Fear and Aging

Here I am on my balcony last summer. I let my gardening go this year so that I could spend more time solo camping.

I live my life relatively free from fear. I learned a long time ago that fearing the future means that my today is lived with less aliveness than is possible because some part of me is bracing against a negative future. As I often tell my coaching clients who don’t believe that they can envision a future for themselves: if you can worry, you are already adept at creating a vision for yourself. It just happens to be a negative view of what’s possible.

That isn’t to say that I don’t have certain concerns about my future, but I don’t fear it. For example, I’ve chosen to live alone in later life; what biological family I have all live over 1,000 miles away. I’m very mindful that this means that should I ever get sick or otherwise need the support one typically looks to family for, it won’t be there.

I was just chatting with a friend who has just come through a rather prolonged medical situation. She was surprised at just how much self advocacy it took to receive the best attention from the medical system. Those kinds of conversations give me pause to consider the future. Not in a fearful way, but in a way that invites creativity and an awareness that I need to develop alternative strategies for myself.

Making new friends with people younger than me is a key ‘self preservation’ strategy of mine! Sadly, Trish is from Ottawa so we really only spend time together volunteering at Stanfest each July

I don’t know what my answers for dealing with life’s inevitable crises will be, but I do have every confidence that they won’t be fear driven. Rather they’ll be considered and mindful, anticipating alternatives, just like I live my day-to-day life. One thing I’m very clear about, though, is that I have no plans to become one of those fearful little old ladies who sit quietly in their homes and apartments afraid of every knock at the door. I know that the best way to live the future without fear is to live today without it. I also know that the best way to live the future mindfully is to begin to develop plans and strategies today.

Hmmmm . . . .

Nothing to say?

My friends and clients would tell you that I am not a person who has nothing to say. So I find it interesting that this blog seems to have turned into an annual posting of where I’m at! Strange, that. So unlike me. But I continue to age disgracefully, doing things that older women aren’t supposed to, exploring life, living life large.

As I talked with a friend this morning it dawned on me that it would be more useful for me to take a few moments after I have one of my regular chats with my 3-4 very close friends and create a blog post about either what we talked about or what surfaced in my Self awareness during the discussion.

Today’s chat was interesting because my friend is someone who invests very heavily in traditional approaches to getting fit and losing weight and yet isn’t ever able to lose the weight that he lugs around. We share the fact that we are both overweight. But where he swims, walks, uses the treadmill religiously and heads off to one diet program or another each week (it’s Weight Watchers at the moment) his shape never seems to change a whole lot. He expressed his admiration for the fact that I do marginal exercise, don’t follow any kind of diet except for eating whole foods and cooking everything I eat from scratch, and yet seem very hale and hearty.

Indeed, that’s how I experience myself most of the time. I very seldom ever get sick, and when I do I’m not down for long. I take no meds other than a couple of vitamins and I’m still quite strong. Now, I have begun a regular stretching routine that I do pretty religiously because I was starting to find that I was ‘seizing up’ in the joints. I felt like my brain was getting as inflexible as my hips so that was a big incentive to return to some gentle yoga.

Chasing a good photo is one of my best invitations to get out and move! Here I am at Amoreira Beach, Algarve, Portugal

I could probably do more in the cardio department but I’ve discovered that I’m one of those people who respond better to having an active life than to doing exercise. In summers for me that means camping. Hauling my little trailer around, setting up camp, breaking down camp, going for walks, schlepping water all make a big difference. In winter I spend a lot of time in Portugal where I walk all the time. And when I’m in Nova Scotia during winter, I love to head out to its many wild beaches looking for beach glass, driftwood and other great finds. I’ve been amazed at how my body feels so much more robust with just those activities.

So I do have something to say today and that is that remaining active, in whatever form feels right for you, is important. Doing the traditional ‘fitness’ routine just about kills me simply because it is a ‘routine’. In part, I love my life because each day is different than the one before it. And having discovered that being active, for me, is my way of staying fit has been one of those small but important discoveries that shifts staying fit from being drudgery to being fun.

Too busy living life

A sunset to stir the soul

Well, even with the best of intentions, it has been months since I completed my initial post. My only excuse is that I have been too darned busy living life to take the time to post.

Yet as I wrote that sentence I heard a little inner voice saying “fibber. look at how much time you spend watching TV and just staring at the view out your window. You could be writing instead”. That little voice can take a flying leap. Because every minute I’ve spent doing those ‘wasteful’ things is time well wasted in my book.

I know that one of the reasons I’m as creative as I am is that I give myself permission to hang loose, do nothing useful, chill, drift off, waste time . . .take your pick in terms of your preference for how you think about idle time. I like to think that I’ve let go of my judgements in this department, but clearly I still have a little rule somewhere deep inside that holds unproductive time as a no-no.

So I’m once again reminding myself of the value and benefits of downtime. And while I gaze out my window at the lush greens that are developing on the hillside across the bay, I’m going to take a deep breath and let myself appreciate all that I’ve created in my life. I’m also going to mindfully acknowledge that these times of drifting away are important to to my well-being, to my creativity and to my vitality.

What about you? What are the ways that you take a break from your busy life? Do you have regular down time? How comfortable are you with ‘wasting’ a bit of time each day?

Living Life Large

This family of geese who paraded past my driveway one early summer morning seem to be the ideal metaphor for the idea of Living Life Large At Any Age.  They had left the safe confines of the lagoon that was home and gone in search of who knows what:  adventure?  fresh sights?  growth opportunities for the kids?  more, different, better food?  to get some exercise?  to delight in the sights, sounds and smells that world has to offer?

We will never know.  And yet there were two parents and 13 goslings moving with aplomb down a suburban street, regardless of the number of walkers, dogs, bicycles, cars or large trucks that they would have come across.  They were busily communicating with one another.  They seemed comfortable in exploring so far from home.  I’d lived in that spot for years and this was definitely not very typical Canada Goose behaviour.

It tickled my fancy to see this little parade.  This vignette reminded me of the big wide world that awaits me each and every day; it invited me to remember to live large wherever I am and whatever is happening in my life; to not settle for the quick, easy, routines of life; to always be an explorer in life.  This feels like an important message at this time of my life.  I’m an older woman, entering that time of life when most people think of settling deeper into the comfortable armchair of life, of giving up things that seem outrageous or at all dangerous, of being wise, decorous and supportive.  Bugger that says every fibre of my being.

Get out and explore.  Taste what life has to offer.  Test your limits.  Don’t settle for tried & true, easy and effortless, known and understood.  Keep growing, stay fresh, be interested & interesting.  As my friend Evelyn advises ‘age disgracefully’.  Yeehaw is my response.

This blog is my place to keep track of who I am always in the process of becoming when I choose to live large.  Because one thing I’ve learned is that if we don’t keep track of what is special in our life it is quickly forgotten.  I hope my thoughts, opinions and musings help to inspire you to expect and demand more in your life too just like this goose family inspired me.  I’m excited to see where it all takes me.