What are you waiting for?

aging unapologetically, breaking the rules, aging redefined, Walker Thornton

What are you waiting for?


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit…


You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.


And maybe I ought to practise a little now?

So people who know me are not shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

by Jenny Joseph


I don’t know when the poem was written but the compilation of poems in which I found it was published in 1987. I have always loved this poem. One of my grandmother’s friends wore purple–and she was so delightful and free-spirited. I thought she was magical. When I asked for purple my mother told me it was a tacky color (circa 1962-ish).

There have always been ideas about what older people should and shouldn’t do. And plenty of people who will tell you if you’re not following the rules for “old” people.

Why do we listen? Why do far too many of us still hold on to all those “oughts” and “shoulds”?

My new tagline is  Aging Unapologetically. It feels just right and even saying it makes me feel a little more awesome.  I started by recovering my sofa in a fuchsia color and adding purple accents to my home. My new tagline is Aging Unapologetically. It feels just right and even saying it makes me feel a little more awesome. I started by recovering my sofa in a fuchsia color and adding purple accents to my home. And, I’m committed to changing how I show up. I’m done with high heels, though frankly I’ve never been a high heel person. My granddaughter and I just bought matching black hightop Converse sneakers. I’m committed to being open about my age and my desire to remain sexually active. Daring to appear without makeup in public (well that’s not new). Taking trips alone and being quite content with my own company.

I’m changing things. Letting go of things that I can’t be bothered with–people too. Why hold on to irritants, people, or things that make us feel small?   It feels good. I’m sharing photos of myself a bit more with a “this is 67” hashtag–because I’m not ashamed of my age. I want to inspire other women who just need a slight nudge. I’m willing to be scrutinized visually. Yes, there are wrinkles and stray hairs and age spots and gorgeous eye crinkles that appear when I smile. I love how I look right now–and that’s the only person who matters. And I love how I feel as I move through the world.

Why did I wait so long to find myself? To fall in love with me?

Why do we give up bits and pieces of ourselves for decades, in order to be pleasing, or desired, or not rock the boat?

Women have the opportunity to change the trajectory of their lives. And many of us are doing so–spurred on by the politics of today and by a growing awareness of what we’ve had to give up to feel accepted.  I don’t think there’s a manual, yet, for aging unapologetically. But I’m working on it.

don’t wait. start now.

Today. Swear in the streets. Wear mismatched clothes if it makes you happy. Buy the purple dress, or undies or paint the door purple. Speak up for what you want. Make a list of all your desires.  Go ahead and shock them. It feels good, I promise.


Photo by Maren Thomas Photograph

  • Christine Toner
    Posted at 06:28h, 04 October Reply

    You go Guurrll!! Love your photos.
    I have always loved wearing PINK – cerise as bright as possible.
    Jenny Joseph wrote the poem (called “Warning”) in 1961 – here she is reading it! https://www.laterbloomer.com/jenny-joseph/ She passed away not long ago. We have several red hat societies here in Christchurch. I once saw two at lunch (separately) in the same cafe. Hilarious as people thought they were strangely dressed!

    • Walker
      Posted at 08:05h, 04 October Reply

      Thanks, I was being a bit lazy but not getting that info. We had a red hat society group here a number of years ago but I’m not sure they’re still around. I think purple and red play together very nicely. And thanks for the compliment.

  • Linda Crowe
    Posted at 08:19h, 04 October Reply

    Hear Hear! Well said, Walker.

    • Walker
      Posted at 10:03h, 04 October Reply

      Thanks Linda!

  • leannelc
    Posted at 09:23h, 04 October Reply

    I’ve always loved the poem too and I can see why the Red Hat Society has embraced it so wholeheartedly. I see it as being true to yourself and not forcing yourself into society’s boxes any more – I even wrote a post with my own version of the poem here (https://www.crestingthehill.com.au/2018/07/now-its-midlife-and-time-to-wear-purple.html) if you’re interested in seeing what wearing purple in Midlife means to me – great post Walker 🙂

    • Walker
      Posted at 10:04h, 04 October Reply

      What a fun poem…thanks for sharing. I agree with your assessment about not feeling the obligation to conform.

  • Pat Nichol
    Posted at 12:37h, 04 October Reply

    Thanks for this Walker, I have been carrying a flash of purple in my white hair for about 8 years. Just got he courage recently to leave the house without makeup. Having fun with life

    • Walker
      Posted at 12:52h, 04 October Reply

      I love it. I’ve toyed with the idea of purple streaks.

  • judiboomergirl
    Posted at 19:26h, 04 October Reply

    Such a lovely poem. The way I’ve been feeling lately. Since turning 60 I feel even more authentic and not as bothered by my age spots. I still color my hair, but I wait longer between coloring. And I wear whatever color I desire, especially pink and purple. I did return the ripped jeans that the saleswoman convinced me looked good. I feel like I am too old to wear ripped jeans.

    • Walker
      Posted at 21:21h, 04 October Reply

      You know, I had ripped jeans, naturally occurring, when I was in high school. I no longer feel the need to look so disheveled!! You look like you’re having fun with all your adventures… thrilled to hear that it feels natural, and fun!

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