My friend Susannah Conway invited me to participate in a little 41st birthday celebration she’s hosting today. The topic: The (delicious) truth about getting older.
In her email she said, “I’m hungry to see positive stories on aging.”
She wrote the following questions as a starting point: “What are the blessings of getting older? How has your experience of being a woman improved with age? What’s surprising about getting older? How has getting older affected your relationships with others?”
Happy Birthday Susannah – thanks for asking me to participate!
I put together my own list of what I like most about getting older (from my perspective right now at age 38) to share with you today.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT GETTING OLDERThe knowledge that I can do it. After surviving the life-upheaval of a divorce two years ago one of my biggest first-hand-learn-it-with-all-my-heart-even-if-I-didn’t-want-to lessons was that people make it through things. That process, and the way in which life has continued on, has taught me so much about myself and the person I want to be and the person I am and the things I can do.
Along with the knowledge that I can do it myself comes the potentially even more powerful knowledge that I need other people and it’s okay to ask for help. Someone sent me an awesome email recently sharing a bit of their own life experience of second chances and meeting someone who wanted to help carry their baggage as they ventured together through the next chapters in their lives. It came from a place of giving and love and encouragement to let go. This is an area I continue to work on, be open to, and practice.
The journey continues. It’s far from over. There’s so much life left to be lived. I think I used to think somewhere inside myself that I’d turn a certain age and have it all figured out. Ha. I embrace that life is a process and that there’s something new for me to learn (and be amazed by) every single day. There are new ways of looking at things and opinions to be challenged and books to read and places to see and horizons to be expanded.
I so love that I can happily admit and much more easily accept that I don’t know everything and I don’t have to know everything.
Saying “no” comes much easier than it did when I was younger and wanted to be everything to everyone.
The matching-up of physical and mental/emotional strength. Let me explain because I’m not really there yet but I see it as a major blessing and it’s what I’m working towards. I have been an athlete in my life. I can vividly remember what it feels like to be in really good physical shape. For me this was in high school and early college as a competitive swimmer. Yet during that same time my mental/emotional health was all over the place (hello crazy life of leaving home for college and the new experience of freedom). There wasn’t an alignment between the physical and mental/emotional. I believe in that possibility of alignment (and I acknowledge that I will always be learning new things that impact my overall mental health) and I feel closer to it as I begin to place more importance on my physical health.
The softening. Of thoughts and emotions and behaviors. I hinted around a bit here and there about my struggles with making everything blank and white all the time (it’s in my nature to follow the rules). I cry easier]. I admit when I’m wrong quicker. I like myself better with softer edges and am making room for more grey areas.
I feel more alive right now than I ever have before.
I’m owning my own story. Working on accepting all the parts of myself – the awesome and the not-so-awesome. Seeking to understand the pieces that feel hard and unhappy and the areas where I still have a hard time softening. I love that I know I don’t need to be anyone I’m not.
I like that at this point in my life I can approach things with perspective. I’ve got some life experience under my belt. I’ve known great joy and intense sadness. My body has faced skin cancer and had babies pulled from it and has jumped from cliffs into the water below and all those experiences make up the person I am right now. And I’m so happy to be able to continue to learn and make mistakes and seek opportunities to be fantastically awake on this experience called life.
There are definitely still moments when I look at myself in the mirror and wonder who that person is looking back at me. There are moments of supreme doubt and fear. There are moments when it’s so much easier to just eat the whole bag of chips or climb back in bed or do both at the same time.
But man it’s a pretty awesome adventure overall.
And there’s more to come.