By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Tracey Jackson

You know Tracey Jackson even if you don’t know you know her. If you’ve ever been to the movies or watched television, you’ve doubtless seen her work; Tracey has over fifteen feature films and fourteen television pilots to her credit. (Remember Confessions of a Shopaholic? Yep. That was Tracey’s big screen adaptation of the book.)
But if you’re a regular Not Ready For Granny Panties reader, you know Tracey because she knows you. She feels your pain and she can make you laugh about it.

In her new book, Between a Rock and a Hot Place-Why Fifty is not the New Thirty, Tracey takes aim at our delusional denials of aging, skewering our attempts to stay young by, let’s face it, outright lying to ourselves about what it means to reach fifty and beyond. But all is not gloom and doom, as Tracey provides not only laughs with her frank and funny personal experiences, but practical advice as to how to make the most and best of where we women are right now and where we’re headed tomorrow. The book is a terrific read for NRFGP followers and all women approaching or gently past the mid-century mark. (Click the photo to order your copy today!)

We asked Tracey the question, “How do you view ‘life in the middle’ and what advice do you have for women about staying relevant, happy and fulfilled as they move away from raising children and on towards the next phase of life’s journey?” Here’s what she had to say:

Hopefully “life in the middle” will take us to life all the way through. I think by staying “relevant,” fulfilled and happy come along with it.

The first thing I always advise people is to stay healthy. Without your health you have nothing and this becomes something we need to really take responsibility for at this juncture. So if you smoke – STOP – now – put it down and don’t pick another one up again.

Go look in the mirror; can you drop five, ten, fifteen, twenty? I won’t go on, you know what to do. DO IT! The more weight you carry the harder it is on your joints, bones, organs and the higher your chances of heart disease and diabetes and nasty things that will take you down before you want to go. So numero uno, make time to take care of you and DO IT! Write it down in your datebook, non negotiable. I take care of me.

Then if you are working and love it, God bless you. Some people are not fulfilled by their jobs but need them for the security they provide; if that is the case find some fulfillment elsewhere. Nothing is worse than an old person saying, “I only wish, but now it’s too late.”

If you feel unfulfilled make a list of what you love, what have you always wanted to do, what have you been putting off while raising the kids and taking care of old Sam or whoever you’ve been taking care of.

Now, go do some of them. Just do it. That is my motto. If some require saving money, then put an account aside and save as much as you can afford to. If it’s learning a new language – go enroll in a class or get tapes; if it’s learning to cook a new cuisine, take up a sport, whatever, get good at something and learn something new and do things you want to do, cause like, really, when are we going to do these things? NOW. NOW IS YOUR TIME!

I live in NYC, and I love the symphony. My husband does not. I live six blocks from one of the world’s greatest orchestras, every year I say I’m going to go. I never do. So I just took my own advice and got a subscription for the fall season. I will invite friends to join me. He loves to stay home and watch baseball that time of year. I hate baseball.

If you have a mate you don’t have to do everything with them, make your own life separate from your life as a couple. It makes you more interesting and it gives you your own thing. And if you are single, go out there, get a ticket for one to something you like, and go; you never know who you will meet.
I also enrolled in French classes for fall. I say every year I am going to improve my French–all the French I learned in school and immediately forgot. But I always have an excuse, too busy, kids around, etc. Well before I forget my name in English I would like to learn some French. ALWAYS BE EXPANDING YOUR HORIZONS IN WHATEVER WAY YOU CAN AND LEARN NEW THINGS. LEARNING KEEPS YOU ALIVE AND PRESENT.

This makes you vibrant, interested and interesting.
Stay current, times are moving fast, technology advances each day and yes, it’s annoying that your fifteen year old nephew knows how to work the camera before it’s out of the box and five years after owning it you still can’t figure out where the battery goes, but to stay current and relevant, you have to keep up with what’s happening. People say to me – “Oh, I can’t do social media, I can’t figure out all that stuff.” Yes, you can, just DO IT.

This world, the one we are living in, and hope to be in for the next forty years, well, its lifeblood is technology, so keep up to date. There are free classes online and at The Apple Store or get your niece to teach you and you teach her how to cook in exchange. If you are out there looking for a job, or about to be, or thinking of starting your own business, you will need it.

So never say never; just learn it.

And I think, give back, you have many decades of experience in something, and there is so much need. If it’s volunteering at the library and reading to little kids or teaching underprivileged kids to read, if it’s making meals for the poor, it can be anything, mentoring and helping out, doesn’t involve money, it involves you and what you know and what you can share and giving back. And as we get on and we feel fewer and fewer of our services are needed, all we have to do is walk out the front door and there are hundreds of places where they are.

If you go to my blog and see the interview I did with Olivia De Havilland, she says the best thing: “I can’t be bothered with thinking about aging, living is too much fun.”

Even when it’s difficult, which it will be, it’s the only life we have, so as I like to say live it loud and with purpose. You won’t regret it and at this stage the last thing we want to start accumulating is regrets.

What did I tell you? This is a woman who knows where you live. Check out Tracey’s blog (great stories and she’s a hoot!) and order Between a Rock and a Hot Place today. Thank you, Tracey, for sharing your wit and wisdom!

Tell us what you think about Tracey’s take on life in the middle. Click “comments” below and share!