Who was it who once said, "Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care?" Ah, yes, that would be William Shakespeare (who, incidentally, died just three days short of his 52nd birthday -- which was considered quite old at the time).
Well, I hate to disagree with the beloved Bard, but I think age has got plenty of pleasure, too. And don't just take my word for it. Ask Jessica Lange, age 65, who in February was named the new face of the Spring 2014 Marc Jacobs Beauty campaign. Or, Janet Yellen, 67, who in January was confirmed as the first woman ever to Chair the Federal Reserve.
Or 92-year-old Ruby Barber from Bellmead, Texas, who, this week, finally received her voted i.d. card after a pitched battle with state authorities, who had previously denied Barber her proper voting credentials because she couldn't find her century-old birth certificate.
"I'm sure my birth was never reported because I was born in a farmhouse with a coal oil lamp," Barber told the Waco Tribune. "Didn't have a doctor, just a neighbor woman come in and delivered me."
All three women are dynamite, of course, but that's not what makes them ageless. No, it's their confidence and energy and the collected wisdom of their years that allows them to thumb their nose at each subsequent birthday and shout, "Bring on the candles -- I'm not done yet!"
It all reminds me of something that the actress and writer Ruth Gordon once said -- and I have those words hanging over my desk: "Never fact the facts, or you'll never get out of the bed in the morning." Age is one of those facts, and Ruth's words have become my mantra.
I've learned a lot about the myths of aging this year. Almost all of the women in my new book,"It Ain't Over Till It's Over," defied their birth certificates by taking on new challenges -- and achieving new dreams -- at ages when many folks are considering early retirement. Graphic artist Gaylee McCracken of Cleveland, Ohio, realized her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor at age 47. Restaurant owner Susan Porter of Ithaca, NY, became a college freshman (at an Ivy League school, no less) at age 50. And after a long career as a music teacher, Californian Layla Fanucci, 56, gave it all up to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Today, Layla's paintings sell for as much as $100,000 apiece.
I also spoke to 84-year-old screen actress June Squibb earlier this year, just after she'd been nominated for her first Academy Award, for her astonishing work in the film "Nebraska."
"Every law is meant to be broken," June told me, the ageless enthusiasm in her voice making her sound practically twentysomething. "When people start making statements about what's right or wrong for you, what you should or shouldn't do, I just choose not to listen to them. I do things the way I feel, and I intend to keep going."
June's words truly inspired me -- so I decided to see who else has offered golden bits of wisdom about reaching our golden years. Here are a few of my faves!