One day on a recent visit to New Mexico, I was sitting on the couch with my 10-year-old granddaughter, Giada. We were writing in our journals; a lovely tradition we started when she was three. Now every time I come to visit, she wakes up earlier than usual to join me in the living room with her book and pen in hand.
As usual, this morning it was just the two of us. Like most of our mornings together, we don’t get too much writing in because we end up chatting instead.
This day Giada was super excited about her upcoming birthday.
After about 5 minutes of writing in her journal, she turned to me, “Grandma, can you believe I am going to be 11 years old next week?”
“No,” I smiled, “I cannot believe it, Giada! It just seems like yesterday when you were a tiny little baby doll… so sweet in your mommy’s arms.”
She scooted closer, as we both laid down our journals and I put my arm around her.
“Grandma, were you at the hospital when I was born? “
“Oh, yes,” I grinned, “In fact I was standing right next to your mommy when she had you. And you should have seen the look on your Mommy and Daddy’s face when you popped out. They thought you were the most beautiful little miracle they had ever seen. And you know what, sweetheart, they still think that about you. And I do too. In fact, I believe you can be whatever you want to be.”
We talked about the exciting years she had in front of her and the many wonderful dreams she would see come true along her way. We had such fun brainstorming lots of ideas for what she could look forward to.
“Eleven years old, she repeated, I just can’t believe it.” She pondered it for a while longer before she turned back to me with a question.
“So, Grandma, how old are you going to be this year?”
“Well… actually,” I found myself uncomfortable with my answer, “I am going to turn 70 years old this year.”
“70!” she gasped, leaving her mouth wide open. “Do you know what that means, Grandma?”
I wanted to tell her that it meant I was old, but I waited for her response.
“That means, Grandma, that in 30 years you will be 100!” Not exactly a celebration moment in my mind, but a reminder she was good at math.
I smiled and repeated her realization, “30 years… Huh? So, Gia what do you think I should do for the next 30 years?”
She paused, seriously considering my question, and gently took my hand. “Well, Grandma, I think you can change the world.”
“Change the world?” I said a bit too loudly. “That’s a really big job!”
Her big brown eyes kept looking at me and she didn’t back down from her statement. She waited… “You know Grandma, you can do it.”
“So, you think I can change the world, do you? Well then, sweetheart, “I laughed, “I guess I better get to work!”
Sometimes it just takes a fresh outlook to help us reframe our beliefs and create a new mindset.
As I reflect on that moment, I realize that many people think about aging as a slow, solo, downhill crawl. We look at the past as the ‘good ole days’, the times we were given an opportunity to live out our life’s purpose.
Since my sweet conversation with my granddaughter, I find myself going back to her words and her message. I ask myself, what if I do have 30 healthy years left to live? And what if those 69 prior years were actually prepping me for my next assignment?
And that reminds me… I do have this good idea that has been nipping and gnawing away at me. In fact, I have a number of good ideas. I have a book I want to write with my grandchildren, a new website I want to start, classes I want to teach, lives I want to impact. I can already visualize my 30-year calendar starting to fill up.
And what about you? Do you look at aging as time to gear down, slow down and sit down? Or do you view this season of your life as an opportunity to use what you have learned thus far to get you ready for your new assignment… one that might change the world?
We can do it you know; my now eleven-year-old granddaughter says so.
What’s your mindset like right now? How are you feeling about having another birthday? Have you considered the possibilities and opportunities you have for the whole rest of your life?