4 Qualities That Help You to Embrace Aging
Aging. It’s happening and it’s weird. Some days I am relaxed in the process of it. Other days I am Don Friggin’ Quixote, battling the windmills with Pilates classes, hiking, and an over abundance of green salads and coconut water.
I’ve read all those inspirational articles about embracing and celebrating your 60s and your 70s. Hell, I’ve even written some of those articles! But I have to say, whether you embrace your age or not, it’s still weird.
It really does seem like 27 was last week and that 47 was just yesterday. The thing about ageing is that you have to arm yourself with dignity and grace because that, and a sense of humor, is what it’s going to take.
Recently, I attended a charity yoga event whose proceeds fight sex trafficking. After 20 minutes of sitting on the floor, my scoliotic back was screaming mad. And I muttered to myself, “Never again.”
Scoliosis, arthritis, brittle connective tissue – those things can make you alter how you do certain activities. After the event, I went to the director and suggested that next year there be a section for chair yoga.
I can do the same breathing and arm motions sitting on a chair without hurting my back. The chairs would have yoga mats in front of them for those who can still do some yoga positions on a mat.
I felt a sense of dignity that I had found a solution that would allow my full participation. That’s what dignity means to me – taking care of yourself, spiritually, emotionally and physically to the very best of your ability. Living well is not given. It must be claimed.
Grace is gratitude in action. No one likes being around a complainer, though I’m not saying that aging doesn’t have a list of legitimate complaints.
You don’t have to look too far to find aching knees, blurred vision or bad backs, not to mention sagging skin. Note to self: smiling will make your face look less saggy, if you find reasons to do it.
Too tired to take a walk? I hear ya. But if you push yourself to do that walk, achy knees and all, you are going to feel better when you’re done. That’s the grace of it.
Grace is the result of an attitude of gratitude. One of the things that helps me is to keep a gratitude journal. Or, you can create a daily list in your head.
Set aside five minutes and speak aloud all of the things about life that you are grateful for. Once you start listing what you’re thankful for, you’ll see that your gratitude outnumbers the complaints.
Keep your sense of humor close at hand. Do you catch yourself groaning as you get up from a chair? Make sure to laugh at yourself when you do.
Does it sometimes look like only 12-year-olds have driver’s licenses, and they’re all in your lane? That’s worth a chuckle. Do you talk about different kinds of fiber as if you are discussing fine wine? That’s pretty funny, too.
The insults of aging can be fodder for laughing your way toward the finish line. Life is going to have its way with you, so you might as well develop a sense of humor about it.
Be the Crone
Some women bristle at the word crone, but it’s a word that deserves to be reclaimed by us. Crone means crown. It is the crowning glory of your wise age. It is the mark of being an elder.
Let’s face it, you know stuff. You know more stuff now about what it means to fully be a human being than ever before. You’ve experienced loss, grief, failure and pain and you are still standing. You know how to hold life’s suffering and life’s joy side by side.
That’s why this is such a good time to mentor or volunteer. At the very least, use your crone years to write out the things you’ve learned about living this long. Claim your voice. Stand in the light of your truth.
Ageing is a strange new journey, a time of humbling and a time to laugh, a time to be wise and a time to remember child-like wonder. As a Zen master once said, “This being so, how shall I proceed?”
Proceed with caution. Proceed at your own risk. Proceed with laughter, love, grace and dignity. Say “thank you” as if it were the prayer of your life.
What qualities enhance and help you in your process of ageing? Please share them with me in the comment section.
Stephanie Raffelock is a novelist and a blogger. In her Sixty and Me column, she explores writing, living fully and loving well. She enjoys literary representation by Dystel, Goderich and Bouret in New York. You can find Stephanie at StephanieRaffelock.com or Tweet her @Sraffelock.