This past weekend, I went to the “BreakThrough!” Conference sponsored by The Ripa Center for Women’s Health & Wellness at Cooper University Hospital. It was all about “Rediscovering Yourself at 40, 50, 60+.” I signed up as soon as I found out that Gail Sheehy was going to be one of the keynote speakers.
I had read Gail Sheehy’s book, “Passages,” when I was in my 20s. I reread parts of the new 30th anniversary edition shortly after I turned 50. I was curious at the time to see if the passages of my life had stayed the course. During her talk, Gail mentioned that she was in her mid-30s when she wrote “Passages” and she stopped the passages at age 50 because at the time, there really wasn’t much to talk about during a woman’s life after 50.
Flash forward three plus decades and times have surely changed. Gail is now in her 70s and has written a few more books, including one called “Sex and the Seasoned Woman,” all about pursuing a passionate life after 50. She shared highlights of her book and her research with us on Saturday.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, her words were so inspiring. I wanted to jump up and down.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, I am so glad to be my age and I so want to pursue a passionate life after 50.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, I can’t wait any longer…I have to share some of Gail’s words of wisdom:
– Gail says that “pursuing a passionate life requires taking the risk of living your dreams.” (Oh no – there is that word risk in there. Am I finally ready to take a risk to pursue my dreams? Yes. No. Maybe so?)
– Gail says that “a seasoned woman is spicy, marinated in life experiences, and knows who she is.” (I second that. I love to sprinkle my foods with the dried oregano and basil bought during my trip to Italy last spring and when I use them up I may risk it all and travel back to that little Italian town in Cinque Terre and buy some more.)
– Gail says that “boomer women at midlife are discovering who they are and who they want to be.” (I agree. Some days I want to go back to school and study creative writing. Other days I want to go study yoga and mindfulness and also learn more about social media.)
– Gail says that “younger women are constantly in a sprint with taking care of their families and working. In the early 50s, women come out of that tunnel and have much better well-being.” (I totally agree. To-ta-lly! In my 30s and 40s, I was so busy taking care of my kids, climbing the career ladder, sprinting all over the place. I never took time to really think about my needs.)
– Gail says that “70 percent of aging over 50 is governed by our wellness – what we eat, how we exercise and how we socialize.” (According to Gail, if I take care of my health, I will achieve a major life goal in my 50s and 60s.)
Okay, okay, okay, boomer girls. I saved the best for last. Psst, psst, psst…it’s about sex for women over 50. Here’s the scoop according to Gail. You can decide which group fits your status. Keep in mind that during your life after 50, you can move in and out of different groups, so not to worry if you’re not where you want to be at this moment in time. Things can always change anywhere between your late 40s and 80:
– Passionites: These women are healthy, independent, spiritual, and sexy women. When children leave the nest, it is not a time of mourning, but a time of great joy.
– Seekers: These women are healthy, single women, seeking sexual relationships. However, Gail says “these women may still hold grudges and have unrealistic expectations.”
– WMD’s: “Women Married Dammit.” Uh oh! These women feel victimized by a mate who may not be a good provider, but are unwilling to make a change. Not to fret, Gail says that “if ever chemistry attracted you to your mate, it will or can come back.”
– Status Quo: These women are “just resigned, they don’t have sex, but have a safe social structure.”
– Lower Libido: These women “have given up on sex and are not doing anything about it.”
There was so much more to learn from Gail’s research that I had to buy a copy of her book. I stood in line and waited while she signed a copy just for me. “For Judi,” wrote Gail, “Enjoy your passion!”