Thursday, September 4, 2014

The secret to successful aging

It's a milestone day.  In my world, milestone days tend to inspire introspection.  Given this day is the 45th anniversary of my arrival to this earthy journey, it's a particularly introspective one.  

It's also my cake day!!!! If you have followed this blog for a while, you know of my love of cake and particularly chocolate cake!  I'm far more excited that my birthday means I get my favorite cake than any other traditional birthday things!

As I celebrate my 45th birthday I realize I am now solidly middle aged.  It's quite possible my life is half over.  Perhaps more than half over.  I know all to well how short life can be.  None of us know when our time to transition will be.

That said, it's all about how you look at it.  Is my life half over? Half full?  Or simply in it's 45th year and in the grand scheme of things, the only thing that really matters is the gift of today?  I sure as hell don't feel 'old'. Well, most days, anyway.  I'm pretty sure I'm *really* in my early 30's at best.  Hell, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!

I chose to celebrate the day with a run this morning.  I ran 4.5 miles.  One for every decade I've been blessed to be on this journey.  As I ran, I thought about how fortunate I am.  How absolutely blessed I am.  In so many ways.  On so many levels.

Five years ago, I ran my first 5K.  This girl who always hated to run decided I needed to get my ass into shape and running was the best way to do it given my crazy schedule.  I hated most every minute of the 3 months it took me to be able to run 3 miles without feeling like I was going to die.  As I ran 4.5 miles this morning, a short run for me now, I gave thanks.  So grateful for the gorgeous day today is.  Thankful that I have the physical ability to run.  I work with so many people who are not as fortunate.  Some because of bad luck, some because of their own self-neglect and self-abuse by not taking care of themselves.  When my legs want to stop and my brain echoes the legs, it's the fact I can run when others can't that spurs me to finish.  Oh, and much to my surprise, I now enjoy running!  I enjoy the solitude.  The chance to be out in nature.  The fact it helps me clear my head, manage my emotions, and provides a healthy outlet to process and decompress.  I enjoy being part of the runner community and the wonderful opportunities, friendships, and joy it has brought me. Oh, and the endorphins are a lovely bonus!   I actually look forward to training and will be running my 3rd half marathon in October.  Who the hell am I?

That's not to say I don't 'feel' the effects of physical aging.  Peri-menopause interesting experience.  I do not have the energy I did in my 20's.  My joints let me know I am no longer as spry as I once was. My brain... well, let's just say according to an in-service I attended, I clearly have signs of early dementia!  But let's just say I'm forgetful and have increasing word finding problems when I speak.  ;-)

There is gratitude for the emotional maturity my life has led me to.  My life has not been all roses and butterflies.  I've had some pretty significant and devastating losses and challenges.  Burying a child and a contentious divorce were two no one should ever have to experience.  They have taught me so much about myself, what's important in life, the power of choice, the importance of healthy relationships, and love.  They have made me who I am today.

I have also had some amazingly positive and fun experiences with family, friends and my soul mate.  I have many families.  My running family, my dance family, my biological family and of course my friends.

My children amaze me and continue to teach ME so much about life. Right now, it's about self-sacrifice and letting go as I strive to support them in their educational goals and in their elite soccer playing and foster their independence.  And dear God help me, my eldest is about to turn 16!

I am grateful for my many jobs along the way and all the amazing people I've met as a result.  I am also so thankful for the many that have come my way recently and that I am able to follow my inner compass and calling to teach, mentor, and support those who need it.  I am grateful for the support I've had for my writing and look forward to holding that long awaited completed book in my hands in another month or two.

Of course, I am eternally grateful for the guidance of Universal love and light to follow my path.

I am both astounded and yet deeply grateful that I am so not the person I expected or thought I would be way back when I was a teen or young adult.  I am so much bigger and better than that!  I can't help but wonder if I had not had the life experiences I did, if I would have 'settled' for who I thought I was supposed to be.  If I'd have accepted the challenges life thew my way and continues to throw my way instead of allowing myself to learn, grow, and change as a result of them. Of course, I'll never know. I'm OK with that.  I know I am on the right path.

I often ask my clients who are in their 80's, 90's, and beyond, the 'secret' to living that long.  Most tell me what you'd expect.  Good genes.  Drink whiskey every night.  Never go to bed angry.  Stay active. Some are miserable they are still alive and can't wait to die.  Others fear death and speak of regrets. It's so sad to hear that.

You know what I think the 'secret' is?  I think it's about being authentic.  Simple as that.  Not being afraid to be the real you.  Not pretending to be something or someone you are not.  Not being afraid to speak your mind or stand up for what you feel is right.  I think it's about being respectful and understanding of others and accepting differences of opinion for just that.  No judgment.  Just being who you are and who you were meant to be.  Letting go of what no longer serves you with love and gratitude.  Being able to forgive.  Welcoming new experiences and being willing to learn from every experience life sends your way.  Learning lessons, growing, changing, and all the while, being true to your soul.  True to YOU.  We are supposed to change as we age.  It's why we are here.  To learn, to grow, to serve, to flourish, to love.

We should be able to live our lives without regret.  We are all holding the power to our success or failure.  The choice is ours.  Entirely ours.  We've no one else to blame.  No one.

My glass, my life, is beyond full. It is overflowing.  I am so blessed and so grateful for everyone and everything in it, from my very first breath 45 years ago to my very last, whenever that might be. Thank you for being part of my journey.

My cup truly overfloweth.

Now, if my plate could just overflow with cake...

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