AGE RE­ALLY IS JUST A

24 Hours Toronto - - Life - JOANNE RICHARD

Age is just a num­ber — and Dr. Frieda Birn­baum cer­tainly isn’t count­ing. She had twins at the age of 60. At 65 she rein­vented her­self and launched a ca­reer as a me­dia psy­chol­o­gist. At 70 she’s about to re­lease her third book, Shat­ter­ing the Mold, about step­ping out­side of the box, and is plan­ning a re­al­ity TV show with her 10-year-old twins.

Birn­baum de­fies the norm and is on a mis­sion to re­de­fine age. Old stereo­types — and stereo­types about the old — need to die, now. “Mid­dle age no longer rep­re­sents us. Mid­dle age sounds like you are go­ing down­hill. I call it peak age.” She is anti anti-ag­ing, a pro-ag­ing cham­pion in a crazy anti-ag­ing fix­ated so­ci­ety.

“Life be­gan for me at 60 as very ex­cit­ing. I wanted to do more than ever.” That’s an un­der­state­ment. The world went nuts when she gave birth to Josh and Jar­rett. She had trav­eled to a clinic in South Africa for in­vitro, where age wasn’t an is­sue for doc­tors.

Ten years later “I am run­ning after my twins, clean­ing my house, on in­ter­na­tional ra­dio and TV shows. I am in­ter­view­ing women for my siz­zle reel to pitch to pro­duc­ers for a TV show on pow­er­ful women. I am ex­cited for what lies ahead.

Am I Su­per­woman? No. Just do­ing what I want to do.”

Her mes­sage for other women: Life is long enough to get ev­ery­thing in. Pas­sion is the foun­tain of youth. “More and more women are com­ing out of the closet to speak about age — it’s our last fron­tier,” says Birn­baum, mother of five, one she had at 53 years of age. Birn­baum and her hus­band Ken first be­came par­ents 44 years ago. “To­day, women are tip­toe­ing into hav­ing chil­dren in their 50s, not al­ways telling the truth about their age.”

Is 60 the new 40? “Ten years ago 60 was looked on as old. Look around you and you will see women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and be­yond liv­ing vi­brantly. Age is not de­fined by num­bers. You de­fine the age!” says Birn­baum, of dr­frieda.com and au­thor of Life Be­gins at 60: A New View on Mother­hood, Mar­riage, and Rein­vent­ing Our­selves.

In­stead of re­tir­ing women are rein­vent­ing them­selves. “Grandma is no longer sit­ting in a rock­ing chair — she is ex­er­cis­ing and trav­el­ing. Life is a dress re­hearsal and you can have a sec­ond chance.”

Dr. An­drea Brandt rec­om­mends mind­ful ag­ing: You

Celebri­ties over 60 are prov­ing that you can look and feel fab­u­lous in your 60s and well be­yond! At 66, Jane Sey­mour is be­yond gor­geous, and there’s Christie Brink­ley at 63. At 71, Goldie Hawn’s still got it, so too does 71-year-old Su­san Saran­don. Suzanne Somers is 70 and Meryl Streep is 68. And Lynda Carter is a won­der woman at 66. don’t deny the neg­a­tives of grow­ing older, but you don’t ru­mi­nate or blow them out of pro­por­tion ei­ther. “In­stead, you turn your at­ten­tion to the ben­e­fits of ag­ing — and there are many. We short­change our­selves when we put lim­i­ta­tions on what we think we can ac­com­plish as older peo­ple.” And we waste years of our lives by do­ing what oth­ers ex­pect us to do in­stead of what would bring us joy.

Stereo­types are in­cred­i­bly dam­ag­ing to peo­ple who are ag­ing — which is ev­ery­one, says Brandt, a psy­chother­a­pist at age­with­pur­pose.com. She’s sees a lot of older women fall into the trap of spend­ing their time and en­ergy try­ing to undo ag­ing. “You could spend the rest of your life and all your re­sources try­ing to look younger, or you could en­joy the ben­e­fits of grow­ing older.”

Mark Twain once said “Age is an is­sue of mind over mat­ter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t mat­ter.” So stop mind­ing. A Yale Uni­ver­sity study shows that think­ing pos­i­tively about ag­ing can buy us an ex­tra 7.5 years over in­di­vid­u­als with neg­a­tive bi­ases.

Joy and pas­sion have no ex­piry date. “Make de­ci­sions based on what would bring you joy and re­move ‘I’m too old’ from your vo­cab­u­lary,” adds Brandt, au­thor of Mind­ful Ag­ing: Em­brac­ing Your Life After 50 to Find Ful­fill­ment, Pur­pose and Joy.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DR. FRIEDA BIRN­BAUM

DR.FRIEDABIRNBAUM&TWINS

SEY­MOUR BRINK­LEY

HAWN

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