How old do you feel today?
No seriously. How old do you FEEL today?
Today, I feel like I am only in my 30s – maybe pushing 40. However, I’m not 40. I’m not even 50, but I don’t FEEL my age. How can I feel my age when it’s just a number on a square on the calendar?
I’d rather look at life in terms of how youthful I feel on any given day.
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Various cultures include stories, myths, or legends about the magical waters of certain rivers and fountains and how they help you maintain your youthful appearance or return you to the days of your youth. Ponce de Leon is a name you may have heard in your U.S. history classes. According to the history book story, Ponce de Leon came to the shores of the Americas and stumbled upon the “Fountain of Youth.” You can visit the “actual” fountain in St. Augustine, Florida. (Click HERE for more information.)
Wouldn’t it be amazing to find a real Fountain of Youth and sit in its waters?
Better yet, bottle the water and sell it to people looking to restore their youth.
But we really can’t turn back the hands of time. We can’t step into a time machine and go back to our 20s or even our 30s. Actually, would you really want to relive those years?
I know I wouldn’t want to go back in time.
I raised two amazing sons, both married now, as well as helped in shaping the lives of two step-daughters, or as they call themselves – my bonus daughters. I delight in visiting my children and my grandchildren. My daughter-in-law marvels at the fact that, at the age of 65, I get down on the floor to crawl around and play with my grandchildren.
I resigned (most people would say retired, but that doesn’t fit how I feel) from my first lengthy career: teaching. I am now engaged in my second career (an encore career) as a writer, motivational speaker, street musician, and artisan. That’s me, The Southern Eclectic Creative.
But I wouldn’t want to relive those years because my life experiences have made me who I am.
WHAT IS TOO OLD?
I watched an episode of The Golden Girls recently where a pre-teen boy tells Blanche Devereaux she is too old to be wearing the outfit she has on. I found myself irritated and thought about how much the media influences what we think is age appropriate.
Have you ever found yourself saying, “I’m too old for that?”
What was the “that”? Was it blowing bubbles? Was it a water fight with your kids? Maybe it was to go out and try something new like ziplining. (By the way, I went ziplining for the first time at age 62.)
Last week I went out and bought an inflatable pool for my deck so I can cool down on hot evenings. Some people have said, “Cool,” while others might say childish.
There can be a huge difference between the age your calendar declares you to be and the age you feel.
WHAT IS MAKING YOU FEEL OLD?
The birth year on your license? Remember when that birth year on your license excited you? It meant you were old enough to legally drive. It meant you were old enough to buy liquor or go on a trip and reserve a hotel room without your parents.
Legally old? For many people, their birth year number signifies that it is time to sign up for Medicare.
Old adages? Remember being told “You’re an adult, now. Act like it.” or “You’re not a kid anymore?” Did you lock up your adventurous side to fit in at work and with other adults?
The media? Do television commercials make you question your ability to understand technology or question your right to wear what you want to wear because of your age?
The negative in life? I have watched a number of people dwell on all the negativity in their life. It seems to age them quickly. They dwell on their limitations and ailments instead of saying, “Ok, but I’m not going to let it stop me.” My mom had negatives in her life, but I realized that she never used negativity, limitations, and ailments as a defining crutch. Crutches make us tired and make us feel that we are less able to do what we want. Instead, she faced life head-on with passion.
WHAT IS A YOUTHFUL OLDER PERSON?
Let’s get real. I firmly believe that your numerical age has nothing to do with your youth. Youth is a mindset and too many times people lose that mindset.
My mother had a youthful mindset, but it was a mindset she cultivated her entire life. She worked with Girl Scouts and the youth at church. She taught kindergarten and first grade and sat on the short little chairs in her classroom. When her grandsons came along, she got down on the floor with them whenever she could.
At 80, she decided she wanted to drive to the West Coast of Canada to visit some friends she had made on a cruise. She had her cell phone so she could check in each night when she stopped. She had her buddy Sly, a plastic lizard, on her dashboard. She had her friend “On Star” if something happened to the vehicle. With suitcases in the trunk, she took off by herself on that epic trip and had a ball. Without a time deadline, she took time to stop at off-beat tourist attractions and take pictures. The best pictures, in my mind, were of the giant scrap metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota. (Check them out HERE.)
At 83, after visiting the Easter Islands and Ecuador to see her tortoises, she decided to take Zumba classes.
If she wanted to do something, go somewhere, or try something, she let no one tell her that she was too old. She was, as far as I could tell, full of youth.
HOW TO TAP INTO YOUR OWN PERSONAL FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Sophia Loren finished this quote by saying, “When you learn to do this, you will truly have defeated age.”
Here are some ideas to help you nurture a youthful mindset
*Find one thing to do each week that makes you feel like a kid again: have a popsicle, go to the park and swing on the swings, catch lightning bugs, blow bubbles, but most important – don’t be afraid to get dirty.
*Treat your age as an experience level. (I saw this somewhere and it just stuck.)
*Don’t let the number representing your age define you.
*Ignore the commercials that tell society what “old” is. They are trying to sell you a product.
*Focus on eating for your health at every meal. When you feed your body right, it affects how you feel. (My chiropractor recently challenged me to eliminate processed sugars, preservatives, dairy, gluten, and processed grains from my diet to combat the inflammation of arthritis.)
*Stop complaining about your health issues. Complaining is negative self-talk, and when you believe that negative self-talk, it can make you feel much older than you actually are.
*Fight to overcome your health issues. Ask your doctor what holistic remedies you can try first.
*Dress in a way that makes you feel good, makes you feel young.
*Get out of the house and connect with nature. Take a walk on your city’s walking path or hike a path in a forest preserve. If you feel uncomfortable alone, convince a friend to go along.
*Have friends of all ages.
*Practice self-care daily.
*Find your purpose at this point in your life. After 50, life experiences such as an empty nest and retirement leave us floundering to find a new purpose in life. So often, we link our purpose to raising children, our career, and our spouse that when one or more of these is gone, we lack the knowledge of who we actually are.
*Find your talents and bring creativity to your life
What about you?
What do you do to remain youthful? How do you fight against society’s age stereotyping? Please take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Until next time . . .
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