I turned 45 years old last month and am feeling a little like the woman in this picture: more afraid and more brave than I've ever been before in my life! Do you know what I mean? I didn't even know it was possible to feel these two things at the same time, until now. Naturally, I'm wondering what my age has to do with this strange awakening.
I've been serving and supporting seniors/elders for 12 years as a public and private care manager and now as a life enrichment coach for those reaching toward embracing empowered retirement and aging well. I see all of us, in this together, aging everyday. I look to those who are older than I to guide me, protect me, and heal me, by sharing their life dreams, ambitions, successes, celebrations, as well as their failures, disappointments, and griefs throughout their lives. In their stories and experiences, I see myself, and I honor the human condition. It is profound work to be with elders and listen deeply to what wisdom they have to share, to glean every lesson I can.
And by honoring, nurturing and empowering those who are older than I, I find that they open up in ways I never imagined. I feel like most people have a lot to share when someone is willing to listen. Even if it doesn't make linear sense, as with stories or thoughts shared by those experiencing symptoms of dementia, when I show up and truly listen with my heart and with presence, I hear history/herstory and see the past from a very unique point of view. This is not information read about in history books, but absorbed through oral remembering; verbal stories that paint amazingly detailed pictures and create sensory empathy. I've "tasted" strawberry dumplings from a 99 year old Volga German woman who grew up in Portland. I've "felt" the terror and liberation a 94 Hungarian man and his wife (who is now deceased) felt crossing the border illegally from Hungary into Austria during the Russian occupation in 1956. It is magical to learn empathically. I am so blessed to learn this way.
The truth is, we all have so much to share. And the older we get, the more experiences we have accumulated into our legacy, or our mission, or our sense of belonging or purpose. We have this tendency in our modern culture to see and even experience aging as painful, horrible, shameful, or boring, irrelevant, or just too difficult to think about or discuss. Well folks, I am here to shift that thinking and flip it! What if we thought of aging as an honor, a privilege, a worthy glorious ride toward our highest lives and our best selves?! Are you with me? I hope so...
To me, 45 is the quintessential mid-age point, representing the moment of reaching top of the hill of my potentially long life span and now, I am getting ready to ride down the other side after spending so much energy climbing up. Over-the-hill doesn't seem so bad if I think of the pure joy I will feel riding, running, skipping, walking or flying down the mountain! And, WOW. What a view I have right now as I pause and take a look around.
Thank you, gorgeous souls, for reading. Although it is very scary and vulnerable to put myself and my ideas out there, I want to inspire us all to embrace aging as a beautiful aspect of life and let you know I am here for you and with you in this process! Please reach out to me if this speaks to you, if you are interested in learning more about how I can empower you or your loved one or your facility with my enthusiasm on these subjects.
Blessings and Love,
How many times throughout our work lives do we ask ourselves, when will I get to do what I really want to do? A few evolved souls out there might be inspired to ask that poignant question at a younger age and creatively pursue a life ahead according to our truest desires. Most of us will choose a more responsible and stable path of working hard for many years, likely for someone else or a big corporation, and devote ourselves to our chosen career, believing we will eventually save enough money to enjoy life's enrichments afterward, when we retire. Then, after 40-50 years of grueling sacrifice, we finally get there and are left with an aching wonder of WHO we are anymore. We suppress our truest desires for so long in order to create stability, raise our families and contribute to society, with this ambition to create space for happiness and freedom later. Only in that time, we often forget what really brings us joy.
Retirement can be an incredible opportunity to awaken into life. It can also be frightening to take steps toward our dreams again, after suppressing them for so long. How can we awaken what is dormant? First of all, we begin to explore (or re-explore) what our heart desires by engaging our best memories of happiness in life. Sometimes that is in childhood, or young adulthood before life's responsibilities crept in. When did you feel most alive, most like yourself, most in the flow. What were you doing that gave you that feeling? Who was there? Where were you?