Have you ever wondered about the instruments used to measure the aging process? What does aging mean? Is it a tag for a numerical age group called Old?
When I pondered that question, my mind automatically went to physical changes which might or might not affect me as I navigated life as a silver sage (aka senior). Much has been written about the wear and tear on the body and how our past activities will affect the aging process. The vast unknown of heredity, environment, emotional changes and medical treatments led me to wonder if I could ever find satisfying answers to my questions about aging.
Then I went to my favorite question “Why?” to look for answers. It took five years of writing questions and answers, researching and writing articles and authoring five manuscripts, for me to accept aging as a process that starts at birth. Realistically, it starts at conception. From that point forward we are always making changes and always aging. Each stage of development paves the way for the next stage. We start as a fetus and newborn, then move on to infant, toddler, child, puberty, adolescence and so on. So why did I get stuck lamenting about aging as a description pertaining to old people?
No doubt the articles I read and the television shows I watched, confirmed aging as a term used to discuss the body breaking down due to aging.
What about psychological changes which come to the fore with life style adjustments? Many body weaknesses originate from emotional changes. “Gut wrenching” is a term used when describing extremely sad experiences. “Feeling nauseated” is an expression used when hearing about a gruesome crime. “Butterflies in the stomach” come at times of stress such as preparing for an upcoming presentation. These types of expressions are used when we feel sad, angry, anxious, frustrated, etc. They come from chemical and physical responses in the body.
I researched many situations where physical illnesses could be traced to relationship stress.
When I was experiencing migraine headaches, they were coming so frequently that I was afraid my daily life might be taken over by the disabling effects of those extremely sickening headaches. As the days and weeks brought more problems, I learned migraines were often controlled by life style stresses. After releasing the major pressures from my life and my body, the headaches were eventually controlled. A divorce finally freed me from keeping the disturbing problems inside my nervous system. Change was necessary to save my heath and well being.
My friend repeated, on a daily basis, her desire to kick her teenage son out of the house. The emphasis was always on the words – kick him out. The boy’s teenage friends introduced him to a life of drugs, stealing and getting into trouble with the law. The tension from the life style soon manifested itself in each family member suffering from an illness. It is known as a reaction to extreme stress. The range of problems were from skin rashes, to back pain, to a daughter experiencing homebound depression and more. My friend had two surgeries when her son was age 17. The Doctors took veins from her upper body to replace the damaged veins in her painful leg. She wanted to kick her son out of the house, but didn’t move toward that goal. The years of coping with the unresolved negative mental emphasis on wanting to kick the son out caused years of physical and emotional pain in her life.
The concept of aging belonging to old people now seems silly, yet hurtful. We have been brain washed to accept the concept of aging as debilitating, sad, scary, unchangeable and extremely troublesome. Aging is a diagnosis given to anyone who is no longer considered young. I wonder when society forgot to accept maturing and wisdom as a positive which comes from chronological aging.
The secret is now out in the open. Aging is a full time job.
Yes, it’s true, the wear and tear on the body and heightened emotions do dictate the path we follow to be the best we can be. The side roads give us opportunities which we would never be able to understand or appreciate in younger, less experienced days gone by. The later years of aging have been burdened with judgment tags such as senior, elderly, older and insulting descriptions like old man and young lady.
Among the perks to entering those phases of life is a unique maturity and huge learning opportunities which provide us with a wonderful wealth of wisdom.
By now you are probably wondering why I say aging is a good thing. Here is a sampling of 10 things I’ve learned:
1. I earned the right to be me. If I want to type on the computer until 3:00am and sleep until noon the next day, it’s my choice.
2. I have become kinder and less critical of myself. Hooray! I’ve become my best friend. I deserve the best out of life.
3. I rejoice in accepting the truth — life is not perfect. Nothing and no one is ever perfect.
4. I can’t go back to the past because I was a different person then. I am now the me of today. I know the past is done and over, it cannot be changed. My perception of the past can be improved.
5. The surest way to failure is trying to please everyone. The result is no one is pleased. In fact, those discontented people will turn on you.
6. Problems are opportunities. During a crisis the focus is on the predicament. After months and years, it becomes easier to find the opportunities that were created by the problems.
7. Learning never ends. So much to learn, so little time. I strive to learn something new every day.
8. It is true, I know I am sometimes forgetful. It’s frustrating. That proves some of life is just as well forgotten. And … I eventually remember the important things.
9. I don’t question myself as much anymore. I’ve earned the right to be wrong, sometimes.
10. Expressing gratitude every day enables me to have a more positive outlook on life and on aging.
Aging has set me free to be the person I was meant to be. I like being a silver sage! I don’t want to live forever, so while I’m still here I won’t waste precious time feeling sad about what could have been or obsessing about what will be in the distant future.
Join me on this personal journey of being a silver sage, to be the best you can be today. Aging is a full time job.