Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Flying Free of the Pigeonhole

If you have been staying mindful of the all-important Pledge, you’ll remember that it starts with a promise to act as young as you feel. “Great, Larry,” you may be groaning. “That’s fantastic for anyone who still feels twenty-years-old inside. But what about those of us feeling exactly as old as we are? Isn’t it time for us to stop pretending and settle down to bingo clubs and bridge evenings from here on in?” 
I’m going to refer you to the second part of the Pledge here. Age is just a number, and the label of “old” simply a perception. Those activities and outlooks popularly associated with people of a certain age rarely amount to more than lazy stereotypes. Society is full of folks who are intent on pigeonholing the older generation and retirees for their own comfort. But it really is for no one else but you to decide how you want to approach your life.
To quote the leading educational theorist, Michael Apple, “If you think of yourself as old, you subconsciously come to accept the ageist attitudes of others.” So you see it’s crucial you don’t let younger generations trying to make themselves feel younger talk you into viewing yourself as ancient. 
Sex comes into this, of course (it usually does with me somewhere!). There is no set age when one should stop desiring it, enjoying it, or talking about it. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about still enjoying your sex life. The rest of society shouts about it – why shouldn’t you? Sure, our children, grandchildren and the sniggering young shop assistant at the chemist who grudgingly sells us condoms and/or lubricant may not like the idea of us doing “that,” but they’ll have to get used to it. My advice? Be the opposite of apologetic.
Keep in mind that in many ways, retirement is a better time for sex than ever before. The kids have left home and for some this may be the first time you’ve ever truly had the chance to enjoy having the house to yourselves. You can make the most of the time your freedom has given you to nurture an existing relationship, or find someone new. Alternatively you can just get to know yourself a little bit better. Yes, taboo I know, but there’s no reason any of these shouldn’t be an option any longer. 
And I’ve got more good news for us. The 2008 US Census Bureau Report predicted that the proportion of people over 65 will outnumber children under five by 2018. There’s now no need to hark back longingly to the Baby Boomer heydays in the time when we were truly groovy – as part of the fastest growing demographic, we are now in a new golden age of aging. 
Society will soon have to start noticing us, and start seeing us as more than mere stereotypes.  To accelerate this change we need to act like the energetic, empowered and sexually active people we are. Let’s join the growing number of people rejecting the ageist attitudes that words such as “retirement” and “senior” have come to embody. Fly free of the pigeonhole and join the Grey Revolution!
Next week I’ll be discussing why those approaching “retirement” with apprehension don’t have to see it as a dirty word.

Note: When this is released and we tweet about it possible hash tag @will_skidelsky at The Guardian. He recently wrote an article about how taste shouldn’t dictate preference:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Fabafterfifty features my book!

Exciting times! After sending my book to the website Fabafterfifty, which celebrates women over fifty making the best of their lives, it featured an extract from my new book.
The website is a great resource for women over fifty or for women who want to be fabulous when they are fifty. It offers a mature outlook on different subjects, from relationships to beauty, and also real life stories on specific topics.

It’s wonderful to fully understand women’s perspectives on aging and how it is a difficult process for them and for us men. We both champion our sexes but understand the importance of the opposite sex.

Ceri is an inspiring woman who has aged gracefully and beautifully, a perfect role model for all over 50’s. Ceri and I both agree with the quote that: “The best half of our lives and your life starts at fifty”.

Quotes that should be life rules!

Repeat after me:

I hereby swear that I will act as young as I feel.
I will not fear getting older or accept a lower quality of life simply because of a number.
I look forward to the stimulating opportunities that each day brings.
I will welcome my new freedom because I deserve it.
And most importantly... I will continue to have a great sex life and never apologise for wanting it. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Pledge

Now as I said last week, the Pledge equals the first step on the road to happiness. To make the most of your retirement you need to always keep in mind the fact that you are entitled to make yourself as happy as possible. Clich├ęd as this may sound, it’s important to wholeheartedly embrace changing phases in your life as exciting new beginnings. 

So let’s jump right in with the Pledge. Repeat after me:

I hereby swear that I will act as young as I feel.

I will not fear getting older or accept a lower quality of life simply because of a number.

I look forward to the stimulating opportunities that each day brings.

