Aging Gracefully Looks Different For Everyone

I came across this image the other day and found it to be incredibly inspiring (I have head of these ladies before but I am always impressed.)

As we age, it takes longer to recover, and we may not be able to handle the intense training of our youth.  (I sure as shit can’t!!) Our bodies change beyond that too – we may not look the same as we did when we were younger. We may also not be as able to achieve those results without more work than it once took.

One of my biggest pet peeves, though, is when people say it’s impossible to stay fit, healthy and strong as we age – they dismiss it with an apathetic resignation that doesn’t resonate for some of us. . . Just because we are getting older doesn’t mean we can’t stay active, continue to be an athlete, or stay in good shape.

I am a strong proponent of setting ourselves up for success, and believe that unreasonable goals are a fast track to disappointment. I also believe we can achieve anything we put our hearts to provided we are smart about it. If we want to achieve a healthy body, we CAN…and without having to work until we are horribly run down – that is a more than realistic scenario.

Staying fit isn’t about the OUTSIDE appearance – for many of us it is a lifestyle because it permeates every aspect of our lives…not just the exterior. It means having more energy, and feeling proud of little accomplishments along the way.  It means being able to participate in activities we enjoy without feeling horrendous doing them, as well as having a clearer mind, and more self confidence. It may also mean staving off some unnecessary (and unkind) illnesses as well.

We don’t have to force ourselves into the box of looking the way we did at 20 – we’d not only be disheartened, but it also isn’t going to happen (unless, of course, you find a genie in a bottle.) I struggle with this sometimes too – it’s hard to see those changes and know there isn’t a ton we can do about them.  I don’t think it’s necessary to beat ourselves up for feeling that way either, ps – it isn’t about vanity all the time.  For those of us who have been active our whole lives, and fueled our bodies with healthy foods, we might identify with certain conditions (internal as much as external.)

In this way, it might feel all the more overwhelming to lose the control we might have *thought* (wrongly!) we had.  In order to stay on a track to success we need only allow that “fit” may look a little different in our older age, and continue working towards incorporating healthy choices in our lives. That includes eating healthy, whole foods, staying hydrated, staying active, and at least *trying* to get a solid amount of sleep.

Remember that deviations once in a while are okay – living life behind bars isn’t exactly the point! It’s the overall attitude, approach, and consistency that will get you where you want to go…and keep you in that vicinity.

I was definitely more “fit” when I was younger – who wasn’t!?  I’ve backed off a lot of activities, as well as the duration an intensity of the ones I’m doing. I need more time to recover, and there are days when rest is more in line with keeping me healthy than going to lift or to class. I may also have days where I need to eat more…or less…depending on what my body is telling me. But the short of it is…I’m thankful beyond words to be healthy, to have the ability to be active, and to better recognize my body’s cues. There is such a thing as aging gracefully…and staying badass while you’re at it (however you choose to define it.) Never let anyone tell you what is…or isn’t…possible – that, my dear, is up to YOU.

 

 

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Perspective – When My Attitude Flares Up, How I Tone It Down, and Why I Should

MOST of the time I *try* to be a decent human being.  I try to reflect on my behaviors – good, bad, and ugly – and to conduct myself in an upstanding way as much as I can.

I ALSO fall short plenty!

As human beings, we are subject to more influences than I think we ever want to admit (hell, even the moon has me all off kilter when it’s full!) We are subject to changes in mood, for so many reasons that it would be nigh impossible to list them all.  But that’s okay.  We are allowed to ebb and flow, because that is just the nature of life.  We don’t have to be perfect all the time, and even if we have some grandiose notion that we’d like to be. . .it doesn’t always play out that way.

But the other day a thought came to mind that stopped me right in the middle of my “if-the-car-in-front-of-me-doesn’t-speed-up-I’m-going-to-go-nuts!” rant.  It was such a jarring thought that my attitude shifted. Instantaneously.  

I have the wonderful fortune of volunteering with children with disabilities with two organizations – I’ve never found something that lit my heart quite as much (and that’s saying a LOT, as I am a truly passionate person about my life, my activities, and the careers I have had.) I love the kids, and I love meeting their parents – learning about them, their individualities, and what makes them happy, is an overwhelming joy.

So as I was having this moment of “can’t stand anyone” (and I think it was in reaction to a woman tailgating on the highway and giving me the middle finger, despite that I had no idea what I did to warrant it) I thought to myself. . .

What if the person in that car who I’m getting all flustered because of, or at, was one of the parents of the kids I get to work with?  Would I act the same way?

Resounding NO.

I wasn’t *trying* to give myself a guilt trip, or make myself feel badly.  When my behavior deviates – and I think it’s fair to say, as adults, we generally know when we are being unreasonable and inappropriate with our reactions (should we choose to be honest with ourselves!) – I am aware of it.  I do try to correct myself and in effort to curb poor actions, I have said to myself everything from “you never know who has a weapon!” “you can’t take back what you say,” to “that really doesn’t make me a good person to flip someone off”…!

Doesn’t always seem to calm me down, though!  

But. . .the thought that it *could be* someone in a situation such as the families whose children I work with shut me down pronto.

I would never want to behave that way with one of them.  And when I think about it, I can’t imagine I really want to act that way with ANYone.  What does reacting poorly say about me anyway? Nothing grand, I assure you!

