6 Life Adjustments for a Purposeful Older Age
Life recedes as we age. At first, you don’t realize it. One day you’re 40 and at the top of your game, and then 20 years have sped by. Suddenly, you wake up and it’s a young people’s world.
You find yourself irritated by the loud music playing at the mall and wonder why no one is piping in Carole King or Linda Ronstadt. The woman at the bank addresses you as ‘ma’am.’ Welcome to your 60s and beyond.
This new phase stretches out in front of us, demanding afternoon naps and Epsom Salt baths to relieve our aches. Honestly, there should be a handbook with instructions on how to adjust to this new and demanding life, instead of trying to do battle with the inevitable.
A woman wrote to me the other day, that she was not going to “let herself go,” and that she was going to “think young.” I found myself disturbed by the phrase, “think young.” Damn that peppiness.
I don’t want to think young. I want to grow old with authenticity, dignity and self-respect. I want to continue to dream and be inspired until the very end and not worry about how I think or look. What does that have to do with seizing the day?
I made a list of adjustments that I am making – or need to make – and I am sharing them here. Maybe they will inspire you to think about the adjustments that you are making too. Not because they will keep you any younger, but because they will keep you vital and joyful.
Use Your Voice
You don’t have to suddenly go mute in your 60s and beyond. Use your hard won wisdom to advocate. Become an activist for those things you care about.
Many of us have the blessing of more time in our lives. This is an invitation to get out the vote, comfort parentless children, volunteer at the library. Speak your mind and share your experience with the rest of the world.
Health Is Beauty
Attractiveness at this, or any other age, does not come in a bottle or a cream. Beauty is in health. It’s the glow of your skin that comes from being kissed by the wind and the sun. It’s the strength in your legs that carry you over trails.
Physical flexibility becomes a metaphor for mental flexibility. Fluidity is beautiful. Every stretch, deep breath and reach is loveliness.
No Apologies for Tears
I cry more easily in this decade of my life. It’s as though my heart has been tenderized to such a degree that it can no longer hold in abeyance those things worthy of crying.
I am moved by the sight of children hugging parents, Christmas lights and brass bands. I’ve allowed myself to cry the grief tears that were never cried when I was a young woman, washing away the sharp points of betrayal, loss and apathy that caused hurt in my life.
Tears bring relief, release and sweetness. And we need not apologize to our self or anyone for this process of being fully human.
Practicing the Presence
Regardless of faith, as the years mount, this is a time to make peace with the great mystery of the universe; to practice surrender. Light a candle and say a grace. Breathe deeply and count your blessings.
Sit in the quiet, practicing immersion into the unfathomable love of something Greater. Pray. Meditate. Walk in the temple of the woods.
Dare to Dream
Make things. Write things. Offer things to the world. These are juicy creative years where you finally have enough wisdom, experience and love to share yourself in creative ways.
I dream of being a published author. I work at it every single day. There is something about the dream that keeps me vital: a purpose, a reason to reach toward betterment. I study. I write. I dream. It’s only when our dreams and goals end that we sever ourselves from life.
Be proud that you have made it this far, that you have survived and thrived in a tough world. Be proud of each crinkle and wrinkle. Wear them well, a symbol of how you marched through your miraculous life and lived to tell the tale.
This is a time of adjustment. Don’t think young. Dare to think old and wise. Speak up. Reach out and help those struggling, because people could use some of that hard won wisdom of yours. Stand in the light of your truth and dance with abandon. Let these years be the crowning glory of a life fully lived.
What adjustments have you made in your life as you’ve grown older? Please share them in the comment section below.
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.