Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.


by Jan Fowler


“Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”  Mark Twain


Who says you must either be a bottle of wine, chunk of cheese, or keg of brown beer in order to ferment, mellow, and improve with age?  Why, seniors do it all the time!  In fact, we have a unique character of our own, all smoothed and honeyed by the passage of time.   And I believe we comprise an elite genre of society—like precious gems–with a wealth of talent and experience to offer to the world.


I’d love to fool you into believing that I earned A+ in algebra, but the truth of the matter is that because I am unable to recall any mathematical equations whatsoever, it therefore becomes necessary for me to invent my own–as the need arises, of course.


For example, Experience + Knowledge + Judgment = Sparkling Diamonds!  Get it?  Diamonds–which take years to form–are the perfect metaphor for wisdom, which also crystallizes with age.  In other words, the aging population can still pack a powerful and dazzling punch.  (Be thankful I chose to mimic algebra; think how I might have murdered geometry!)


Unfortunately we happen to live in a youth-obsessed culture which makes it all too easy to fall into a “senior slump”–a state of mind wherein one feels washed up and lulled into settling for the simple easy quiet life.  The way in which we perceive ourselves is extremely important.  It’s tempting to become blocked by anxiety or programmed into believing we’re simply too old to try out something new.


However, somewhere it is written (I’m sure of it) that when things become so easy that we no longer need to solve problems, we’re old!   I’d be happy to invent another mathematical formula if you insist or you can simply take my word that we grow old when we fail to use all of our brain.  It stands to reason that with the brain as our center of thought, like a control tower, it’s  much like a muscle which must be exercised to stay in shape.  After all, if disuse can cause thighs to turn into flab, we could end up with some serious-looking chunks of brain flab as well, right?   (Oh Lordy, I’m sure mine would be mixed with cellulite.)


Best approach to stimulating brain muscle and mass?   Work, volunteer, or undertake a new goal!


Better with age:

Our wealth of lifelong experiences have refined and seasoned our wisdom and judgement,  besides which we’ve also learned not to dismiss, but instead to listen, to our intuition (aka, inner voice, alter ago, higher self, etc.)


     “Aging is not “lost youth” but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”   Betty Friedan


Whereas seniors have a lot to contribute to society, many of us don’t realize that yet.  And to think that in some cultures and societies, seniors are so highly venerated for their wisdom that they’re routinely consulted for advice and guidance.


Retired people make wonderful contributions when they serve on advisory, business, church, or community boards, such as the grand jury, because they’re so good at recognizing and solving problems.


     “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes


So get out of the senior slump, if need be, and put yourself out there where you can contribute service and do some problem-solving!  Take charge of–or at least assist with–planning an event, program, or benefit.  Chair a worthwhile committee, lead a workshop, serve on a council, teach a class, or at the very least, help someone out of a jam.


Globally, goldenagers contribute in philosphy and science, as well as the cultural, literary, and performing arts.  Not to mention how many elder statesmen there are of national and international renown.


Art, Literature, & Entertainment:

Think of it, American folk artist Grandma Moses began a career at an advanced age and first started painting in her seventies.  And consider the plethora of such famous octogenarians as poet-actress-historian Maya Angelou, composer Burt Bacharach, and actor-singer-humanitarian Harry Belafonte who continue to share their talents and passion with the world.


Politics & science:

I’m especially reminded of Winston Churchill, who didn’t become Prime Minister of England until age 62.  Ronald Reagan wasn’t elected president till shortly before he turned 70, then continued to serve till he was 77.  Think of California Governor-Elect Jerry Brown, who at 72, will soon be taking office 28 years after his last term as governor!  Also, Gordon Gould was 67 years old when he was finally given credit for his invention of the laser.


Recommendations to others:

Retired men and women have a great deal of creative energy, ability, and individuality, so please consider offering employment to older workers.  Hire a senior because they have a lot to offer in the way of judgement and calm.


And seniors, be bold!  Seek out positions for which you are qualified and can apply your life’s experience.  Go beyond your comfort level.  Solve new problems and stay young.


In conclusion, senior-power is very far-reaching.  You can give others the chance to prosper from your expertise and years of successes and failures by teaching them to patiently weigh both sides of the coin and by modeling sensible solutions.  You are a wonderful human resource!


     “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years.  We grow old by deserting our ideals.  Years may wrinkly the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”  Samuel Ullman

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.