“Aging Gracefully” Doesn’t Work for Me…Here’s What Does!

The long summer nights seemed to go on forever.  I laid on the cot put out for me, clothed only in a small child’s tee shirt and panties, feeling uncomfortable sweat rolling down my body from my hair to my toes.  Humidity took our July summer nights on an East Texas oil lease and made the 104 evening temps feel like 120.  The house was not only thick with summer heat, but also from attitudes of the residents.   My fears didn’t grow merely from the heat and the mosquitoes which accompanied us on our trips to my grandparents (once they counted over 102 mosquito bites on me when a screen was left off a window at night), but it was mostly fear of the woman we called Maw-Maw.  She daily raged into the front room, after my younger brothers and I did something we shouldn’t, with wild gray hair pointing to the sky, a long apron choking her waist, and frantically swinging a broom.  In my eight-year-old mind, she might as well have been yelling, “I’ll get you, my pretty!!”  The scene had everything but flying monkeys.

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Unfortunately, I cannot tell you I learned how to age gracefully from the women in my life.  Both grandmothers and my mother were embittered by family alcoholics, abuse, and pain.  They all were the stereotypical “mean old ladies.”  People you want to run from because they suck the air right out of you.  However, it is their role modeling and emotional abuse which sent me in a different direction; because, I so did not want to be anything like them.  We all go through hard times; it is what we do with those lessons which chart our course.


I dreaded any trips to either of the grandparents’ houses; anger seeped out of every crevice.  The women in my life chose to become victims and allow circumstances to destroy them.  Anger can be a very selfish emotion, especially when you use it to harm those around you.  If I feel this selfish anger rising inside of me, I look in the mirror, see my mother, and then hear her words.  That usually snaps me back into reality.


I really am not a fan of the phrase “Aging Gracefully.”  We are all aging from the moment we slide out the birth canal…the word aging does not sit comfortably with me. However, I choose to “LIVE OUT LOUD,” with joy and contentment.   I decided a long time ago to not be a victim.  Despite any challenges which may come my way…and they do come…I choose to live one day at a time with joy.  There is something to laugh about every day.  There is something to rejoice in every day.  We now know from medical studies those who laugh and enjoy life will live longer, even with terminal cancers.  Dr. Terry Grossman writes, “Other studies have shown that laughter can decrease stress, increase pain tolerance, reduce depression and improve quality of life.”  It is never too late to bury anger and replace it with a rock solid determination to enjoy yourself however remaining days you have on this earth.   Now, I realize some reading this will be turned off by my “Pollyanna” attitude and think with disgust, that there is no way I understand your circumstances.

Trust me…I do understand.  You can sit there embittered and dry up, or make a choice today to LIVE…really live. Life goes so fast.   We can try every anti-aging product on the market, but, let’s face it; nothing stops the process, no matter what we do.  My pastor recently honored his mother on her 90th birthday in a sermon.  She was sitting in the audience.  I found myself at first very jealous that he grew up in a household which was fun, joyful, educational, challenging, and all about serving others.  But, at ninety years of age, I saw an independent woman who still lives in her own home, drives a car, shops, lunches with girlfriends, and loves her freedom.  She is the fun grandma with a door wide open and a welcoming place where her grandchildren love to go.  Not a mean old woman, but a vibrant youthful one.  I want my grandchildren to love coming to my house.  I want them to feel safe and secure sleeping there.  I want to be the captivating Glinda pointing their hearts toward home and not the mean old Wicked Witch of the West embittered by what life did not give me.  I choose to LIVE OUT LOUD for however long I am here…turn on the air conditioner in summer…and avoid mosquitoes whenever possible!
There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
Sophia Loren

I am joining in with other bloggers from the amazing group called Generation Fabulous! We have launched a website where you will find a great group of writers bringing compelling work just for the thriving woman over 40!! I hope you will join us to read all as we address the topic “What Does Aging Gracefully Mean to You!” Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!
Generation Fabulous


  1. LOVE this post. I agree, use your past to make your future better. A clipping I have saved says "It's not that you get out of a difficult situation, but what you get out of it."

  2. This is a wonderful post- thank you for being so open and for the reminder to live out loud. I keep forgetting. I think this is an age where we need our girlfriends (and virtual girlfriends) to band together and keep us from heading down into the bitter. I look forward to reading more on the new site.

  3. Oh, Pam, I love you! I can relate completely to your post. I have been combating hereditary "bitterness" my whole life. It's one of the reasons I decided to start my blog. I have newfound admiration for you. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with us.

    Spashionista (Alicia)

  4. Great attitude. It is hard to come out of a childhood filled with anger a nd not let it affect you. But what you say is so true. If you stay or become bitter, you're mainly hurting yourself. I don't like getting older, mainly because of the physical problems. But I know that I want to deal with it, so I'll check out the blog. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for a great post! That's exactly the kind of 90 year old woman II want to be; I'm going to bear her in mind when I feel I'm being grumpy 🙂

  6. Wonderful post. Thank you for opening up your heart. Too bad you can't bottle your wonderful attitude and give it away. So many people need a dose of attitude adjustment!

  7. I have also chosen to live a more optimistic life. Hardship, betrayal and grief could have consumed me, I chose a different path. While there are daily struggles I can totally relate to your post and thank you for your candor. Have a wonderful day.

