My parents’ rules still work — do yours?


bootcamp2015-small 2Posted in 2015: In which I discover that younger people are also interested in the process of aging, and give a speech to DARE 2014 conference called Life is Long: Find happiness now.


In a sense, my boot camp for old age really began last year. Last year I learned new things about myself as a result of preparing a speech for the DARE 2014 conference in London. This was a special event from me as for once, two of my worlds converged.

The slogan of DARE 2014 was “People skills for digital workers,” and apparently I was the one who coined it.  The audience works at programming, web design, content management, systems design, digital strategy and so forth. Likewise, my own daily work is in the digital sphere, where my age is totally irrelevant. At the same time, I was becoming fascinated by all the illogical, contradictory, bizarre attitudes to aging that surrounded me.

What interested a younger audience about aging

I found to my surprise that younger digital workers were also concerned about the process of growing older. Many told me that they found it helpful just to see their current worries in a long term perspective. I was living proof that life is long and careers have many surprising twists and turns and that 74, in my experience, was proving to be a sweet spot.

The folk at DARE know exactly what their audience wants and provide strong guidelines for the content and form of presentations. So the process of preparing our talks was rigorous, involving a set structure and several rehearsals with other speakers. This was heaps of fun, as well as a mighty hard challenge. I found that writing about my life story brought me some surprising new insights. (Funny, that.)

What I learned when I spoke about aging

  1. Your life story, past and future, is fluid. It is not cast in concrete.
  2. Your parents embed certain mantras in your head. If they’re good, you can refer to them forever. (In our family David said, “Be kind” and Celia said, “Go on, have an adventure!” Perfect.)
  3. We already know how to grow old happily, thanks to science, experience, and common sense. It’s a good idea to start being happy right this minute, regardless of circumstances and regardless of your age.

You can watch my 25-minute speech without a Tardis

Life is short: find happiness now

6 thoughts on “My parents’ rules still work — do yours?

  1. lifecameos says:

    I was sure for the last ten years of my paid employment life that I was going to be working part time well into my seventies, but found when I turned 65 that a number of unforeseen (on my part) circumstances meant this did not happen. I also knew that I quite likely have a lot of my father’s genes, and he lived to 91. But I did not factor that into my ideas on retirement. So not having planned my retirement years I have taken up a number of options as they came along, and am now quite enjoying my retirement in ways I never thought of.

  2. cedar51 says:

    I never expected my life to change well before I was 50! But it did…I had set forth with a plan when I left my verbal-abusive husband and was so looking forward to having a beautiful new life. But what happened, was I got very ill (probably result of DH) and it went downhill from then.

    I’m not old as such now -mid 60s – and I’m only just finding my way forward – emerging as a mixed media artist which I am thoroughly in love with… self-managing the residue from the ill-period which basically means “slow down and smell the roses, and do what makes you happy”

    watched your DARE video – thanks for the reminder but as to what my parent-rules – they are non-existence, I’m one of those “special babies” born when they were really too old to manage, and they both died when I was in my early 20s…

  3. What a difficult time you’ve had — and how excellent to find a wonderful new vocation that’s so rewarding. I’m impressed that you’ve managed to overcome the trauma of your marriage and the resulting ill-health. Life is long, and there are more good times ahead — enjoy!

  4. Aunt Beulah says:

    Myrl said, “You know what you have to do, so quit whining and do it.” Vern said, “Whenever possible, make a double house payment or increase what you put into savings.” I now say, “Their advice worked.”

    1. Perfect! You know exactly what I mean. Aren’t we lucky?

  5. joared says:

    I don’t recall receiving any rules other than the basics — to be honest, follow the golden rule, respect the power of words, come to mind. I think I learned from circumstances necessitating adaptation to change and primarily actions modeled — those that were effective and others I viewed as mistakes I determined to avoid, hopefully.

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