Recently, I met a fellow who, in the course of our conversation, happened to mention that he’d been at Woodstock. At Woodstock? I thought. Then we must at least be of the same generation. Which we were. On the off chance you don’t know, Woodstock was a three-day music festival held in August of 1969 on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel NY, about 40 miles southwest of the town of Woodstock. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors, despite off-and-on rain. Mud was knee-deep. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” the event attracted 400,000-plus people, one of the largest music festivals in history.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine listed it as number 19 of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. Woodstock was a seminal event for those of us – whether we attended or not – who were of an impressionable age during the 60s, i.e. hippies.

I’d never talked to anyone who’d actually been there. When I asked what in the world that remarkable occasion was like, he proceeded to describe the experience in great detail, as if I’d put a quarter in. By the time he finished, I felt as if I, too, had attended and kept thinking how good a hot shower would feel.

The original hippie era was pure music, flower power, Birkenstocks, granola, sunflower seeds, psychedelics and marijuana for some, and free love. I don’t know about anyone else, but at the time, I assumed that the world was changing into one in which everyone would love and appreciate everyone else. You know, “Peace, brother!” Turned out that the Vietnam War, successive conflicts, politics, et al, brought that idealistic scenario screeching to a halt in one way or another.

Years have passed since that time, and those who in the 60’s embraced nonconformity at their core have grown up, found work in the world; acquired cars, living quarters, and televisions; married or not, had children and grandchildren, paid taxes, and perhaps by now, joined AARP. Chances are good that they never thought about having to deal with transition issues, such as divorce, empty nest syndrome, relocation, retirement, and that bugaboo that no one can escape as the years go by, aging.

So what’s a hippie to do?

Turns out that author Margaret Nash ( has a few suggestions. Author of the Hippie-at-Heart Self-Help Series, this prolific writer grew up in Alabama in the “tempestuous ‘60’s”, so she knows the territory. Now a resident of San Miguel de Allende – an alternative, slightly crazy, artistic haven in the mountains of central Mexico – Nash leads seminars, has been an NLP-based life coach (Neuro-linguistic programming) for 20-plus years, and admits to a lifelong interest in all things esoteric and whacky. In other words, this woman embraced “hippiedom” way back when and still travels to a different drummer. But she has creds. And offers pretty darn practical info.

The first book in her self-help series, Rebellious Aging: A Self-Help Guide for the Old Hippie-at-Heart leads the reader through maneuvering life challenges and changes while keeping your sanity intact. This wise, funny woman helps reader discover new ways to move on to the next stage of life with the same pioneering spirit you had in the ‘60’s, offering suggestions as to how to grow older and enjoy the process.

“Are you looking for alternative ways to age that are different from the mainstream, (those) that are fun and relevant?” she asks, “At heart do you still yearn for the non-conformist life?”

Titled “Time, Time, Time, See What’s Become of Me,” Nash’s Introduction includes a hefty quote from Joseph Murphy, author of The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. I’m including it in its entirety to give you a taste of the direction this guide to aging offers and the positive choices available to you.

Says Murphy, “Don’t let the corporations, newspapers, or statistics hold a picture before you of old age, declining years, decreptitude, senility, and uselessness. Reject it, for it is a lie. Refused to be hypnotized by such propaganda. Affirm life – not death. Get a vision of yourself as happy, radiant, successful, serene, and powerful.”

Pure atta-girl and atta-boy. Be your own cheerleader, even if you were a hippie and never shook those pompoms!

Things happen that can shake unexpected rafters in your life – accidents, illness, et al – but as long as you embrace your sense of humor and retain a positive outlook, you’ll make the best of any situation you might find yourself in.

As the years slip by, I find that I’m giving myself more and more permission to be myself, whomever that may be on any given day. I remember how petrified I was while dressing up for my first boy-girl “mixer” in junior high. Shyness on steroids. Intuiting my terror, my mom offered what she believed to be a gem of advice. “Just be yourself,” she said. Then smiled and patted my arm. “You’ll be just fine.”

I’ll never forget thinking at the time, What in the world does that mean? And it’s taken years to figure that out. Not that I have that perfectly nailed at this point in my life, but certainly enough that I have a darn good idea of what works and what doesn’t, i.e. what makes me happy and what doesn’t. And I lean toward the former at all given opportunities.

Syndicated columnist, political activist, and author James Allen (Jim) Hightower (age 79)  sums up the key to successful aging for folks who want to embrace their individuality and enjoy their later years as follows: “The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it’s conformity.”

Dust off your old Santana and Jimi Hendrix albums and crank ‘em up. Make my mother proud… Just be yourself.