I’m getting older. Just a little. And I’m not in denial about the situation…. Okay – maybe I am just a little. I’m getting ready to turn the big 4-0 in a little over a month and even though it doesn’t sound ‘old’ (anymore) and many of my friends are in their 40’s and 50’s, I have to admit that I’m freaking out a bit.
I remember my mom turning 40. I was 20 at the time. A 40th Birthday Party was for, well, old people. And I’m not old. Seriously.
Granted, my perspective is a bit different and not just because I’m turning 40, but I have friends who simply don’t fit the ‘aging’ molds that I naively held as truth. I’m blessed to have friends in their late 40’s and early 50’s who run 1/2 or full marathons as warm-ups and 100 mile marathons for fun! They’re sick in the head but I still love them. My less mentally sick friends and family members within this age demographic hike mountains, participate in Crossfit, Boot Camp, are hired by Fire Departments, participate in national tennis competitions (playing tennis while pregnant), performing in plays, and haven’t slowed down a bit. My grandmother trained for speed-walking marathons in her 70’s and says she was in the best shape of her life. She’s still vibrant and my family has to hustle to keep up with her. I have friends that I graduated from high school with that are just starting their families or haven’t found ‘the right one’. Their souls are just as fresh and fun-filled as they were out of high school. They are just a bit more mature. Well, some of them are, but dang it all, all of them are a blast!
Confession: I’m not at their level of physical activity. I currently participate in ‘fun’ exercise but absolutely acknowledge that as I age (*sigh*), I have to take this a bit more seriously. Needless to say, whenever I complain about a sore shoulder from sleeping wrong, aching muscles from yoga class or burning lungs from riding my bike through the neighborhood, I inwardly giggle at my own ridiculousness, especially if I throw the word ‘old’ into my repertoire of excuses. I just need to deal with a bit of pain and put on my big girl chonies which are NOT granny panties, btw.
The flip side of this coin (the dark side) is the human reality – I work with women who can be in the middle of a conversation and instantly sweat bullets thanks to hot flashes. I have countless friends who have gone through divorce and many have remarried or are currently dating. I’ve gone from being one of the youngest in social settings to being one of the oldest. I have close friends who are currently scheduling surgeries, adding to their medications list, and struggling through long-term handicaps and pain management. I have even more friends who are helping take care of grandchildren or are planning care for their aging parents. Bye-bye children, hello parents and grandchildren. THIS is the part of 40 that freaks me out a bit.
Perhaps this is why midlife crisis happens. We raise our fist at the sky and scream, “I’m not old!” even as we take extra supplements for our joints, bones, energy levels, skin, and overall well-being. We ladies (and some men – there’s no shame in this game) use anti-aging moisturizers to prevent skin sagging and wrinkles. We’re anti-old and anti-death. We were not created to age and die. Our souls are eternal.
I envision my 40’s as a time of tremendous transition – charcoal storms and gem-lit rainbows. My three boys will graduate, go to college (ideally!) and possibly start their own families. I’m going to grieve my babies growing up more than I dare to imagine right now and yet I’m undoubtedly excited to have grandkids. As a parent, it’s my job to set rules, boundaries, say no, teach discipline and life lessons at each curve in the road, mentor, strengthen, hold, and correct. But as a grandmother (later rather than sooner, I pray!) I get to say “Yes!” then send grandbabies home to their parents. Watch out world!
I also envision my 40’s as a time of adventure. My hubby will be in a different career stage in life, my boys will be less demanding of my every moment, and I’m learning the art of saying “no” to the good things to say “yes” to the great. Various artistic passions, callings, skills, and interests have rolled and stirred my imagination and soul like a heavy storm for years. My priorities will have to narrowed as time speeds up and my body slows down.
We aren’t taught how to age or how to prepare our hearts when we’re passed over because we’re older, slower, and less energetic, when we’re considered the ‘older parents’ and mentors by default even if we have no idea what someone is talking about. Granted, it’s an honor to be respected and listened to. I find myself choosing words more carefully, even if I do tend to stir the pot a bit. I am also choosier about who I respect and listen to. There are a whole lot of people who have a whole lot to say and while I’m not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I weigh wisdom and counsel a bit different these days.
As I watch others age, it’s been extremely eye opening to realize how many ‘older’ adults I respected, listened to, and followed who really weren’t worth following at all. Perhaps this is why, when I was horribly disappointed in their behavior, I had such a hard time of letting go and forgiving. Shouldn’t they have known better? Really, older people are younger people trapped in older bodies. Some ‘olders’ have truly absorbed life lessons and have grown through these lessons. They are open and honest about who they are and who they are not. Others never allowed themselves to learn the lessons they should’ve but age, hair color, wrinkles, and titles can be deceptive. Age does not equal wisdom. Wisdom speaks for herself.
57 days and counting…
** I wanted to share this post from a fellow Blogger: Sermon for Softness I hope you enjoy.