In case you did not see my last admission, my getting nearer to the age of 60 has brought up some anxiety and pressure that I was not even aware was there. Suddenly, I was seeing myself as “old”, when that is not what I felt, but more of a societal story that I bought into. Pretending to ignore thoughts and their source, as I have learned, does not work for me. Pretending and always acting like you ‘have it together’ when in all reality you do not, is a huge part of why we all feel so separated from each other. We are caught up in maintaining an illusion.
So how am I dealing with my fear of being 60 and the years ahead?
In my own continuing effort to be as transparent as possible, I am dealing with my feelings of having already entered the ‘invisible woman years’ by being conscious of my thinking and making a commitment to doing and seeing things in a new light.
“Continuing to do the same things over and over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” – Einstein
I started with changing the belief I held that, as a woman, the best years of my life are past. I am choosing to create my best years by making daily decisions about how I want to live. In actuality, as I think about the whole ‘opposite sex attraction’ thing, it is way overrated and let’s face it, we really do want to look good for ourselves as well. The other big hurdle for me is guilt – overcoming the guilt that I feel when I take time to enjoy my life. I’m a great cheerleader for others to do so, but for myself, it’s a different story.
Other things I feel keep me in the moment and therefore not an ‘age’ or a ‘definition’:
- Movement. Not exercise, been there done that. I try to mix it up, walking, weights, even a treadmill. I love group classes with loud music. Quite honestly 3 hours a week, I just do it no matter what.
- Music and Dancing. I dance at least a couple times a week if even just for 10 minutes to whatever dance music I can find on You-tube. I even use my phone, google dance music, play a song and start moving. I’ll even do that in the bathroom if I have to.
- A list of things I enjoy. Flowers, animals, walking, dancing, a great movie, decorating, and to a lesser extent, organizing, but I do like the focus of it. I have made a priority of enjoying what I have and taking better care of what is present when it comes to this. Spending more time with my dogs, playing more with our parrots, enjoying the flowers in my yard. Picking a room and moving the furniture or adding a pillow or colors. It is so easy to never enjoy what you already have, and go for more. This simple idea of spending time enjoying what I have has been life changing. (Even if you only know of one thing you truly enjoy, start there, and it will help you think of others.)
- Expanding rather than downsizing. I have no problem with the idea of simplifying, but I have no intention of limiting my thinking to living in a smaller home or with fewer animals, or less chaos. For some, they can’t wait to have less space. For me, I want more to decorate and throw a party in. I have to always remember there is no one-size-fits-all life, and I have to follow my heart and not concern myself with what is ‘normal’. I now have more space with less kids, so I am looking to see what comes up. Maybe a friend will need a place to live for a bit, or I will just enjoy the space until such time that another space to live or another option shows up. I would love to have more space for monthly spiritual dialogue groups and a barn to rescue more animals. My age would not keep me from making a huge commitment, because that would feel OLD.
- Authentic friends. The best small step to date has been to have a twice monthly coffee at my house. It’s open to anyone I mention it to, and who they mention it to. 6-8 people always show up. We aren’t dressed for lunch on the town, as we just sit and talk. These interesting women gather to talk about what we are feeling, what we might be able to do about it, and issues we have with not feeling authentic in life. We very rarely talk about our kids and their accomplishments, as we focus on ourselves. Up to 10 people, in my opinion, would work in a group like this. A basic rule is not to offer opinions to others, but rather talk about yourself and what you are dealing with. My observation is that listening is the very best teacher. You learn what you want, and often what you do not want from listening.
- Being open new possibilities. Rather than saying ‘no’ to anything, I say ‘yes’ to as much as possible, including myself. Allowing myself to expand rather than that feeling of contraction.
For instance, yes, I can still get away with wearing hot pink. Yes, I can plan to be out late and up early. Yes, I can plan more social activities and keep up. Yes, I can adopt another bird. I am not talking being irresponsible, I am saying letting go of so many rules. I just bought a bubble machine for a party. It arrived late, so it was not useful for what it was intended. Rather than send it back, I let bubbles – thousands of them – entertain me all weekend. I also thought of all the friends I could offer my commercial bubble maker to who would enjoy it with grandkids or at parties. Happiness filled me.
Bottom line: I am not saying ‘no’ to much these days. Even going to a Full Moon ceremony on the beach, just because it sounds like it might be fun. My one caution is saying yes to volunteering out of guilt. I love to help, but I want to be available to help when it is my passion, not just making others feel better. So…I will adopt animals, plant way too many pink flowers, invite random people over for coffee, or schedule my own social activities even if no one invites me to theirs.
Since identifying my issue with aging, discussing it freely, and consciously committing once again to all of the above, I am feeling very much alive and grateful. Truly eye opening was the truth that I was not admitting that part of the reason I was feeling a bit depressed earlier this year was over my birthday and some story. Once I got back to living in the day, and being in my own story – the one that I get to create – my suffering has virtually vanished.