I couldn’t have done it without you!
I’ll get right to the point today, everyone. Our body parts don’t look like they used to! Pick a body part, any body part. All together now….Waaaahhhh!!! Boo hoo!!! Sniff sniff!! (Onomatopoeia anyone?) It is what it is, and we’re not particularly happy about it.
I’m not here to sell you a magic potion, lotion, cream or device that will bring back the easy outward beauty of youth. We all know that can’t happen. I’m here today to help us all not simply accept ourselves as we are but, more importantly, actually love ourselves as we are…all body parts included!
Here’s an example. As we age women often have “a problem” with their hands and arms (think age spots and bat wings!). Not long ago as I pondered my old hands and old arms I suddenly realized how very, very thankful I am for them.
These hands once touched so many people I love who have gone on to heaven before me…my Mom, my Dad, Munner (my grandma), Pap (my grandpa), my big brother Tim. These hands once touched the silky newborn faces of my now-grown daughters and nearly-grown grandsons…and my arms encircled them and lifted them up when they cried. With my old hands I have made pies and cookies and cakes and other goodies for my family and friends to enjoy. These hands have felt the smoothness of a handsome horse’s back, the prickly stem of a beautiful rose, and the sweet softness of a beloved dog’s floppy ears. And so much more…
Yes, I am so lucky to have these arms and hands…and all the other parts of my no-longer-young body. I’m grateful that my old heart still beats, allowing me to be a part of this good life for however long that will be. That truly is a gift.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Well, this beholder is feeling new appreciation and seeing beauty where I didn’t see it before.
Thank you, arms! Thank you, hands! I love you, my old friends. Oh, the memories. I simply couldn’t have done it without you!
That is totally up to us!
We can thank Alexander Graham Bell for this wonderful quote:
When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.
That is so very true!
While we may think of Alexander Graham Bell only as the inventor of the telephone (we learned that as kids!), there was much more to Mr. Bell. He endured many hardships in life – as we all do – but he persevered to “see the good” and have an appreciation for the new doors that could and did open in his life. Hopefully we can do the same.
Have doors closed for us? Yes. We can all think of a few…or maybe even several. Loss may close some doors. Age alone may close some doors. Unexpected life changes can close some doors.
Have new doors opened for us? Yes! To see those doors we must approach life with an open mind, an open heart, and with our eyes wide open. How else can we take advantage of wonderful serendipity when it comes our way? Of course, hope and optimism are also required!
Years ago I read the book Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for The Rest of Your Life by Richard Leider and David Shapiro. Here is a great take-a-way from that book:
There are many doors to open and close in our lives. Some we leave ajar, where we hope and plan to return. Some doors are slammed shut decisively – ‘No more of that!’ Some are closed regretfully, softly – ‘It was good but it is over.’ Departures entail arrivals somewhere else. Closing a door means opening onto new vistas, ventures, new possibilities…
Yes, I’ve slammed some doors. I’ve closed others regretfully. And some doors have been closed on me. Did that hurt sometimes? Sure. Did life go on? Yes, it did!
As kindred spirits in aging, we can view this life journey as a time for new opportunities with new doors to open. Not doing so would be boring…and frankly depressing!
Let’s not move backwards (we’ve already been there!). Let’s not stay the same. Let’s open new doors, keep contributing, keep learning and make the very most of “the days of our lives.”
Here’s to opening new doors…together!
And what does it have to do with aging??
Quite simply – according to Kate McKenzie anyway! – perspective transformation is putting on a new pair of glasses and “seeing” something in a different way. And how we “see” aging makes all the difference!
Getting a bit more “technical” now…in grad school – not so very long ago! – I became aware of the late Jack Mezirow’s theory of perspective transformation. And I loved it! Paraphrasing Mezirow, a sociologist and Emeritus Professor at Columbia University, perspective transformation is a conscious recognition of the difference between an old viewpoint and a new one…and “seeing” the newer perspective as being of more value. Voila! Rather than seeing aging as a sad state of affairs we can see aging as a God-given opportunity to learn, grow, and do more with our lives.
