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“WHY FIFTY IS THE NEW FIFTY” – Funny, Honest Talk With Women Friends At Barnes & Noble In New York

30 September 2009 14,681 views 8 Comments Tags: , , ,


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).


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

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  • jean said:

    Am I ever glad to have you and this website! Just viewed the video clips and feel inspired. Thank you for giving us empty nesters a voice.

  • Karin Lippert said:

    I am hoping women will share the videos with friends as there is nothing quite as honest and fun anywhere else…

  • Karin Lippert said:

    Jean – above. You have to email your name, address to Suzanne at to receive the book for FREE!

  • Alyson said:

    I have to say I had a great time at this book signing…this being the summer I turned 50 and the year of a devastating layoff, the topic is even more meaningful for me. The panel was so well put together and – while this word might be overused in some instances it fits here- inspirational! It was great to hear five phenomenal women from such different walks of life share some intimacies and personal realities with this small audience. I’m glad to see some of the video from that afternoon!

  • Betts said:

    Looking forward to your presentation in DC in October!

  • Darryle said:

    The titles and video are intriguing—what resounds most for me is “Nothing changes if nothing changes”—which should be the theme song of my life. I have to say at least the path is full of discovery and adventure. Look forward to reading your book.

  • Jen said:

    Wow. I’m so glad I just discovered you via the Women in Media. I love so many of these! I was immediately taken with 50 is the new 50! Although for me this year it’s 40 is the new 40…and if one more person tells me 40 is the new 20, I’m going to spit. Actually, I won’t. You just gave me my new answer. I’ll tell them, Ah, no, it’s not. It’s actually the new 40. I LOVE it.

  • Georjina said:

    I am so very glad I found this site through SheWrites. To finally find a group of outspoken, comfortable-in-my-skin, real women on the internet is refreshing to say the least.

    Definitely sharing this with every woman I know.

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