In the third of our series celebrating remarkable women doing remarkable things in their 50s and beyond, we found a thought leader who realized that coming to terms with her own complicated feelings about aging could help other women discover a happier, more productive way to define themselves year after year…after year.
“Reach out for support! Stay engaged!”
Who: Margaret Manning – Founder of SixtyandMe.com
How an accident shifted her thinking about aging…and then her life trajectory: I left my job in communications and marketing at Microsoft around eight years ago and moved from Seattle to Switzerland to be closer to my two sons, who live there and in Scotland. On my way to Switzerland I stopped in Paris, where I slipped, fell, and hurt myself. I was 64 but pretending I was younger because I couldn’t admit my age. I realized I wasn’t paying attention to my body. I was feeling lost. And I decided to see if anyone else felt the same way. So I posted on Facebook every day something that was real to me, asking Are you going through this, too?
What she found when she came clean to herself about her age: Well, the response I got was amazing. And that’s how SixtyandMe.com—an online magazine reaching around 500,000 women globally—began. Our mission is to empower women 60 and over to claim this time of their lives as theirs and to find their passion and purpose.
Who, oddly, wound up as her business partner: After about three months of posting on Facebook I started the website; I was terrified, even though I’d had a senior position for many years at Microsoft. My son in Switzerland and I wrote all the content ourselves, including stories about health and well-being, independence, and relationships. I mean, it was kind of funny, my son writing about women in their 60’s. But he and I had always thought about working together, and he is the one who encouraged me to think about sixtyandme.com as a viable business.
How she fortified herself through her change: I was married to a man 13 years younger than I, which never bothered us. Nor was the youth culture at Microsoft a problem. But both fed my motivation to stay young—and to hide my real age. After my divorce and leaving Microsoft I decided to reorient my mindset. You know, life between 55 and 60 can be very challenging as you’re bombarded with so much change, physical and emotional! So I started looking at myself and instead of saying, Omg I have wrinkles, I would find what’s beautiful, see my healthy skin, for example. Instead of thinking about what I didn’t have, I would focus on what I did have. I found sisters online who helped me and who I helped redefine their self-image by focusing on the positive.
What practical steps she took: One of the things I wanted to do was to downsize. I was putting too much value on stuff; I wanted to start focusing on experiences. So I went through everything I owned: From 12 pairs of shoes I chose two; from 12 berets (oh, I love berets!) I chose three. I chose two words to describe myself: cultured bohemian. That’s how I dress, that’s how I furnished my place, and that’s what I’m sticking to. It simplifies everything.
Her best advice: Embrace growing older and accumulating wisdom as you get into the 60plus aging process. I began getting more comfortable with my age at 66. It’s never too late!
Watch this video to hear Margaret Manning talk about aging skin and her personal experience using SeeMe Beauty products: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaLTX-jhD5c