Are You Aging or Growing?
My Mother died this past May. She was 100 & quite sharp till the end. Thanks to her example, I’m 62 and living my best life yet.
Here’s what I learned from her….
Old age starts when we’re in our 20s, 30s & 40s and we develop mindsets which have us constantly measuring ourselves against exterior markers. During this same period, we believe there are good decisions and bad decisions.
I can hear a reader saying “You think drug use is a good decision?” What I’m saying is life happens. What my 20s, 30s and 40s taught me is we are all going to live the human experience. It gets messy sometimes.
The gold is found in where we go and who we choose to become from that mess. One ages us, the other transforms us.
I didn’t start to understand that until my 50s and I think the same holds true for many others. Why? Because it’s hard to understand what ice cream tastes like by looking at it. You actually have to eat it to understand what it’s all about.
What I learned from watching my Mom is that it’s about finding the gift in the struggle. She lived through the Great Depression and World War 2. Her mother died when she was small.
She told me once “Your generation is too worried about making your kids happy. The goal is to give them the gift of resilience…because that’s where happiness is found.”
Resilience is the goal. Wisdom is the gift. Happiness is the byproduct.
So many people find their calling, their biggest and best lives after 40. That is the opposite of aging. That’s growing, emerging, transforming. That’s where old age does not exist.
Some wise souls seem to ‘get it’ at a much younger age. But there’s nothing like having four decades of lived experiences to bring home the lessons of wisdom.
If I live as my Mom did, I have 38 years ahead of me. That’s more productive years - unencumbered by kids, inflexible jobs and career demands - than I’ve ever had. That is a lifetime in and of itself…and I’m here for it.
Here’s what flips us from old to young, from aging to not aging:
-Looking back and realizing things DID work out, even if not the way we thought.
-Realizing estranged or difficult people are on their own journey. The faster we move away from judgment and anger, the faster we can find our own peace and let it go. Then we may navigate our own path with or without them. The difference is this path has a foundation of moving toward our best self. Imagine walking down a jungle path carrying a couple of buckets filled with fear, anger, resentment, blame. Put them down.
Now walk that path. One path is about aging and the other is about growth. My Mother taught me that the key is what you choose to carry and what you choose to let go…not out of anger, but from a place of peace.
All these lived experiences (and all the wisdom traditions) bring us to the choice of living in fear (externally-based compass) or love (internally-based compass).
The question isn’t “Am I old?” The question is “What if you live to 100, like my Mother did?”
Are you aging or growing?
Mary Sutherby helps empty nester women figure out “What’s next?” You can find her at https://www.marysutherbycoaching.com/