Do you think getting older means becoming obsolete? Think again. Instead of giving into society’s doom and gloom message about aging, challenge it. Use the skills you’ve accumulated over a lifetime to tap into your creative potential and get ready for a kick-ass second half of your life.
In her new book, Fuck Aging, Kathleen E. Sinclair proves that no challenge is too hard to conquer and that anyone from anywhere can live a brilliant vibrant life that truly begins with retirement. By helping you overcome obstacles and to find your strengths, Fuck Aging offers a complete step-by-step roadmap to become the creative, insightful motivator that the world needs you to be. Now more than ever, your life and the vital contributions you have left to make are worth fully showing up for. Find your purpose, then use it to renew your passion, energy, and joy as you promote lasting changes for years to come.
This is the Author Hour Podcast and I’m your host, Frank Garza. Today, I’m joined by Kathleen E. Sinclair, author of a brand-new book, Fuck Aging: Live a Kick-Ass Second Half.
Kathleen, welcome to the show.
Kathleen Sinclair: Thank you, Frank, I’m really glad to be here.
Frank Garza: Well, I wanted to start with a quote that I read in the intro of your book, it says, “This whole business of thinking about the second half of my life started when I was 25.” Can you share with me what happened when you were 25 and why did that get you thinking about this portion of your life?
Kathleen Sinclair: Yes, it was an interesting time. When I was 25, my dad died and we were not close. He was not a particularly nourishing person to be around, lots of drinking and habits that weren’t particularly conducive to raising children but anyway, when I was 25, my dad went into the hospital for just a routine — what they thought would be an overnight visit, and he ended up dying in the night.
Heavy, heavy smoker, three packs a day and so on but the thing about it is, my mother asked me to go to the hospital and pick up his things, so I did and it was just such a weird sensation for me. I mean, I went into the lobby and I asked at the information desk and they sent someone down and this woman brings me a brown paper bag.
I just thought, “This is my dad, this brown paper bag. This is my dad.” I was very, very angry, I was angry with him, I was angry at myself, I was angry because I had never gotten to really know him or ask him anything. I was angry because I didn’t feel he was a very good dad and just that that’s all I had of him and I just decided that he really hadn’t done anything with his life, he had worked and then he had not worked but that was it.
He didn’t have hobbies, he didn’t have friends and I thought, absolutely, no way. When I get older, that is not going to happen, that shit is not going to happen. I am not living my life like that. You know when you’re 25, it’s all about me, me, me and so I forgot about it. He died, we buried him, so on. Then when I was 60, I was walking along the riverbank near where I live, I had a bunch of dogs and it was just like a bolt of lightning or something. It was dark, I walked him around 4:30 in the morning and then it was like, “Okay Kathleen, now you’re 60. What are you doing with your life?”
I think it was just that nugget of information of startling me when I was 25 and realizing that I did not want to get older and do nothing.
Frank Garza: What are some of the things that you’ve done after 60?
Kathleen Sinclair: Well, I got a master’s after 60, I had a bachelor’s before then and I got divorced. The little financial lady said, “Well, honey, you know you need to be doing something here now for money.” I thought, “Okay, well, what can I do?” I have a bachelor’s of English. I went in and got a master’s in teaching because I could teach with the bachelor’s while getting a master’s and so I did that. I went into the Peace Corp when I was 63 and I went to the part of Ukraine that’s now part of Russia.
I was there for two years, I taught at a university and then I came back and I taught adults who were trying to become citizens for their naturalization test. I just got a certificate in negotiation and mediation and I did a lot of mediation with the court system in Oregon and small claims court and neighborhood disputes and juvenile court, things like that. Those were some of the things that I had been doing and then I traveled the world for a year, doing house sitting and that’s when I talked to lots and lots of people around the world. I mean, I could go on but that’s the kind of things I was doing.
Who Do You Want To Be and How Do You Get There?
Frank Garza: That’s a lot. I’ve got to ask you, okay, you’ve traveled the world for a year. I’m sure you saw lots of places that were really special but can you tell me about one of the most special places that you spent some time or one of the most memorable places that you were?
Kathleen Sinclair: The longest time I spent was in Australia and I spent three months in Australia. I think, when you can spend that amount of time in a place, you’re more than just a visitor, you know? You really can get in there. I had their car and I drove around and I was in a small town of about 700 people but it was the friendships you made and just — well, first of all, Australia is just amazing.
I mean, the flora, the fauna, everything about it is really amazing and I was there in the summer, which is their winter so July, August, September. It wasn’t bloody hot like it can get, you know? There were no forest fires then, that was their winter.
