As we are in the autumn phase in the Southern hemisphere, when summer heat lessens, we have an opportunity to see and enjoy our ‘harvest’, or the fruits of our labours – literally and metaphorically.

Though our world is going through a huge transformation, it’s still an extraordinary time to be alive – our lifespan is greater than any generation before us, so we can shape ourselves into the kind of elder we want to be.

For many, this time is for re-defining oneself. Perhaps mourning the loss of our younger self, or identity. Letting go of one’s former identity can be difficult for some. Letting go of someone to death, or losing a relationship, is even harder. But the more we learn to trust the treasures that lay latent in times of transformation, the easier it will be to traverse these years.

As I sit here waiting for inspiration to start this long-overdue blog post, I hear the words “your voice matters”. The topic will be a radical re-imagination of ageing following on from my past blog posts. Becoming wise and flourishing elders, and witnessing each other in this rite of passage.

I’ve been informally researching and passionately writing about our 3rd chapter for over 10 years so it seems timely to continue. To invite people if they are interested, in this vital conversation. I’m not sure how this will evolve. It could be a regular zoom conversation, or a local gathering in my shire, so please reach out to me in a message if interested.

With confidence and a “so what” attitude, our 3rd chapter can end up being more joyful than expected, if we embrace these precious years with fresh eyes.

We’re often recruited for a story that we didn’t audition for–like a character in someone else’s plot. So I’ll be providing a space for others to create a new story. Or alchemise an old story that can become the medicine for your elder years.

We can choose stories to live on in our consciousness, or choose ones to put to rest. For instance, are you ready to give up your story of chronic pain? Let us birth new life into these years instead of carrying too many old stories.

Finding others we admire as elders and adopting them as role models is a realistic positivity strategy that can encourage us on this journey. But it’s not about comparing ourselves for not “living up” to what someone else has done. As Theodore Roosevelt reputedly said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

In deep contemplation for decades I’ve explored my own deep fears and health challenges of late. I’m happy to share my approach to navigating these years with more creativity and soul. My aim is to inspire and motivate participants to commit to entering or moving further along the path toward their conscious elderhood with some extra tools. Perhaps a new box of gifts to offer, a new song to sing, or a new understanding to share.

What’s important is not whether you see yourself as an elder yet, but rather whether you are willing to do the inner work.  If this feels alive for you, then you are probably ready for this conversation. An elder isn’t merely someone with silvery hair or wrinkly skin. “It is one who has traveled through their inner fires, who gained their voice, their power and now comfortably rest within themselves” (Connie Zweig).

Whatever we believe about age throughout our lives, whether consciously or unconsciously, shapes how we age. Clinging to old habits or thinking about how we ‘should’ be at 60, 70 or beyond, can be detrimental to our emotional health and wellbeing.

Beliefs and negative images are so ingrained in our society that we may even need to meet our inner ageist. We’ve mostly grown into ageing without a ‘good’ roadmap. From age-defying wrinkle creams to ads poking fun at senior citizens, ageist stereotypes are all around us—and their impact is much more than skin-deep. Ageing is a natural process, but there’s been an over identification with youth and a denial of age.

In the past, ageing was mostly usually associated with growing old, disease and ultimately death. Though much has changed for us, it can be seductive to buy into the ‘forever young’ look, and deny reality. Our lives are etched in our faces. I’d like to challenge you to look into the mirror at your 60 or 70 year old self and begin to feel excited. And accepting.

“Never have I enjoyed youth so thoroughly as I have in my old age…Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit. And spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure.”- George Santanaya

If we can accept the reality of ageing as our last rite of passage, and one that has depth and soul, we will become models of ageing well for others. In embracing our later lives with awareness and the hidden spiritual gifts of age, Connie Zweig (author) says this “work is a service for the common good”.

We need more older people talking publicly about themselves and their lives. It seems many are dealing with the years of ageing by themselves.

I’m excited to share a project by ‘sister’ Rasela Torise, passionate Broadcaster & Producer of ‘Belly’ at our local Bay FM Radio station. She is keen to see Older Women better represented in society via the medium of community radio.

A grant application is currently underway for a project, which if successful, will come to fruition later in the year. The project is titled WOW – Wise Older Women. It aims to increase positive perceptions of ageing, and support a community of Older Women who may feel either marginalised, isolated, or trapped in an economic paradigm that insidiously silences their priceless wisdom. If successful, this grant will assist the production of a quality radio program that will educate and inform its listeners. Anyone interested in participating or finding out more information about the project should email Rasela rasela@bayfm.org

We need a mindset that helps us to grow better as we grow older, and to create a life we truly love. Here are some life lessons from 3 centenarians to inspire you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AThycGCakk