Even though the work I do is all about bolstering women and helping them celebrate their worth through storytelling, at 68 years old I sometimes fear the best is behind me. I sometimes get down about my own aging process and let it get the better of me.
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of the same.
We could all take a lesson from nonagenarian Cynthia Riggs, who I heard the other day telling part of her amazing life story on The Moth podcast. Cynthia studied geology in college; worked in public relations for the American Petroleum Institute; had a long career in boating; earned an MFA in creative writing in her late sixties; runs a bed-and-breakfast on Martha’s Vineyard; and has written 20 books . . . and counting.
Oh, and she fell in love and got married in her eighties after having sworn off men forever. (The story she tells on The Moth is about her whirlwind late-in-life love affair.)
Cynthia is a woman for whom age isn’t a limitation. In her nineties now, she still sets—and meets—big goals. And she sounds so happy. You should listen to her story on The Moth if only to hear her endearing, youthful-sounding laugh.
Listening to Cynthia made me think about so many things. For one, I’m grateful she shared her story. As a life story writer by passion and profession, I believe deeply in the power of women documenting and sharing their earned wisdom.
In addition, Cynthia’s story reminded me of some compelling information I’d come across recently about the connection between attitudes toward aging and longevity. The case study, “Longevity Increased by Positive-Self Perceptions of Aging”, researchers from Yale and Miami universities studied 660 individuals aged 50 and older.
Their research found that older individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging.
Do you know what this means?
Keep Positive About Aging.
Bad attitudes about aging can actually decrease our life expectancy!
This information didn’t surprise me exactly—it follows logic—but it did inspire me to double down on my efforts to think more positively about my own inevitable aging.
One way to do that, I learned from Cynthia, is to keep setting big goals for myself. Like keeping this blog, expanding my From Journey to Legacy program, and continuing to do things out of my comfort zone (like a recent white-water rafting trip.)
Another way I stay positive about aging is by leaning into my wisdom. I got to this age by climbing a ladder of lessons learned. I haven’t reached the top of that ladder—I’m still learning and always will be—but I have gathered a lot of wisdom on the way up.
These days I pour that wisdom into my life story writing, and those stories serve as reminders of how far I’ve come.
Have I earned my extra 7.5 years? I sure hope so. I need them for all the goals I’m setting!
What goals are you setting for yourself in this season of life?
What tips do you have for keeping positive about the aging process?
How are you earning your 7.5 years?
Ready to inspire others? Share your thoughts and experiences below.