Over the past few months, my parents have gone to the funerals of a number of their very close friends. Recently, one of their friends was hospitalized with an unknown heart condition and it worried them greatly. When I asked how they were taking all of this – they reminded me that getting old often means going to funerals and dealing with loss – alongside all of the other things in their lives.
I remember my grandmother, as she aged, saying that calling the final decades of her life the “Golden Years” was just not right. She said that phrase was absolutely insane. “Getting old is not the most enjoyable ride,” she told me. She had great times, continued to travel, and enjoyed her family. But losing one’s independence, needing others to care for your needs, dealing with loss and illness, and spending more and more time with doctors was not much fun.
I am now in my 50s and I can honestly say that it is the best time of my personal and professional life. I am far from old – physically, emotionally or intellectually. But my knees are a bit shot – too many skiing accidents growing up – and I am on a few more prescriptions than I would like to be on. So I am not as healthy as I wish I was – but I am working on that. And I am working hard on it – have been for months. This is a life change – not just a couple of week’s living up to some faint end of year resolution.
Growing older is inevitable and I am happy to get to do it – like they say, “the alternative to living is not much fun.” Maybe it isn’t always pretty but it is living.
Growing older is also a huge blessing. As my grandmother told me, it means we get to learn from our experiences, watch those we love grow up and become their own persons, and spend significant time enjoying our lives. Yes, we’ll have to deal with the other stuff - and there is often “other” stuff to deal with - but getting to live, laugh and love is an amazing gift.
As we enter into 2014 tomorrow, we are often asked or even intimidated into making lists of resolutions for the New Year. I used to succumb to the pressure of resolutions to remake my life – as if it sucked before. And I made promises to myself that I knew I could not live up to. I was doomed almost as soon as I made the list. But I have learned.
This year, I’m not gonna promise anything that does not feed me spiritually and emotionally. I’m not gonna make a list of things that I am not able to do and then feel badly about failing.
So here are my 14 for 2014 – in no particular order:
1. Love my family even more deeply and enjoy every moment I get with them (ok, I have a teenager so every moment seems too drastic). How about most of the time?
2. Support my friends and family in good times and bad.
3. Love myself – despite any perceived flaws. Because I am awesome. Seriously!
4. Never be afraid to say no when I need to (hmmm … setting myself up again?). Better? “Try not to be afraid to say no when I need to.”
5. Try to let go of the judgment of others. Their view is not as important as mine.
6. Make the most of my life by laughing more and trying to live without regrets.
7. Spend more time on my faith journey by reading and praying more often.
8. Do things to stay healthy – for me – not because I’m bullied by others’ perceptions of who I ought to be. 9. Work for justice and inclusion in all I do.
10. Don’t take too many selfies (ok, this is easy since I don’t do it now).
11. Have fun being true to my calling and myself.
12. Don’t say yes to too many writing assignments. Guard my time.
13. Try to laugh at Monty Python even though I don’t get it (I’ll likely fail at this one).
14. Love – just love.
That’s a list I can get behind. It’s a list that helps me age into this next year more happy and healthy. It’s a list that is about faithfulness and self-acceptance. It’s a list about love and family. It’s a list I can live with – regardless of my age.
So a happy and healthy New Year to all of you.
Live, laugh, and love your way into and through an amazing 2014.
All my love –