Life changes as we age. It's a fact of life.
One of those changes is our ability to stay strong and vibrant. We lose muscle, gain fat, become forgetful, and become increasingly frustrated with how our body defies our inner youth. I don't know about you, but I still feel like I did twenty years ago - on the inside. But, I look in the mirror and see someone else. She is familiar, but not quite the picture I remember.
So, how can we create a better balance between our inner self and the one we see in the mirror?
I truly believe that age is just a number. I know, a cliche, but the minute you begin thinking of yourself as "old," and compromising because of "age," you're on a downhill path. There is a meme out there that makes me laugh - but it rings true.
My goal is to do good in the world - but to do so in the best possible shape possible, so that I can stick around long enough to fulfill that goal.
Countering this idea is a quote by Hunter S. Thompson ...
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow what a ride!”
The thought here is to live life to the fullest and take risks, no matter what the effect on our bodies. I can get behind this, as long as the ride is a long one. You don't want to use up your body in your 50s or 60s, right?
So, how do we come to terms with these two ideas? Live life to the fullest, but live long and healthy? I think that it begins in your mind. We've heard it said that age is a state of mind. I believe that, truly, but I also haven't had "age" affecting me in a debilitating way ... yet. Honestly, I still feel like a kid. Young at heart? I guess I can't think that I will ever be anything else. I would hope I have gained some wisdom in these 60 years, and I know how to "act" like a grownup, but no matter what my age or my physical condition, I don't ever plan to lose that sense of fun and adventure.
I remember growing up how my grandparents seemed so old and tired when I was a kid. Wrinkles, gray hair, and creaky bones ... and yet, they were not old at all. My grandmother passed at the age of 64 - and my grandfather was 68. No, not old in years, but old in spirit. Of course, that was a different time. They lived through the depression and two world wars, so yeah, life was harder then. Plus, given all we know about health and fitness now, we have a greater potential for aging gracefully.
I recently came across an article about a 96 year old gymnast. What? No! That was my immediate reaction, but the picture says it all. In one article, it said she has the heart of a 20 year old! (Wait, how do I do that?)
And today on the television, there was a grandmother/grandson team who decided to visit all 63 of the national parks. My 34 year old daughter has been doing this (slowly) and I doubt I could keep up with her. Joy was 85 when her grandson, Brad, called to broach the idea - and she did the best thing she could ever do for herself. She said yes. Even though she was frail and weak, she decided to go on this adventure. She hiked mountains and slept in a tent. Now, at 92, they only have one more park to complete their journey. (I encourage you to read about her! It's a remarkable story.)
How do you feel about aging? The potential for living well into our 90s is certainly possible, but right now I'm feeling those growing pains and I'd like to do something about it. Maybe I need to say "yes" to more opportunities!
We often know what to do, but are negligent about doing those things. Or we start for a while, and then give up because - well, it’s hard. Or we miss certain foods. Or we get lazy. I know I’m guilty of all of those things - but like falling off a horse (on which I’ve never been), you need to get right back up there and keep fighting the good fight!
I believe one answer is a great support system. You may or may not have a spouse - and while "he" can be a great support, I think we need to surround ourselves with girlfriends. We need to share our struggles and our solutions. We need to cheer each other's triumphs and embrace with an understanding bear hug when things don't go so well. I think our women friends are a better support system because they are going through the same (or at least similar) trials. And with a posse of like-minded female fighters, our chances of living long and strong are so much better.
Clint Eastwood, (okay, he's not a woman, but nonetheless), said that his secret to remaining vital was his refusal “to let the old man in.” Yup. That's me. I'm not letting the old lady in!
“Elderly people are like plants. Whereas some go to seed, or to pot, others blossom in the most wonderful ways. I believe beauty competitions should be held only for people over seventy years of age. When we are young, we have the face and figure God gave us. We did nothing to earn our good looks. But as we get older, character becomes etched on our face. Beautiful old people are works of art. Like a white candle in a holy place, so it the beauty of an aged face.” ~James Simpson
So who is with me? Who wants to blossom? Let's grow old together - but wiser, stronger, and more beautiful, than we've ever been.
PS - I encourage you to join me on Tuesday evenings for Empowered Living on Zoom. It's just a friendly and casual girlfriend chat to help support each other through life.