Last year, one of my sons bought me an Amazon Echo Dot for my birthday. A couple of decades ago, I would never have imagined having a virtual assistant that knows my name and can play my favorite music on command.
As I sit here in front of the computer, my ‘virtual assistant’ is softly playing Bach for the piano in the background.
When I was younger, there were a lot of things I wouldn’t have imagined. Each day when I fixed my hair in front of the mirror, I saw the same image. I couldn’t see the hours, days, and years that were slipping away.
It was easy to tell myself that tomorrow would never come. As a result, I made decisions without considering the long-term consequences.
Not thinking about the future, I foolishly withdrew my retirement account and spent it because I couldn’t imagine ever being old enough to need it. Had I left my account alone, I could’ve retired a bit earlier.
At least now I’m starting to see the “light at the end of the tunnel.” I will retire from teaching in six weeks and one more term! (Can you see my fist-pump right now?)
I’m feeling good about the plans I have for the next couple of years. However, until recently, I hadn’t started planning for the next 30 or more years of my life.
Jo Ann Jenkins, the author of Disrupt Aging, points out that we are now living longer than many of us could have imagined. Unfortunately, she shares, we don’t have role models for living long lives. Rather, she explains, some of us simply keep living and mindlessly keep aging.
The thought of mindlessly living for another 30 years or more was a wake-up call for me. Fortunately, I do believe we have role models all around us if we seek the right individuals out. I find myself drawn to strong women who share some of the same values I embrace.
I am one of those people who believes in advocating for causes I think are important – especially when those causes are for something bigger than just my own interests. It inspires me when I see women who are sometimes decades older than me taking up causes that matter to them.
One of those women lives in my neighborhood. Donna has used her voice to speak up for safer neighborhoods and against actions that could adversely affect retired people in our community.
I have known Donna for about a dozen years and don’t see her slowing down. I suspect that her mission to make the world a better place helps keep her energized.
Carolynne, one of my other neighborhood acquaintances, brags she’s almost 100. This sharp-witted woman can talk about a wide-range of topics. She told me that she goes on the Internet every morning and tries to learn something new.
Whenever I visit with Carolynne, I leave feeling like I learned something new too. Lifelong learning is very important to me. Carolynne has helped me see that we never need to stop growing and learning.
I value my health. I used to believe that getting old meant becoming frail and diseased, but I’ve come to realize that’s not necessarily true. As I watch some of my elder women role models, I can see that the lifestyle choices they are making helps keep them healthy and vibrant.
My neighbor Carolynne eats a lot of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and grains. She also drinks a lot of water. She believes her healthy diet has allowed her to enjoy nearly 100 years of good living.
Another neighbor, Louise, is in her mid-80s. She jogs almost every morning. She may not be the fastest woman on her feet at this point, but she’s consistent.
Whenever I tell myself I don’t feel like exercising, I think about Louise. I want to keep moving as long as I am physically able to do so. I now believe that it is quite possible that I remain fairly active for the rest of my life.
I don’t want to age mindlessly. If I do have 30 plus years of living ahead of me, I want to live those years to the fullest. I want to stay engaged in my community. I want to keep speaking up for causes that I believe are important.
I want to keep learning and growing. And I also want to stay as healthy as I can. Because I have strong role models, I know that there is a good possibility I can continue living my best life no matter what my age.
I suspect we all have wise women living near us who can show us how to be our best selves as long as we have roads to travel.
Who are some of your wise elder women role models? How have they inspired you to live your best life now and in the future? Please share a story to bring inspiration to our day.