Do anything, not in spite of age but because of it

Jan 20th, 2022 | By | Category: Lifestyles

Creating new life ventures after mid-life can seem impossible or pointless to a lot of people in my baby boomer generation. The truth is, there is no age limit when it comes to pursuing new beginnings. In fact, courage grows with age if you let it. And I’ve practiced what I’m preaching.

At 66 years old, I’ve successfully accomplished becoming an entrepreneur, political consultant, author, and who knows what will be next. From the aviation company Cage Marshall Consulting that I founded more than 35 years ago, to putting my managerial skills toward my fight for human rights, to my latest endeavor that started at 64–my first-ever children’s book series, “Norman the Interested Cat”–reinvention has become my middle name.

And how did my “Norman” series blossom at the age most people retire? The inspiration sprouted in 2015 while I was working on a political campaign in Arizona. Simultaneously, I was cat-sitting my friend’s cat, Norman, who would become my muse. As a dog person, having a cat as a housemate was new to me.

The country was deep into the upcoming 2016 election. People were stressed and angry. Respectful and meaningful debate seemed to be becoming a lost art.

I’ve been politically active my entire life, and there seems to be one of two things that happen when you work in politics for a long time: You become a cynic, or you find another outlet to help institute meaningful change. Fortunately for me, I found my new outlet to ignite change through my time with Norman.

One day, while doing laundry with Norman beside me, I looked at him and said, “Norman, you are an incredibly interested cat. What do you think about what’s going on these days?”

I began making up rhymes about Norman’s potential interests and opinions. It felt so cathartic to give a voice to all my anxieties. I started thinking how great it would be if you could introduce difficult topics through a calm and empathetic character. Would people relax enough to listen to new ideas via this character?

At the same moment, I realized adults would be a hard sell, but children might be interested. Could I develop an endearing character who modeled calm conversations and used critical thinking to develop an opinion? Could my character be kind and patient but still strong in character?

That week I wrote “Norman the (Interested in Everything) Cat.” Norman has appropriate self-esteem and an empathetic approach, but he is also his own cat. His individuality makes him a little stubborn. Because, of course, no one’s perfect.

The goal of “Norman:” To start conversations between adults and the children they love–conversations that aren’t normally talked about in children’s books, such as identity, gender, and seeing emotional expression as a strength, not a weakness.

My first came out on March 13, 2020. On March 15, the world shut down. All book signings canceled; and Zoom was not yet a thing.

The younger me would have, perhaps, been a bit frantic. But my age and experience became a tremendous asset. I was able to put my head down, knowing I just needed to live day-by-day and that, ultimately, the only thing I had control over was my approach to this terrible time. In many ways, I feel as though I am just hitting my stride. This knowledge has helped me pursue my passions with a fearlessness not available to the younger me.
Growing older is not for the faint of heart, sure. But it’s a great gift of insight and new beginnings. My mantra now? I can achieve anything–not in spite of my age, but because of it.

 

Cheryl Cage, who wrote this article, lives in Tucson, Ariz. and

Cheryl Cage says growing old can be a time for “new beginnings.”

has written 15 books, including the children’s series Norman the Interested Cat.” She also has been a political consultant and community activist for 20 years.

Share