  8. A wonderful post that has rung true for me. So far so good, my grandchildren love coming to my house. I only hope that it will continue when they, and myself,continue to get older.
    Thank you.

  9. Well, Pam, you know how I feel about you… But now I love you even more. I know you had a tough childhood with a lot of abuse. Instead of repeating the pattern, you let it show you who you DID NOT want to be. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the guts it took to be "real" and put yourself out there. People respond to that. Blogs can't be fluff all the time because life is not fluff all the time. I know you are an amazing Mom and will be an amazing Grandma too – the type where the grandkids can't wait to visit. Thank you for being my friend and thank you for using your amazing voice and gift with words to change lives. Love you. xo

  10. Wow!! Every day I learn something new about you… You are so deep and wonderful! Thank you for sharing your pain and showing us all that it is possible to transform that pain into something beautiful

  11. A powerful post, Pam and one which I truly understand. If anger, sadness and negativity is all we know, it is a challenge to develop into a hopeful and inspiring person. You have done it and should be proud. You brighten my day.

  12. Pam, it's so true. Life is what we make of it, and what we put out into the universe comes back to us. You've done an amazing job of breaking the cycle and reclaiming the joy! While life may throw everything at us, it's how we respond and move along that matters.

  13. You and I are definitely on the same page, Pam! (And for some of the very same reasons, I think.)

    I love this: We all go through hard times; it is what we do with those lessons which chart our course.

    Live fully, make it count, and live out loud, indeed!


  14. Pam, thank you for expressing yourself so beautifully and for being the example and inspiration for so many. Our childhoods were very different, but your experiences remind me so much of things my husband has shared about his family and childhood. He too could have gone the way of so many, but instead he allowed God to make him into a "new creation." I know from other things you have written, that your relationship with Christ has made all the difference in the world for you as well. I know your children (and grandchildren) will rise up and call you "Blessed!"

  15. Good for you. Many years from now maybe your grandkids will be in a Blog Hop and will describe how your "living out loud" taught them how to age gracefully.

  16. I am so happy that you have broken the cycle of embittered women and are living out loud. It is obvious to me, just from you blog, that you are joyful and love life. That is what I love most about getting your posts in my inbox each day. I'm really looking forward to the launch of the new blog. Congratulations!

  17. The thing that I want to live out loud is the idea that the "good old days" were not always so good. Marriage and parenthood has been much in the news lately. Facts, figures, graphs claiming this and that about children and how current social trends impact them.

    Well, let's not forget that social norms of old weren't all that wonderful! Women who had no options stuck in marriages to drunks and abusers. Drunks and abusers who didn't have the support they needed to change themselves (the rise and acceptableness of AA has been a blessing to many families). Girls who found themselves mothers before marriage were shamed or sent away from their communities.

    Life, for all the negative things we might read, is better today. People still have problems but force for tolerance is much greater. Who knows how much better your own Granny's life might have been had she been able/encouraged to leave on and make a life of her own. That's an option we and our children have – we can leave and make new lives for ourselves if we must.

  18. I love that you finally found a positive role model. I think I love even more how you have used your negative role models as motivation to live your life differently.

  19. Fabulous. You've chosen to live a positive life on your own terms. What a great role model you are. And, you've used 2 of my favorites from childhood: The Wicked Witch (actually I prefer Glinda) and Pollyanna!!!

  20. Pam, thank you. Sometimes it is hard for me when reading posts about other people's wonderful mothers and grandmothers. My mother was wonderful, but she died when I was young, as did my paternal grandmother. Maternal grandmother – not really a nice person. So I don't really have any role models in my family to point the way to aging gracefully – which just means I have to look outside the box, and make my own choices, not those ingrained from family patterns.

    I'm thinking it may turn out even better.

  21. Wow! I could have written this, except it was my mother,& her mother. I spent my weekends as a child with my paternal grandma and poppa or my paternal aunt and uncle. And like you when I realized everyone didn't live like my immediate family, I knew right then that I would never have a marriage like my parent's or be like my mother. I moved out at 18. My birth family acted like everything was happy and wonderful, that is until realized what the real type of people they were. My dad loved me and spoiled me and that too pissed my mother off. No win. Well I married a wonderful man 36 years ago, we've raised two adult daughters. Our oldest has tendencies like my mother, so we aren't real close. Our youngest is a giving, loving women, with a wonderful husband and job. You take what the Lord gives you and you make the very best of it, with Him in the center. Blessing to you, and I really enjoy your blog. Paula Lusk

  22. Dear Pam, What could have made you a bitter person, you had the maturity and mind to rise above and instead grew to be a better, wiser and more graceful person. Continue to LIVE OUT LOUD and I will join you. It's similar to what I say on my website. Reaching out is IN. Suffering in Silence is OUT. Hugs, Ellen.

  23. Pam, I love that you found a way to turn things around and make your life one filled with love and joy. You are so right: that clock is ticking and nothing will stop it. It's how we spend our time here that matters in the end.

  24. I had a teacher who used to say we make choices every moment about how we live our lives. He used to call it either living in the "ready state" that is constantly searching for what works on in the "inhibitory" noticing for what does not work. Simple but not easy!

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