Present Tense

I’m at that age….

I’m not sure at what age you realize that you’re getting older.  I suppose it’s different for everyone and for most of us, we really never quite feel it happening.  But, it does.

I’m at an age where I feel great, but I know and accept that I’m no longer young.  Emotionally and spiritually,  I’m morphing and growing in a productive direction.  But, then I look in the mirror and see a middle aged woman gazing back at me; which doesn’t exactly freak me out, but I do on occasion wish I was seeing my 30 year old self.

Lately, there have been rumblings around work about a need to sound ‘younger’; to appeal to a younger demographic.  To not seem so old; to try and channel my inner 30 year -old.  You know what?  I don’t want to.

I don’t want to dampen what I’ve learned over the years; it was a hard fought battle to grow up and see things through the eyes of experience.   I don’t want to edit my perspective to appear younger and hipper, when I’m not.  Young and hip is overrated, by the way; my goal is to be older and hipper…or a hippie.

As I said, I’d love to have my 30 year-old body, but my 30 year old mind, sensibility and immaturity have all been buried, never to be revived.  I’m finally at the age where I am seeing that as you get older, there is a cultural bias that I’ve most certainly taken part in as a young whipper snapper.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘older and wiser’ for as long as we can remember, but until you get there, you don’t fully understand it.  And I should add that I’m certainly not fully there; I’m not as wise as I will be in 5, 10, 20 or God willing, 30 years.  But, I’m older and it’s most certainly starting to define me, at least to others.

I don’t want to be the old lady that preaches about how my extra years have given me extra insight (even thought it’s true).  I don’t want to turn into one of those older folks who constantly tell you how long they’ve been on the planet (I’m 53 years old).  But, it is increasingly frustrating to feel as if you DO have some wisdom and insight and experience and knowledge to impart, but the older you get, the less the younger folks want to hear about it.

As a ‘civilian’ this really doesn’t bother me; as a media professional, it’s harder to swallow.  Fortunately, I’ve seen it coming and I’ve planned for the day when I outgrow the demographic that we are charged with attracting and appealing to.  It’s okay; I’m probably happier and more at peace than I’ve been since I WAS 30, but it’s kind of sad that our culture doesn’t prize wisdom and experience as much as we prize youth and beauty.  That lament is certainly nothing new and none of us say it or think it until we’re over 50.  It’s just that  I’m at ‘that age’ where I’m seeing that older people can fade into invisibility, thanks to this cultural bias against “old people”.

I began to internally disengage from my public persona a few years ago.  I didn’t do it consciously, but maybe I was sensing that getting older could mean I would begin to lose value, professionally.  Accepting that I have changed and morphed and possibly outgrown that persona has been a fairly easy transition.  We all evolve in our relationships to work, other people, and our families; it’s inevitable and it’s probably easier if we anticipate it and accept it.

I’m flying back to Michigan to visit my 93 year-old parents in a couple of weeks.  At their age, every minute is precious and for the first time, I plan to sit with them and ask them what they’ve learned; what they can teach me as I approach the sunset.  They’ve taught me plenty, through their guidance and example, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never looked them in the eye asked them to teach me.  This time, I will.

January 26, 2013 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. Well, the media is dead wrong. The demographic you appeal to is adding years just as you are. We are right there with you! THANK YOU for growing older and wiser, and I think our culture is slowly starting to realize that it needs to learn to prize our elders again. We are probably going to be around for a while so we might as well learn to appreciate ourselves!

    Comment by Patricia Ayite | January 26, 2013 | Reply

    • Patricia:
      Thanks for the comment; I have less faith that we’re prizing our elders, particularly in my profession:) But, that’s okay. My journey is taking me in a different direction, anyway. Your last sentence is the key.
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | January 26, 2013 | Reply

    • I have to agree, the demographic is adding years as well. (Plus you have the younger “whipper snappers” like Jeremy and Emily to share the experiences and points of view of the younger generations.) I’ve listened to your show for more than 12 years – am a couple months away from 50, and have many friends in my age range who listen. The beauty of the show is that the younger listeners and our kids who listen with us get a perspective from the “older folks” and it’s not coming out of their parents mouth so they see that amybe we’re not so crazy! Having them hear the experiences/opinions that you bring up also opens an opportunity for me to share my similar experiences and they get a kick out of listening to it. Or heaven forbid, they actually learn something from it and can avoid some maybe not so wise choices that they may make as they age.

