Last week I posed the question, “What does aging mean to you?” and listened to what you told me.
It was my birthday week, and here’s a tip if you, like me, have some ambivalence about birthdays: Do it your way. Forget about parties, if you’re not a party gal. Or kick up your heels and dance until dawn if that’s your pleasure. My way this year: lots of yummy personal conversations with small groups of friends and family.
Even though it was a “marker” birthday, I didn’t need to go big. When I turned 60, I made a list of sixty things I wanted for my birthday. For this year , 65, I made a smaller version (fewer than fifteen). They were all luscious. Most were pretty simple (except, perhaps The Trip – see below) and they could continue to happen well past my birthday. For example:
- A walk with a dear friend.
- Coffee with others.
- A phone call with a friend out of state.
- Asking friends to talk to me about aging.
- A bike ride.
- A picnic with family.
- A swim in Lake Washington.
- An afternoon learning about my digital camera (it’s way too smart for me.)
- With my husband, hanging some pictures – a long-stalled project.
- A photo shoot to create a couple of new photos for my website.
- A Big Trip when I finish my current project (I hope).
The result? With each purposeful cup of coffee with a friend or other treat I was given, I felt abundant and celebrated. I recommend that you give yourself time to think about what you would love to have on your list, make it – and then enjoy the simple pleasure of giving yourself what’s on it.
If there’s a theme in what I heard you say about aging, it’s getting to be yourself.
What 65 means, according to my hugely scientific survey of readers and friends, is:
- Freedom. That can mean retirement, or new choices of what to do, or even accepting yourself without judgment. It’s an opportunity to be more of you. An opening into new possibilities.
- Recognizing how you’ve come into yourself more – with more self-knowledge and less having to be somebody else.
- Continuing to search and never outgrowing the, “who do I want to be when I grow up?” question.
- Being more honest with self and others.
- Dealing with changes in the body, and (often) slowing down.
- Acknowledging mortality – and sometimes dealing gracefully with terminal conditions.
- Bringing more wisdom to work, even though others in a rush-around-tech-filled world may not always be aware of it.
- Listening more and accepting things more.
- Wearing whatever color you want – not necessarily purple.
- Keeping a sense of wonder and curiosity.
My Millennial and Gen X friends, who are still far from 65, also weighed in. They spoke about how increasing their consciousness about aging expanded their ability to see the vibrancy in their aging friends and families.
As Ashton Applewhite, who is shaking things up about aging with her feisty manifesto, “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism”, says:
“The sooner growing older is stripped of reflexive dread, the better equipped we are to benefit from the countless ways in which it can enrich us.”
Amen! So let’s go out and celebrate – our way! And to all of you who shared your insights – Thank You!