I didn’t have to deal with those kinds of issues but I could see, I could see the Milky Way every night, I could see the Southern Cross, I could see koala bears and just amazing birds. I went, I joined a walking group because they could take me places I would have no idea where to go, so I walked all over the hill in Dale and did stuff like that and it was really fun.
They had animals that I took care of. You don’t — when you house sit, you don’t get to know the people because you maybe spend one day with them or two and they transfer over to you, they’re gone. You’re there with whatever you’re taking care of and then they come home, you’re there for a day, you get on you airplane and fly away. It was up to me to make friends and meet people.
Frank Garza: Yeah, Australia is great. I spent about a month in Australia once, traveling up the east coast from Sydney and it is really beautiful place.
Kathleen Sinclair: Yeah, I was north of Sydney, I know, I just – it is amazing, isn’t it? I’ve never been to the western part, as far east as I’ve gone is Melbourne. Like you, that whole eastern part and down to Tasmania and so on down in there but I haven’t been to the western part.
Frank Garza: Let’s talk about your book. Why did you decide to write this book and who would you say is your target audience for it?
Kathleen Sinclair: I did a lot of thinking like I told you, starting when I was 60. What I realized in talking with people during those years, is that yes, I was doing a lot of things but I didn’t have a purpose. It was really important to me, once I realized that, “Wow, if you have a purpose for the second half of your life” and I really feel we will live a lot longer as this generation’s come along.
I mean, what a difference you could make because you have all of your experience and your skills and your knowledge and, pretty soon will be 20% of the population, people over 60 and it’s such a large amount of human resource to go to waste. With my discoveries and my introspection and I’m looking at everything, one of the things I decided my purpose was, to ignite and transform people over 50 to live a purpose-driven life.
So I thought, “Okay, well, how do you go about that? Well, how do you get that word out? How do you talk to people?” So one of the ways that I do that is writing a book and in writing a book, I hope I go on some podcasts or maybe get some speaking engagements and talk to more people and then more people. That was one of the things that incited me to write the book, you know? I said, “Well, let’s get this out there.”
Frank Garza: I have to ask you about the title of the book. How did you land on that title?
Kathleen Sinclair: You know, I actually had to write this, it was so outrageous, I actually picked the title. Before I was just hesitant to put the little story behind it in the book and then I put it in the introduction. I thought, “No, no, we’ve got to handle this. This is like some giant elephant in the room.” I put the “Oh my god in the room.” We have got to address this, because we’re just nice refined people, we’re not supposed to say these words, “Oh my god.”
I was in Santa Barbara California, I was filming a course that goes with the book and I was meeting with — there’s an editor person you can meet with when you’re having a little difficulty flushing out your title. We were just dancing around some really kind of kick-ass in there and some other kinds of things but it just didn’t spark on me.
Then, we were sitting and there were several people, there was the videographer there and another woman I was doing a podcast with. My publicist, some of her friends had come over and there was maybe eight or nine people in the room. We were chatting about this difficulty with the title, we were chatting about what people think of you when you get older and so on.
One of the things that always happens to me is people’s “Well, how old are you?” I’ll tell them and they’ll go, “Oh, you don’t look your age” or, “You look good for your age.” We talked about that, about how strange that is, that what is that look? What are you supposed to look like? What’s going on here? Is here — I wrote in the title, what I mean was there a memo I missed because I don’t know, they’re comparing it to somebody they know that age or they’re comparing it to a movie star, they’re comparing it to what they hope they look like. It’s just such a strange thing.
Now, they’re trying to be complimentary when they say, “Oh, you don’t look your age.” That’s trying to be a compliment but you know, where’s that coming from? I mean, what are they basing this on? Anyway, then we all shouted out about the same kind of over each other. “Fuck aging!” It was just so funny, Frank, it was so weird. I thought, “Okay, there’s it. That’s it, that’s what we’re going to call it.”
I really — you know, I hesitated and my publicist said, “Kathleen, you have got to own this. This is okay, this is you” and I said, “Okay, let’s do it”
Frank Garza: Excellent. Thank you for that story. You mentioned that a lot of people have misconceptions to maybe about what people are like at 60 plus or assumptions of what people are like at 60 plus. What are some common misconceptions you hear about people that are 60 years and older?
Kathleen Sinclair: The common thing is that we’re not very bright, that we’re kind of behind the times like, “Oh she’s older” or that they kind of tried to dumb down things and explain it like you would to a five-year-old or that they just write it off that, “Oh, they’ll never get it” or they try to explain it in kind of a funny way.
Now, that’s before they know you. Now, if they know you and engage with you, I just think that right away, everybody’s equal but there are these stereotypes and sometimes it comes through media, sometimes it comes through just the societal airwaves of how we are in life and so I think, it’s our responsibility to shift that.
