What I Am Passionate About

Barbara Morris

Barbara Morris

I am passionate about ignoring chronological age. I prefer to live my perceived age. If more women did this, there would be fewer little old ladies toddling around.

I am passionate about eliminating “age” as a tool to discriminate – an evil still very much with us. I have heard so many disparaging remarks about presidential candidate Bernie Sanders concerning his advanced age. Whether you agree or disagree with his politics, it’s not right to play God and assume he won’t live long enough to serve his term.

The age issue is valid to a point. But look, every candidate regardless of age could die while in office.  Our culture has not caught up with the reality that in the past century the lifespan has increased by 30 years. But something tells me that even if this were common knowledge, older people would still experience discrimination. Our society doesn’t value older people all that much.

I am passionate about transforming traditional retirement from a time of decline and wasted potential into a fulfilling stage of life driven by the power and wisdom of maturity and on-going engagement in seamless, productive growth.

I am passionate about promoting the awesome strength women have but often don’t use because they are not encouraged to do so by a culture that thrives economically and politically on the often avoidable deterioration that accompanies advancing age. (In fewer words, debilitated old age is big business.)

And above all, I am particularly passionate about helping women avoid becoming little old ladies.

You don’t have to become a little old lady. And for the record, little old lady-ness has nothing to do with gray hair and wrinkles or if you weigh more (or less) than you did 25 years ago or if you need a cane to navigate.

“Little Old Lady” is not a nice term. It’s even offensive and is usually used to demean an older woman. It’s a term that probably should never be used, but let’s deal with reality. We all know a little old lady when we see one. And when we do, we should resolve that “It’s not going to be me.”

How do you avoid becoming a little old lady?

Avoidance starts in your head. It starts with overhauling your own stereotypical thinking about what you consider “old”. It means you exchange archaic thinking “this is all I can or should do” for “I can do anything”. The former is little old lady thinking. The latter is ageless, passionate thinking that guarantees growth and achievement. Little old ladies are passive “acceptors”. Ageless women are like perennial flowers. They constantly bloom and put forth new growth.

In her blockbuster book, “Bold Retirement” author Mary Lloyd comments on oldness: “‘Old’ is not a pretty picture – wrinkled, rumpled, slow, stupid, easy to anger and insistent on our own petty needs. Greedy. In the way. Is that you? Sure as hell isn’t me.”

Sure as hell doesn’t have to be you or me!

You avoid becoming a little old lady by deciding, at least by age 40, that you will not buy into the prevailing senior culture, which is a culture of decline and deterioration. Avoidance must be a conscious decision or else you will be sucked into a lifestyle that will define how you ought to live and how you ought to be as a “senior.” Little contributes more to the development of little old lady-ness than conformity of the senior culture.

At age 40 you devise a plan that will help you grow, stay productive and facilitate the realization of your full potential as long as you live. That means you will not opt into a lifestyle that has as its focus living life as a pastime. You will engage in a lifestyle that has meaning and purpose with some angst thrown in. All stress is not negative. When stress helps you grow, it has value.

Once you reach maturity what happens is largely up to you. I say “largely” because you are not in total control of your life. The unexpected happens. It’s how you deal with the unexpected that matters. You have the capacity to be a bloomer as long as you live, and no matter what happens, and you can incorporate that mentality into the way you live your life.

I passionately believe every woman can avoid becoming a “little old lady”. Every woman should and could be vital, vibrant and productive until the day she dies. Look for ageless role models for inspiration. They demonstrate that in spite of our culture that promotes decline instead of growth in later years, it’s possible to ignore the culture, as well as the number of years you have lived, and achieve everything you have ever dreamed of achieving.

One of my favorite role models is Dr. Helen Harkness. For inspiration, get a copy of her genius work, Don’t Stop the Career Clock.”Her thinking is profound and unique and I guarantee it will help you be an ageless bloomer instead of a little old lady.

Another favorite role model is Mary Lloyd. You must read her “smack on the side of the head” book, Bold Retirement and her newer work, Supercharged Retirement.  Her wit and wisdom are piercing and memorable. It will turn your thinking upside down and possibly, inside out. It’s what you need to avoid becoming that dreaded Little Old Lady.


  1. Thanks for mentioning my retirement book, Barbara. For anyone trying to find it now, it’s been re-released as Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love.
    And yes, Helen Harkness’s Don’t Stop the Career Clock made a huge difference in my own thinking.

    Barbara also wrote a book on these issues…NO MORE LITTLE OLD LADIES. Take charge now….and guys, you need to know this stuff, too. Little old men don’t have much clout either

    You are only as old as you think you are and you can only do as much as you think you can.

  2. Carol, you are so right! Thanks for your perceptive comment!

  3. Carol Mulch Korhumel says

    Barbara, One thing to add to this article: Anybody who talks themselves into being old is someone who wants an excuse to do less than their best! Carol

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