Baby Boomer or Bust: Embracing the Adventure of Your Senior Years
by LaGeris Underwood Bell
When I received my first AARP literature and my first free Readers Digest, I balked. The nerve of those guys! I was barely 45 and here they were treating me like a senior citizen. An old poop!
I growled and snorted indignantly until I found myself turning 55, by which time I’d finally accepted both my subscription to Readers Digest, which I loved, and my AARP membership card with its plethora of benefits and discounts.
Free at last! Yes, free from the stigma of “old-age-dom” and free to embrace an entirely new chapter of my life.
I started this new chapter with the creation of a new birthday tradition. I celebrated my 55th birthday for 55 days and oh, what a celebration it was — I treated myself and a dear friend to the best seats in the house at Atlanta’s Alliance Theater, one of the best regional theaters in the country.
We feasted on luxurious pre-concert dinners before a sumptuous banquet of my favorite classical music by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra — again in some of the best seats in the house. I can’t prove it, but I’m sure I knew Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and was in love with him in a previous life.
And, I started each day by singing “Happy Birthday To Me!” in jazz-scat style on the first day, country western style on the second day, operatic soprano a la Kathleen Battle on the third day, and so on. Oh, what a grand time I had celebrating me.
Page 2: Self-Acceptance
I found my style of birthday celebration to be tremendously therapeutic. I was short and fat and black and female — all reasons in some folks minds NOT to celebrate but to commiserate. I discovered, though, that self-acceptance takes both commitment and dedication. My birthday celebration gave me the perfect excuse to embrace and accept myself as I was, warts and all. It was hard work, but it was so worth it.
Four years later, a week before my 59th birthday, I was laid off from my job as a staff TV producer. After 30+ years traveling around the world, writing for local stations, networks, and privately owned outlets, I was about to start a whole new chapter, but this time I wasn’t sure what or how to celebrate.
I’d written and produced TV for three decades. I’d won four Emmy trophies and a pile of other awards. TV was all I knew. It was who I was. Who was I supposed to be now?
My layoff proved to be a real blessing. It gave me time to discover, accept, and embrace a “me” with whom I’d not yet become acquainted. For one thing, I was a lot stronger than I knew I was. I was teachable, curious; and although a slow learner, what I learned [at last] stuck with me.
Page 4: Self Exploration
Today I’m a professional blog writer and editor. I’m learning about how the Internet works, the vastness of the blogosphere, and the nearness of prospective new friends via cyberspace. How paradoxical it is that outer space is so vast and remote, and cyberspace is equally as expansive and yet so much more immediate.
My Baby Boomer Adventure Continues
At 61, I’m taking baby-steps along my online journey and embracing my fellow travelers as I encounter them. I’m working on my very own video project for my very own little production company. [Thank God for crowdfunding!]
I’m exploring the virtues and values of going green and eating organic foods — when I can afford them. As a result, my blood pressure is a little lower, and I’ve noticed that my arthritis is slightly less relentless on my joints.
And, I’m more willing to give myself a fighting chance to live the best life that I can as I grow older. I’m downsizing my little household to a more manageable level. I’m also exploring the services of a long-term disability insurance lawyer as other aspects of my health deteriorate.
I’m demanding the best of myself each day without beating myself up at night every time I fall short. Militant self-love, I call it. It’s work. It’s a new chapter. I mean to finish the whole book.
To all her fellow baby boomers, writer LaGeris Underwood Bell extends an invitation to embrace who they are and where they are, no matter their financial or physical state of health.