So what is “My Third Age” you may ask?
I too asked this question recently. Why? Well firstly because the universe kept bringing this third age concept into my radar and experience has taught me that when this happens I need to listen and take note.
Secondly because I am at the very beginning of a new and exciting phase in my life and I am exploring what this new phase really means for me.
My first exposure came as I was taking my Dad to one of his regular hospital visits at John Flynn Hospital on the Gold Coast and we passed a little demountable building which I had never noticed before. The sign out the front identified it as U3A, a term I had never heard of.
Now this being the Gold Coast and the fact that it was a demountable building, my initial reaction was that it was probably something “new agey” or for reasons I cannot explain the concept of it having something to do with aliens also came to mind. Bit strange really.
I was rather surprised therefore when my 83 year old dad casually informed me that it was the University for the Third Age or U3A for short and that it provided the older generation with courses that may be of interest to them in their older age.
This peaked my interest as I was surprised I had never heard of this U3A and further research told me there are U3A’s all over the place and they do provide a large selection of “leisure and educational courses for seniors”. I didn’t think much more about this until……..
Another nudge from the universe
The next nudge from the universe happened when I was listening to one of Deborah Hutton’s interviews on balancebydeborahhutton.com.au.
If you are not aware of this website or do not already subscribe you might want to have a look. It is aimed at women over 40 and provides some great gems around a whole variety of topics for women. In this instance I was listening to an interview with Robyn Holt, Vogue Editor of Vogue Living, which was titled Wisdom of the Third Age.
Robyn was focusing on menopause and how it is often a time of reflection for many women who stop to consider what they want to do with the rest of their life. Their Wisdom of the Third Age coming from the fifty or so years they have already lived.
Robyn got me thinking about the fifty or so years I had lived and whether I had changed much or acquired much wisdom during that time.
Like most of us, while I do not feel that I am a different person to who I was in my twenties, I know I am.
For a fact my body is certainly different. Having two nieces who are 22 and 18 has also certainly made me aware that my mind is also in a completely different universe to theirs.
Add to this the fact that I would prefer to to stay home on Friday nights and drink a glass of two of red wine with my wonderful husband instead of going to bars and mingling with strangers reinforces the fact that a 54 year old Lyn is quite different to a 21 year old Lyn.
Middle aged or old? I don’t think so!
So as I moved into this post menapausal stage in my life I reflected on how best to define this next phase.
The only two options that seemed to be available were middle aged or old.
Now I am sure there would be many teenagers who believe that the latter would apply, me being 54 and all but as far as I am concerned I am far from being old and the term middle aged has never sat well with me.
I find it a bit of a nothing term designed to describe a stage in life between young and old supposedly where men go a little unhinged and buy sports cars and leave their wives for younger women and women become invisible as they undertake “the change” and age gracefully.
As I am neither middle aged or old, maybe this concept of a third age might just fit.
What wisdom have I actually gained over my 53 years?
One thing I do know and that is that my whole life has been leading me to where I am right now. Without a doubt it is now time for me to do what I am meant to do in this life and what I believe will make a difference.
I also know in looking back over my life that the wisdom I have gained has at times had to be beaten into me by the universe a number of times before I finally listened. So I think some reflection is in order to try and understand how at 54 I have finally got to this stage in my life and gained what may be considered “wisdom”.
What did I learn in my twenties?
I think it is safe to say I learnt a lot of very important life skills in my twenties as you do!
Four years teaching in country Qld certainly introduced me to the joys of country life. I developed a liking for rodeos, Bachelor & Spinster Balls and weekend tennis tournaments with the locals.
I think it is probably safe to say I certainly gained further wisdom in the areas of drinking alcohol and general misbehaviour without getting into trouble and looking back the universe certainly played a role in looking after me during this time which I am very thankful for.
My return to teaching in Brisbane introduced Sunday afternoons at Ballymore spent on the Bundaberg Rum Hill trading insults with the New Zealanders and the Poms followed up by very messy nights in the pig pen after the game.
Crazy weekend long dress up parties with my Hash House Harrier friends were also the in thing however all this frivolity was balanced out by the four years I spent teaching at Woodridge and Nerang High Schools.
These four years made me grow up not only as a teacher but also as a person as I was introduced to the challenges of large high schools with socio economic and social issues. I very quickly began to realise how blessed my life had been and how difficult life is for many other people, in particular the teenagers I was trying to influence and guide.
My twenties were great fun and of course at that age while I believed myself to be indestructible they were testing to both my body and my mind. I have no doubt that the amount of alcohol consumed and the lack of sleep gave a pretty good kick start to the aging of my brain and my body which of course at 54 is now of great interest to me.
The lesson of grief in my thirties
Well the first thing I learnt in my thirties is that you cannot have your mum die from Bowel Cancer at 58, go straight back to work after the funeral and just get on with life and all will be fine even though your heart is broken.
You have to give yourself time to grieve. I did this by shifting to Sydney on my own to take up a new challenging job in Human Resources.
To help me deal with my grief I taped this great movie called Dying Young where this beautiful young woman tragically dies of cancer and I used to put it on every evening and sob my night away. Over time it worked however and slowly Sydney became less of an outlet for my grief and more an exciting part of my future.
