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Age With Attitude Beats Aging Gracefully

by Marcia Mangum Cronin

The start of a new year gives pause for reflection. I like to look back at the year past and ahead to the coming year and think about ways to make the yet-to-come even better.

For those of us in midlife and beyond, Jane Baskin, author of Jane of the Jungle and resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, offers some thought-provoking—and entertaining—advice for getting the most of out of life.

"People say there's something to be said for aging gracefully," Baskin says. "Baloney. Between the longer lifespan and the economy, it's time to age with attitude." For example:

  • If it's baggy, throw it out.
  • If it's stuffy or sedate, avoid it.
  • If it's gray, dye it.
  • If it's lonely, check out (this is not a dating site).
  • If it's still lonely, run as fast as you can to the nearest watering hole and talk to strangers. It'll do in a pinch.

To the many seniors crippled by the recession, she says, "If your choices have been cut back, you may be bent, but you don't have to be broken. Hit the road. Live cheap. Live in an RV, stay with friends, live in your car. Be like you were when you were young and carefree, and thumb your nose at misfortune."

I like that idea. I have teenage daughters still young enough to talk about backpacking across Europe, and I have retired friends taking the RV across the country. Both sound like great adventures!

Baskin is not trying to deny aging. "Of course we're going to get older. But over the hill has become a very long trek these days," she says. "We have to do it differently."

Life spans are getting longer. Social Security estimates that most baby boomers will live to an average age of 93.

"It used to be, you worked till 65 or so, hit the rocking chair and waited," Baskin says. "In most cases, it wasn't that long of a wait. Now, it could be 25 or 30 years or more. That amounts to 2,912,000 rocks for the duration of your retirement. Are you kidding?

"I believe in a whole second stage of life—Life 2.0. Rather than becoming sedate, this is the time to kick up your heels. It's a second childhood—the last one you'll ever have. If you really want to bake cookies, do it in between adventures." And skip the tea parties unless the company is lively and the tea is spiked.

I do like drinking tea and baking cookies, but I think I'll take Baskin's advice and start planning now for a lively retirement. If I'm going to make tea and bake cookies, I'll be sure and invite an interesting crowd over to enjoy them. And, even though I may be too old (and too cowardly) to learn to surf, I'm not too old to plan a trip to Australia to watch a surfing competition. On my way to retirement, I plan to be on the lookout for new hobbies, new friends, new foods and, yes, lots of fun!

As Baskin says: "Gray is for cars and gun barrels. Dye your hair. Lift your face if you want. Work out, run, dance, use it or lose it. With modern medicine, nutritional and exercise science, you can be healthier than some 30-year-olds when you're in your 60s and beyond. So, I ask you, why not?"

If you want more advice from Baskin, visit her blog, Forever Kinda Young, at

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