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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, August 21, 2010


A sewing site I visit recently directed me through a link to something on Ageing Gracefully.

Since I am sure I am not going to do that right, I read it right through. I realized that most of the ageing well stuff you read is all about skin and freaking out about looking older. Since it hasn't been my looks that got me what I needed my whole life, this is not my own particular crisis.

Let's face it I am older. So what? But there are some thoughts and observations I am putting together and I expect this list to grow. This is what I have so far:

1. Have younger friends. If all your contemporaries are going to die or get sick around the time you are that's got to get you down. If you have younger friends you will still have someone to talk to who understands you. My best examples of great ageing are my mom and my professional mentor. Both have friends 20-30 years younger, in fact nearly all their friends are in this category. Over the next two weeks I am having dinner with each of two younger women I worked with in the past, both in their thirties. One girl is making me dinner and serving me wine while I alter some pants and we catch up. Sewing is a great connector.

2. Go to your kids, don't expect them to go to you. This is not your first choice, but it is theirs, so you do it. Let's face it, all we want our whole lives is for our parents to be interested in what we do, and that involves being where we are. Naturally it would be far nicer to have them back asleep down the hall than staying in some hotel waiting until they wake up to call, but this makes the difference and if you want to keep part of their lives, move on with them. The parents who complain that no one calls or visits are the ones who sit at home and wait. I am noticing this.

3. Babysit and sew and cook and not just for relatives. Be useful and be glad every time you can do it.

4. Don't over invest in things your whole life. I am starting to see people de-clutter and downsize. What was the point of working your ass off for most of your life so you can spend the last part of it trying to get rid of all the stuff? I have a message on my answering machine from a relative who are moving out of a huge house I always admired asking me if I want "first crack" at buying their stuff so they can move into a condo. They have worked so hard and been so house proud not everyone knows them, and now they want to offload their life's work. BTW I have all the stuff I need.

5. Keep working, at something. I hate to say this because so often I figure it would be great to retire and cruise around but you really don't see that vacant look in seniors who have a job to do. This can be some kind of work, taking care of family, and even treating your sewing as a real job (I know that is completely possible to do and one day I am going to do it). I have an 84 year old father-in-law who says "there just isn't enough hours in the day" because of all his building and gardening activities. My husband puts it another way "if you can contribute, you should."

Anything you would add?


SewingLibrarian said...

This is a very wise post. I, too, am glad to have my mother's example. She has been in a group that meets once a month that has existed for fifty years. She is now the oldest woman in the group because new people have been added as others have died or dropped out. She enjoys her days out.
I would add to your list, take an interest in what is going on around you. Read the newspaper, learn to use the Internet, keep up.

Barbara said...

Completely right about keep up with the news. Good one.

a little sewing on the side said...

Great post Barbara. I have often pondered all the same things, so it sounds like we are on the same wavelength.

What gets to me sometimes is seeing changes in my body that startle me. The thought that comforts me is to think of myself as a young old lady. Being recently post menopausal puts me at the beginning of a lively and wonderful stage of life. (in my mind, this is loosely known as the old lady stage).

I enjoyed the other stages, so wanting to enjoy this stage, too.

Love your sense of humor!

Renee said...

I always enjoy your thoughtful posts. While I'm not really in the ageing category (just entered my 30's), my husband is a pastor and he spends a lot of time with older people. He has noted that as people age, they tend to either become more grateful people or they have entitlement issues and feel that other people owe them time, money and/or service. Of course, the grateful ones are more enjoyable to spend time with and the ones that I really admire. I think you get at this idea with the point about keeping up with your children. I think these are probably character or personality traits that get exaggerated with age, so it's good for people like me to start practicing now so I can age gracefully, too. :)

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Sometimes I wonder what all the fuss is about. We didn't mind getting older when we were 10, 17, 29...why is it such a big deal now? I know that this is not a popular viewpoint but to me life is a journey and we should try to enjoy all the stages.

I would definitely agree with the keep up part. My mom is 71 years old and even though she is retired she travels (way more than I do), visits friends and is bugging everyone for a new laptop so she can surf the internet.

But I have to say that #4 made me LOL. I think I'm kinda glad that i didn't have excess money to spend when my kids were young because now I only buy the things that are important to me...not things that everyone says you are suppose to have. Probably why I'm perfectly happy using public transportation and owning a couple extra 100 yards of fabric! :)

Great post!

KayY said...

Very thought provoking! Your list is pretty good. Staying connected with people seems really important. Also staying active, and traveling if possible - my grandmother went to Australia after she became a widow in her 60s; my parents go on at least one big trip each year in their late 70s.

Jodie said...

A great post! While I'm in my 30s, my husband is 16 years older than I, so him hitting 50 was a bit tough for him. My one addition would be willing to keep learning and trying new things/new skills. My mother is a great role model and I swear is busier now than she was when she was working.

RuthieK said...

Great post :-D

Digs said...

Bravo! Excellent, thought-provoking, forward looking in the best possible way. Thank you!