Do you dread your birthday? Do you count the years by counting the wrinkles on your face or the age spots on your hands? Do you feel as if you don’t look anything like your high school yearbook picture? Do you feel depressed because there are more years behind you than ahead of you?
There is an easy solution to growing old, and here it is: find a way to feel great about each second, each minute, each hour, each day–EVERY day. Now that said, of course all the common sense things apply: be good to your body, mind and soul.
- For the body: do some moderate exercise each week, and choose your own method. Eat as healthfully as possible, and drink lots of water (especially during the hot days).
- For the mind: keep it active and sharp. Learn a new language, take up a new hobby, start a blog, keep a journal, read, write, take photos, travel, observe wildlife, and try to learn something new every day.
- For the soul: appreciate all that is around you. Look, really look and let what you see sink into your whole being. Watch the sunrises and sunsets, drink in everything around you, take the time to listen with all your heart to those around you, breathe deeply and fully, and keep an attitude of gratitude.
- For body, mind and soul together: meditate. It’s easier than you would think, too. Sit or lie down, uncross your arms and legs, and close your eyes. Your mind will want to wander, so you may decide to focus on something; a flower, a gem, a land or seascape, or whatever works for you. You can also concentrate on relaxing your body, starting with your feet. You can say in your mind, “feet, relax,” and so on until you have relaxed your whole body. When your mind wanders, gently pull it back to center, much like tugging the string of a kite that is wandering too far away. You can meditate for five minutes, a half-hour, or whatever suits you. This will refresh your body, mind and soul.
I recently attained my Reiki second level, and learned to repeat this each morning to start my day:
“Just for today, I will not be angry.
Just for today, I will not worry.
Just for today, I will be grateful.
Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.”
Doing this makes fresh in my heart and mind what really matters. Trust me–I have a long memory of things in the past that have hurt me and challenged my peace of mind. But I learned the hard way not to let them haunt me. As the very popular song from “Frozen” says, “Let it go/Let it go!” Instead I’ve chosen to replace bad thoughts and memories with good ones. Here are a few of my own:
- My mom and day – in their 80s they are still vital, happy, healthy, strong, and have great attitudes and spirits
- My husband (the Crankee Yankee) – quite simply, the love of my life and my best friend
- My relatives, especially my favorite uncle – a loving, sweet, funny and kind presence in my life and my heart
- My fantastic friends, old and new, who bring light and laughter and love to my life each day
- My relatives who have gone on before me and left a sound path for me to walk on
- My two amazing step-daughters who have brought me such joy and happiness
- My incredible granddaughter, 3-year old Ava, who is the light of my life, and the keeper of my heart
- My wonderful sons-in-law who are truly my family by means of love and respect
- My three cats, who bring me joy and happiness each day
Now, lest you think that I am some kind of perfectly calm, all-forgiving *Buddha-esque person, well–forget that. The things I’ve mentioned thus far are what I TRY to be and do each day. And most days I fall right on my face. Age has brought me some perspective, true, but I still react childishly to a lot of things. I have re-discovered the great joy of throwing things when I get angry over something incredibly dumb. (At least I have the presence of mind not to pick up anything I value or that would make an awful mess.) The last item to suffer my wrath was the roll of plastic wrap that stubbornly would NOT come off the roll in one piece or, when I finally wrested a swath of it off the roll, would NOT stick to a damn thing. That got summarily kicked all around the kitchen, all the way downstairs to the basement, and all around the basement until it landed in a full litterbox. (Don’t tell the Crankee Yankee, but I threw it out and bought a new one.)
So, back to those dreaded birthdays, age spots and wrinkles. Think of them this way: they are medals of honor of a life lived well. They are a testament that we are not the young and callow youngsters we used to be; that we have grown and changed, gone through life challenges and survived them, that we have had families and achieved much in life–that we have become who we are meant to be. I choose each day to look in the mirror and say, “Hiya, Gorgeous!” You’d be amazed at the cumulative positive effect of just doing this one simple thing. I don’t kid myself that I look 20 anymore, I now have quite a bit of “salt” in my hair, and my smile lines are deeply embedded in my face. The last time I went to the dentist, he informed me that I had no cavities. I was very happy about this, and he said drily, ‘well, you have more crowns and bridges, that’s why.’ Pooh to him. I’m still happy.
So since we can’t turn back the clock, let’s choose to look forward and embrace who we are, including what we look like right NOW. Live long, live well, and live FABULOUSLY!
*One of my favorite jokes is this one: Buddha goes to a hot dog stand and the owner says, “Hiya, Buddha–what’ll you have?” Buddha smiles at him and replies, “Make me one with everything.” (Get it?)