      I totally relate to the whole blog. I loved and embraced my 30th and 40’s and hope I can do the same as the 50’s are just around the corner. Thanks fo sharing!!

      Comment by Annie Bitsie | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  2. I did radio for nine years back in the 80s and 90s when I was a pup in my 20s. I did adult standards for a little while, and rock for a little while. I listen back to my old airchecks sometimes today and am reminded of just how much fun it was. I could more credibly do adult standards today if the advertisers were there. In the day, I was just right for rock — I fit the demo squarely and related easily to the audience. But I don’t think I could fake that now. Like you, the wisdom has been hard won and I don’t want to pretend to be otherwise! Maybe someday rock of the 70s-90s will become like adult standards used to be and I’ll find myself in demand again.

    Comment by Jim | January 26, 2013 | Reply

    • Jim:
      Thanks. There is always internet radio:) Media is evolving.
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  3. Why does the media start to discount people as they get older, pigeon-holing them into an arena where they should be given up on, relegated to talk of medications and ED? I have stuck with your show (and aged right along with you) for more than 10 years because you represented ADULTS who aren’t potheads, who aren’t out there getting drunk and hooking up just to tell about it, on air, the next morning. Between you and Dom, Jeremy and the other representatives of the younger crowd, who have come and gone, you represent those of us who are intelligent, silly at times, intellectual at others. Between the four of you, you bring us REAL people who are functioning in life and enjoying it – not scraping by by the skin of our nicotine-stained teeth nor ready to listen to golden oldies. You are US. Don’t let them change that – we need you to represent us.

    Comment by In Good Taste Denver | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  4. Oh Jane, I hope you’re wrong about the grumblings! I’m 63 and listen to you every morning at work (where I’ve worked for 24 years). The radio program has Jeremy and Emily to say immature (funny) things and you and Dom to guide them in the right direction with a good laugh. Don’t change a thing. I’m retiring in 19 months and 4 days (not that I’m counting) and can’t imagine my mornings with out you.

    Comment by Paula | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  5. When I was younger I used to watch Johnny Carson, who was decades older than me yet he was always entertaining. He embraced his age but was never lost in an older era. I loved to hear his take and perspective on the day’s events.
    Be true to yourself and relate to things that really interest you, but keep current and always keep your unique sense of humor … Jay Leno (62), David Letterman (65), Jon Stewart (50), Ellen Degeneres (54), Conan O’Brian (49), Drew Carey (54), Jane London (53) ….You’re in good company!

    Comment by mike | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  6. I’m not quite as seasoned as you (49) but recently was told I needed to “reinvent” myself……….I took the comment with a grain of salt………because if I was that 30 year old again, they probably would have say negative things about that……there’s always greener pastures on the other side of the mountain, but it took a hell of alot of work to get to the place where you can see that view……….and quite honestly, I like who I am now better than I liked the person I was when I was 30.

    Comment by lisasjourney2009 | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  7. I will be 52 next week. There is something about hitting your fifties that frees you to be who you really are. It is actually ok to speak of the wisdom you have gained. The younger generations may not want to hear it but i think they accept it or at least expect it. I love your show, I don’t want you to be younger and hipper. I want to listen to you and know that your show is a place I can go to be with people who are just like me.

    Comment by Kathy Herburger | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  8. I agree with Mike above – you are in good company with the “older” entertainers that are not trying to act as if they are in their 20s or 30s. I’m about to turn 51 and have always felt that I had a “young” attitude. However, I would never ever want to be in my 20s or 30s again (yes, except for the body!). I made so many mistakes that were driven by inexperience and immaturity and luckily, I have learned from them. That is the joy of being older. Also another joy? – being comfortable with who you are and who you would still like to become for reasons that don’t involve pleasing anyone in particular.

