Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Changing Gears

Aging is humbling. Since crossing the abyss between 49 and 50, I've had to make so many changes in my approach to life. More changes are no doubt ahead. I want to be healthy and robust in old age, not all shrivelled and confused. Know what I mean?

Last night I made a list of apres-55 guidelines for myself, just in case my behavior has anything to do with keeping me healthy and alert. What have I got to lose? I might as well try anyway, yes?


1. Receive Treatments
It could be as simple as manicures/pedicures, getting a good haircut, facial or other spa treatment. Treatments also include alternative health care like acupuncture, therapeutic massage, psychotherapy, chiropractic, etc. I like to maintain a balance between healing treatments and beauty treatments. Rarely does a week pass when I don't have an appointment for some kind of treatment. I believe in treatments.

2. Choose your Battles
Once upon a time it seemed important to fight for what's "right." I still believe in it, but I've discovered that fighting really wipes me out. After a terrible argument I feel like my adrenal glands are completely drained, lying forlornly on top of my kidneys, looking all grungy like old squeezed out sponges. At least this is how I imagine it. It takes me a long time to recover from a harrowing fight. Now I'm not saying I'll never argue again, oh no. Arguing brings up a lot of electrical energy which is occasionally a healthy thing. But too much of that energy is exhausting.

Is this worth fighting about? is a question I ask myself any time I notice I'm getting annoyed. Nine times out of ten, the answer is no.

3. Connect with Divine Light
The thirtiess and forties are excellent decades in which to fight inner demons from your past. Introspection with the aim of healing old wounds requires facing your least desirable traits, bringing mistakes you've made out into the light. It's very important work, very hard work. It's a life-long work, too. I'm not giving up on it completely, but these days I'm more interested in cultivating noble qualities like compassion and generosity than on rehashing what's wrong with me. If I lived to be 100, I could never cure myself of all my neuroses, so why not spend my remaining years polishing my innate nobility to a high gloss shine? Well?

4. Don't Sit Down
At this age, if you sit down on the couch and do nothing but watch TV, pretty soon you will not be able to walk up and down stairs. People over fifty should throw away their car keys or do something else that will make walking around compulsory. Massage therapy is actually a great profession for middle aged people, (for so many reasons, really). It's a vigorous, physical profession, just what people of my age need. We do not need to sit at desks all day.

5. Learn Something New Every Day
Old people in all cultures are the keepers of history. They are anchors to the past, wise ones who have seen it all and are available to offer advice and counsel. But if I'm dazed out with Alzheimer's or because I'm over medicated, I'm not going to be a very great adviser, am I? So I keep my brain engaged. Needless to say, life is more interesting with an engaged brain. Use it or lose it, fellow geezers.

6. Let Go
Don't hold grudges, stop feeling guilty, forget what was so great about the good old days, stop worrying about your weight ASAP. Life is short. Onwards & upwards. I mean it!


deborah said...

fab post
so close for me
love you so much

Barbara said...

You are so smart. I think you have just given the outline for a bestseller -- I'm serious! We are an aging population who all need advice on how to do it gracefully. The medical profession addresses only a piece of this. So write that book!

hele said...

Every one of these points is something I too am striving towards.

Reading them reminded me and made my heart more peaceful.

Thank you.

lacochran said...

I second Barbara's suggestion. Call it "Don't Sit Down: A Guide to Gracefully Navigating Your Second Half-Century"

The market is there.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

most excellent list.... good for folks of all ages -- for those of us a little (or lot) shy of 55 I say why wait!!

go for the book!

Reya Mellicker said...

Don't Sit Down: A Guide to Gracefully Navigating Your Second Half-Century

Brilliant title! Wow!!

Aileen said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post- and I echo the sentiments that it would be a great book!

(And BOY did #3 hit home for me!)

cyndy said...

I'll buy a copy, are you taking pre-orders yet? I love the examples you have given for each instruction. It's all truly excellent advice on how to treat yourself well.

IntangibleArts said...

...and as a possible supplement to no.5: Didn't Eleanor Roosevelt famously suggest that one should "every day, do something that frightens you" or some such thing?

Odd as it sounds, it's a ripping fantastic idea, empowerment-wise.

Steve said...

Terrific advice all around for people of any age! Fab photos, as usual. :)

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Steve.

Intangible? I used to follow this practice, but a sudden fright is yet another drain on my poor adrenals. I've been scared of practically everything for 55 years. I'm done with that. I really am.

d. chedwick said...

great photos, and great guidlines-- that last undulating photo is nice with its little pearl of light

lucy said...

i'm standing up now...

thanks for the reminder!