Originally posted on Manifest Me 2014:
I’m trying to find my edges. The perfect unfolding of a new beginning, a new drama that is directed only by me. As daft an attempt as this might be, it quickens my spirit and draws me forward. The edges of me, the beginnings, the ends, the boundaries of my soul lend shape and substance to an otherwise chaotic world.
I came with edges and boundaries. I gave them away, bit by bit, piece by piece, in order to live. I made a bargain. Let me live and I will pretend I don’t have yeses and nos, definition or substance, thoughts, ideas or places to be. Let me live. Just let me live, and I will pretend I am you.
The driving force to live trumps all else, at least for me. I didn’t realize when I made the deal what a dark morass of pain and emptiness could roll…
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Aging is a process that we can either fear or embrace. Let’s face it. What choice do we have! I use to live in fear of so many things, something happening to my kids, or my husband, being homeless, a serious illness, rejection, humiliation, looking stupid, being social inept, failure, the list is endless. For a time when I just began to wake up to the fact that I was “aging”, and I traveled the path beside my parents as they lived out their last days, I lay awake nights in utter terror of the future. Until I came to my senses.
It wasn’t an overnight occurrence. Trust me. For me it was a seemingly long, arduous process but worth every tear I shed and every panic attack I survived. It’s different for everyone. It probably depends in part how much fear you were taught as a small child, how much confidence in your self that you have been able to develop over the years. Regardless of the details, choosing not to live in fear and choosing to embrace the aging process for all the gifts it has to give is a choice.
I have come to view the inherent beauty of aging. It is a gift that offers us every ingredient we need to take major steps in our transformational journey toward healing and wholeness – toward self-actualization and consciousness. We have the opportunity to lay aside our fears and get down to brass tacks. What is truly important in life? What is truly important in my life? What do I really value? What are my gifts? What do I believe about the “something more” in life? Do I live what I believe? Have I made a difference? Can I do more? Can I be more? Is what is going on inside of me congruent with my words and actions?
Aging is a time when we can get right with ourselves and the universe, however we perceive it. We can choose to really walk our talk. When we do this, there is no fear. There may be a residual, habitual murmur that stirs occasionally, but it doesn’t have the power to control or dissuade us from what we know in our hearts to be true.
The journey toward wholeness, toward conscious living is the transformational journey, because when we seek to know ourselves, to truly and deeply know ourselves we will be transformed. I guarantee it. It is also a journey that is taken one step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time and it continues on indefinitely, ever learning and fine tuning.
Are you embracing the aging process? Are you allowing it to transform you, instead of you it? Are you opening your heart and mind to the process? What are your stumbling blocks? What is blocking your path? What is keeping you stuck?
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Sometimes I can’t keep up with myself these days, or anything else for that matter! Know what I mean? I cut back, cut out, pare down and still it seems life remains complex. I often think that technology has created some kind of hell on earth for creative types…the never ending possibilities spin on and on and on, making it both easier and harder to figure out what the hell we’re doing! (Or, supposed to be doing!)
Yesterday, I was “supposed” to have a physical, and bless my pea pickin’ heart, I did! It was terrifying to realize that I had not had one in three years and it’s been even longer since I had a mammogram. It drove home the reality of the time warp from which I recently seem to have emerged. Trauma of all types sets us back, takes us out of the ball game, rearranges our reality. It’s no small matter.
Much has changed on the outside in three years. Our driveway has a decidedly vacant look about it that makes me think no one is ever home. Oh, wait, they aren’t! (My boys moved half way across the country.) WordPress has been updated about 10 times, Google 6, LinkedIn 15, Facebook Oi! (I don’t know any of those things to be true.) Tracking devices for Alzheimer’s patients are becoming increasingly popular. TV and movies have gotten even worse. The international hot button has moved two inches to the right. Maybe it really hasn’t changed so much.
On the inside, it’s a very different scene. A very different scene. The deconstruction of my interior life and its slow re-assembly has been nothing short of astounding to me. Bit by bit, piece by piece, sometimes at a pace so fast it left me panting for air, at other times so slow I thought I would be stuck in neutral for the rest of my life. The colors and shape of reality bear a different hue and if I were an artist I’d paint the difference. Then, something so invisible would be made visible, something intangible more well-defined.
I was going to write a spoof on aging gracefully, even when a “go green” white paper gown makes you look like a giant marshmallow – but like my son once said, “I have the attention span of a gnat.” (He was saying it about himself, not me…although both are true!) Maybe another time.
If you are struggling with trauma, change, transition, transformation or other such life altering events, you might like to visit my other blog Manifest Me 2014. I try to write from time to time there about such things. I’ve also been writing hither and yon and will add a few links below.
