WHEN I told my friends I was writing a book on Older Women like us, they immediately protested : ''I am not old. ''

What they meant was that they didn't act or feel like the cultural stereotypes of their age. Old meant bossy, useless, unhappy and in the way.

Our country's ideas about old women are so toxic, that almost no one, no matter her age, will admit she is old.

In America, ageism is a bigger problem for women than ageing. Our bodies and our sexuality are devalued, we are denigrated by mother-in-law jokes, and we're rendered invisible in the media. Yet, most of the women I know describe themselves as being in a vibrant and happy band happy life stage.

We are resilient and and know how-to-thrive in the margins. Our happiness comes from self-knowledge, emotional intelligence and empathy for others.

Most of us don't miss the maze gaze. It came with catcalls, harassment and unwanted attention. Instead, we feel  free from the tyranny of worrying, about our looks.

For the first time since we were 10, we can feel relaxed, about our appearance. We can wear Yoga tights instead of nylons and blue-jeans instead of business suits.

Yet, in this development stage, we are confronted by great challenges. We are unlikely to escape great sorrow for long.

We all suffer, but not all of us grow.

Those of us who grow do so by developing our moral imaginations and expanding our carrying capacities for pain and bliss. In fact, this pendulum between joy and despair is what makes old age  catalytic for spiritual and economic growth.

By our 70s, we've had decades to develop resilience. Many of us has learned that happiness is a skill and a choice. We don't need to look at our horoscopes to know how our day would will go.

We know how to create a good day.

We have learned to look everyday for humour, love and beauty. We've acquired an aptitude for appreciating life. Gratitude is not a virtue but a survival skill, and our capacity for it grows with our suffering.

This why it is the least privileged, not the most, who excel in appreciating the smallest of offerings. 

Many women flourish as we learn how to make everything workable. Yes, everything. As we walk out of a friend's  funeral, we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues.


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