128 Comments
Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

I went to law school at 40, practiced law for 20+ years, then earned an MS in counseling at 70. I'm almost 72 and loving my second year of full-time mental health counseling. I'm fortunate to have good health and that matters a lot. Mostly, I followed a sense that I was needed somewhere, by someone.

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Deeply curious to know what obstacles if any you had to make the switch and find a new job once graduated? And the journey of deciding to switch too? I love this story by the way, counseling is so needed these days!

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

The wonderful faculty at Louisiana State University Shreveport told me from day 1 of grad school that my age would be more of a benefit than a liability in becoming a counselor, and they were so right! I had a great relationship with my young fellow students, and, with a few exceptions, I've found that my life experience has garnered respect. I haven't experienced any problems getting internships or jobs. The caveat is that a counselor isn't going to make much money for at least the first 2-3 years. Thank heaven for Medicare!

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

At 65, I have so many thoughts on this. I never fulfilled any of my dreams, and am thinking a lot about how I can do more of that now. It's possible and also it's different. I really, really loathe when people say "it's never too late," because for some things it is - and I think the people who say that usually already have the thing I'm wanting and it was easy for them, or they read some story about a 90-year-old skydiver not understanding that it's an interesting story precisely because it's an outlier.

At 57 I was hired in a millennial tech start-up, where I worked until the pandemic shut the company down. In many ways I loved it, I was challenged by it, I was proud of the work I did, and I found some real friends there. It was also incredibly hard and stressful and there was a lot of micro-aggressive ageism.

This past year, I undertook a certificate program in a type of museum work where I thought I might be able to fulfill a long-held deep love of museums and use some skills (retirement is not an option, I need to work for real money). I'm now supposed to do an internship. I can do it, but I wonder how I'll be received, and if there will be any beneficial outcome for me. I've loved the learning, and in fact would love to go back for a Masters, but again, there are financial and time tradeoffs and there is ALWAYS a layer of knowing I don't fit in and am atypical.

I'm also an artist who's never committed to being a professional artist and selling work. Although my situation feels precarious that's something I'd like to do.

So I guess I want to say that yes, it's possible, it's exciting, it's scary, it's wildly uncomfortable to try to do the thing when you're old. There are costs and there are limitations, as there always are. I firmly believe in lifelong learning and lifelong creativity. And yet, most of the breathless "it's never too late" clichés don't really ever tell the whole story. It can also feel lonely, and you have to be able to tolerate (at best) people "youngsplaining" to you how to do simple things and how the world works, and at worst, real resistance to you being in a space where old people typically aren't.

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Your story made me think of Meeedith Maran’s “The New Old Me”. Have you read it? She also joins a startup after 60 and talks about so many of these issues with humor and insight.

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Thanks, I haven't. I am a writer and editor and think about writing a how-to for boomers in startups, as there is a huge cultural learning curve.

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Apr 15, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

'The New Old Me' is wonderful and inspiring. I'd highly recommend it. It's by Meredith Maran.

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Got it, thanks. I’m not looking for a book recommendation, but I appreciate your comment.

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Meredith Maran

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Apr 18, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Lainie Marie, I'm with you! I read your comment the other night and mulled it over since. Those "breathless cliches" and "it's never too late" pronouncements and use of outliers as examples -- all drive me insane! I'm also 65 and accept that some avenues are closed to me now. I'm trying to reroute via my own internal Maps app, LOL.

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Apr 18, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Thanks Bette! I appreciate that and I think "trying to reroute via my own internal maps" is brilliantly said. That's exactly what it feels like, trying to map a new territory that has some beautiful valleys and gardens and some steep hills and dark caves. Part of eliminating ageism is normalizing being old with the limitations that often brings, and making a friendly space for that. And some dreams have to be reconsidered and renegotiated with ourselves.

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Apr 18, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Those are exactly my fears and feelings and some of my experiences. Life is not always as agreeable to my ideas as I’d like! 😂☹️

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Apr 18, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Thanks Beth! It doesn't mean we shouldn't do things, of course. But everyone has a different tolerance for being an outsider and gamely making their way through it. It can feel as though you're always having to wear a mask on many days.

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I always dreamed of singing in a rock band then at 77 I published my debut novel and never looked back 😍

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Apr 16, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

At 68. I just finished the first draft of my first novel. I started it in 2008! You have given me some needed inspiration. BTW I am a singer in my own rock band ☺️

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I love it, Mary Lee! Congrats on finishing. PS For those who haven't seen Mary Lee and Ann Klein's song for Oldster, "I'm Not Done Yet": https://oldster.substack.com/p/not-done-yet

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Apr 16, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Thank you for sharing that link Sari♥️♥️♥️

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author

Thank you for writing and recording that song! 💝

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I love that!

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Retired, l recently discovered a local community theater needed people for a play. So l auditioned and landed a small part. Never dreamed that it would be so much fun. I am hooked, just auditioned for another play. Enjoying the experience of learning and meeting people with similar interests.

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This is v inspiring! It's my secret dream too. Maybe one day I'll take that risk!

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Even if you audition, it is a new experience. Go for it!

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

So far in 2023, my freelance writing and editing business has been slower than usual. To offset the income loss, I started working for a pet-sitting business. I now walk dogs and visit cats on a part-time basis. I absolutely love it. It pairs beautifully with writing/editing, since it gets me out and about, guarantees exercise, doesn't involve screens, and ensures interaction with a bunch of delightful animals who make me laugh (and are teaching ME new tricks).

