It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

Nearly a year ago I wrote this piece. I think it bears repeating as there is much to be grateful for as we age.

There are benefits to aging. It’s not all doom and gloom. Currently, I’m dealing with a situation again that eight years ago made for a lot of angst in my life. Today, the second time around, it’s not exactly ho-hum, but I have the attitude of ‘it is what it is’. I slept through the night, no tossing and turning over possible outcomes. Sitting here this morning, relaxing with my mug of coffee and surrounded by three of my zen masters (read cats), the benefits of aging is what is on my mind. Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. The words “life’s too short” take on real meaning. While I used to mouth those words, my type A personality couldn’t stop thinking about how to mitigate a given situation. With age I’ve come to understand what I can control and what I can’t. I control what I can. The rest I leave fluttering in the wind without worry.

2. I’m grateful for the ability to experience aging. We all had people in our lives who didn’t make it this far. Disease or accident claimed their lives early. My oldest brother was killed in a car accident. He will be forever twenty. Old age is a gift.

3. I care a lot less about what I wear and how I look. Oh, I still take care of myself. But, my wardrobe consists mainly of t-shirts, jeans and comfy shoes or sandals. When I worked, along with business attire, I put on full makeup every day, styled my hair. Now, I throw on some mascara and blush if I’m going out, pull my hair back into a ponytail and off I go. And, I let my hair go grey. Twenty years ago grey hair and wrinkles bothered me — no more. I’m free!

4. Along with the confidence to sport grey hair and wrinkles, aging has brought more confidence in general. I was always a decision maker. No sitting on the fence for me. But, with age I am more confident in my decisions as being the right ones for me. I’m concerned with what my husband thinks and how my decisions affect him. Otherwise, I don’t think about it much. No one knows what’s best for me like me.

5. Speaking of decisions, there are fewer to make. Life is less complicated. I have fewer roles. Other roles have changed. My working self is gone along with concerns about the company, my clients, my employees, my manager, my time, my commitment, my dress and my decisions. While I’m still a mother, my children are adults, on their own. I’m a grandmother who can enjoy my role without most of the demands of parenting.

6. I no longer live for the weekend. Every day is Saturday. My favorite days are Monday through Friday. Those are the days of the week when I like to go places. I don’t have to deal with crowds or rush hour traffic. Rarely do I have to stand in a long line to check out at a store, get a good table at a nice restaurant or see a show. I can sleep late if I feel like it or get up early if I feel like it. I make my schedule based upon my preferences, not someone else’s.

7. I want less stuff. I’ve figured out what’s important in life and it isn’t the accumulation of things. Relationships with my spouse, family and friends are important. Even my pets are more important than any material thing I could acquire. Doing the activities I enjoy is important. Giving of my time and myself to someone else is important.

These are a few of the benefits to aging I thought of. What are the benefits you see in your life?

13 comments on “It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

  1. A tremendous benefit to aging is seeing my adult child as independent, good human beings. They are all good parents and they all give me the opportunity to be with my grandchildren. Everyone experiences hard times in their life. My husband and the father of my children died when they were young. That time was so agonizing for all of us. It has taught me again and again how lucky I am to grow old. I am grateful.

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  2. Couldn’t agree more Kathy!

    Hi,

    May have written before, in which case I apologise!
    I’m Jo – artist, writer, traveller, wild west nut intrigued by science, and renaissance soul. I’ve recovered from thirty years of depression – a medication crisis was the catalyst, I’ve never felt this good – and I’m chronicling the rebuild of my polymath creative lifestyle on my blog Creating My Odyssey.

    I’m hoping to reach people with mental health issues, and creatives in general to give encouragement, inspiration and hopefully some enjoyment.

    I’ve also been writing a humongous novel forever, on and off, particularly during young parenthood, to help keep me sane. It’s called Alias Jeannie Delaney and it’s the life story of a devastating cowgirl who’s the fastest gun in the west and also bisexual. Since my recovery from depression I’ve decided it’s time to get it out there. I’m blogging about it on my site. Principally I’m looking for mentors for my novel but I love contact with other creatives.

    If you feel like dropping into my site that would be brilliant!

