When I’m 64

This is my November birthday card and, in many ways, it reflects the "essence" of me.

This is my November birthday card and, in many ways, it reflects the “essence” of me.

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now …
Will you still be sending me a Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

In November I will be celebrating my 64th birthday. 47 years ago The Beatles released a catchy little song (with tongue-in-cheek but, slightly condescending lyrics) titled “When I’m 64”. I turned 17 that year and, in the way of almost all young people, being 64 not only seemed very old to me but, also very far away in the distant future. I’m amazed at how fast I got here!

Several years ago I experienced a revelation about aging and it is that no matter how much the aging process changes your physical appearance, you are still the same person on the inside that you always were (as long as you have your mental faculties!). You might be thinking this is obvious but it wasn’t to me because I was guilty of thinking “old” people were somehow intrinsically different than me just by virtue of their age and appearance but then, as my own body and face began to change with age, I realized the falsehood in that. Yes, of course, we learn and grow in many ways as we travel through life but our essence, what some call our soul, is never changed. The truth is, unless I see my reflection in a mirror or window, I completely forget about my chronological age and, in my thoughts and feelings, I still feel like a much younger woman. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I feel “ageless”. Now when I look into the eyes of an elderly person I have a sense of their ageless self looking out at me. (This is hard to put into words so I hope you understand what I’m trying to say)

There are physical things about aging that I don’t like – and probably never will! – but, through aging, I have learned to better appreciate the mind and personality that has always existed at my core. As a younger woman I was very critical of myself and placed too much emphasis on my appearance but, as an older woman, I have learned to appreciate the longer lasting gifts of my intelligence, creativity, kindness and sense of humor. A lot of young women waste too much energy (and time and money!) on their physical appearance – and are still rarely satisfied with the way they look. They compare themselves to models, actresses, music stars – really anyone who is any type of celebrity – and they think they’re not as ________ (fill in the blank). They need to be reminded that the photos are airbrushed and the celebrities to whom they compare themselves have personal trainers, stylists, nutritionists, chefs and plenty of money for cosmetic surgery! In other words, it’s not reality! Magazines that target a young female demographic are loaded with articles about improving and/or enhancing your physical appearance, presumably to attract a man and then, once you’ve got him, how to please him so he’ll stay with you. It is a challenging task to overcome so much powerful propaganda but, it is up to us “older ” women to remind the younger women in our lives of what is truly valuable and beautiful about them and to show them, by example, how to age gracefully.

We can tell them it is important to take care of your body by feeding it a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, giving it exercise and rest but, beyond that, it is more important to simply love and respect it for the amazing machine that it is. If you are blessed with a strong, healthy body in which to house your soul then you are very fortunate but, remember, that’s all it is – a place for your soul to temporarily abide – and it will change, either over time through aging, or as a result of illness or injury. That is the message I’d love to give women – young or old – take care of and appreciate your body but don’t forget to nurture your soul because that is what lives forever.

 

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you tap this source, you will have truly defeated age.                                          ~Sophia Loren

 

Liberty in her bed

 

See more of my greeting cards at www.lyndalinke.com

PS/This is my 64th post! I now have 67 followers and the blog has had 1,188 views since it’s creation in August 2013 – thank you to everyone who has shown an interest in my scribblings. I am honored!

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I might be mistaken

Great pair of shoesWe all make mistakes and I’m no exception. Now, as a mature woman, I can look back over the years and clearly see where I “went wrong” but, I also see that everything I did brought me to the place I am now, which is a darn good place if I do say so myself. The ramifications from some of the mistakes I made were minor surface ripples and others went deep and affected the course of my life but, getting older has given me the blessing of perspective and I can see how much I have learned and grown as a result of my mistakes.

When my son was younger his impulsive nature led him into many bad situations. In some ways, he was his own worst enemy because he often repeated the same dumb mistakes. I would tell him (after I finished lecturing him) that we are all mere humans and we make mistakes but, the worst mistake of all is to repeat the same ones over and over without learning anything from them (we all know that famous definition of insanity). Mistakes aren’t just difficult and painful experiences that we have to suffer through; they are opportunities to grow as individuals and learn valuable lessons. This isn’t about instant gratification; sometimes it takes us years to recognize what we learned from a particular mistake. Of course, sometimes the most important thing you learn from a mistake is simply that you don’t ever want to do that again!

I used to beat myself up over some of my bigger mistakes and, if you don’t love yourself, it is easy to fall into the old pattern of guilt, shame, and even anger. Sometimes I felt sorry for myself and tried to blame someone else for the choice I made (of my own free will!) – if not out loud, then certainly in my own head. I think a lot of mistakes occur as a result of not knowing yourself or lacking self-respect but – and here’s something to ponder – dealing intelligently with the mess you got yourself into actually shows you what you’re made of and builds self-respect. This is the silver lining of making a mistake – it helps to develop good judgment.

One of my biggest mistakes as a parent, which was an offshoot of my own guilt, was to rescue my son from the results of his poor choices. Children have to feel the consequences of their decisions and their behavior and when you rescue them you’re not doing them any favors. As difficult as it is to just stand back and watch them flounder around, learning how to deal with the results of a mistake actually builds character and encourages emotional maturity. When I finally overcame my feelings of guilt about my son’s “broken home” I also stopped feeling as if I had to save him from his mistakes. I’m sharing this example from my life to demonstrate how the mistakes you make because you don’t love and respect yourself can affect those you love.

Yes, it is true that even if you love and respect yourself you’ll make mistakes (you are still a flawed human being) but, they won’t be disastrous and they won’t be as frequent! They’ll be small and manageable and you’ll learn something from them without derailing yourself or hurting anyone. I’m amazed at how I always end up talking about self-love and respect, even if it is not my intent when I start writing – everything leads back to being true to yourself. One of those things I learned the hard way, through many mistakes, is that getting your emotional house in order has a profound effect on every aspect of your life – every single relationship you have, every endeavor you undertake, your enjoyment of life – even the mistakes you make and how you deal with them. Start by forgiving yourself for your mistakes and then think about all you have learned from them.

Words of wisdom from a man who made some whoppers but always picked himself up and “carried on”:

If we look back on our past life we shall see that one of its most usual experiences is that we have been helped by our mistakes …
~Winston Churchill

 

See more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions

August 2014