When I think about it, it makes me feel sad that I would allow temporary emotions to overcome me in such a way that I lash out – in any regard.  As a human being, I know it is bound to happen, and that expecting myself to be Miss. Goody Twoshoes is NOT realistic.  But because I don’t know what other people are facing, and because I also know how blessed I am, I appreciated the supernal reminder. . .which stopped me from getting angry, or for the woman who flipped me off to ruin more than the few seconds of my day during which she did so.

I know I’m going to fall short sometimes, but that moment was one I know I will remember. . .

I have the blessing to work with those who have a journey fraught with challenges, and I LOVE the work because I have the opportunity to make lives better. To behave poorly as a result of flared emotions is to contribute in a negative way, and I will suffer personally when I choose that route.  The only thing that would make it worse is to also hurt someone else who didn’t deserve it to begin with…and I’d say I don’t really want to decide that someone deserves any of that.

 

Let Go Of *Should

“Should” is dangerous.  It looks perfectly benign, and wasn’t exactly something I grew up thinking deeply about – it’s just a word after all.  Right?

“Should,” however, can quickly turn into trouble when we apply it to our situation, for example.  “I should have more money by now,” “I should have reacted differently,” I shouldn’t have studied ____ in school…now it’s too late,” or “I should have listened to so-and-so.”

Life is a journey – we are all presented with circumstances, joys, challenges, and opportunities as they are meant for us. . . I sincerely believe we are precisely where we need to be.

If we had more money, maybe it would be at the expense of our own self-worth, or our family’s happiness.  If we reacted differently to a stimulus, perhaps that resultant, and positive opportunity, would not have been made available. If we didn’t study what we had, perhaps we’d not have come to the realization that we are best suited for another area.  If we listened to so-and-so, maybe we wouldn’t have made the mistake that finally put us on a path to recovery…

There are so many “what-if”s and if we play too much with them in our minds, we neglect all the blessings we have in front of us.  To say should” imposes on reality the idea that we are not where we should be… And yet there are so many circumstances where we find our lives falling right into place, rather miraculously.

When we use “should” with respect to ourselves, it can become much more than a word – when we say things like “I should have known better,” or “I shouldn’t be ________” we are adding a layer of self-judgement to the mix.  It becomes less about a word, and more about an attitude – and when we use words with respect to ourselves, we begin to believe them….

None of us are perfect. . .and that’s okay. There is no “right way” to be, neither a flawless mold to which to adhere.

Each of us is on a unique path, and we are – even when it seems otherwise – right we are meant to be.  When we view our world from this lens, we bring the present back into focus, diminishing the anxieties, worries, self-imposed judgments and falsities that the brain likes to dwell on when we revisit our past…or project into the future.

Including “should” in our conversations with ourselves begins to erode our self-confidence – it can do so not only unbeknownst to us, but at a frighteningly rapid pace.  To let go of the notion allows our inner dialogues to remain healthy, and as we are a reflection of the divine around us (whatever that means to you) those words we speak about ourselves matter.

Our lives are like flowers whose petals must unfold as they – and Nature – are ready. To rush them is to destroy the life itself, whether directly or on a more, shall we say, spiritual level.  

Allow yourself the room to BE without the confines of “should” – even when life feels askew, remember that the last time it felt that way, the cycle came whirling back around to everything-is-okay.  

And…it will be. ❤

A Wise Man. . .

There are a thousand reasons why this idea should be prized. . .

Words have power and sometimes it is better to remain silent, lest ignorance, impatience, anger, or inability to understand cause more harm than good. 

Sounds easy. . .but. . .it isn’t.  It’s a life-long pursuit to manage the gift of language we’ve been given.  Sometimes nothing feels better than sharing, commenting, responding, speaking. . . But a lot of times silence is a wiser, if not kinder, response.

While I am a long way from mastering the skill, it’s a good reminder that there’s a time and a place to use the gift of speech. Before engaging, thinking is often a great idea.

Stress – We Always Have A Choice

I’m still working on this one, and I am certain I’ll be at it for a while.  But deep down, I fully believe in this concept, and I am getting better about stopping myself when my thoughts *try* to sabotage my mind, emotions, and body.  Like I said...*working on.*

The key is consistency – the efforts we make to apply it to ourselves, every…single…day, regardless of what’s going on around us.  In my mind it isn’t necessarily a lofty goal, so much as a slow-and-setady one.  It also happens to be an incredibly noble one and – should we truly desire peace in our lives – wholly achievable.

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Fearless

Fear of failure is common amongst us all… It is a painfully debilitating attitude which not only keeps us from learning, but potentially also from something we may truly love.  

To impose such binding limitations without offering our minds, bodies, and souls the opportunity to experience and grow with life is an injustice beyond reason.  There is never a rational explanation, nor any excuse – we must, in the face of fear, step forward, lest our lives slip from our fingers while we watch.

 

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Emphasis On Can

I love this quote from Autism Speaks – there’s nothing more important that encouraging children (your own, or otherwise!) by focusing on their strengths and positives.  

Autism Speaks, Dr. Temple Grandin

The world critiques enough, wearing down the strongest and most brave. . . Therefore at least give children (if not also yourself and your loved ones!), unhindered by the “should,”s “can’t”s, and “bad”s of adult conditioning, the opportunity to meet life with confidence and a smile.