It’s not somebody who is for this responsibility to shift the way they think about us, it’s our responsibility to shift the way we think about ourselves because we give off this kind of vibe. Sometimes I’m with people and they’ll bend over to pick something up and something will creep, “Oh, I’m getting so old.” I mean, they will label themselves in a way that is not really who they are and how great they can be.
It’s because, there’s still this expectation Frank, that as you get older, you’re supposed to kind of slow down and kind of disappear and many older women who are single feel like they are invisible and they resent it. They are smart, they’re sassy, they’ve got a lot to offer and they are totally not visible to people.
Frank Garza: You have a chapter that’s called ‘Kick-Ass Vision Takes Guts and Purpose’ and you talk about these four questions that you ask yourself when you’re trying to figure out your vision and in a certain area of your life, whether it would be health and fitness, whether it be family, et cetera. Could you talk more about what those four questions are and how you use those?
Kathleen Sinclair: Yes but first of all, I want to back up just a little. I think that if you want to get somewhere further than you are now, you need to figure out, “Okay, who am I right now and who do I want to be and how am I going to get there?” Those questions ask you to take some time, take a deep breath and just be with yourself with who you are right now is just fine. Just fine.
Then, project kind of into the future and it doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. I do it for about a year at a time, I don’t necessarily do it like, “What do I want to be when I’m hundred?” I do this between Christmas and New Year, I sit down and kind of go over what’s happened and where I am and some things have shifted and so on.
Those four questions, you’ve got all of these categories, I think these are categories of your life. Some people will have maybe five, some people will have more than this. I just put down the things that I put down, that’s all I can do is come from me. When we talk about health and fitness, which includes what you eat and drink and exercise and so on.
I think I wrote this out in the book for health and fitness so you could see my thinking on it but really, everyone’s thinking will be different. You want to look at where you are right now, just take stock, not good, not bad, no judgment at all, just take stock of it and then, what’s your ideal vision in the category?
Do you want to be stronger? Do you want to have more flexibility? Do you want to become a vegetarian? I don’t know. Do you want to become a dancer? Whatever it is, just an ideal vision. You would — this is all writing or bullet points or something and then, why do you want to achieve that ideal vision? Why do you want to achieve that?
That’s really a hard thing for people because we’re supposed to be humble, we’re not supposed to be out there building ourselves up but if you ask yourself, is it because you want to live longer? Is it because you want to be able to play with your grandchildren? Is it because you want to start a new business? Is that you plan to get married and you really want to have a great sex life?
I mean, what is it, why do you want to do that? You have to have a “Why”. You have to have your “Why’s” because you’re going to make it. If you don’t’ have a lot of “Why’s” you’ll just fall off and you won’t do it and then, how are you going to get there? You say to yourself, “Great, I have this — who has the magic wand? Well, nobody. How am I going to do this?”
You have to be realistic here, you can’t say, “Oh, I’m going to lose a hundred pounds.” Nope. Let’s just try for five at first or let’s just try for walking one mile or let’s just try for doing four pushups or whatever it is that you are trying to do in that particular category. The thing to remember is that, if you do 4% change and 4% change and 4% change and 4% change and you do that day after day, week after week, month after month, it adds up to maybe a huge change in a year.
You have to think about starting just — and there’s the whole thing, you know, it starts with one step and you start out small but you have your vision, see? You have your vision, your ideal vision there also. I think you need to ask yourself those questions and I don’t see, for me anyway, it was that I needed to figure out me before I could help other people.
I had a lot of adjusting to do with me and my mindset and my expectations and my creativity before I could write the book or do anything else. That’s what that’s about, that’s why it comes first in the book, something you have to deal with first before you can move forward to your purpose.
Adapting The Growth Mindset
Frank Garza: Could you share some ideas for great conversation starters and the reason I ask this is because you talk about in the book, the importance of being social with people. You talked about when you’re talking about your trip around the world that you took, you had to get good at meeting people. What are some ways you’ve met people in terms of starting conversation with them?
Kathleen Sinclair: I was thinking about that the other day because my daughter and son-in-law were talking to me about it and a lot of places that I’ve met people have been through things I’ve enjoyed doing. I’m a birder. I go out and look at birds and usually when you do that, you run into other birders or you’re going birding trips or you go to the Autobahn and you volunteer and you meet people that have a similar interest.
I’m also a master gardener and I love gardening, so I’ve talked at nurseries and at home shows and so on. You meet people who are gardeners and you just — it can be as simple as walking down the street and telling them, “Your garden’s just beautiful” or “What is that plant?” or whatever that is. I’m also very fond of dogs and you meet people at a dog park. Some people are church-related and so they do things through church.