Our perspective – like a pair of glasses – affects the way we see everything in life….not just aging. If you think about it, every day – consciously and unconsciously – we all engage in “meaning-making.” We assign meaning to everything that happens in our lives. To a large extent that assigned meaning determines the quality of our lives. We “see” things as good or bad, positive or negative, worthwhile or worthless, happy or sad, fun or boring, important or unimportant. Need I go on?
In 1978 when Jack Mezirow wrote about perspective transformation, I am quite sure he didn’t have perspectives on aging in mind. Well, I do!
How about we all try on a brand new pair of glasses and see getting older as an amazing adventure that we will experience together on this life journey?
Please say you will!
Am I the LAST person on earth to hear of this fashion trend??
Imagine my surprise when I came upon a November 2017 article at people.com entitled 11 Pajamas You Can Wear To Any Thanksgiving Celebration, from Fancy Silks to Fleece Onesies.
Wait. Did that say “onesies”? Now that I’ve gotten my breath back, let me continue.
What exactly is pajama dressing? New Trend Alert: Pajama Dressing 101 at Cosabella.com let me know that pajama dressing is “simply wearing pajamas…as outerwear.” Yikes!
And…the article The Rise of the Pajama Trend and How to Style It in avenuemagazine.com tells us that “creating a fashion statement out of your nighttime routine is an up-and-coming trend.” Wow. It goes on to say that “the athleisure trend has been able to thrive in an ever-transforming fashion market.” Now I do “get” athleisure. Let’s just say few days go by that I don’t wear a pair of leggings!
A July 2018 article entitled How to Master the Art of Summer Pajama Dressing on glamour.com shares “styling tips…that have paved the way for lazy dressers everywhere.” Wonderful! My featured photo today comes from that article.
I’ve taught more than a few college students who wore pajama bottoms to an early morning class. I think I’ve even seen some fluffy slippers as well. Somehow I don’t think these students were on the forefront of the pajama dressing trend. Maybe I’m wrong.
How things have changed! When I was in high school back in the dark ages we couldn’t wear pants of any kind to class – let alone pajamas. And, when I started working for a major corporation decades ago, women wearing pants – and I mean “real” pants – was frowned upon. Skirts and dresses prevailed. (All together now…can we say “panty hose”?)
Okay, let’s say all of us here at Celebrating70 buy into the pajama dressing fashion trend. Do you think the world is ready for our pajamas? Or should I say nightgowns? Does flannel “fly”? Can I throw on my robe when I go out if the weather is nippy? I mean fair is fair. If younger women are wearing their silky pajama separates out and about, should we have the same fashion freedom? Here! Here!
Well…now that I’ve thought about it, the answer is no. To be completely honest I haven’t really followed fashion trends in quite some time…and I don’t think this is the time to start.
I’m going to “just say no” to pajama dressing.
Are you with me?
It CAN make all the difference!
One of my very favorite quotes is found at the conclusion of a Robert Frost poem.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
While interpretations may vary, to me this quote very simply means that in this short life we can be happiest and most fulfilled by creating our very own path…whatever that path may be.
In 1978 Dr. M. Scott Peck wrote a wonderful book entitled The Road Less Traveled. I first became aware of this book years ago through my daughter Michele. Then, as luck would have it, Michele and I had the opportunity to attend a Road Less Traveled seminar right here in our hometown. I took notes (I’ve always been a big note taker!) and came away with some “nuggets” that I remember to this day. Here are just a few…
• Our own view of reality is like a map…the “road” in our lives.
• We should always pay attention to our inner wisdom – our intuition – and combine that with logic (of course!).
• Be open to “serendipity” – when something good happens that you’re not looking for.
• “Grace” is the connecting force in life that shows us how to grow.
I especially like the idea of serendipity, defined in the Oxford University Press blog as experiencing happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. How wonderful! Sometimes the “map” we follow in life is structured, “humdrum,” and we don’t keep our minds and eyes open for serendipity. We best change that!
