What I Like About Getting Older


My friend Susannah Conway invited me to participate in a little 41st birthday celebration she's hosting today. The topic: The (delicious) truth about getting older.

In her email she said, "I'm hungry to see positive stories on aging."


She wrote the following questions as a starting point: "What are the blessings of getting older? How has your experience of being a woman improved with age? What's surprising about getting older? How has getting older affected your relationships with others?"

Happy Birthday Susannah - thanks for asking me to participate!

I put together my own list of what I like most about getting older (from my perspective right now at age 38) to share with you today.


  1. The knowledge that I can do it. After surviving the life-upheaval of a divorce two years ago one of my biggest first-hand-learn-it-with-all-my-heart-even-if-I-didn't-want-to lessons was that people make it through things. That process, and the way in which life has continued on, has taught me so much about myself and the person I want to be and the person I am and the things I can do.

  2. Along with the knowledge that I can do it myself comes the potentially even more powerful knowledge that I need other people and it's okay to ask for help. Someone sent me an awesome email recently sharing a bit of their own life experience of second chances and meeting someone who wanted to help carry their baggage as they ventured together through the next chapters in their lives. It came from a place of giving and love and encouragement to let go. This is an area I continue to work on, be open to, and practice.

  3. The journey continues. It's far from over. There's so much life left to be lived. I think I used to think somewhere inside myself that I'd turn a certain age and have it all figured out. Ha. I embrace that life is a process and that there's something new for me to learn (and be amazed by) every single day. There are new ways of looking at things and opinions to be challenged and books to read and places to see and horizons to be expanded.

  4. I so love that I can happily admit and much more easily accept that I don't know everything and I don't have to know everything.

  5. Saying "no" comes much easier than it did when I was younger and wanted to be everything to everyone.

  6. The matching-up of physical and mental/emotional strength. Let me explain because I'm not really there yet but I see it as a major blessing and it's what I'm working towards. I have been an athlete in my life. I can vividly remember what it feels like to be in really good physical shape. For me this was in high school and early college as a competitive swimmer. Yet during that same time my mental/emotional health was all over the place (hello crazy life of leaving home for college and the new experience of freedom). There wasn't an alignment between the physical and mental/emotional. I believe in that possibility of alignment (and I acknowledge that I will always be learning new things that impact my overall mental health) and I feel closer to it as I begin to place more importance on my physical health.

  7. The softening. Of thoughts and emotions and behaviors. I hinted around a bit here and there about my struggles with making everything blank and white all the time (it's in my nature to follow the rules). I cry easier]. I admit when I'm wrong quicker. I like myself better with softer edges and am making room for more grey areas.

  8. I feel more alive right now than I ever have before.

  9. I'm owning my own story. Working on accepting all the parts of myself - the awesome and the not-so-awesome. Seeking to understand the pieces that feel hard and unhappy and the areas where I still have a hard time softening. I love that I know I don't need to be anyone I'm not.

  10. I like that at this point in my life I can approach things with perspective. I've got some life experience under my belt. I've known great joy and intense sadness. My body has faced skin cancer and had babies pulled from it and has jumped from cliffs into the water below and all those experiences make up the person I am right now. And I'm so happy to be able to continue to learn and make mistakes and seek opportunities to be fantastically awake on this experience called life.

There are definitely still moments when I look at myself in the mirror and wonder who that person is looking back at me. There are moments of supreme doubt and fear. There are moments when it's so much easier to just eat the whole bag of chips or climb back in bed or do both at the same time.

But man it's a pretty awesome adventure overall.

And there's more to come.

Someone on the One Little Word® workshop Facebook page linked to this post (On Feeling Awkward And Inept At Things But Doing Them Anyway: The Lesley Kinzel Story) yesterday which included this video from Soul Pancake that is so worth sharing as a companion to this post today:

And yes, corn dogs rule.

And remember, "You're awake. You're awesome. Live like it."

What do you love about getting older? What are you celebrating about yourself as you age?

