decisions they weren’t prepared to make.  The environment I was in was stressful and after 20 years, I eventually retired (a young retired I might add).

I didn’t know what I should be next for a long time….I was aggressive within my field of choice, I was a strong disciplinarian while raising my kids and now, it’s just my husband and I with no real stress to think about.  What do I do with that?

Retirement used to be that very short period of time between your career and your death.  Now it’s often one of the longest phases of our lives, so what do I do with my time…my different energy level…my new found “status”?   I quickly figured out I wasn’t prepared to be this age, I wasn’t prepared to be tired and I wasn’t prepared to have, well, no status.  When my husband and I moved to a new city, no one asked me where I worked or what I did.  I had no status.  I’d open up Facebook and stare at the status button…I’ll just read everybody else’s status!

It’s now been almost 10 years since I quit my professional life, and as I look back at my journey into the aging process I remember something a nun told me.  It’s not until our aging process begins that the brilliant colors we carry around inside us can be seen…It’s just like the fall leaves, they don’t become colorful until they begin to age.

I couldn’t have even told you what my friend, the nun meant until I reached this point of my life and now have the ability to look back.  I’ve learned a lot in the last 10 years (of retirement) and even though I’m not quite 60, I can feel it breathing down the back of my neck. All I can say is “I wish I knew then what I know now”.

So here’s my guide to growing old(er) gracefully…


gGrey areas.  There will be more of them….accept it.  I’m not just talking about your hair, the lines that separate black and white will begin to blur.   If I allow myself to be more willing to listen and entertain ideas other than those that I have held onto so strongly for so long, I am a better person…I find myself residing in a grey area more of the time.  The grey in your hair, your skin and your wardrobe?  That is remedied easily with a box, a toner and a set of rose colored eyeballs.


Respond don’t react.  This kind of falls under the category of “would you rather be happy or right?  Choose happy.  Sometimes a reaction isn’t even necessary.



aAccentuate the positive…eliminate the negative…It’s so much more than lyrics to a song from Jungle book….everybody needs an anthem, so keep a song in your head and don’t be afraid to sing it out loud.     Ceaser’s Way is brilliant!  Use it on your dogs, use it on your family and most of all use it as a guideline for dealing with all….PEOPLE.


cCeaser Millan’s (The Dog Whisperer) approach to a well behaved dog is being calm – assertive…just be calm assertive all the time, not just with the pooch.  I wish I would have known this years ago when I was beating a dead horse.



eEnergy is at a premium these days, so I use it carefully.  I find myself no longer saying “I can’t”, instead I use the words “I choose not to”.  It makes a difference to my sub conscious.



fFriends are more important than ever.  And with that being said, I no longer feel obligated to stay in touch with friends that were really toxic in nature or not really offering a recipricol relationship.  Sometimes you have to know when to hold em…and know when to fold em.


uUnavailable is OK




lLearning really is much more enjoyable now.  When I was a kid, learning was punitive in nature….get a bad grade, your grounded….don’t know the answer on your homework, you’re not trying hard enough.  So many of us grew up with the philosophy, you have to learn in order to do.  It is now ok “to do” in order to learn.  Who cares if you make mistakes?  You’re the boss applesauce.


lLeaning on someone actually feels good.  It doesn’t make you weak, less of a feminist or even incapable.  Life isn’t about being independent, it’s about being interdependent.



yYearning to be something I’m not is damaging to the great person I’ve already become.  As they say “great is the enemy of good”.



A time to be born, a time to die

A time to plant, a time to reap

A time to kill, a time to heal

A time to laugh, a time to weep


Generation Fabulous


  1. Oh I know what you mean about the mom comment! I am so looking forward to reitrement in a few years. Great post!

    • Barbara Joy

      27 March

      It’s nice to have found “my tribe” in the blogging world. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to the realization that for me, the key factor is to keep on learning. When I’m not learning, I stagnate, and that’s when the wheels fall off. Great list, great post!

  3. […] Growing old(er) gracefully (middlesage.com) […]

  4. Love the image of seeing colors among the leaves – and your use of that with art. And the acronym. Clever, clever! Some very good insight there. Lovely, lovely.

  5. I love “calm assertive.” This will be my new mantra.

  6. Your post is definitely one of my favorites from the blog hop so far. I love what the nun said about autumn leaves and will share that…and I love your own leaves and what they mean. I agree with your points. Great work!

    • Barbara Joy

      28 March

      Pam, you made my day! Engaging with such talented women is life changing!

  7. beverlydiehl

    28 March

    Love the leaves and the way you tied it all together. And “I choose not to,” no matter how well organized we are, there is only so much time and energy, why squander on things that aren’t as important to us?

    • Barbara Joy

      28 March

      Your comments are so encouraging! Especially since I admire your writing as well! Thank you for such positive input!

  8. The part about the status struck a chord with me. I value my status in my profession and worry that I will have a hard time adjusting to no longer having it when I retire. Did that happen to you?

    • Barbara Joy

      28 March

      Oh my yes, when I didn’t have my professional title I felt like I had no identity. It took me several years to figure out how to be …just me. My failure was in not learning how to do that BEFORE I retired. We, as women, seem to be so focused on the needs of others we often neglect our own growth.

  9. Dang it, but I did love this post. The leaves analogy is profound (of course, a nun would come up with something profound).

    I think what you and I are seeing is this massive shift. Retired DID used to be this short time between the end of your career and death, and now it is decades of possibilities. We have choices that have never existed in the history of ever. And as women we have the tools to tell our stories that were never available to midlife women before. You’ve used this new tool very well here.

    Thank you!

    • Barbara Joy

      29 March

      Your kind words are so very much appreciated, Chloe! Our “community” is now global, so our voices are no longer limited to a small circle of relatives and neighbors…now, as they say, with great power comes great responsibility.

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