Older Women are here to stay – we are visible and determined to live

September 13, 2019

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

60 years young from the post - Older Women are here to stay - we are visible and determined to live

Grace and I are no longer 50 somethings in years – Grace is 67 and I am about to turn 61. When we began this ‘blog’, 10 years ago, we were 50 somethings and worrying about turning 60 and being those stereotypical older women. However now that we have both embraced our seventh decade we are loving it. And our blog has grown, bigger and better, into an online magazine. We now try to share all that we have learned about reaching this age and how to improve our lives with others through our magazine.

Helen Brookes  taking a fashion pic for Insta - @40plusnotgivingupyet
Helen Brookes – @40plusnotgivingupyet

This last week Grace and I went to the M&S press event, having just done a photo review of the Me+Em Autumn collection. The following day I went to the Vionic shoe press show. At both press events we were surrounded, in the main, by twenty and thirty something social influencers i.e. young enough to be our children. There were a few older women but to me there seemed little age difference. We all laughed and chatted together as if we were the same age.

There were a few social media phrases that we had to learn as we listened to the chat. Everyone was so happy to show us what the next big thing is, on Instagram in particular. Shout-outs were new to us. Helen Brookes – @40plusnotgivingupyet – demonstrated by giving us a ‘shout-out’ in one of her Insta stories. We were so thrilled to be included and to add to this we got over 200 new followers.

I am thinking of writing a guide to social media for over 50s – what do you think? It is a minefield but one we must embrace if we are to keep up with our children and grandchildren. Plus there are so many positive benefits if used correctly. We hear all the bad things about social media for example cyber bullying – an issue that my kids never experienced as all of these platforms weren’t around when they were growing up. However the positive side to social media is that it is informative and it links people up who might never have known each other or who have lost contact.

We need to keep up with all of these modern ways as we get older. We want our world to expand not shrink.

Jeanne Socrates aged 77yrs who sailed unassisted around the world from post - Older Women are here to stay - we are visible and determined to live
Jeanne Socrates

I read in Monday’s Times newspaper the article by Libby Purves called ‘Older women should throw off their shackles’. Libby’s article focused on Jeanne Socrates, a 77 yr old Brit, who has just sailed around the world single-handed, unassisted and non-stop. She only learned to sail when she was 48 years old but was then passionate about it. Blimey was all I could say as I drank my cappuccino in my garden whilst reading the article. What a lady and a blast for all septuagenarians and a boost for all of us.

Later in the week I listened to Jeanne on Radio 4. There is heartache behind this story as she used to sail everywhere with her husband. However sadly he died in 2003 but Jeanne decided to carry on with the sailing.

Anger and grief drove Socrates’s determination. After the funeral she sold the family home in Ealing, west London. Then she sailed back to scatter George’s ashes and captain’s cap off Bonaire, an island off the coast of Venezuela near where his final voyage had ended. After that, she just kept going.

“There is no way I would have tried to circumnavigate solo if George were alive,” she says. “We loved cruising and stopping off to visit places, but . . . the boat became my home and I just kept taking on bigger challenges.”

Jeanne Socrates

Two things jumped out at me from both the article and the interview. Firstly, even as older women, it is never too late to learn to do something or to take on a challenge. The second is that “she just kept going.”

All of us face challenges whether they be our own or those of someone close to us. It is this ability to keep going that often seems the hardest challenge.

When I hear people say that 60 is the new 40 or such like I disagree. 60 is 60 but it is what we do with those 60 years of experience and knowledge that is so important. We can put our feet up and slow down our lifestyle or we can try to learn something new. We may be thought of as older women but it is never too late. Whatever we do will stand us in good stead in later years. Are we not lucky with all the knowledge that there is available to us at the touch of a button.

I have been ‘throwing off my shackles’ since turning 60. Currently I am learning a musical instrument and my friend has arranged a Skype lesson for us both with a fabulous teacher who lives in Amsterdam.

I am also taking Yoga lessons but, because they cost money, I am practising my Yoga, in between lessons, with tutorials from YouTube. However this video by Margery Owens, a 90yr old lady from Wales, is the one that inspires me:

I hate running but know that it is so good for my cardio-health. Consequently I have downloaded an app to motivate me. When my children were young they learned to sail in Cornwall. I joined them on occasion but I have not done it recently due to lack of time. I am now determined to re-start.

For Grace and I running our website is another aspect of our lives that keeps us young at heart. Keeping up with the technology and working again are all challenges but ones that we love. Meeting young people and learning from them is so stimulating.

It isn’t easy for everyone and I appreciate that some older women may have health or financial restrictions. However for those of us that can then we must. I admire Jeanne Socrates for not only sailing single handed around the world but also for keeping going when she lost her husband. He was her soul and sailing mate and it must be very tough for her. I hope that I can find the same strength in such a situation.

Listen to our latest podcast, Making Friends when you are over 50, as we chat with Jane Gordon Click HERE

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