May 2016: Celebrating Our Coming of Age: A reader-inspired evolution on-and-offline

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Dear Readers,

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It’s a very ancient saying, but a true and honest thought, that if you become a [writer], by your [readers] you’ll be taught.”

That’s my personal rendition of the spoken lines that open a classic tune from The King and I; and its message introducing “Getting to Know You” is a profound one – often times in trying to engage and impart knowledge on others, we end up receiving just as much in return.

As May marks my sixth published issue as Editor of Lifestyles After 50, I feel like I can finally claim the title of “Advocate for Greater Later Living.” Over my first half a year here at Lifestyles After 50 I’ve become intimate with my own ignorance of the complexity of the generation born between 1946 and 1964, as I’m now only just beginning to understand the profound impact they have had on every aspect of American culture. Most importantly, I’ve come to the conclusion that any attempts to make broad sweeping generalizations about “baby boomers” as a sole entity is futile.

The fascinating and inspiring readers of Lifestyles After 50 have served as a perfect microcosm of the vast array of interests, hobbies and beliefs of older Americans – and I’ve learned that applying rigid definitions or uniform qualities to a group of people by examining their age rather than their impact is no more successful with those over 50 than it is for any other generation. It’s not so much about age, I’ve learned, it’s a lot more about…wait for it…lifestyle.

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Anyone at the office will tell you there’s not much I like more than putting it my way; except maybe when you put it yours. Lately, we’ve been receiving an influx of responses and reactions from readers – giving their opinions and lessons from life on topics ranging from the culture of American political campaigns to how pursuing methods aimed at personal transcendence have translated to tangible results in their everyday lives.

The candid, diverse feedback we’ve received lately is so appreciated – and truly fascinating. To know advanced yoga practitioners read our publication right alongside devout Christian mothers tells me we must be doing something right. And when a retired school administrator turned author writes to share the incredible personal growth and success he found through local writing classes I know reinvention is real – right along with a second chance at love – thanks to pictures sent in by a longtime widower who now beams with his new love.

But it’s not just the intellectually-stimulating stories and feel-good photos we receive that I find delightful – it’s also the way in which we receive it. Cards come in the mail in handwritten cursive with photos shot on film attached. Readers type us emails on iPads and I’ve even conducted an interview via text with a 60+ woman. All preconceived notions of the 50+ crowd are officially gone.

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Just as this past six months have taught me about an audience that runs the gamut of thought-systems, lifestyles and media consumption – both serious iPhone users and paper purists partial to print – I’ve also learned how much tenderness I have for an age group too often marginalized by a society dead set on stereotyping. The truth is the technologically-savvy 50+ are the norm, as are those who aren’t so into electronic activity. Some manage their finances through online banking, use smartphone wellness apps and smile at their grandkids on Skype and some spend time outside (what a novel idea!) with a book and not a cell phone ring in earshot. And many do both.

In an effort to serve the undefinable (that’s you) we’re thrilled to announce an evolution your diversity inspired: the new LifestylesAfter50.com. Made with high functionality in mind, it’s got a sleek design, clear navigation and high usability. Our whole team is excited to share stories using videos, slideshows and audio clips, as well as web-exclusive content that’ll make our site an exciting place to be. So welcome it as a tool to elevate our primary medium, print – because it’s not going anywhere. We expect the web’s ability for us to comment to readers in real time will only enhance our paper. Besides, from a Millennial with an iPhone addiction and a journalism degree, the smell of newspaper ink and the crinkling of a page as you turn it will never get old.

Sincerely, Amanda Smith

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