In general, our society fails to offer beneficial attitudes and role models for aging.
Though aging was not something I thought a lot about in my younger years, I did not have any bias against the aging process. Elders were easier to talk to, had less drama, and would take the time to listen and reflect on life with me.
My experiences and family relationships taught me that getting older would be fine, and aging was a natural part of life.
Perspective is everything.
As I arrive “over the hill”, now fully ensconced in my mid-60s, I’ve noticed that enjoying aging is not a widely shared attitude.
Women pay a hefty price in the aging arena; we are constantly bombarded by the cultural marketing machine, which delights in focusing on everything that they consider we are not.
So many times I have had women say to me, “I feel invisible!” Bewildered and “like, what just happened?”.
Here’s the rub.
The shift of honouring our ripening journey is a shift that we as women need to make first.
Can we be ok with getting older?
If we do not claim this opportunity to BE fully embodied and empowered, to SEE the brilliance of who we are, you can bet that no one else will either.
The negative connotations of eldering will continue unless we demand something different. By opening our own eyes to an embrace of truth (we are getting older!) we can begin to cultivate a mindset that honours ourselves and our value.
Living longer and thriving is new territory for our society. We are creating this new roadmap as we go and becoming the role models for my daughters and the generations yet to come.
There is opportunity here. As we pioneer a new aging process, we honor our ripening by making life-enhancing choices that embrace thriving, mindfulness and wisdom.
As parents and community members, we try everything in our power to support our young people with healthy self-esteem, confidence, skills, and resilience. Why then, do we sell ourselves short past 50 and 60? Why do we let ourselves be sold to, convinced that aging is negative, to be avoided and fought against? Why is older, experienced, and hopefully wiser, not better? If “youth is wasted on the young,” then why are we not taking the lessons and experiences we’ve learned, and putting them to better use for ourselves and our communities as we age?
As pioneers of a conscious aging process, let’s reframe what it means to be older and claim the beauty, the wisdom, and the honor of aging. Not everyone “gets” to do this.
We often fail to recognize the bounty of a long-lived life when we get fixated on the fear of death. Many of us do not value ourselves or honor our time, and our complacency fails to change society’s approach to aging. It is up to us to set the standard for how society views and treats aging people. We are a work in progress!
Rather than feeling like “it’s all downhill,” my mindset is: “there is no time left to waste.”
The new journey for us may become a little more inner and start with some self-inquiry with questions like “Who am I becoming? What matters to me now? And “How do I stay healthy, mindful and thrive moving forward?”
When I entered midlife I wanted better boundaries, and I realized certain relationships no longer nurtured me. I had no patience for mindless conversations and my new mantra became “whatever is not truth falls away.” This aging/eldering journey fascinates me. Do we really have time for anything less than an intentional and meaningful aging journey? Does it feel effective to put energy into avoiding the inevitable reality of aging?
Might it be more beneficial to unapologetically BE fully who we are?
To be our Sovereign selves.
To move from Invisible to Invincible.
This process is not always sweet smelling roses and easy. Often, getting older feels challenging, but it is the journey which my body, mind, and spirit are on.
From the moment we are born, we are all aging. Therefore, what approach to aging would serve us best? Let’s celebrate the journey and wisdom we gain through life and experience and apply it to our lives and our communities to support a vibrant experience whether you’re heading up the hill or enjoying the journey down.
This Blog was originally published December 5th, 2017 in Elephant Journal. It has been updated and re-worked to reflect life as a work in process.