I will welcome my new freedom because I deserve it.

And most importantly... I will continue to have a great sex life and never apologise for wanting it.  

To accept the Pledge is to actively take advantage of the power that a positive attitude can have in life. Being open to happiness is the starting point to creating the life you want for yourself. Not only this, but it may also prompt you to notice and appreciate the good things you have already. These could include a loving family, a fulfilling range of interests, or even a doting dog that loves you unconditionally (even more so now that you’re retired and have much more time to give love back!).

You should also recognise that you are fully capable of changing many aspects of your life that you don’t like, often through attitude alone. Remember, negatives are very often positives in disguise! You just need to keep a look out for them.

Volunteering in Israel after selling my first business, I met a number of inspiring people who were able to do just this. I remember feeling guilty at first, for instance, when I referred a clearly over-qualified 61-year-old former Soviet University teacher for a cleaning job. Yet he told me he was optimistic about the future and confident that this experience would lead to him finding much more suitable work later. He said regaining the opportunity to work at all had given him back his self-respect.  One year on I was delighted to hear he was now teaching in a local high school.

We can all learn a lot from individuals like this, those who are able to view even the worst situations advantageously. In the words of Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I know which I’d rather be.

In my next blog I’ll discuss how to use this positivity to fight society’s ageist attitudes and take flight out of the pigeonhole.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Why, Larry?

16 years ago I sold my business that I had previously managed for 16 years.  The return from all the years of hard work, long hours, and stress was more than generous.  I was free from all the pressures of running a recruitment business with 24 offices, supplying up to 4,000 people a week to hundreds of different companies. 

With mixed emotions, I banked my cheque and headed off for sunnier lands with my wife Michele and my three children aged 13, 11, and eight. For two years I worked for a charity organisation helping new immigrants, mainly from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia settle into life in a new land. 

It was a time when I really got to know my children, something I would have missed if I had not sold out.  This was a joy and something I will forever appreciate,  but I really missed the UK. My work with the charity and the adventure overseas just masked the fact that I was retired. 

So, we packed up once again and returned to the UK, unemployed, yet relatively financially independent.  Sounds good, sounds lucky, sounds like most people’s dream, but in reality I felt bereft, lonely, and a little irrelevant, a lot like empty nest syndrome and definitely not that sexy.

After a few weeks back in the UK I was contacted by my financial advisors, one of the largest accountancy firms in the world, who asked me if I would be interested in presenting at a conference that was designed for high worth individuals considering retirement.  For the company it was a great opportunity, at this level if a client retired they would often sell their businesses which meant the company would receive some high fees. 

They said that I would have the closing spot which would deal with the emotional aspects of retirement and of course they would pay me for the work.  I was so excited for the prospect of some real work, three paid conferences.  I began to feel alive again and set to preparing for my entry into the world of conference speakers, which unfortunately, in relation to this firm was to be short lived. 

I called the speech ‘How to retire and still have a great sex life’ in which I described the journey I had made from feeling relevant, with a routine, a purpose, status and a life that was full of interesting and challenging conversations with both colleagues and customers, to my present state.  I warned the audience that whether you’re a Director or at a lower level, once you have given up work and are in that period of re- establishing your life, you often didn’t feel as sexy as you may have before.  That bit of information, together with the fact that a number of delegates said that they had second thoughts about giving up work after hearing about my experiences, I found myself promptly unemployed after just one gig.

Writing the book Great Retirement Great Sex has actually taken me more than 14 years. The first version was written 12 years ago when I was too young to fully appreciate the challenges of this stage of my life.  This final version focuses not only on how to cope with this life changing event but looks in great detail at how our sex life changes over this period.  I have been inspired by people’s accounts of how sex continues to play an important part in our lives just through our 60’s and beyond. 

So, if you want a book that will show you how to have amazing penetrative sex with multiple orgasms then you may be disappointed.  Society assumes that your sex-life must fizzle out at a certain age, but thankfully this is nonsense.  As you can discover, a great sex-life is built on intimacy rather than intercourse and represents an intrinsic aspect of our personal well-being.  If you want to have a great sex-life by making simple and practical changes then read the book.

Next week with you I will tell you about the Pledge. This is the beginning of the road to a happier life – whatever your age!