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Hart Beat

Sassy at 50

I have always been drawn to the colors red and purple. Fortunately, I look good in both colors.

While most of my life I have been admonished to avoid wearing the colors together, these days I revel in finding combinations of the two colors for any and all special occasions. It's a challenge and it's fun, which is why on Monday, April 25, I plan on going over the top dressing in both colors.

I may even wear my favorite red sunhat and boa. And why not?

Monday is the seventh anniversary of the founding of the Red Hat Society, a group dedicated to wearing red and purple and enjoying the sisterhood of women over the age of 50. How perfect. I am loosely a member of the Rattlesnake Hills Red Hat Society of Sunnyside and a friend to most of the women in the Grapevine Divas of Sunnyside, the second chapter of Red Hatters in Sunnyside. Both groups are a year old this month.

Like most groups, the Red Hat Society started over lunch. It took as its inspiration a poem entitled "Warning" by English poet Jenny Joseph. I received my first copy of the poem in September 1992, probably as a birthday present on the event of my 40th birthday.

For me, the line in the poem about wearing purple wasn't nearly as much fun as the line about being able to wear "terrible shirts and grow more fat and eat three pounds of sausage at a go or only bread and pickle for a week and hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes."

That line appealed to my sense of humor. But the line about wearing purple with a red hat is the line that appealed to Sue Ellen Cooper, who is the founder and Exalted Queen Mother of the National Red Hat Society.

Before you think that the society of over 50 women is for old ladies, let me just tell this - NO!

We defy being old. Sure, we're grandmothers and a little slower than we used to be. So what? What we are about is fun, friendship and being 50 or older and, maybe for the first time in our lives, doing something just for ourselves. I like that a lot.

Oh sure, we still are involved in our home, families, church and work and the assorted civic causes to which we are naturally dedicated and committed. But at the Red Hat gatherings, whether we are meeting for ice cream or a evening at the theater, we're all about relaxing and reveling in our current stage of life.

As of this year, there are 39,000 chapters worldwide and more than 1 million members. I think the reason the group is growing so fast is that the Red Hat Society is a group founded on the beauty, intelligent and sass of the older woman. Hey, we get to think outside of the hatbox all the time. We get to show our younger sisters that there is nothing to be afraid about growing older. I say - embrace it.

If there is one rule law or by-law of the Red Hat Society, it is to be visible. After all, who can ignore a large woman in a royal purple dress and a stoplight red hat and red feather boa.

I dare you to try.

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