I’m turning 70 a few days after the New Year, 2015. That sounds like a big number and yet I cannot put an age to what I see in the mirror or how I feel. When my energy is down, I feel the same stagnation as when I was a younger woman. The converse is true as well. Feeling good, doing my free form dance to music is ageless to me.
There is a reality, however, that I’m closer to death than to birth. This gives me pause to reflect on many things:
What do I really believe about life and death?
Do I believe in reincarnation? I don’t disbelieve it but am not totally convinced.
If my spirit lives on without my body, which I believe it does, what does that really mean?
These questions and more direct my thoughts, my mediation, my reading and conversations with some people who share such explorations.
I am also aware of the many gifts of my life. Some came in beautiful packaging while others showed up in broken boxes that took time to realize their value. Loving family, good friends, careers in psychotherapy and documentary film and lots of travel are some of the blessings in my life.
I’ve always been an introvert but notice that quiet time is even more important to me now. I’ve begun to explore writing with no particular goal other than to express myself. Is there a memoir in my future? Perhaps.
Please feel free to share your experience with your right of passage into your 7th decade or with any birthday that feels significant to you. I would love to hear your stories.
As 2013 is coming to a close, I am sitting with gratitude for the women who opened their hearts and lives to be part of The Beauty of Aging Documentary Film Project. Five of the seven women filmed are no longer living – Betty, Judy, Shirley, Lavada and Hedda. All of them lived long and quality lives and can be seen in the films on the website: http://www.beautyofaging.com
Some of the lessons I learned from them are to stay actively engaged in life, be connected to other people, animals and nature, work on my attitude by going with the flow and seeing things in a more positive light, be of service, develop and use my creativity, be mindful and live in the present moment. I’m still practicing many of these qualities and I delight in knowing that I can draw upon my memories and the footage of these women to remind me.
Many people who have seen the films on the website and “Greedy for Life” say they are less afraid of getting old since viewing the vitality of these old women. It excites me to know that others have gained inspiration from these women’s stories.
Do you have some favorite older people whom you would like to honor? Please “share their story” on this blog and help spread the word that there is, indeed, beauty in aging.
Many blessings to all of you who follow this blog for a loving, healthy and peaceful New Year.
The women in The Beauty of Aging Documentary Project (http://www.beautyofaging.com) found meaning and purpose in their lives even with the challenges that life offered. When Lavada Campbell was diagnosed with lung cancer she said “this is another growth spurt in my life”. She looked at it as a time to assess what was important to her in her life and weed out what wasn’t. When Shirley Windward moved into an assisted living home and I asked her how it was to move from her apartment of 30+ years? She said, “wherever I am is home”. During a temporary stay in a care facility, Shirley wrote 32 poems about her experience, finding both meaning and humor. Hedda Bolgar noticed she was getting more frail at age 98 and knew that she wanted to be able to move better and be healthier for her life so she started working out with a trainer. Being available to her clients by having enough strength to work as well as do other things she enjoyed gave her a sense of meaning and purpose. Judy Lainhart moved into an assisted living center at age 85 after a very late life divorce. After a period of adjustment she started running a women’s group so that she could use her psychotherapist’s skills. As she said, “I’m looking to participate and use my skills..it reminds me of who I am.” Despite life’s challenges and shifts, these women created meaning and held good attitudes into their older years.
How do you find meaning and purpose in your life?