51 thoughts

  1. Mary R

    2014-02-05 14:17:08 -0500

    you are so awesome!! happy to know you friend. xoxo

  2. Shaela

    2014-02-05 14:25:15 -0500

    I just turned 32 last week, and I love that I'm finally learning to "let go" and not be so uptight about everything, and not having to have everything "just right". It's still a process for me, but I'm definitely less controlling (and thus less stressed, haha) than I was a decade ago. :)

  3. Wendy

    2014-02-05 14:37:20 -0500

    This is an awesome post! You are an amazing person, thanks so much for always sharing so much!

    I have to add... I just the love the Soul Pancake videos, that little boy is one awesome dude!! We need more people like him:)

  4. Jana

    2014-02-05 15:12:26 -0500

    I love how much more confident I am in myself as I approach 55 - yet I also continue to have moments of self doubt that keep me humble. I don't know if I'll ever lose that need for approval, but I'm really working hard on it!

    I love how my style is evolving, I'm less concerned about what's trendy, and more interested in finding my own look as I explore thrift shops and find used treasures that help define who I am.

    I love that I feel 30 years old, and am in better shape athletically now than I was at age 30!

    I love that I'm tremendously curious about people, new creative techniques, science, everything! and am constantly wanting to learn more about how to do this or that.

    I love that I'm getting more brave about stepping forward towards things that might have scared me in the past. Taking risks and discovering they're not nearly as frightening as I thought.

    I love how strong the relationship between my husband and daughters and myself is, and how it's changed through time, and gotten even more wonderful!

    I love how LOVE is becoming my word to live by, and the power it holds to change everything!

  5. Susan Tuttle

    2014-02-05 15:13:32 -0500

    Isn't being able to say 'no' such a blessing!? -- making room for the things we really want and need. This is such a refreshing part of getting older. Thank you for sharing so openly. I've collected some wonderful pieces of wisdom here.

  6. Jennifer K

    2014-02-05 18:19:54 -0500

    Yay for life experience and perspective. Wish I could stay physically young forever, but thankful for gaining some wisdom about people and myself and life in general. When I get down about being "old", I like to be reminded of this quote: "Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many".

  7. Teri H.

    2014-02-05 20:15:43 -0500

    This is amazing Ali. I'm only three years behind you and I found myself nodding along. We're learning a lot of the same lessons, it seems. Imagine how different our lives would be if we knew at 20 what we know at 35+...

    Thanks for this. I'm going to write my own.

  8. Valerie

    2014-02-05 20:15:59 -0500

    Loved your post! I'm 54 and after raising 4 sons and having at least one child living at home for over 30 years my youngest is now in college. I didn't know how I was going to handle not being an "everyday mom" because I love being a mom. Man I was so surprised that although I miss my boy I feel like I'm on vacation! I have so much freedom and my husband and I are enjoying our time together with each other being our focus. I'm really enjoying this season of my life.

  9. Maggie Zygo

    2014-02-05 20:39:25 -0500

    Keep up the good work, girl! You're an inspiration, Ms. Ali!

  10. Erin

    2014-02-05 23:50:19 -0500

    Great article. I'm 22 but can relate to some of the things you mentioned. I think you get to a point (or many points) where you realise that you have to live for yourself and that you can't impress everyone. I feel like I change everyday, but at the same time not at all. When I look back on who I was this time last year I'm a completely different person. I suppose that's a thing that happens in your twenties, as you discover more about yourself.


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  12. hk

    2014-02-06 04:51:41 -0500

    it's my birthday today and reading this first thing made me smile.

    As I grow older I love the quality that comes with life experience ... the security, the sure footedness, the loving oneself and others as they are, the joy of less worry and more happiness

  13. julie

    2014-02-06 10:15:11 -0500

    Thank you for the reminder that yes being here is a gift and a privilege. Not a gimme.

    I'm going to be 49 and can't wait! Soaking up this big world and saying yes more often to fun things and no more often to things that don't excite me. That's so cool!

    Love soul pancake…now I have a new hero!

