Remember when you thought reaching 20 was ‘old’?
(if you’re under 20 you may have wandered on to this page inadvertently. *waves at rapidly retreating figure*
As the eldest amongst most of my friends I was pregnant first, bought a house first, ended a long relationship (not first, to be fair and some of my friends are in wonderfully loving long-standing partnerships). I’ve definitely started Natures gift that keeps on giving, Menopause, first! So I tend to be looked upon as the oracle of all things aging, parenting and general adult-ing. As someone who, for most of my life, has radiated outer confidence whilst being simultaneously consumed with an inner ‘Help me! I don’t know how I got here!’ panic, this situation is bewildering and bemusing. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m more vocal and less worried about being found out in some areas (I’m working on the rest). Growing older does that to you.
Anyway its my birthday month. Despite feeling no older than 35 (and acting no older than 15) , for the most part, I’ve approached FIFTY five faster than I could say ‘Where did I put my cod liver oil?’
So here’s a list I found on the inter webs. Apparently its a list of habits that ‘normal’ people who’ve aged ‘well’ follow. I couldn’t resist some teensy amendments…
- Maintain a positive attitude: Hmmm it’s a bit difficult these days isn’t it? It certainly involves avoiding or filtering The News and ignoring any inner demons. Re those pesky I.Ds – Most of us have those. Please don’t think that you’re on your own. Take social media breaks that can allow you to shut out some of the ‘noise’ and to live in the present. Do that.
- Watch what you eat: …when you’ve consumed a large packet of kettle crisps, a bar of salted caramel chocolate and 2/3 bottle of wine for dinner on a Friday night. (not me, of course. My ‘friend’) Yes, eat healthily and get your 52 portions of veg in a day or whatever the government figure is now. But that guilt that comes with eating junk food every once in a while? Stop that.
- …And how much you eat: I read somewhere that in order to stay healthy you shouldn’t eat carbs after 6pm. Does anyone actually do this? I tried it ONCE a long time ago. I couldn’t sleep! Am I the only person who gets the munchies *just* as I decide to go to bed?
- Exercise regularly: Some people like to run marathons and gym daily and cross train. Some like to do housework to music and mow the lawn. Some like brisk walks and long stretches. Your body isn’t the same as anyone else’s. Just move with a purpose. And try to do it every day.
- Stay social: Log off, go outside and speak to actual people. Arrange to visit a friend. Join a group of like minded souls. Seek the company of others.
- Protect your skin from the sun: Actually this is a good one. I would add never underestimate sunlight. Even in the UK. It’s beautiful, clever, dangerous stuff at times and Skin Cancer doesn’t play. SPF it up.
- Get plenty of sleep: All the intention is there. It’s a great idea in theory. But that ‘go to bed now’ reminder gets ignored more times than not. Every time. I’ll try again tomorrow. I mean, tonight. Soon.
Of course I haven’t figured everything out, because no one can. But experience (age) means that I have an opinion on many topics. I’m finding that the more I learn, the more there is to learn. Self awareness is exhausting but its never boring.
On aging ‘well’? Thats debatable. My physical parts sag and creak whilst my mindful parts strengthen and bloom. Perception changes everything. Most days I’m more than happy with that. And on the days I’m not, I know that ‘this to shall pass’. It hasn’t always been this way. Taking responsibility for my own happiness is a big step. And making sure I wear something that makes me happy – usually colourful – on a daily basis. That works too! (try it).
Therefore I would also put (and these are neither groundbreaking or new but still…):
Read books. Encourage curiosity. Listen to others. Breathe deeply. Stretch daily. Empathise. Laugh out loud. Hug long and hard. Cry when you feel like it. Observe others. Write it out. Keep negativity at bay. Sit in silence. Keep learning. Look up. Wear your ‘happy’. Dance to music. Marvel at nature. Express love often. Be present. Talk. Appreciate. Give. Shed. Live.
Thats everything, right? My completely non-complete list. What would YOU add?
P.S. Still doing the business over here. But decided to share on here when the mood takes me. I may end up shouting into a chasm. We shall see.