“WHY FIFTY IS THE NEW FIFTY” – Funny, Honest Talk With Women Friends At Barnes & Noble In New York
GLORIA STEINEM, ISABELLA ROSSELLINI, REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D-MD), MODERATOR LESLEY JANE SEYMOUR AND ME.
FREE BOOK Fifty is the New Fifty, First 10 Comments
I don’t think there is anything more nourishing than an hour spent with a group of bright, funny and honest women friends. I got to do that – big time – last June when Gloria Steinem, Isabella Rossellini and Rep. Donna F. Edwards joined me for a discussion of the ideas in my book Fifty Is the New Fifty on a panel moderated by Lesley Jane Seymour, More magazine editor-in-chief. We were cheered on by a lively standing-room-only audience of like-minded women and a good showing of men.
Many themes emerged – so did outbursts of hilarity – and I will report on others in the future. To set the scene, as Lesley did, each panelist was asked to tell us which of the “10 Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood” (complete list below) spoke most meaningfully to her.
Gloria said: “I love ‘Both’ Is the New Either/Or’ because either/or-ness comes from falsely dividing human nature into masculine and feminine instead of seeing all of us as human. But I think the Life Lesson that I need the most is ‘Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes.’ The good news and the bad news about change for me is that I find myself doing over again what it is that I already know how to do. Since I’m the oldest one here – 75 – the good news is that I can still do what I’ve always done. The bad news is that I think I’m immortal, which then causes me to plan very poorly.”
Donna, who decided to run for Congress (from Maryland) as she approached fifty, singled out ‘Every Crisis Creates a New Normal.’ “When I first started running for Congress, because I look much younger, people would look at me and miss-guess my age; I thought it was really important to say, ‘No, I’m fifty’ (even though I was only 48 at the time) because I have a 20-year-old son, so if people were guessing that I was thirty-five – you do the math. But I really don’t want to be any of those younger ages. I love where I am – it’s so liberating. When a crisis comes, you just kind of breathe right through it. It feels really good.”
Isabella was grateful for the book’s overall message about age. “Being mostly a model and an actress, I was told that growing old was going to be very difficult, so I was bracing for it. Instead I found as I aged, I continued to grow a certain lightness and a certain pleasure and a certain freedom. Maybe you have taken care of children and all the things that you are brought up saying that you have to do, and at a certain point you feel that it has to be my turn, because if I don’t do it now when would I? The chapter called ‘Do Unto Yourself as You Have Been doing Unto Others’ made me think about how being so much at the service of others is the way were growing up.”
When it was my turn, I had to admit, as all of the others had done in passing, that saying ‘No’ was the hardest for me. “I think men will never understand how hard that is for us. I always thought that if I said no the world would end and everybody would hate me. I am constantly surprised how little trauma happens when I say no. The nice thing about being this age is that you feel you can take it. But I do think that no is going to be the one that sticks with us.”
Lesley was most taken with “‘Age Is Not a Disease.’ “I want to say to everybody at More and to women who are afraid to mention their age or talk about age and to the celebrities who want to be on the cover but don’t want to talk about their age is ‘ You guys are going there whether you like it or not!’”
We all enjoyed a good laugh at that one.
Which lesson applies to you? Meant the most to you?
First 10 comments receive a FREE copy of FIFTY IS THE NEW FIFTY (be sure to include your email address so we can contact you).
10 LIFE LESSONS FOR WOMEN IN SECOND ADULTHOOD
Fifty is the New Fifty
Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes
No Is Not a Four-Letter Word
A “Circle of Trust” Is a Must
Every Crisis Creates a “New Normal”
Do Unto Yourself as You Have Been Doing Unto Others
Age is Not a Disease
Your Marriage Can Make It
You Do Know What You Want to Do with the Rest of Your Life