  14. Patti L

    2014-02-06 11:12:30 -0500

    I love Susannah, her Unraveling class was very eye opening. I wish women would support each other more in aging, and just be realistic about it, tell the truth, talk more openly. I am 31, but I def have loved getting older now more than ever. Having also been thru emotionally traumatizing (in some ways) twenties, surviving divorce and basically peeling back lots of layers to figure out me, I just feel so much more me now. Its a sense of control and being at peace with the lack of control that I could not balance out when I was younger. I so look forward to the journey, and the work-in-progress of my life.
    Your correlation between the emotional and physical resonates with me, as I think I'm getting to the point also where I'm trying to bring my physical health in line with the work I've done on my emotional health.
    Wow, good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Leanne in CA

    2014-02-06 11:19:09 -0500

    Oh my gosh, I love that little kid and his awesome wisdom! He made me smile and laugh. Love it. Thanks for sharing your blog today. Getting older is the best. Take care and have a fabulous week!

  16. Ana Roat

    2014-02-06 11:59:17 -0500

    Your post was lovely. This spring I will celebrate my 53rd birthday. My daughter will turn 33 one week after my birthday and my son will be 26 in October. I'm a grandmama to two beautiful little girls that remind me daily of just how wonderful life is. Getting older has made me more grateful for everything. I too am softer, wiser and comfortable offering no excuses for the woman I've become. Trisha Yearwood pretty well sums it up in her song Real Live Woman. Give it a listen if you find a free minute or two in your day. Wishing you many, many more days of a simple but oh so worth it life!

  17. Di

    2014-02-06 13:46:52 -0500

    At 42 I am stronger emotionally and physically than I ever have been. Age really isn't something to be feared. Being strong enough to say no, having the courage to try new things, and the sass to say "screw it" when things aren't going how you planned.
    I feel so much HAPPIER at 42 than I did at 22 or 32... happiness seems more important now. If I don't want to do something or it doesn't make me happy then 99% of the time I won't do it, unless I have to (mammograms! lol!). Age is feeling more secure in ones self, it's more confidence. I think that's why older women look sexy, more confidence.
    I'm 42 and I'm a part time college student going back to school to get the degree I never got chance to get in my 20's. It's never too late to follow your passions, and your dreams.

  18. Anna Aspnes

    2014-02-06 21:39:27 -0500

    Less pressure to conform. No make-up. Creating my own rules. I just don't care what others think anymore, and some of that softening and crying you're talking about. I relate to that.

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    2014-02-07 19:18:39 -0500


  21. Bobbi

    2014-02-08 09:16:59 -0500

    Thank you for this! I feel it everyday. At 51 (still seems odd to say that-only other people are in thier 50's) it just keeps getting better & better. It's what u make it. And then, if you get to be a Grandma...no greater joy! You get to be young again w/o all the pressure. :)

  22. Ksenia

    2014-02-13 16:26:25 -0500

    Great food for thought. Ali, where were the photos at the top of the post taken?

  23. sharon Dodd

    2014-02-14 20:23:38 -0500

    Great post, Ali
    And to Michelle T - hang in there.
    I turned 60 last year.
    When I was 51, I had an emergency appendectomy, then developed breast cancer. I had bilateral mastectomies, reconstruction, chemotherapy, including my port leaking the adriamycin. You can get through anything as long as you have your sense of self and support from friends.
    Then in 2009 I developed leukemia. I had a bone marrow transplant in 2011, and have had lots of challenges. But I have learned that it is ok to ask friends for help, and frequently even people I don't know are more than willing to help.
    I think worse than my health issues was going through a nasty divorce after more than 30 years. And I learned that I could forgive and not look back, but move on.

  24. fafuna

    2014-03-10 15:28:34 -0400

    Thanks, Ali. I'm turning 22 in two weeks and I know that might not be the age Susannah was talking about, but still - I think we're all "hungry to see positive stories on aging", like she said. Enough with glamorizing the 20s, like any other age is not worth it. (I love being 21, don't get me wrong, but that's exactly why I need to hear about how lovely it is to be 41, and 51, and 81.)
    I loved reading your post. Thank you. You are a true inspiration.

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    […] A few weeks ago I participated in a writing collective led by Susannah Conway on the top of celebrating getting older. You can read my individual post here: What I Like About Getting Older. […]

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