Change … a predictable part of life


Change is a predictable part of life so why does it become more challenging with age?

I’m contemplating this very thing because … I’ve written my last weekly column for a good old fashioned newspaper, the Times Standard in Eureka, California.

Between my two print columns, Juggling Jobs and Kids and The Second Half, I’ve been showing up in this publication for about 25 years. For fourteen years, in the pre-electronic, (or some might say prehistoric age,) JJ&K was syndicated to 164 newspapers nationwide. It was a satisfying gig to hear from people throughout the nation. Lessoned learned? In spite of our differences, humans are remarkable similar. After my nest emptied, once again I turned to writing what I was experiencing, aging, pure and simple and The Second Half was born.  Throughout all of these years it’s been my pleasure to answer your questions, respond to your concerns, and steer people to resources when it seemed appropriate.

I always considered writing these weekly columns an extension of my professional belief system; share information, educate people, and offer support. And whether I was writing about raising our three kids in my first column or, decades later, coming to terms with the death of my parents, it seemed like sharing what I knew to be common experience to most of us, had a place in public discourse. 

But let’s get back to the possible difficulties of making changes in our later years. To begin with, keep in mind that if you initiate change, it may be accompanied by positive momentum but if change is foisted upon you? That can be a very different situation.

It’s also good to remember that change can be difficult for people of all ages. New circumstances can mean varying degrees of risk taking or perhaps it means experiencing loss. Maybe it triggers the fear of the unknown? Will financial or social instability have to be navigated? What will other people think? Am I able to actually adjust to this? Yes, change can be challenging.

When you consider all of these possible challenges that may result from making changes, it’s little wonder older people can stall. If one has failing health or cognitive function, adaptation to new a new situation can be especially daunting. Perhaps the person’s support system has diminished, leaving them without good friends to cheer them on? Or, as abilities begin to wane, some older people might suffer from a sort of learned dependence. In other words, the less one does for oneself, the less capable and confident, they feel about trying new, different things.

Change can also mean loss and, unlike our younger counterparts, age usually means losing people and places we love more frequently. Consequently, older people may dig in their heels rather than risk anything that taps into this deep reservoir of sad feelings.

So where do I fit into this maze of considerations? Well, for starters, I did have the choice of continuing my column. Have you heard of the new California law regarding independent contractors? This led the newspaper to make changes in my current contract, changes that just didn’t work for me. It was time to pull my column. (Sigh.) However,Marc Valles, Managing Editor of the Times-Standard, has asked me to stay on to periodically cover special stories and events and I am happy to do so.

That said, I don’t have to give up my weekly connection to all of you because I will now be publishing my weekly columns on my blog, <www.thesecondhalfonline.com> That’s right, I can continue to do what I love, it will just be in a different place and format. There are so many computer savvy Boomers and Seniors. I hope you will follow me there! Stop by and be ready to leave your comments. (Please note — in anticipation of this move, my blog may be revamped a bit and therefore spotty for a couple of weeks. Please check back.)

Once I realized I still had options, things felt better. While I will always have great sentiment for, and loyalty to, good old newspapers, I will still be able to do what I enjoy most, connect with all of you!  Now the fun will include growing my national audience so please feel free to share my blog posts. Keep your comments, questions, and concerns coming! Send your emails to: tracey@thesecondhalfonline.com. You may also join me on Facebook. (Simply search Tracey Barnes Priestley and we’ll be ‘friends’!)

The very thing I did not want to let go of was my readers and fortunately, I don’t have to. You are a dear and loyal group. Thank you for your support all of these years, as well as your kind words when we might meet on the street or in the frozen food section of the local grocery. It has been a pleasure to be connected to so many of you.

Fortunately, I can end this without having to say goodbye. Nope, hopefully we’ll connect on my blog and Facebook. As for the newspaper? I shall return … I’ll just be wearing a different hat!