Embracing the inevitable — Accepting aging

26 Jun

When i was a teenager i thought of myself as old. By the time i got close to thirty i didn’t want to have anything to do with being old. Being old then seemed to mean being settled in. I was not ready to settle. My thirties brought lots of adventures, the biggest of them being my move from Berlin to San Francisco. I became a student again and i was filled with youthful energy, the energy of exploration and possibility. At 42, when i married a man who is 7 years younger than i am, i felt in my prime. When he met me first, a year prior, he thought that it was amazing how i could pass for 28, unless i had spent the night on a red-eye flight. That was flattering. At 43, i had a major car accident. I lost my short-term memory, chunks of my mid-term memory, and my sense of equilibrium and physical balance. I could not walk down stairs without holding on to a railing and carefully testing how much i had to lower my foot before stepping. Even though 4 weeks earlier i still had been a youthful 42 year old, now i felt like 84. I am sure you have no trouble believing that these changes were a major shock to me. From then on i had ample opportunity to look at what defines who i am and how my age and aging play into my sense of self.

You have probably heard people say that there is a blessing in everything. In the case of my accident, i could not see the blessing for a rather long time. Now i know that it taught me the value of intuition, broadened my sense of self beyond the brilliance of my mind, and gave me a practical lesson in accepting what is. In a way, my accident prepared me to accept the fact of aging. And, just as i was pro-active after my accident and invested energy in re-training my brain and nervous system, now i am pro-active in training my brain and my body to stay fit, hopefully for a long while. I hope to maintain as many capacities as possible for a long time to come. As to my skin, i continue to take care of it and admit to a good deal of vanity. Yet, i know better than to compare myself with others, particularly those who are a decade or more younger than i am—which many of the wives and girl-friends of my husband’s buddies are. This is my life, not a competition—yet another hard earned insight at which i arrived only over time.

Dare to be yourself.

Dare to be yourself.

Aging is a challenge that most of us are not prepared for. Not only is it not a subject that is taught in schools. Culturally, aging is treated as if it is something to be ashamed of and that we better hide. I say it’s high time to change that. And the best place to start this revolution is with myself. How do i view my own aging? As something i deny and plaster over, or as something i embrace and play with? I have decided to go for option 2. When you see me, you’ll notice that i began to consciously show some gray, the badge of aging. I do it my way and juxtapose it with a bright red. That’s where the play comes in. To my surprise i have gotten many complements for it, particularly from young people. I am growing old, i show it, and i am beautiful. What would it take for you to participate in this new movement of embracing yourself fully, including your age, and say, “I am growing old, i show it, and i am beautiful”?

If you find this article inspiring, please pass it on to others. And if you would like to embrace yourself more fully, i’d be happy to have a conversation about how i can best help you with that. When you look at it as an adventure in self-discovery where you get to set many of the rules, midlife + up can have its own appeal. Let’s savor it!

News! On January 12, 2015 i will start a special workshop addressing midlife issues through reflection, personal writing, coaching tools and art. It’s called Not Young, Not Old, What Now?  Intro To Midlife Alchemy For Women. Come and explore, take stock, and develop a new perspective on where you are at in life. Interested? Read more at http://evaruland.com/MidlifeAlchemy/index.html

We will meet on Monday evenings.
Hope to see you there!

© Eva Ruland, June 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: