For the life of me, I don't know why people are reluctant to reveal their age. I've been trying to figure it out, and I guess it's because we live in a youth-obsessed culture who has taught us that our value lies in our gray hairs being dyed, our wrinkles being Botoxed out, and in everything staying tucked up and firmly where it started out.
Personally I am over the moon to be turning 45 tomorrow. When I was younger, 45 seemed "so old," but after my health scare last year (and the continuing issues from that) I couldn't be happier or more grateful. And with all of the attention on the British royal baby's impending arrival I'm reminded that I'm 9 years and counting on what Princess Diana got.
One of my mother's friends recently turned 70 and she was "freaking out" about it. That got me thinking: why do people get so upset about turning older? Is it because they wish they would have accomplished more? Is it because they thought their lives would have been different by this point? Or is it because they simply can't believe so much time has passed by so quickly?
I believe that the main reason people don't feel happy or appreciative as they get older is because of one reason: regrets. They regret that they haven't reached certain life goals and/or they haven't been 100% true to themselves along the way. But often times these people are focusing on goals they made a long time ago, that may or may not have anything to do with the life paths they are on now. So many of us are living in the past, bemoaning unfulfilled dreams and wishing we had made different decisions, without ever looking at the beautiful, interesting, exciting OTHER things that we have accomplished that have led us to the incredible place where we are now. Without even realizing it, we turned our stumbling blocks into stepping stones and our mistakes into turn signals, and ended up in places of potential and opportunity along the way. I think that too often we lose sight of what we HAVE accomplished while we're too busy focusing on what we haven't.
So to that, looking forward, here are 4 to 5 things that I am planning to accomplish in the coming year: (It was going to be 45, but I don't have that kind of time...)
1... and this one is intentionally Number One: Take care of myself. Whatever that means day to day. If one day it means exercising and working up a good sweat to get rid of stress, then that's what I'll do. If one day it means taking the kids to school and coming home and going back to bed, then that's what's going on the agenda. And not feeling guilty about doing that on those days. As I keep saying, my health must be my #1 priority, or I won't be able to do the rest of the things on my list!
2. Trust my gut. It is always right. About people, about work, about relationships, about creative endeavors, about what to say, what not to say, about every decision I make in my life, big or small. I just have to remember to listen to it.
3. Stop worrying if/when the other shoe is going to drop. I have finally learned that if it's going to drop it's going to drop, and my worrying about it isn't going to make one bit of difference. I can't will something to happen or not happen, no matter how hard I grit my teeth and bang my head against a wall trying.
4. Continue to let go of what isn't working for me, and embrace what nurtures, uplifts, and supports me. This goes for people (this definitely goes for people), practices, habits, ways of doing things, and it can allow me to question my old and worn out concepts of "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts." I'm looking forward to extending this principle into daily, seemingly trivial things like clothing, surroundings, entertainment, hobbies, and spare time activities. Above all though, it has to translate into my time. (more on this in a later post)
5. Celebrate celebrate celebrate! Everything! Over the past few weeks I have had several people say these same words to me: "I want to live in your house." Why? It's not because my closets are organized or because the knickknacks are dusted, believe me. It's because we make it a point to celebrate and infuse joy into just about everything we do. It doesn't take a lot of effort to consciously choose the happy route, and once you start, it just becomes the way things are. We make the time to appreciate and encourage each other, to lift one another up, and we find the most joy in making each other laugh. And we do laugh. A lot. And I am very grateful for that.
I was led to believe that the 40s are an empowering experience for women because that's when we start to figure out who we are and begin to care less about what other people think. I have found this to be abundantly and blessedly true. I'm now halfway in, and I definitely feel that along with the gray hair, the quiet voice inside that knows what's best for us gets louder and stronger, and it begins to overtake the other voices that we have heard throughout our lives telling us repeatedly that we're not good enough or pretty enough or thin enough or enough enough.
To that I say, ENOUGH! Life is a journey that is to be explored and enjoyed as fully and as exuberantly as possible. It is too short to be lived worrying about what might have been or what we could have done differently. What we have is now and it us up to each one of us to determine our own happiness. No one else can do that for us - it has to come from within us, and it means something different to each person. Your happiness now may look completely different from what you thought it would look like five, ten, or twenty years ago. But who cares? What matters is that you are alive and have the gift of living a life that can be as happy and fulfilling as you want it to be. I can't help but imagine that Princess Diana would agree.
Here's to a year of self-care, gut-trusting, less worrying, more letting go, and even more celebrating and laughter. To quote Jim Henson, who left the world at the age of 53, "Life is meant to be fun, joyous, and fulfilling. It's a good life. Enjoy it."
Will do Jim. Will do.