Grace is another remarkable concept. While grace is often defined from a theological or spiritual perspective, from my perspective grace is the heartwarming, comforting sense of peace, gratitude and love that comes to us at special moments in time. It can occur anytime and anywhere and can help us truly sense the goodness of life. (I do know I’m waxing philosophical here!) While feelings of grace may be fleeting and rare, my guess is if we were more open to its existence we could experience “amazing grace” much more often in our lives.
I like to think that, as I create my life in however many years I have left on this earth, I will welcome serendipity, open my mind and heart to experience true grace, and then confidently take that inviting Road Less Traveled. I know for sure that will make all the difference!
Care to join me, anyone?
Wait! There’s more to the “story”!
How many times have you heard someone say “It is what it is”? Countless times? That’s pretty much true for most of us.
So…what does “It is what it is” mean to you? While I know what it means to me — I’ll get to that shortly! — I decided to Google the idiom and found that some folks feel very strongly about this little phrase!
In a 2015 article on inc.com entitled The Stupidity of ‘It is what it is…’ author Peter Economy (Is that a real last name??) declared that “It is what it is is especially damaging when used to frame a response to a problem…an admission that the problem is too hard…This all too common phrase has no place in the lexicon of leaders who rely on the intellectual, emotional and creative power of their people.”
Okay Peter, you’re right to a point. However, let’s not just say “It is what it is” and leave it at that. Instead, let’s say this…
Now that is about acknowledging the reality of a situation and then making a conscious choice about how that reality will impact us and what we are going to do about it!
Case in point: I’m 70 now. (Yes, indeed, it is what it is!) And…I choose not to bemoan the fact that I’m not younger. I choose to embrace the fact that I’m still waking up in the morning, have people to love, and can still make a contribution to this world. I choose to accept responsibility for my attitude…and I choose to be an optimist.
It is what it is, my friends!
Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls certainly has a way with words!
I never watched The Golden Girls when it was in “prime time,” but I love to catch the reruns. And Sophia is my favorite!
As The Golden Girls Wiki on Fandom points out, “Sophia is best known for her wisecracks, put-downs and brazen remarks.” I do think “You’re old–You sag–Get over it” meets all three criteria! Let’s just say Sophia isn’t known to pull any punches.
The Golden Girls offers a comedic perspective on what “old age” was like in Miami in the late 1980’s. What totally amazes me now is that when The Golden Girls premiered in 1985, actress Rue McClanahan (Blanche) was actually 51, Bea Arthur (Dorothy) was 63, Betty White (Rose) was 63, and Estelle Getty (my Sophia) was 62!! What’s wrong with that picture?? I’m 70! If they were old, what am I?? Aye yai yai.
But I digress. Regardless of the ages of the actresses playing the roles, cheerful programming about aging women was and is a welcome diversion from programming that exalts youth and beauty above all else and minimizes the value of those of us who have celebrated many, many birthdays. While certainly there are stereotypes in The Golden Girls, the program balances happy times and sad times and also exemplifies the importance of sharing our lives with kindred spirits who will help us navigate our ups and downs with both humor and caring.
Moving on now from The Golden Girls…a 2017 HBO documentary entitled If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast is worth checking out. First of all, I love the title! In the article The Sunny, Funny View of Old Age, Sophie Gilbert describes how in this Emmy-nominated documentary “acclaimed nonagenarians including Carl Reiner and Betty White challenge stereotypes about life after 90.” Now I’m feeling a bit more youthful!
Sophia Petrillo’s harsh quip about aging aside, whether we’re mere septuagenarians or we’re current or aspiring nonagenarians, we can do ourselves the favor of maintaining a positive spirit and being grateful for our blessings. And also – for good measure – let’s be sure to do what Oprah advises…“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”
Great advice, I’d say!
P.S. Thanks, Pat, for the great “tip” about If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast! It’s a keeper!