Psychologist Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, has written a new book called, Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age. It is number 10 on the hardcover nonfiction list and climbing fast.
The NY Times Book Review writes,
“In her book, which has entered its fifth printing since it was published on Jan. 15, Pipher cites research… suggesting not only that people become happier as they age but that the happiest people are women aged 65-79.
Contrary to the cultural scripts that say women are old and useless and in the way — diminished versions of their former selves — in reality older women are the happiest demographic in the country,”
In a NY Times Opinion entitled, The Joy of Being a Woman in her 70’s, Pipher describes us older women–
“We are resilient and know how to thrive in the margins.”
I love that phrase, “thriving in the margins.”
Pipher, alongside Glenn Close and Nancy Pelosi, is jarring long-held stereotypes of aging American women slipping into lonely, unproductive obscurity. Before the iconic Jane Fonda, all we had was Grandma Moses to emulate – the folk artist who famously began her painting career at the age of 78, staying current until her death at 101.
In 2019 we are fitter than our predecessors; we are living longer; and we are redefining retirement, if there is such a term these days. Pipher says, “Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice” and as we enter our 60s and 70s we are perfecting our skill set. According to Pipher, true happiness stems from things like self-knowledge and emotional intelligence.
So, barring illness or catastrophic events, it is up to us to choose these happiness-links, which were not esteemed by our Younger Selves distracted as they were by parenting perfection, job achievement, marriage fulfillment. Although American society may still devalue mature women, Pipher says that we are increasingly happy and vibrant.
But back to intentionality — the self-help literature on aging says it comes down to 3 E’s.
Notice the word, Easy, did not make the cut. It would be far easier to sleep instead of exercise, to pursue our own ends rather than the ends of others, to disengage rather than engage (in others, in activities, in learning). Grandma Moses did have to pick up that paintbrush and prep a canvas. Jane Fonda did have to don her tube socks and leotards for her aerobic workouts.
So let’s strive to thrive. Even in the Margin, which it turns out is the place to be – paved by Grandma Moses, and unabashedly inhabited by Pelosi, RBG, Close, and Fonda.
Pretty good company, I’d say!
Today’s Takeaway –
-No offense to Grandma Moses, but we should definitely not go out our front door au-naturel. We of 2019 have make-up, hair coloring, and fashion at our disposal. And as my friend, Cathy, says, “Let’s wear make-up for the good of the world.”
Sorry, Grandma Moses, the hat may have been ill advised.
-Check out this post on RBG. Whatever your politics, you have to agree she embodies vibrancy and resiliency.
Enjoy the Ride!
xox Barclay and Joy