Have you ever wondered what it is about babies and toddlers that captures our attention?
Of course, it’s because they’re so darn cute. But, more than that I’ve discovered that it’s because they remind us of the things we take for granted.
I remember how in awe I was when I watched my own babies discovering life. But I never appreciated it to the extent I could once I became a grandparent. I wanted to carry them away to a place where they would never lose it. Where the ugliness of life could never enter into the pure joy of life’s discoveries. Now out of 9, my youngest grandchild is 8 and my oldest 26. I wasn’t ready to be a great-grandparent yet. But in becoming one God had a deeper level of pure joy to show me through the eyes of our 14-month-old great-grandson Ryder. As he stands in the rain for the first time in his life. With a smile looking up toward the heavens he lifts his arms as if praising God. He opens his mouth to let the rain in while trying to catch the raindrops with his hands at the same time. He jumps, dances, and giggles as he plays in the pouring rain. If I hadn’t been so awestruck I would have joined him myself. But, I am grateful for the reminder to open my own eyes to the things I take for granted. For those are the grace-filled moments when we get a glimpse of heaven on earth.
My mother-in-law used to say that you start off going to happy events in life like weddings, baptisms, birthdays, graduations. As the years pass by you find yourself attending more funerals and fewer weddings.
Soon you’re opening the obituary pages before you read the rest of the newspaper wondering who you’ll know this time. She got to the point where her classmates where dropping like flys. You wonder…why are they so obsessed with death?
But one day you find yourself on the other side of it and you begin to understand what you couldn’t in your earlier years. How can you not think of it? Death begins to feel as if it’s in your face all the time as parents, siblings, classmates, and friends are dying. There’s always the painful few that are too young and unexpected.
Now my kids don’t like hearing their dad and I talk about death and dying the same as we were at their age. I was reading that Americans are a death denial culture. We avoid the topic and when we don’t allow ourselves to talk about things we don’t understand it creates more significant fear around it.
There’s not much we can do to change the fact that we’re all going to die someday. Maybe the most important thing about facing this reality comes from the wake-up call it gives us. Like my dad used to say, ”I looked in the obituaries today, and when I didn’t see myself I was reminded I’m still alive.” Once that reality sets in we can actually use what we read to help us reflect and reevaluate our own lives. Am I living my life the best I can, being kind to others, fulfilling my goals, living my purpose, filling my soul with the best experiences I can show it? As long as we’re still breathing we have the opportunity to become better and better at what God created us to be.
We owe it to the people we care about who pass away to live our life to the fullest. Because when we do, they continue to live on in us.
This is dedicated to Kathy McDowell my husband’s cousin, Baby Lucas Dicely our great-nephew, Rob Finger, and Peggy Anderson our life-long friends who all passed away within the past year.
It’s not as easy as it sounds to do what Dr. Roizen teaches in his book “This Is Your Do-Over.” Creating a do-over in your life is literally what you have to do. Most importantly for it to work you have to be committed to the changes you need to do.
I start off with all the best intentions but it never fails that something happens to sabotage my efforts. Something like an injury, surgery, sickness or even a vacation. You’d think it would be easy enough to get back on the train to good health once you’ve learned all the tricks, but it isn’t. When you don’t feel good you sit, and when you sit too much that sedentary life begins to feel comfortable. Soon your back to feeling lousy and let’s face it…old again.
When I get like this it’s not long before I hear the words of my mother echoing in my head, “Well, you know, I am in my 60’s now, what do you expect.”
Okay, Mom, I can understand to a point what you were talking about now, but I also understand that I could have another good 20 or 30 years to live. I’m not ready to give up yet. As I keep reminding myself, aging is not for those who don’t have the fight in them to live. The bottom line is, if you want to live, you have to keep moving. That’s where living exists in the things we do, and you can’t create your do-over without doing the work it takes to do. “So, Just do it!” is what I tell myself, doooooo it!
I was working on my memoir and started a sentence off with the word senior. It was about reaching that final year in high school. I sat there looking at the word senior, thinking how surreal the moment felt. I mean, here I was a senior again going through some of the same feelings and emotions only this time it’s at the opposite end of life. But what could make two such different correlations of the word anything alike? It could only be that dreaded feeling that comes with the anticipation of the unknown. It creates a kind of dis-ease they call…senioritis.
So, I wondered, what are the symptoms of senioritis? Of course, it only applied to seniors in high school. But once again I couldn’t help seeing the correlation to those of us adjusting to our retirement and our senior years of life.
Loss of interest in your appearance
Lack of motivation
Difficulty reading things longer than a few paragraphs
A drastic increase in TV watching
Short-term memory loss
Sleep too much or too little
Oh, those years of youth when I had my whole life ahead of me to look forward to. Another symptom of senioritis comes with the wonder of what’s left to come. Barbara Hannah Grufferman’s in her book, “Love Your Age,” reminds us that, “We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it.” Understanding those words gives us our power back. It takes us out of that senioritis mindset. We realize life is no longer about looking ahead or back, but about making the most of the moments we have right now. I’m learning that you can live a lifetime in those moments because it actually feels as if time stops and all that matters is where you find yourself.
So, there we have it. Another way to embrace this stage of our life, take control and do it our way.
If you’re looking for more ways to find out how to make the best of this time in your life check out Gruffermans’s book. She has lots of great ideas and insight.
Turning 65 made me step back and take an undeniable reality check. I’ve reached the age of no return.
I tell my friend, “I want to embrace this time in my life, but I don’t know what that means.”
“Neither do I,” she says.
While I was on vacation recently I had an aha moment that put everything into perspective for me. I stopped to check out this big old tree that was over 237 years old. Standing beside it I looked so small in comparison. I was drawn to step within the fold of its draping branches. At first the clusters of Spanish-moss looked like ghost from the past swaying between the branches. Then it looked like beautiful long silver hair blowing in the wind. I’m in awe of the moment as if I’ve stepped within that place where the meaning of inner beauty lies. This big beautiful old tree with it’s wrinkles, cracks, and age spots still stands strong in a weathered region against all odds. Maybe it’s because she went with the flow of the winds, bending with a flexible heart to whatever God brought her way.
Nature teaching me how to embrace my age meant; to stand tall and proud for what and who I’ve become. That’s where our true beauty lies, and keep on moving so I can bend with the flow of life, with the gracefulness of Spanish-moss blowing in the wind.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.”-Alan W. Watts
As I search for answers to my own questions about getting older. I wondered why no one my age wanted to talk about it. Some would simple say, you’re only as old as you feel. Well it’s true, I mean when I hear an oldie but goody on the radio and I start to be-bopping around like nobody’s business. Next thing ya know my hip is out of whack, and I find myself having to take a time out for a few days till I can move around normal again. That is as normal as a 65 year old can. Oh I don’t want to say it like that. I sound like my mother who was always saying, “Well you know I am in my 60’s now.”
“That’s not old,” I’d tell her.
So now when I go away with my girls and they want me to go dancing with them they say come on Mom, live it up, and I have to bite my lip from saying the same thing my Mom did. Instead, I did go out with them, and I did live it up, and I did have a great time because I still can. All I want to do is embrace this stage of my life, but I don’t understand what that means. That got me thinking that maybe no one wants to talk about it because they don’t know what it means either. What I do know is that I want to live the best life I can with the years I have left to enjoy it. So, I thought I’d share with you the answers I find to my questions.
Maybe you’d like to come dance with me along the way. Maybe together we can figure out how to live the best life we can with what we got. As I said to a friend the other day, two heads are better then one, and who wants to dance alone, that’s no fun.