    Jane, I love your ability to laugh heartily with your co-workers and to add your opinion from a centered, wise and content individual. We don’t need anymore radio (or TV) shows geared toward entertaining the already overly-must-be-entertained youth with stories of more overly-must-be-entertained youth playing out mean spirited practical jokes or talking about how they messed someone over and/or completely disrepected another as if it were a goal. We need what the Dom & Jane show has provided – still!! I have listened to your show every morning for about 13 years now. I sit in a office alone for the first few hours before going into the field. You all have been my happy wakeup, my source of great questions to ask others and about 7 yrs ago during a very dark period of my life involving death of a loved one, my main source of positive energy that truly got me through to the next day. Today – you’re still my most treasured morning entertainment that I share with many. Once the show is over, I switch to a more “adult” rock music station and every morning I switch back to you guys. You all make me think, you make me laugh. You all have become my unseen friends that greet me each morning and help start the day with stories to which I can relate and fill my morning with laughter. I’m eyerolling right along with you when talk of the dumb young entertainers and nodding when you comment on their occasional show of maturity or goodness. Many radio stations have “adult” full talk radio. Is that what they think appeals to those 50+? Ugh, shoot me now! I can’t handle that kind of negativity and endless ranting! You all have a niche in the market – not the teens or tweens, but the REAL people out there that make up more of the demographics. We’re real! Why isn’t anyone trying to appeal to us? The reason you all have done so well is because most of the other stations out there think they need to appeal to the young people. There are plenty out there that do – let them! You have a niche that no one else can touch.

    As for embracing the older years – it’s an adjustment. But exciting as we write the new chapters with some foundation this time! I will be leaving my profession soon, as it is for the younger folks and because I’m ready for a change. Although a little scary and a little sad, I look forward to not seeing where life takes me this time, but where I take life. This time I get to move forward with wisdom and tools that I did not have in my youth. Hopefully you will continue to blog – as I truly enjoy your thought provoking musings!

    Comment by Mary | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  9. I like where I have arrived and maybe because I don’t need to attract a younger demographic, I can peacefully move on and enjoy the exhiliaration of feeling my own groove (hippie talk). After a while you will feel that the disassociation of your work and personal personae starts to feel like a betrayal and then you will need to change something and you will know exactly when it needs to be done and what to do.

    Comment by Kelly Mac Donald | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  10. Your morning show is the highlight of my work day. You, Dom, Jeremy and Emily all make me smile and I have a good laugh to start out my day and you do something a lot of other radio shows don’t do—you make me think about things often in a new way and that’s how you stay fresh and evolve rather than stagnating. The thing I find interesting about a lot of individuals in their 20’s and 30’s is that they’re more stuck in their habits and ways than I am (and I’m 52).

    Comment by Tania | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  11. Jane as a 27 yo, avid and regular listener. I must beg you not to give in, one of the things I enjoy most about you and the show is it reminds me, for some people, common sense is not dead. You spend your youth being told to look up to adults and then you turn into one, and if you have any common sense you wonder why you’ve been expected to look up to them. You are one of the exceptions, your relatable and honest and genuine! Dom too btw! Keep up the good work! 🙂

    Comment by taylormaide811 | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  12. Your blog reminds me of how, when Pope John Paul II was nearing his final days, many friends and family said he needed to step aside because it was ‘getting embarrassing’. I felt like he was living a beautiful and profound message: the elderly still have value, still have lessons worth passing on. Maybe it was uncomfortable to see him because of our society’s tendency to close doors on wrinkles, creaking bones, drool, etc. The price of that is missing out on witnessing examples of experience, and coming to appreciate beauty in a different form.

    Comment by Debbie Riley | January 27, 2013 | Reply

    • Debbie, that’s a really interesting observation. You’re right. That was all about everyone else’s discomfort with his decline. Maybe if we forced ourselves to see it and realize that we all face that decline and ultimately death, we’d have a healthier attitude toward aging.
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | January 27, 2013 | Reply


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