Advice is only helpful when it’s asked for or if you have permission. Does that sound familiar? Very rarely do I ever get asked for my advice but when I do, I’m more than happy to oblige. After all, I have more than seven decades of life experience under my belt. That’s a lot of street cred.
In fact, I once planned to write a book of advice for life for younger women to help them avoid making the mistakes I made along the way. That book never materialized, but instead, my thoughts evolved into this blog, BoomerBroadcast, my personal platform for dispensing my sage words of wisdom, and other words.
The only time in recent memory that anyone has asked me specifically for advice on life was during the women’s writers’ retreat I attended in Paris last year. Our group of eight women consisted mainly of smart, accomplished women in their forties and fifties . . . and me, age 74 at the time. I was surprised to be the only boomer in the group, but that experience was incredibly enriching for reasons that had nothing to do with writing. Travelling and stepping outside your comfort zone will do that.
During a final get-together before the week ended, one of the ladies asked me if I had any words of wisdom or advice for someone her age (mid-forties). My answer was spontaneous, honest, and definitive: Take care of yourself first.
Just like the flight attendants tell us over and over and over when our plane takes off: If there’s a decrease in air pressure (i.e. survival mode), put your own mask on first before attending to your children or others. The bottom line is you’re no good to anyone else if you’re dead.
Boomer women were raised to be good girls, nurturers, and givers. When we entered adulthood, motherhood, and the working world, we discovered that was bad advice. Resentment and feminism grew from this fallacy. We needed to be more assertive in business and in our personal lives in order to not be taken advantage of or disregarded altogether. Just ask Barbie! The struggle is ongoing. I learned this lesson a bit too late for some changes I would have made during my working life.
My inclination to give unsolicited advice has increased over the years. Whether other people want it or not, I’m forthcoming on any issue I observe that needs sorting out. The receivers of my advice are often surprised at my candour but who cares? I’m old; I’m sharing my valuable experience with the goal of improving someone’s outcome. How can that be wrong? The issues can be large or small.
Are you listening?
The other day as I was sitting in the chair at the hairdresser’s, I noticed my stylist wearing cheap, flat flip-flops on her feet. Another hairdresser I visited earlier this year, was wearing knee-high black boots (in May) with stiletto heels that made my own feet hurt just looking at them.
How people who work on their feet all day can be so disinclined to take care of their feet is a mystery to me. Naturally, I did not hesitate to exercise my old-lady prerogative and told my hairdresser she was crazy to wear those terrible flat sandals. She sighed resignedly and said she plans to do better in future. I’ll follow up on that.
I’ve never been one to wear cheap shoes but I have been guilty in my younger days of forsaking comfort for fashion, usually with crippling results. I now have a closet full of FitFlop™ (the brand, not the generic flip-flop) and Vionic™ sandals and sneakers. They have cushioned soles and good arch supports. If you’ve ever had plantar fasciitis (which I have) then you will understand the importance of taking proper care of your feet. The same holds true for your teeth. In fact, treat every part of your body with respect and reverence.
The other soap box I’m always happy to climb aboard is about menopause. Several weeks ago I published a piece titled Gen-X and Y Discover Menopause. Boomers were not given all the information we needed to approach, endure, and survive a biological time of life that came with so many unpleasant surprises. Compounding the problem was what turned out to be bad advice and misinformation from the medical community about HRT and heart attacks. Other than perhaps watching our mothers suffer hot flashes, little was said. To better prepare younger women, I am unabashedly forthcoming with details about my own experience to spare younger women anything they may not be prepared for.
So, in addition to warning you about the importance of taking care of your feet, the truth about menopause, and the importance of putting yourself first, I’d like to toss in a few more words of wisdom, in case you’re interested and are still reading.
Think twice before you commit to a tattoo. They do not age well.
- Make and save as much money as you possibly can while you’re young. By the time you’re in your fifties, you may want to make some major lifestyle changes and you must be financially independent.
- Getting into real estate is never, ever easy, regardless of your demographic. Bite the bullet, budget, start early, and start modestly. Your equity will grow and may mean the difference between a bed in a ward or a private room with your own TV in the ‘home’ when you’re old. It may even finance that lifestyle change I mentioned above.
- Be kind, always.
- Value your friends. They will help sustain you in your old age.
You’re welcome! And, there’s lots more where that came from.
Baby boomers have accumulated a wealth of wisdom over the decades. We do not hesitate to seek financial advice when we have a bit of extra money, or medical advice if something hurts. We encouraged career advice over the years, and listen attentively to decorating, makeup and fashion advice. Why not take advantage of life advice from older generations who have lived the experience?
If you could give a word of advice to your twenty-something self, what would it be?