I would say, try to find something you’re interested in. I’ve also been part of amazing book groups. Think about something you’re interested in and then how can I get involved with people who have that similar interest and so that’s something that — that’s a way to start it, that also takes care of the conversation part.
For example, when I’m at the dog park, I don’t even know the people’s names, I feel like I know them. You might see them every day, I know their dog’s name but I don’t know their name, I don’t know where they live, work, what kind of a car they drive, how many kids they have. I know their dog, we talk about different things like that.
I just highly recommend that even introverts, they can do things online, they can converse with people online without having to go out of the house but try to think of things you’re interested in. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not, that’s not the point. The point is an interest and then go from there and if you don’t have any interest, then try to look for things that you might be interested in. Is that what you’re looking at for, Frank?
Frank Garza: Yeah, sure is, thank you for that.
Kathleen Sinclair: Yeah and then the conversation’s easy because it’s not about them or you personally or anything or how much they weigh or the color of their hair or how much money they make. It’s about your interest.
Frank Garza: Yeah, I was chuckling there because there’s definitely people in my neighborhood that I see and I know their dog’s names but I have no idea what their name is.
Kathleen Sinclair: Yup. It’s Jojo’s dad or Mimi’s mom or I mean, it’s just so weird.
Frank Garza: Yup. Okay, there’s a later chapter that’s called “Mindset”, looking the world straight in the eye and you talk about changing your mindset from fixed to a growth mindset. Why is that important and could you just offer up a few ideas on how to change to a growth mindset?
Kathleen Sinclair: It seems to me and talking with a lot of people, a lot of older people — and I lived in a village in Mexico that had a lot of expats that people retired older — is that you become very comfortable with a certain way of doing things.
You become very attached to that way because you know what that looks like and you’re unwilling then to look at other people who have different way of looking at things and you tend to just focus in on the same people who think just like you do. That’s kind of a fixed mindset and then also, there are words that people use like, “Oh, I could never do that. I’m too old to do that. No, I’m not good at technology.” That’s a fixed mindset, where a growth mindset would be, “I can’t tell you how frustrated I get with technology but I really want to learn how to do it and I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
That’s a growth mindset. You don’t know it all, you might still struggle with it but you’re open to figuring it out and working with people and admitting that you don’t know something. Sometimes it’s really difficult for older people, they think they need to be an expert on day one. For some reason, I guess, because they’ve lived a certain length of time that there’s automatically supposed to know how to do something extremely difficult. Not true, so they give up really quickly and just pretend like they don’t want to do it or that “I don’t like that” or “I’m not good at that.”
They make an excuse and so it’s just a way of just like when you’re going to go through those earlier chapters about who you are and how you’re going to get somewhere, you’re going to find that if you have an open mindset of trying things, life will become more beautiful and more open and more possibilities.
When you’re looking at most of the studies have been done with students in growth mindsets, fixed mindsets. A lot of the fixed mindsets kids are brilliant kids but they won’t do nearly as well in life as the kids with the growth mindset who try really hard, never give up, work hard, keep your mind open and aren’t fixed that well, you know, “I’m really smart, I don’t have to try anything.”
Older people, it’s a little bit different, I don’t think it’s the same kind of ideas. I would say, just with a growth mindset — and we need it now more than ever with being so divided politically in the country — is that we just need to be open to the humanity of each other and the humanity of who we are and not the negativity or the rigidness of who we are. So that’s kind of how I want people to see it.
Frank Garza: Well, congratulations because writing a book is such a feat. Is there anything else about you or the book that you want to make sure our listeners know before we wrap up?
Kathleen Sinclair: I want our listeners to know this is not a scholarly book. This is a book that gives you a bunch of ideas. Your ideas will be a lot better than my ideas, you will build on my ideas and you will have better ideas of your own. It’s to look at possibilities of the greatness of who we are as people over 60 and what we can do and what we can offer future generations because I think right now, we’re just the ground swell of what’s going to come after.
Nobody knows what it’s like millions of people to get to be over a hundred. We’re going to say, “Listen, it’s great, it’s fantastic. These are the kinds of things you do, this is the kind of stuff that can happen and the sky is the limit and you will be in an amazing place for the second half of your life and provide a lot of encouragement for others.” So that’s what I hope will happen.
Frank Garza: Kathleen, this has been such a pleasure and I’m so happy that you’ve put this book out into the world. The book is called, Fuck Aging: Live a Kick-Ass Second Half. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Kathleen Sinclair: You can find me at www.kathleensinclair.com and all of those social media places that some people go and some people don’t, so I’m on all those but just, if you come to the website, you’ll see most everything.
Frank Garza: Thank you, Kathleen.
Kathleen Sinclair: Thank you, Frank. It’s been a pleasure.