I moved into jobs that were amazing and different and took me to Asia and PNG as well as lots of travel throughout Australia. I spent a lot of my time on the road and it culminated in four memorable months in New York for News Corp.
My thirties were about my career and finding my courage. They were memorable but they also played significant havoc with my health.
The lessons of love and health in my fourties
Ten years after arriving I left Sydney and returned home to Brisbane.
In Sydney my heart was still healing and a closed heart meant relationships were few and far between. I returned to Brisbane to reconnect with my family, with the intention of buying my own home, getting myself a puppy dog and finding myself a man to love.
So I did what all smart 40 something girls do and wrote those three things down on a piece of paper, put the paper under my pillow and within twelve months much to my delight I had them all in exactly that order.
I had opened my heart, changed my circumstances and asked the universe for what I needed and it had delivered.
My forties also introduced me to the joys of a body that was really starting to age and I made the momentous decision to liberate myself from the joys of endometriosis by having my uterus removed.
I can honestly say my life changed with that decision and only a woman who has experienced endometriosis and all that it brings will truly understand the significance of that statement.
Without me realising it at the time my forties also saw the culmination and finish of my career in the corporate executive world and what a way to go.
I took on the role of GM People Culture & Development Hamilton Island Enterprises. So for three and a half wonderful years I worked on Hamilton Island in the glorious Whitsunday Islands. Not bad heh!
My wonderful fifties!
So what have my fifties bought me so far?
- Recognition and acceptance that my job does not define who I am and never will
- A very sudden introduction to menopause with the removal of my ovaries
- The gift of Hashimoto’s Disease and a leaking heart valve which have been fundamental in leading me to where I am today
- Arthritis in my feet which has meant giving away heals and the purchase of all new trendy flatties
- Acceptance that I am now a size 14 and the fact that while it may be a little more challenging I can still look sexy and goddess like at 54
So here I am at 54 at the embryonic stage of something new. I have slowed down my aging and am healthier than I have been for the last twenty years by changing what I eat and how I live.
My brain is on a steep learning curve as I jump feet first into blogging and social media and I start to live my true passions in life, writing and teaching.
Every now and then the fear rises but it doesn’t last for long. I just acknowledge it for what it is and keep moving forward.
The latest Intergenerational Report in Australia states:
- that the most significant increases in the workforce over the next thirty years will be in the age group 60 – 69
- by 2054 Australians in the age group 65 plus will more than have doubled and be more than those in the 15 – 64 age group
- our aged pension will increase to 67 in 2023 and then 70 in 2035
So if I don’t succumb to the various lifestyle diseases that are currently flourishing in western society and I live through to my late 80s as predicted by statisticians I want to make sure the next thirty years are really good.
Is the third age the right fit?
An article in the January 2011 edition of the Harvard Magazine by Nell Porter tells me that the third age concept originated in France back in the 1980’s and that it is popular in Europe. It referred to the third age as “being that expanding period in the human life cycle after middle age and before old age”.
The article talked about people seeking out changes in their forties and fifties and looking for meaningful occupations that in many instances enable them to be productive and contribute to society for the next twenty or thirty years.
It also talked about the psychological freedom that comes with age and that people have a greater perspective on what’s important in life and are more willing to be just that person without regard to what other people think.
Look at Daphne Selfe the British model who was a star on the catwalk in the 1940’s, made a comeback at 70 and is now busier than ever as a model at 86.
The September issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly has features on women who continue to challenge and reinvent themselves in their later forties and fifties.
- Anna Bligh, ex premier of Queensland who at 55 believes 50 is the new 30. “I have a number of women friends in their early 50’s and there is a new kind of energy – new jobs or a different turn in their life”.
- Deborah Hutton 53 whose wellness website Balance I referred to above, has built a very successful digital business. “I wasn’t ready to say, ‘There’s no point doing anything new past 50’. I want to be relevant for the next 50 years.”
It is not just high profile women however that are keen to make changes to their life. My experience is that many of my women friends and colleagues who are in their fifties and sixties and some even in their forties are seeking to do something different.
Many have grown disenchanted with the corporate world as I have, others see their responsibilities changing and they are looking for opportunities to do something different in the future and others just want to make a difference to the world in some way.
Decision made “Third Age” it is!
So as you can see from the title of my blog, I have decided that this next stage in my life will be “My Third Age” and that I have every intention of rocking it starting with the publication of this my first blog.
I commit to being fearless in my writing and in my teaching and to building a tribe of fearless women who will share and support each other.
- What about you?
- Where are you at?
- Have you thought about how you will spend your next 20 or 30 years?
Join the Fearless After 50! tribe
I invite you to join me and become a member of the Fearless After 50! Tribe. I will be writing blogs every fortnight which I will send out to my tribe.
Look out for my next blog on finding your passions and purpose in life.
I will also be starting my workshops “Body, Mind and Spirit Check In” in February 2016 so visit my Workshop/Retreats menu option to find out what they are all about and register your interest.
If you would like to know more about me just click on the About Lyn menu option. It will give you a pretty good idea about my life and experience.
I welcome your comments and your feedback on my first blog and hope to have you as a member of the Fearless After 50! Tribe.