© Barbara L Cummings 2018

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Getting What You Expect

December 19, 2018

  

As children, we might have thought that someone who was 40, 50 or 60 was old, especially if they modeled certain behaviors. Watching our elders complain about getting older, limiting themselves, and acting as if it's "normal" to not just age, but to also become decrepit sends a strong message. Many of their assumptions about aging probably came from what they heard and saw when they were younger and got passed along to us. 

 

I was very fortunate. My grammy looked like a grandmother, but she didn't act like many others. She didn't worry about making it up and down the stairs in her Victorian-style home with just one bathroom on the second floor. I would often find her outside with her dress and pearl earrings and sneakers, raking leaves, hanging laundry or doing some gardening. She lived to be a hundred and only showed real decline the last six months. One time my mother asked her if she ever had any aches and pains. She responded, "Sure, but why complain about them?".

 

I was also lucky that my mum let me take dancing lessons from the time I was five or six. I learned to really appreciate my body. I also became aware of the truth in the saying, "Use it or lose it". As a dancer and an athlete I found out early on that it was important to keep doing something to maintain a certain level of competence. 

 

There are plenty of misleading signals sent to us as we go through life. Birthday cards lament the passing of time. Black balloons that say "Over the hill" are sold for birthday celebrations that imply that we're not supposed to really celebrate. Chair lifts so we don't have to climb stairs and taller toilets so that we don't have to sit so far down are touted as ways to help us age when they really do the opposite. If you stop losing your leg muscles it can only become more and more difficult to, oh, I don't know ... walk?! 

 

We also get the message that we're supposed to slow down and stop doing things, just because we're older or a "certain age". If we're taking care of ourselves, why should it be standard or expected that we stop doing things, especially activities that we love? There's a quote that is sometimes attributed to Hunter S. Thompson:

 

 

 

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely 

in a pretty and well-preserved body, but to rather skid in broadside in a

cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, screaming 

'Woo-hoo, what a ride!' "

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Encyclopedia Brittanica

 

 

Whatever you're able to do today, continue to do it tomorrow. If you want to try something new, especially if it's challenging, go for it. Avoid talking about how old you are, especially using the phrase, "... at my age". Strengthen your core. Keep moving. Focus on expanding, not contracting. Have fun! This is what I wish for you. 

 

Sparkles and Love,

 

 

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About the Author

Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

is a sassy mentor who provides people with life support. Using meditation and mindfulness, "I help people figure things out."

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