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I’ve always secretly wanted to be a singer-songwriter. When I was a kid, I loved playing around on the piano. I couldn’t read music or tell you which key was which note, but I would spend hours playing the melodies from my head. I stopped when I realized I wasn’t good enough to do something (make money) with it. Lately I’m finding myself back at the piano again, playing around and writing songs like I did as a kid.

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I decided peri/menopause was just so freakin' hellish, I started a simple side-hustle obsessively curating a better experience for women one product at a time. It's a little like consumer reports for menopause. I call it The Empress Age because I'm so sick of the patriarchy always implying that there are only 3 phases of a woman's life: Maiden/Mother/Crone. I think there's great power in the messy middle... between the Mother and the Crone phases and I wanted to give it some deep grace and humor.

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I can relate!! I had no idea our vagina’s shriveled when we got older. How come we don’t talk about this more?! Just subscribed. Look forward to reading more.

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Lol, we should TOTALLY talk about this more! NONE of this was in the OUR BODIES, OURSELVES book they handed out in my Women's Studies 101 course in college. Thanks for subscribing! Huzzah! Another Empress! Btw, I subscribed back :)

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I am SO glad you posted here. I just subscribed to your substack. Great power in the messy - what a wonderful concept. Thank you!

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I'm so glad you posted here TOO. I just subscribed. I COMPLETELY agree w/ your take on American Horror Story & Thanksgiving... Quick, Ryan Murphy! Before there's a writer's strike!

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I just subscribed!

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Oh, Thank you!!! We should all be Empresses! Huzzah!!!

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We all ARE Empresses ✨️😊 I'm working on my new website and feel this so much! https://monsterempress.com/

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Wowsers, did this come at the right time! Totally relate to your 7 yro self who wanted to be *all of the things*. As a mid-30 yro, I'm feeling that same urge more and more. I'm in tech/software/AI but desperately want to also be an artist, writer, musician, tour guide, bar tender, tradesperson building stuff, motor bike courier, haha a bit of everything that works with all my crazy passions. Why do we have to be just one thing?!

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I reckon you can join tech/software/Ai together with Artist etc in the new world of AI and be a leader in your field. Good luck

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SAME, girl, same. My third grade ambitions as recorded in my notebook were "author, teacher, singer, and concert pianist." Today, I'm a writer, a teacher, and last year I did do some singing on a stage... (I never did get up to concert pianist level of play.) As I get older I'm happier digging into the feelings I think a dream might bring me, then leaning into where I can feel those in my life...

I always fantasized about being a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson! Probably can let go of that one... 😝 But freedom, joy in moving my body, getting lost in music--those are all totally available to me in my current life if I recognize and go after them!

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founding

At 85, i pivoted from professor to memoirist. Neither would have made sense at 7. What could I profess about? Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans?

What could I remember? Kindergarten?

Short-order cook in a chrome diner remains an option--but only after I finish my book about Fran and me. I hope diners are still around by then.

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

A friend I went to college with told me around the year 2000, "If only as a child I knew that one day I'd have the title 'webmaster' at my job."

Most 7yo's today may have careers and job titles that don't exist right now.

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

I have been doing the same thing for years: teaching, writing and editing. Nothing exciting there. For inspiration, I turn to my friend Marcia Butler, who has lived multiple lives. Her first career was as a professional musician; then she studied to become an interior designer and had a successful career in New York; then she studied some more and became a writer (published a memoir and two novels, with a fourth under submission). She also has a great eye (you can follow her on IG). She clearly did not listen to any 7 year old's career advice!

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What a full life! I love it.

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

She's amazing--a great role model.

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Hi Greta, Teaching, writing and editing sound pretty exciting to me! How funny, I recently read Marcia Butler's memoir and have connected with her.

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

I think I'm ready for a change, perhaps in the balance of those activities. Happy to meet another Marcia fan!

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I went from legal secretary to high school teacher to waitress/writer to yoga instructor/dog walker/actress to casting director to indie producer to writer/director and at 43- finally returned to writing CFN again. I had my first essay published in Khôra last month, and subsequently in Memoir Monday. My first short film as writer/director will be at the American Pavillion during Cannes next month.

I am writing and substitute teaching elementary school and volunteering teaching meditation and single parenting two young boys.

I also didn't come out as queer until last year.

We can be as many things as we want. Life is both (too) short (not to try) and long (enough to eat from every corner of the buffet).

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author

"We can be as many things as we want. Life is both (too) short (not to try) and long (enough to eat from every corner of the buffet)." LOVE this.

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Apr 14, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

I was a music therapist, working with adults with intellectual disabilities. I've been really considering becoming a psychotherapist to destigmatize mental healthcare in older Asian populations.

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As a small one, I really thought that traveling around in a van and solving crimes with my friends was a viable career option. I knew there wouldn't be a talking dog but I had set my hopes on spooky crime solver for hire.

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I don't want to grow up. I like being old, but I don't want to be a grownup.

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Apr 18, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

I love your writing so much, Abigail! Thank you for sharing yourself and your experience. Your wisdom and artistry are inspiring .

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This is the most Abigail response imaginable—once again you say so much in so few words!

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Oh, goodness! There are so many things I still want to do at 51. The first one is to get a book published. Then I want to travel and teach. I'd love to start a little cottage-interior design business because I think I've got a good eye and I love colors and patterns and room layout. And right before the pandemic hit, I started fronting a rock band for the first time, which I'd always dreamed of. But both my bandmates were older than me, one of them was a cancer-survivor, and the other turned out to be a vaccine-denier so there went that. I'd still like to front a rock band.

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Apr 15, 2023Liked by Sari Botton

Do it!!!

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