I’m cranking up the Aging Abundantly Book Club on Facebook, so feel free to join in. We just finished reading Virginia Woolf’s, To the Lighthouse, one of my favorites. The Caregiver’s Group would love to have input from those of you who have completed this phase of your life and would like to talk about your experiences. The Writer’s Meet Up is still caring and sharing and always open to late blooming writers.
My Recommended Reading List (in progress) for Midlife Transition
I love this post! I have to admit turning fifty was harder for me than turning sixty, and everything Waiting for the Karma Truck says here I have felt and feel. How has turning sixty, or fifty, impacted you?
Originally posted on Waiting for the Karma Truck:
So here I sit, on the eve of celebrating my 20th anniversary of being 40 – or as most people would say – turning 60. 6-0. S-i-x-t-y.
– Hello, how are you?
– Fine thanks, I’m 60.
How the hell did I get here already? Even my sister acknowledges that it’s a big number. She also assures me I’ll get over it. I’m sure she’s right, even if I can’t fully articulate what it is I’ve got. I understand that the alternative is untenable – so untenable in fact, that perhaps that’s my issue. I’ve lost my sense of infallibility. I’ve exited that period of my life (which lasted a very long time) where it feels that everything goes on forever – and I’m a part of that everything. Tom Stoppard writes that one should “[l]ook at every exit as being an entrance somewhere else”. Sounds right – I am…
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Five days ago, I celebrated my 63rd birthday. Some days I think the internet and social media are just a fantasy world in which some of us choose to live from time to time – for me, birthdays are one of the best days to be alive and well and living on Facebook. Wow! I can pretend! It sure beats the many years when my kids were small and my husband was either out of work or laid out by work and birthday celebrations were pretty much all my doing. The day I broke down and bought myself a birthday cake simply because I wanted one was the second most liberating moment of my younger life. The first has to be the day my husband said to me, “Why are you cooking for me, honey, and why the heck are you making my lunch? Don’t you have better things to do?” Hell, yes!
Apart from the fact that everyone from President Obama to Mighty Mouse wished me a happy birthday (you know I’m just kidding, right?) and thank you to all of you who were so sweet and kind and made the day so very special, Robin Williams death at 63 was weighing heavily on my mind. I posted some of my thoughts on AgingAbundantly.com.
He was born just a few short weeks before I entered the world. Life is short enough, Robin. It’s a gift and I think you should have yours back. I think you should have a second chance. I’d like to think you’d choose differently. I have to believe you would, because I always have to come back to hope.
– have to; have to keep trying, keep believing, keep opting in.
Sometimes it hurts too much.
I’ve suffered the debilitating pain of depression. Many times. I’m grateful that the one positive that is coming out of his suicide and death is more discussion around this topic. It’s a disease that does indeed kill. Sometimes slowly, sometimes with a leap. I wonder if it is also a leap of faith of a different sort.
I’ve heard that there’s some discussion that he was taking medication for Parkinson’s that worsened his depression, making him prone to suicidal thoughts. I don’t know if there’s any truth in that. I do know that I’ve taken medication that altered my mental state so severely that only one more notch might have ended in the same results. For a moment, this information took my mind away from the hopelessness of his actions and focused it on anger at the health and pharmaceutical industry. Too many medications are prescribed. Too many people are treated as if we are all the same person who will react to the drugs in the very same way. Some of us are highly sensitive to all medications. And then, there’s my mother-in-law who was treated for Parkinson’s for five years before they decided she did not have it after all. The drugs altered her personality and her life for five years.
Anger alleviates the pain, hurt and fear, temporarily.
Anger at the drug companies and/or physicians should not take our minds away from the issue of mental illness. It is a factor, but mental illness is real all on its own. It doesn’t need any help to maim, kill and destroy individuals, families and beyond. I’m grateful that research into the brain has been stepped up in recent years. It’s a new frontier that should bring much-needed information.
I also heard that suicides the day after Robin William’s skyrocketed. Again, I don’t know if it’s fact or fiction. Makes sense to me given the hopelessness I heard in the voices of so many people. “If he gave up, why should I have a prayer of finding my way clear of my pain”, they surely asked.
The last year has been a turning point for me.
It’s been a death in its own right. After death comes re-birth and I a ready to embrace it wholeheartedly. I can’t wait to see what Robin will do next time around – though I doubt I’ll know I knew him before, or that I knew me before, if there is an after. Confused? Me too!
I’m grieving and I’m celebrating. It’s a both, and. Always is. I have hope again. I’m hanging on to it, until I can’t and then I’ll turn inward and discover something I didn’t know, and die some more. The circle of life. Ah, one of my favorites movies. I think I’ll watch it again. It makes me cry and gives me hope.