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Rock on, Boomers

September 11, 2011

Being a card carrying member of the first wave of baby boomers to appear on the planet, I feel fortunate to still be breathing. 
Suddenly, without warning, some people have begun referring to the entire Boomer Nation as (gulp) “senior citizens.”  
Whoa. Not so fast, you folks who still have pigment in your hair. I prefer the term  “chronologically gifted.”  Didn’t you get the memo that the age bracket for seniors has officially been adjusted upward, and 60 is the new 40? (I wish someone would tell my sciatic nerve.)
But I must say, aging has come with some delightful perks, especially the rediscovery of good, ole-fashioned fun. Maybe there is justice in the world after all. 
I’m not talking about the grown-up kind of fun we had in our 30s and 40s which involved bringing home a fat paycheck or airline tickets to some foreign land. It’s the kind we had at age seven when we still believed in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. 
Giving the dog a bath or painting your bicycle orange was fun back then and trust me, it will be again, sooner than you realize.
Rediscovering fun
First, you’ve got to reorder your priorities. A few weeks into retirement I discovered I wasn’t having all that much fun. Talk about depressing. All I had done for 40 years was go to work, raise children and do some short-order cooking. I had no hobbies and no simple pleasures – well, except for my morning coffee.
I had few friends – save those I had worked with and they were too busy to go drag racing  with me. With an abundance of free time and a calendar that wasn’t full of to-dos like “finish science project,” “shovel dirt out of the house,” and “save the world,” I accidentally stumbled across the ability to have fun again.  
But first, I had to be willing to toss caution to the wind and break the rules. Go ahead and block out your mother’s voice and take candy from strangers, and by all means, wear white shoes after Labor Day. Heck. I wore white shoes today – with pink socks. (The younger generation expects us to be tacky, and I can do tacky.)
You can paint your guest room fuchsia, then take the left-over paint outside and paint big floppy flowers on your fence. You can purchase a tiara at the toy store and wear it to the supermarket. I never got to be a beauty queen, but I can now wear my new tiara to The Piggly Wiggly and attract all kinds of strange people to add to my “new friends” list.
You can even be the life of the party (if the party ends by 8 p.m.)
If you find yourself with a rusty “funny bone” – try the following exercise which will get you moving in the right direction.
Make a list
Set a timer, and for 10 minutes write as fast as you can, without editing, all the things you’d like to do. Don’t think. Just write. Don’t judge, and don’t give yourself time to wonder if it will get you committed or make you a laughing stock.
Just let the thoughts fly onto the page as fast as your brain can spit them out.  My list included: pour a whole bottle of bubble bath in the tub, make a batch of fudge to share with no one, and read a great murder mystery in bed while eating crackers. Think of everything you’ve ever wanted to do but were repressed by decorum. 
When your 10 minutes are up, pick two – the ones that won’t get you incarcerated – and do them. You will acquire a new daring attitude and your list will keep growing. Suddenly, every day becomes a great adventure and you’ll make friends with other emancipated people.
Never forget that people, like fine wine, grow more valuable with age. I’m just hoping I’m not a bottle of Ripple.
 
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. Visit her at http:// www.deludeddiva.com.

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