What do Nancy Pelosi, Donna Shalala and Maxine Waters have in common? Clearly, they are all women. If you guessed that they are older women, you’re right. But how old? In their fifties, sixties? Try in their 70’s and 80’s and you’d be right. We all know Nancy Pelosi is 81. Not to be outdone, Representative Donna Shalala, the former US Secretary of Health, became the oldest freshman in the new House class when she was elected in 2019. (She was 79 at the time.) But Representative Maxine Waters can top that. She became the first woman and African-American to lead the Financial Services Committee at age 80. She is still serving at age 84.
According to a fascinating article by Jessica Bennett in the Jan. 8, 2019 New York Times, older women are doing a heck of a lot more than “roaring”. They’re rewriting the roles they are playing in the US today. Is it just political women who are rewriting the “you’re too old” rules? Hardly! Glen Close, at age 71, broke those rules in an arena that, to say the least, does not value age in their women stars. Close beat out four younger women to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress.
Let’s Face It…
The movie industry is not known for their deference to age. Except when it comes to men. Female movie stars rarely crack the “age ceiling”. According to Time magazine, “male actors hit their professional peak at 46, while female actors top out at 30.” Responding to that report, Helen Mirren recalled that, at 37, Maggie Gyllenhaal had been told she was “too old” for a role opposite a 55-year-old man. Apparently she adds “As James Bond got more and more geriatric, his girlfriend’s got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.”
Even in the business world, it was breaking news when it was announced that Susan Zirinsky will take over CBS News in March, 2019. Ms. Zirinsky was the first woman to hold the job. She was also the oldest person to assume the role, at 66. Amazing! Bennet quotes Ms. Zirinsky when asked about the effect of age on her new job, “Age — don’t worry about it. It’s a state of mind. I have so much energy that my staff did an intervention when I tried a Red Bull.”
Representative Donna Shalala agrees. “Age is just a number. What the women’s movement did was develop generations of strong women. We had professional careers, we were achievers in our fields, and you’re seeing the result of that now. And we’re comfortable in our own skin, and we don’t put up with nonsense, and we have a sisterhood.”
Gayle King, who was 64 at the time, a co-anchor of CBS This Morning, said in an email, “I’ve embraced every birthday … what’s the alternative, bitch and moan? I believe if your body and brain are healthy and you love what you do and the people in your life, what’s the downside of THAT?! So I’ll say it loud, I’m 64 and (oh so) proud.”
Happy Birthday to ME!
Personally, I couldn’t agree more. Point of information. Today is my birthday and I am 78 years old today! Whoee. I have three extraordinary daughters, four gorgeous grandsons and an 83 year old best friend/lover who’s added even more sparkle to my life these last five years. I work out in some way seven days a week. (Usually 8 miles on the elliptical). I do pull-ups on the chin-up bar. I can now hold my weight for ten seconds with my legs extended at a ninety degree angle. My goal is 30 seconds…
Was my life always this great? Heck no. In fact, in the not-too-distant past, in my late 60’s, it was downright crummy. I needed to do something different. So, I decided it was time to turn my strategic consulting firm over to my daughter. I also left a marriage that was making my then husband and me most unhappy.
Then something miraculous happened. On one of my multi-mile runs, I started hearing voices and envisioning almost movie-like scenes. Rather than checking myself into the loony bin, with the encouragement of my daughters, I did something I had never considered. At the ripe old age of 68, I began writing romance novels. Make that steamy romance novels and sexy mystery thrillers. It wasn’t as if I had a choice. My characters insisted that they come alive on the page. Ten years later, I’m writing my 50th novel. Frankly, I’m amazed and a little more than awed at my gift of creativity. It’s magic!
So happy birthday to me and all of us older women who are not only “surviving” our age, but “thriving in it”. As we should. We are older women. Hear us roar!
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Face it, which was more compelling? Winning a coveted national award or obeying the arrogant sheriff who, after warning her for the third time, had the temerity to threaten her physically if she “didn’t behave.”
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In the five years that she has been writing, Taylor has written more than forty books. Her eight, series track her Special Operatives, Covert Agents, Cops, Firefighters and other iconic heroes and heroines, through the harrowing situations that make up their lives. From human trafficking rings to corrupt politicians, Taylor investigates the underbelly of society and the criminals who flourish there.
Taylor says: “From the residue in my personal blender of mixed races, cultures and world views, my characters emerge. It comforts me to know that while evil slinks in the shadows, the “good guys and gals” of the world sniff it out – and snuff it out.
My characters are arrogant alpha males and the feisty women who bring them to their knees – and vice versa… They fight hard, love hard and don’t mince words. They are dangerous men and women in dangerous times. Love, passion and ridding the world of evil? What’s not to like?