Today I am going to share the story of Ashton Applewhite. Ashton has been named by Salt magazine one of the 100 most inspiring women in the world. What follows is Ashton’s story in her own words:
I didn’t set out to become a writer. I went into publishing because I loved to read and didn’t have any better ideas. I had a weakness for the kind of jokes that make you cringe and guffaw at the same time, my boss kept telling me to write them down, and the collection turned into the best-selling paperback of 1982. I was a clue on “Jeopardy” (“Who is the author of Truly Tasteless Jokes?” Answer: “Blanche Knott.”), and as Blanche made publishing history by occupying four of the fifteen spots on the New York Times bestseller list.
My first serious book, Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well, was published by HarperCollins in 1997. Ms. magazine called it “rocket fuel for launching new lives,” and it landed me on Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum enemies list. It also got me invited to join the board of the nascent Council on Contemporary Families, a group of distinguished family scholars. I belonged to the Artist’s Network of Refuse & Resist group that originated the anti-Iraq-invasion slogan and performance pieces titled “Our Grief is Not a Cry for War.” As a contributing editor of IEEE Spectrum magazine, I went to Laos to cover a village getting internet access via a bicycle-powered computer. Since 2000 I’ve been on staff at the American Museum of Natural History, where I write about everything under the Sun.
The catalyst for Cutting Loose was puzzlement: why was our notion of women’s lives after divorce (visualize depressed dame on barstool) so different from the happy and energized reality? A similar question gave rise to This Chair Rocks: why is our view of late life so unrelievedly grim when the lived reality is so different? I began blogging about aging and ageism in 2007 and started speaking on the subject in July, 2012, which is also when I started the Yo, Is This Ageist? blog. During that time I’ve become a Knight Fellow, a New York Times Fellow, and a fellow at Yale Law School. In 2015 I was included in a list of 100 inspiring women—along with Arundhati Roy, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Germaine Greer, Naomi Klein, Pussy Riot, and other remarkable activists—who are committed to social change.
¶ Email: email@example.com
¶ Twitter: @thinkytype
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ASHTON YOU ROCK!
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SHARING INTERESTING AND THOUGHT PROVOKING POSTS
I would like to share with you an extremely interesting web site written by Ashton Applewhite, http://www.THISCHAIRROCKS.com. Ashton writes very eruditely, compassionately and with humor on the topic of ageism. With their being 810 million people over the age of 60 in the world, the subject of how we discriminate against ourselves as well as how we are discriminated against because of the stories we believe about aging is a topic that is way overdue for discussion.
What follows is one of her recent posts:
Become an Old Person in Training
No one wants to die young. Everyone is aging. Yet most people don’t want to talk about it, or even acknowledge it to themselves. It’s almost a taboo.
As time goes by it gets harder to sustain the illusion that we’ll never grow old, yet many of us respond by digging deeper into denial.
Given the way American society treats older people, it’s understandable. But this strategy serves us poorly in the long run (and not very well in our middle years either). Over time, a punitive psychological bind tightens its grip. It’s no fun to go through life dreading our futures. It’s not healthy. And it’s not necessary.
What’s the solution? Become an Old Person in Training. Step off the treadmill of age denial. Take a deep breath. Extend a hand to the future self you’ve been stiff-arming all these years. Or just wave. Acknowledge that you will age—that you are aging—at whatever remove works for you. (It’s really a mental trick.)
Becoming an Old Person in Training acknowledges the inevitability of growing old while relegating it to the future. It swaps purpose and intent for dread and denial. It connects us empathically with our future selves.
Becoming an Old Person in Training is tactical.Preparing for longer lives means working longer and saving more. Making friends of all ages and hanging onto them. Using our brains and getting off our butts.
Becoming an Old Person in Training is an act of imagination, because thinking way ahead doesn’t come naturally: as a species we’re engineered to live in the present. We need to envision we’ll want to be doing and be capable of when we hit eighty and niney, and embark on ways of thinking and moving that will get us there.
Becoming an Old Person in Training is also a political act. It helps us to think critically about what age means in this society, and the forces at work behind depictions of older people as useless and pathetic. Shame can damage self-esteem and quality of life as much as externally imposed stereotyping.Identifying with olders undoes the “otherness” that powers ageism (and racism, and nationalism…). It makes room for empathy, and action.
Some people are born Old People in Training. The rest of us have to make our way to this healthier, more optimistic, more realistic way of being in the world. The sooner we make the leap, the better off we’ll be, as individuals and as a society.
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There is a lot more where this came from at Ashton’s web site, http://www.THISCHAIRROCKS.com. Ashton can also be found on Facebook as well as she posts accompanying videos on You Tube.
Check her out,