“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.”
I would find it a lot easier forgetting how old I really am instead of how old my mind thinks I am if people would quit telling me. I just never really feel I am as old as my birth certificate says I am. Of course ignoring your real age is not always easy, there are too many reminders. My two daughters recent birthday’s made them a few years older than I was when I first retired. If that was not enough I got a call yesterday from a colleague I worked with more than fifty years ago and then I received a UPS delivery from American Express that was a gift celebrating my 50 years as an American Express member.
I think the secret of my graceful aging is a short memory. Here are excerpts from an article I got from the Heart of Healing blog that I like; I think it is never too soon to start to enjoy aging.
More often than not, aging is viewed as something to be fought off for as long as possible. Regardless of how liberated we’ve become, many women and men still experience aging as a threat to their sense of self-worth and quality of life. It is pretty much expected that middle age will bring a “crisis” and far too often we hear seniors lament that “I thought these were supposed to be the golden years.” Whole industries are built on the attempt to stay young – from hair colors to face lifts to Viagra.
There is a place for all of these things, of course, but if your reaction to the aging process has you racing to beat time, I’d like to ask you to take a deep breath, relax, and give yourself some space to shift into a different perspective on aging. What if aging were equated with getting better rather than worse? What if you lived in a culture which reveres the elderly and views them as a repository of power and wisdom? Since how we age has so much to do with our attitudes and beliefs, such a shift in perspective could make a world of difference.
Aging Well in the Culture of Youth
To age “gracefully” in a culture which idolizes youth requires inner strength and wisdom. Hopefully we can ask questions together about our common notions and experiences with aging, so that we can not only do away with some myths about aging which limit our quality of life, but also discover some of the “perks” of aging that we often ignore. There are lots of role models who have led the way for us. Did you know, for example, that:
Martha Graham danced professionally until she was 76?
Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals at the age of 78?
Georgia O’Keefe continued painting well into her 90s?
Vitality in “later life” is not just for the famous. Undoubtedly everyone knows at least one person who is living a vital, fulfilling life “despite” their age. This is really the way it should be – life should become better as we age.
Two Basic Requirements of Graceful Aging
What I’ve discovered is that there are two “basic requirements” of graceful aging. To borrow from the “Serenity Prayer”, graceful aging requires the “serenity to accept the things we cannot change; courage to change the things we can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Certainly acceptance of aging is a key to aging gracefully – but which of the changes that commonly come with age are the “things we cannot change” and which are the “things we can change?”
What You Can and Cannot Change — Importance of Relaxation
The bottom line, as I see it, is the ability to relax with whatever challenges us at any given time and that includes the changes aging brings. When we are relaxed, we are open to different ways of looking at things.
What We Can Change — The Role of Attitude and Lifestyle
It’s been discovered that attitude has an enormous role in how we age. Much of the decline that people experience with aging comes about due to the belief that decline in function and quality of life is part and parcel of aging. It’s never too late to change the two most important ingredients to graceful aging – attitude and lifestyle.
The appearance and function of our body changes and requires that we adapt. Our roles change dramatically as our children grow older and leave home, and we become grandparents rather than parents. At some point, many of us become parents to our parents as they enter their final years.
Finally, graceful aging means finding a balance between acceptance of the inevitability of aging and doing what we can to remain vital and healthy as long as possible. Once again, we emphasize the importance of relaxing. Acceptance involves relaxation into life and the ability to flow with change. When we are relaxed, we stop fighting the inevitable. At the same time, relaxation is a key to better health and greater vitality.
To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
“New Medications For Women”
S t M o m ‘s W o r t – Plant extract that treats mom’s depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to six hours.
E m p t y N e s t r o g e n – Highly effective suppository that eliminates melancholy by enhancing the memory of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn’t wait till they moved out.
F l i p i t o r – Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.
B u y a g r a – Injectable stimulant taken prior to shopping. Increases potency and duration of spending spree.
J a c k A s s p i r i n – Relieves the headache caused by a man who can’t remember your birthday, anniversary or phone number.
A headstone in a Silver City, Nevada, cemetery reads: Here lays The Kid. We planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger but slow on the draw.
The Reverend said: I was called to the nursing Home to perform a wedding. An anxious old man met me at the door. I sat down to counsel the old man and asked several questions. “Do you love her?” The old man replied, “Nope.”
“Is she a good Christian woman?” “I don’t know for sure,” the old man answered.
“Does she have lots of money?” I asked the old man. “I doubt it.”
“Then why are you marrying her?” I asked. “Cause she can drive at night,” the old man said.
“Life is a long lesson in humility.”
Sir James M. Barrie
Mrs. Broomfield’s dishwasher quit working, so she called a repairman. He couldn’t accommodate her with an evening appointment, and since she had to go to work the next day, she told him: “I’ll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I’ll mail you the check. By the way, don’t worry about my Rottweiler. He won’t bother you. But, whatever you do, do not under any circumstances talk to my parrot!”
When the repairman arrived at Mrs. Broomfield’s apartment the next day, he discovered the biggest and meanest looking Rottweiler he had ever seen. But, just like she had said, the dog just lay there on the carpet, watching the repairman go about his business.
However, the whole time he was there, the parrot drove him nuts with his incessant squawking and talking. Finally the repairman couldn’t contain himself any longer and yelled, “Shut up, would you just shut up you stupid bird!”
The parrot sat quietly for a moment, and then replied: “Sic him, Brutus!”
I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you.
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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