Yes, I’m more than 40. But since I’m not remembering the exact number anymore (my kids tell me that I’ve told others an older age than I am–I’ve actually forgotten), then what does it matter?
I’m old enough to have a conversation that goes like this: “Happy Birthday. Should I not ask how old you are?” Umm, that’s the sign. That someone wouldn’t dare guess.
Though my age is reflected on my external appearance, my spirit is younger, freer, happier than when I was fourteen, twenty, or thirty. So I’m gonna love where I am right now.
I have integrated a few things into life that have helped make my life the younger, freer, happier way it is right now.
1. Yoga…Also known as strengthening stretching. For the cynics out there, no need to be afraid of this exercise practice. If 40 has taught me anything, it is that this body is not remaining static. I am getting achy. The older I get, the more regularity we change our mattress. This is not a sign that mattress construction is declining. My stretching routine, aka yoga, keeps this thing agile (pointing to my back).
2. Meditate…Be afraid of quieting your mind if you like, but getting our minds to slow is much like choosing to go on vacation. To focus on not focusing actually focuses our body to move into the slow mode for the rest of the day.
You might want to call this prayer. But I don’t mean talking to the Creator. I mean not talking at all. Not sharing our worries or our petitions. Just letting the thoughts, the words, the constant mental chatter slow.
2. Take Advil…for the aches and pains unresolved by a good night’s sleep and yoga.
The medical world isn’t out to get us with their western ways. They have children that get hurt on the playground, have aches and pains after 14 hour shifts in the emerg, and get terminal illnesses and car accidents too. They’re neither convinced that the medical system can save us, nor western (or eastern) remedies will perfect our lives, but they try to improve our daily experiences, just like we do.
Drug companies aren’t out to get us either. Sure they’re trying to convince the medical system to sell them their version of their drug, but if every malady could be solved by a natural source, wealthy, preying drug companies would have found ways to market that too, and make a killing (pun intended).
We have to accept things as they are some days. Our pain issues or medical troubles are our responsibility. There is no miracle, outside of a God miracle, that will perfect our imperfect humanity. We will die…it is a matter of time, not opinion, and the medical system is not a gumball machine.
Till the medical system claims to be an absolute WikiScience, we have many tools in our belts to improve our health, so when I need it, I take the Advil.
3. Exercise…I have a resistance to our culture’s ‘perfect body syndrome’. I have learned that exercise for pride and vanity is an unhappy-making, shame-inducing combination. Presently, I’m satisfied purchasing a size 10-12 in my 5 foot 9 stature.
Still, there will be no circumstance where I tell myself not to exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to be about mastering aesthetic perfection. Exercise is what our bodies were meant to do. When we don’t do it, we get sore, bored, lazy, and less happy.
My ideals are exercise in the outdoors: hiking, biking, canoeing, walking, yoga, paddleboarding, cross country skiing. And in the worst weather, the elliptical, a video, dancing with the kids or running stairs.
Is there a perfect routine?
Yes. The one that makes me happy and feel healthy.
4. Experiment with things I like. Adolescence doesn’t have to be the only time in life we discover who we are and what we’re all about. We have our entire lives given to us like a blank palette.
How will we know you don’t like something if we never try?
Having said that, my twelve year old asked me if I would sky dive with her on her eighteenth birthday. Naturally, I told her emphatically: not gonna happen. RIP twainausten February 10, 2021. I know my limitations; I will surely mess that one up. I think I had my fear factor experience as our family travelled to West Africa in the Ebola crisis last fall. I’m good.
I’m not experimenting with things that test my adrenals — but I will happily read or listen to your accounts and admire your courage. But I am looking to live the life that is most engaging, with new experiences, new activities, new foods, and new people. Incorporate the new.
5. Building real connections with others, by being authentic me.
The combination of those two make for fulfillment.
We were made for real connection.
When we extend ourselves into sharing who we really are, and sitting with the truth of other’s experiences, coming to know who they really are, whether sad or happy or doing things to help others when no one’s watching and no one is asking, we gain more than we give.
We play a meaningful role in other’s lives and we build the communal connections we were meant to experience.
We build our own community, an authentic community.
6. Oh, and possibly most importantly, no matter what my age, even at the age of 40, I have learned that I will always be 25.
I must set my life to believing what I did at 25:
life will never end…
I will always have a place in it…
my body will always function as I like…
happiness is always an option…
others can make me happy…
and I have much to look forward to.
That was my mental space at 25 — idealistic yes, and resolutely hopeful.
The hope of this season will remain the spirit of my day to day existence — hopeful.