Tag: women aging

Adapting to Change as We Age

Adapting to Change as We Age

Change is difficult even under the best of circumstances. As we get older we often find ourselves resisting change and seeking security and consistency. As a young person I thrived on change. At any opportunity I was ready to try something new. Eager. Hopeful. Optimistic. The new “shiny thing” was both mesmerizing and enticing.

At almost sixty, I know about new shiny things and the grass is always greener. The years of disappointment and unfulfilled dreams has left me barren of hope for a new outcome from change. Particularly external change. Had life been different would I now be more optimistic? Less set in my ways? It’s hard to say.

I’ve become cynical even about internal change. If I haven’t fixed myself by now is it really possible to even be fixed? Does it matter? Yes, change is difficult and no less so with age. I still believe change and variety in life are important and help to keep us young and involved in life mentally if not physically.

We do have to choose what we change more carefully. When once a move across the country may have been the change we needed, now we may have just earned the right to seek more modest change to keep us humming along. A change of routine, a change of décor, a new dress may be all we need to stir things up and keep us engaged in life. Chances are an external change will be thrust into our lives in the not too distant future anyway.

The important thing about adapting to change is to be patient with ourselves and above all, kind. We need to remind ourselves that change is hard and requires a flexibility of spirit and attitude. Flexing those muscles now and again keeps us in shape for the unexpected, but it’s okay to be different at sixty than we were at twenty-six. Life holds a different sort of adventure for us now.

Laughter ~ Balm for the Soul

Laughter ~ Balm for the Soul

Click on photo for article about humor and children.
You don’t stop laughing because you grow old.
You grow old because you stop laughing.  ~ Michael Pritchard
~~~

What would life be like without laughter? One of the many gifts of aging is acquiring the ability to take ourselves a bit less seriously. While some people are just born with the ability to laugh many are not. Most of us, however, can learn. My brother-in-law (my husband’s twin) happens to be one of the funniest men alive. I think of him and I laugh. I replay stories he told in my head or with my husband and we just giggle until tears run down our cheeks.  The facts of his stories are not unlike our own. It’s his perspective that is different and he’s honed his delivery to the level of an art form.  One by one he turns life’s little displeasures into anecdotes that make his listeners roar with side-splitting laughter.  I have learned so much from his ability to look at the humor in a situation and subsequently “lighten up”!

My family of origin was deadly serious. They had very little sense of humor, nor did they seem to get comedy in general. Some people are just like that. Have you ever tried to casually joke with a cashier that just stared back at you blankly? It’s not easy to feel as if you were the one with the problem. It could, however, that your wit  just fell on deaf ears and the next person may laugh right along with you.  Humor is a slippery animal, so much of what is funny depends on a mutual point of reference. But, it is oh so important. In fact, researchers tell us that laughter is right up there with tears for cleansing the body, mind and soul. It will lift your spirits and heal your body like magic.

Fortunately, I married into a family with a great sense of humor and I have gained so much from spending time with them over the years. They have had no small part in helping me to laugh at myself and hone my sense of humor and story telling skills.  I’m happy to say that my husband and I, and our two sons, laugh a lot. Life has been hard, but laughter has become a balm for our souls and a way of making each day a little brighter.

Some of you may be familiar with Perrie Meno-Pudge. I have been following them for a couple of years now and I love that they are seeking to find humor in midlife angst. If you need a laugh now and again, you might want to follow them on Facebook or Twitter or visit their website now and again.  Here’s their Facebook post from yesterday:

‎”MIDLIFE TEXTING CODES EXPLAINED:

ATD ~ at the doctor

BFF ~ best friend fell

BTW ~ bring the wheelchair

BYOT ~ bring your own teeth

FWIW ~ forgot where I was

GHA ~ got heartburn again

LMDO ~ laughing my dentures off

OMMR ~ on my massage recliner

ROFL&CGU ~ rolling on floor laughing and can’t get up

TTYL ~ talk to you louder!

                                                        ~ Perrie Meno-Pudge

Facing Our Deepest Fears

Facing Our Deepest Fears

Living in fear can take the joy from life and the texture from living. It’s easy to feel the nudge of fear that would have us huddle in a corner afraid to venture forth. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t hear of, or live through, a natural disaster or the not-so-natural destruction that rains down upon us at the hands of our fellow human beings. How do we feel secure? How do we keep finding the courage to turn our faces to the sun?

Our strength and courage must come from within us. We must learn to rely on and harness or inner resources. We can be physically defeated by externals but our spirit will not be demolished and will live on blended with all that is, all that was and all that will be. Soak in the truth of Marianne’s words and be fortified. You are stronger than you know. You are more beautiful than you believe yourself to be. You are a unique gift to the world that shines light into the dark places.  Let it shine.

Our Deepest Fear, written and read by Marianne Williamson

Midlife Transitions

Midlife Transitions

Transition by Henry Asencio

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes

it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  – Maya Angelou

No matter how old we are or what our life circumstances, life altering events happen, sometimes frequently. They are the situations, real or imagined, that drive us to our knees. They may be as clearly defined as the death of a spouse or a painful divorce or as subtle as restlessness in our chosen career.

A life crisis can be brought on by external or internal events, but either way, it gives us an opportunity to grow and to create lives that are far richer than they were before. Every time we face a crisis of any proportion, we have a choice. We can allow it to debilitate us or we can use it to foster and support change and personal growth.

Coming through a crisis requires navigating the treacherous waters of emotional, mental and physical upheaval. We must stare down our demons and step into the fire of change, allowing it to burn away the useless debris that may have put a stranglehold on our lives. When we do this, we come forth, in the end, with a reconstructed self that more perfectly matches the person we were meant to be. We are then able to see and use our trials and tribulations, not as a force of destruction but to forge new strength, develop more clarity, and to define our vision more precisely. We may then more easily resolve to live our dreams with greater intent and purpose. The process informs us. If we dare to listen, it teaches us things we need to know about ourselves. It opens doors to the very things we have yearned to discover to enable us to live more authentic lives.

Transition is a process that contains stages that are very similar to those outlined by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her famous book “On Death and Dying”. Accepting transition as a process helps us understand that while life altering events are painful, they also contain the exact ingredients we need to garner a deeper understanding of ourselves and our lives. We do not need to live “lives of quiet desperation”. We can step into the fire of change and be made new.

Too often we look at our problems as forces beyond our control. We think that our only option is to try to absorb these events and survive, or to fight back with anger and rage. As a result we get stuck in the muck of emotional conflagration and end up going back and forth, back and forth, unable to come through to the other side. When we resist change, it slows the process and prevents our healing and growth.

It is human nature to avoid pain and to seek comfort. Erich Fromm wrote, “Every act of birth requires the courage to let go of something, to let go of the breast, to let go of the lap, to let go of the hand, to let go eventually of all certainties, and to rely only upon one thing: one’s own power to be aware and to respond; that is, one’s own creativity.” This is the essence of transition.

Caring for an aging parent is a life crisis that can stymie us and wear us down or it can lead us into a period of transition that will teach us about ourselves. Midlife frequently gives us more than one opportunity for growth and is very fertile grounds for resolving past issues so that we can step into the future stronger and more grounded than ever before.

The reflections in my book, Caring for Mom, were written during just such a time in my life. While it was a very painful and stressful process, it led me to take steps I would not otherwise have taken. I have learned the value of walking through the fire, allowing it to burn away a lifetime of debris and step out into the light just a little bit smarter and a little bit lighter.

My hope is that as you read these reflections, you will feel less alone when facing your own trials and catch a glimpse of the value inherent in the pain and difficulty of all midlife transitions.