Tag: the art of aging

Finding Our Story

Finding Our Story

We all have a story to tell.  It may be a short, sweet, simple story, an intricately woven esoteric story, or a fierce and volatile drama that plays out in the midst of mind numbing chaos. Nonetheless, it is our story and to truly live I believe we must tell it. Our journeys are powerful lessons for kindred spirits who are longing for a connection, or understanding, or compassion.  If we keep our story to ourselves, it will die and a thing of value will be lost.

Telling our story does not require us to be writers or speakers.  There are as many ways to tell our stories as there are people, but first we must find it. Then we can grab it by the tail and dance with it, allowing it to create us and us it.

Our stories come from the deepest yearnings of our hearts and souls ~ those rumblings and urgings that have yanked and pulled and pushed us through life even as we tried to ignore them. They are not the noises of our parent’s commands that may still meander through our conscious or unconscious thoughts ~ those are the echoes of their stories left untold that still reverberate in their offspring.  Our stories are unique to us, but they may likely rest beneath a protective shield, carefully held in place through years of denial. Now it is time to remove the cloak that hides our truth and discover its power.

I turned away from the telling of my story much of my life. I was taught not to value it, share or even recognize it by parents, teachers, and a society that valued different things. Consequently I shoved it out of sight and wandered aimlessly as I tried to live everyone else’s story.  There came a time when I could no longer push it aside. I could no longer find a reason to make the dictates of others more important than my own. I would tell my story or I knew I would wither and die. It took time to even begin to recognize its shape and texture and each day I choose to share it, it becomes more vivid.

Find your story by listening to any voice that you know is truly your own. Heed its advice, even if it is not clearly defined. Follow your inner directives whenever possible and you will chip away at the layer of protection that may be keeping it hidden. The still small voice that speaks to you in quiet moments, the intense passion evoked by a favorite song or a thing of beauty, these are the things that will lead you home.

When you discover a truth, write it down, even if it is only one or two words. These are building blocks for the  magnificent structure you will create.  If you can’t name it, draw a picture of it, sing a song about it, dance it. Let the creative director of your story shape it for you. Then, share your truth in any way that makes sense. The sharing is what will bring it to life.

Mining the Past

Mining the Past

The past holds many treasures that can serve us well as seek to discover what we are supposed to be doing now that we’re almost old. Not only does it contain the wisdom born of hardship and pain, but it also holds the key to the joy and meaning that has enriched our lives. When we mine these multifaceted jewels, they will lead us on a path of self-discovery that promises to provide us with an instructive map to age abundantly.

I don’t know about you, but I have spent most of my life running from my past mistakes and running toward the future where I believed a better path could be charted. It was an effective method in that it kept me moving, trying new things, and gathering experience, because boy, did I make a lot of mistakes! When I recognized a wrong turn, I chalked it up to experience, buried it as best I could and vowed never to do it again, and kept moving.

Now, however, looking toward the future has lost its appeal as the end of life becomes more palpable.   But there is more to the past than the debris of failure and now is the perfect time to mine it for all the gems it can provide our todays. Setting aside the running to and running from way of living, allows us the opportunity to take a deep breath and begin our search for the joy and richness that only living can bring.

Our past holds treasures personally crafted just for us. They are personal, rich and substantial. They hold the key to hope, gratitude and as yet undiscovered benefits. As we sift through our memory banks in search of these golden nuggets we will find our own personal map to meaning and purpose.

Begin by picking a period of time — a decade, a year or a day — during which you felt particularly in tune with yourself and life. Close your eyes and sink into the memory. Feel it, absorb it, and allow it to fill your mind and senses with all the good things it has to offer. Then ask yourself what was it about that moment that was so special? What were you feeling, doing, experiencing? Can you repeat it in some way today? Can you use it to live happier today?

I spent so many years looking at the negatives of the past and not enough time holding on to its treasures. Today when I closed my eyes and did this little exercise I thought of a time when I was in college. It was summer. Two of my best friends from high school (twin guys*) and my roommate joined up for a series of adventures. We went to watch the Thunderbirds fly over the Long Island Sound, took in a number of rock concerts and had a blast. We just enjoyed each other and had fun ~ no strings attached kind of fun. We laughed. We lived. We soaked up the excitement of the moment.

What I felt during those days was the excitement of doing something new, the warmth of being with people I enjoyed, a sense of freedom, and time in the great outdoors. I had no expectations of myself or my companions other than to enjoy the moment, taking it in, absorbing life and love.

By living for a few moments in that recollection I am able to absorb its teachings for my life today. The experience helped me to realize four things. First, I have forgotten how to live in the moment and to absorb all the pleasure and knowledge it has to offer.  Second, it revealed to me that I place entirely too many unnecessary expectations on myself. Third, I haven’t done anything new and exciting in a very long time and lastly, I realize I don’t spend near enough time laughing with people I enjoy. Just that brief moment of reflection provided me with all the information I need today to make my life more comfortable. Here’s what I can do now:

  1. Learn something new.
  2.  Focus on doing those things I enjoy doing and aside the uncomfortable and unnecessary expectations I have placed on myself.
  3. Call a friend and get together for coffee or a phone conversation.
  4. Share laughter with someone I love.

Your past will undoubtedly reveal something different, something that is uniquely yours, a personal message from your heart. As we begin to use our past as a teacher, rather than a litany of what not to do, we will allow it to blow the breath of life into our todays.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.

* I married the other twin ten years later.

Laurie Schur ~ Director of “The Beauty of Aging”

Laurie Schur ~ Director of “The Beauty of Aging”

Laurie Schur Laurie Schur, spent her life helping others. For 25 years during her career as a psychotherapist, she used her education and knowledge to assist those looking for solutions to life’s problems.  The time arrived, however, when she began looking in earnest for answers for herself.  Intuitively aware that her own aging process would be unlike that of the previous generation’s, she was eager to find a role model that would reveal a different view of aging. Thus began her journey as the Director and Producer of “The Beauty of Aging” film project.

The goal of her project was to share the stories of active, extraordinary American women over eighty, but it has gone far beyond its original intent.  In fact, it has helped to explode the myths that were previously held by many that aging ushers in a period of steady decline and that aging individuals have little to offer the world or society.

“The extraordinary women in our film are so engaged in their activities, so filled with curiosity, and wisdom, that they are completely redefining old age,” Laurie tells us. “As part of the fastest growing population in American, these women are forging a new trail for other women.” Things are not at all as they seemed.

Greedy for Life is the first release from this important project. A 35-minute short featuring two of the women selected for The Beauty of Aging project, this film gives us a taste of things to come and leaves us eager for the next release. Shirley and Lavada tell their stories in a way that is not only uplifting but awe inspiring. We are introduced to two compelling women who embrace life with such energy and enthusiasm that it is contagious and one walks away with a new respect for the aging population and new role models for our own aging.

“Greedy for Life”, an official selection for Gero-Ed Film Festival,  is available for purchase and is being used by individuals, organizations, groups, colleges and universities, as an educational and inspirational film on aging. You won’t want to miss a chance to see it.

Keep up with Laurie and the production of The Beauty of Aging on Facebook.