    Jo UK

    http://www.joclutton.simplesite.com
    http://www.kitty-le-roy.co.uk (wild west website)
    Facebook Jo Bennett
    Facebook Creating My Odyssey
    Twitter @Clutton_jo

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  3. Thank you for this post. It’s a good reminder as I face the challenges of retirement and aging. I’m still very much working on leaving the things I can’t control “fluttering in the wind without worry”.

    All the best.

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  4. Hi Kathy…
    I enjoy your blog and read it often. However I’ve been experiencing something that I think would make an interesting topic for a future article. I’m planning to retire in about 3 months and everyone keeps asking me, “What are you going to do??”. The honest answer is I just don’t know yet. Part of me just wants to decompress for a short time and adjust to this new life. Then I’ll explore the opportunities that await me. But I don’t have a quick answer for people who continue to ask me about my retirement plans. I know some are concerned about me while others are closing in on retirement and looking for answers themselves. I know they don’t want a long-winded drawn out answer but that seems like all I have right now. So, in your experience, is there a quick and easy “go to” answer for “What are you going to do when you retire?”

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    • Mike, You bring up a very interesting question. I’ve written about what I do all day, but not about this question, which seems to be universal. And, you are correct — people are both concerned about you and looking for answers for themselves. We live in a society where the go to retirement plan is usually travel the world, travel by RV or golf. While I advocate having a more specific plan, I can see you do have a plan. Tell them you plan on just kicking back for a while and enjoying not working. Then you plan on exploring ways to create new meaning and purpose in your life starting with a visit to your childhood self. Self-exploration is key to having a happy retirement. I’ll think on this some more and perhaps write a piece about it. Thank you for the idea and best of luck with the inquirers.

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    • Hi Mike. Many of us retirement bloggers have written about this since the question can be a little uncomfortable (as is “what have you been doing?” when you feel like you’ve been terribly busy – busier than when you were working – but can’t remember exactly why). My favorite response so far is “Whatever I want.” Enjoy your retirement!

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  5. What are the benefits in my life with aging and retirement? The biggest gift is time; no punching the clock on a daily basis. Time management is still an issue but without the constraints of a formal work day. There’s more time to look after my self and my place and consequently, no excuses. #1 strikes a cord – controlling what I can (time management, finances, daily activities that contribute to well-being) and letting go of what I can’t (adult children, advancing age and its changes as it relates to myself and aging parents). This work in progress continues as I age.

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  6. I’m so grateful for the perspective that can come from aging. Once you’ve been around the block a time or two and realize the same scenery keeps popping up, it is easier not to catastrophize every disappointment in life. The other day, I met a young woman who was mourning the loss of s relationship. My husband left me when I was about the same age she is now and I remember how I devastated I was. As I commiserated with my younger friend, I realized that my divorce actually resulted in a lot of positive things in my life. Once you’ve had a few of those epiphanies, it is easier to have patience during bad times while you wait for the silver lining to appear or, at least, for umbrellas to go on sale!
    Terri LaBonte
    Terri LaBonte: Reinventing Myself In Retirement
    http://Www.terrilabonte.com

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  7. So I can share that retirement to me today is the feeling of ‘wonderfulness’ that I have the ‘time’ today to read your blog and ‘time’ when I’m done to do something else whether it’s a ‘need’ to do or ‘want’ to do.

    In thinking back to my initial years of retirement, I wasted an incredible amount of time trying to figure out what I ‘should be’ doing or what I thought retirement was going to give me. ??? What’s that all about?? I’m now just doing what retirement has given me – the chance to do whatever without guilt. Wasn’t it just crazy to feel guilty to read a book for enjoyment or spend time writing a memoir to be left to my daughters? We all have worked hard to get to this point. We just have to learn how to breathe!!

    I did finally come to the conclusion that it would be good for me to go back to work part time as a first time sales associate in the retail world. And as a baby boomer as you stated above, my challenge now is to keep my hours at a part time basis. We are definitely workaholics!! Therefore, on the days I’m not working, I jump back into doing whatever…. Right now it’s working for me!!

    I love reading your words. Smile

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    • Thanks Nora for the insight…you are so correct…it’s not about what we should be doing; as Laurel said, it’s about what fulfills us, regardless of what that is. For each of us it’s different. I’m glad to hear you wrote a memoir for your daughters and generations to follow. Keep smiling and breathing. K

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