Nora Ephron Hates Me
By Jaki Scarcello

Jaki ScarcelloNora Ephron hates me. I feel badly about that I really do. She seems to be an amazing woman, smart, funny and so talented. Nora, for those of you who thought she was just a film director, producer, screenwriter and journalist, is also the author of I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Nora, I can live with your disgust because I am on a mission. Ms Ephron says that she can’t stand people who write about how great it is to be old. She asks “Don’t they have necks?”

Well Nora I do have a neck and I am sticking my aged and wrinkled neck out and telling women it is time to change their attitude about aging.

Yes I have used the word age. A-G-E is a 3 letter word not a four letter word and we all do it… age. The alternative relieves us of all our worries but as long as there is breath we are aging.

I think our attitude on aging sucks! Women who pride themselves otherwise on being trendy, twittery, modern and friended are dragging around an attitude about aging that began in not even the last century but the one before that. This attitude ladies is quite frankly unattractive, it needs a lift and that is exactly what I plan to do …to defy gravity and lift your sagging attitude.

In a society where Barbie (the doll) is afraid to admit her age, women of all ages need to rethink how they feel about their birthdays. As human life expectancy advances, our daughters and granddaughters may live as many years after menopause as they do before.  We may even reach that milestone ourselves. We need to start changing our view on aging because fifty years is a very long time to live in what you consider to be a second class stage of life.

A few years back I began to observe women who did not seem to notice that they were aging. Well maybe they noticed but they noticed like we do with change that surprises us. We get a little irritated by the break in our step, maybe even stomp that stiletto a few times and then keep going. The wisest among us keep going and magically integrate the new knowledge which comes with the change. When this happens wherever we were headed or whatever we were doing benefits from that little change bleep. As Gloria Steinem said “change is good for you but first it is going to tick you off”

Some change is avoidable. In that case the resistance to it may be beneficial. We could possibly turn things back into their previous form and maybe we should. But have you noticed that aging cannot be stopped? The symptoms of it can be delayed, postponed and perhaps hidden but aging marches right on day by day, hour by hour second by second. In the time it takes you to read this article and either decide Nora is right about me or decide that I may have a point, you will have aged.

So if you can’t stop the change then what are the options? Turtlenecks are always one option, closets full of them, real or metaphorical.

But before you rush out and stock up on high necked clothing consider this: a nude beach in Spain or France. Such places are wonderful sensual playgrounds where women of all ages flaunt the stuff. Not to show off the perfect form… give that a rest, but for the sheer joy of feeling the sand and sun and cool Mediterranean on their skin

Now how would they do any of that in a turtle neck?

I am not suggesting we all need to go nude. That may not be your thing. However I am suggesting you should check in with yourself and find out if your attitude about your age is blocking your enjoyment of something that is just too good to miss….your life.

It is smart to stay as fit and healthy as you can at every stage of your life and a healthy respect for your appearance is good for the self esteem. Who does not enjoy a complement now and again? But an obsession with staying young which is feed by a dread of aging will take over your life not take care of it. In the pursuit of eternal youth everyone loses. An older woman loses the gifts of age, society loses the wisdom of the mature woman and youth loses the hope of a deeper future.

Given Nora’s fame and credibility and my obscurity I assume I need to back that statement up.

Dr Lars Tornstam, a Swedish gerontologist and author of Gerotranscendence, A Developmental Theory of Positive Aging has researched thousands of folks 50 plus and he has found what he calls “a developmental possibility” for the second half of life which begins at 50 and ramps up at 80. This development is not development of the body and no one can deny that eventually there will be physical performance decline as we age but Dr Tornstam is talking about development of the mind and spirit. For those who are fortunate to tap into this stage of evolution the natural decline of the body and the losses inherent in age are easier to bear. Dr Tornstam presents evidence of “increased inner security”, “redefinition of time and space, life and death and of the self and relationships to others”.

Finding new purpose in life and connecting deeply and meaningfully with a community are both factors which are known to directly impact longevity. The message here is if you want to live longer lighten up about aging and let it in.

If Dr Tornstam’s research is not enough for you then how about Carl Jung’s Seven Tasks of Aging or Betty Freidan’s Fountain of Age. They both describe a similar stage of development that is available only in the later part of life and they shared this news with us decades ago. But maybe we just were not ready to listen in our 20’s or 30’s

However now that the baby boomers are racing over the finish line to retirement it is a really good time to spruce up the attitude on aging. So how to get started? It is simple; just a little self reflection will get you on the way to a brand new spanking, shiny attitude.

  • Ask yourself what do you know now that you did not know when you were 20 or 30 or 40?
  • How do you surprise yourself today in ways you never imagined you would?
  • How much have the roles you have played in life defined you and what are you apart from and in addition to those roles?

These are good questions for a coffee break or a glass of wine and a quiet moment and they are the first step to building a new attitude about your future. I guarantee what you find in your answers will change your attitude about your next birthday.

So Nora, I am saying it is great to be old when we give up the fight for eternal youth and embrace the next stage of life as an equal partner in our life journey.

I think that Nora and I could really be great friends. I am confident that over a martini we could discover that we are really soul mates on this aging thing. I mean look at her. She is living a life of full blown purpose. I think she knows exactly what I am on about and think she would even agree that the quality of life 50 to 100 plus will depend a lot on how we look at it. I am going to give her a call, tell her to grab her bikini bottoms and meet me on the beach in Ibiza. And leave the turtlenecks at home Nora!

Jaki Scarcello, a transplanted Canadian, wrote the book, Fifty & Fabulous! The Best Years of a Woman’s Life to help ensure that all women fifty and older know that being over 50 and female at this time in history is an opportunity richer and more ripe with potential than any other.

As Jaki says on her website, FiftyFab.com, “Some women dread the approach of their fiftieth birthday, fearing it’s goodbye to good times and good looks. Others barely notice the transition: they know how to welcome each age for its particular blessings. These are the women who aren’t trying to turn back the clock, but reaping the fruits of a life well lived, recognizing and receiving the real gifts that ‘fifty-plus’ brings. Women for whom being fifty or over doesn’t mean less, but more.”

Jaki was recently featured in NABBW’s blog, “Voices of Baby Boomer Women.” Follow the link to learn more about her.