Friday, April 17, 2009

Trying To Grow Older Gracefully - Part II

Continuing on from the last post, it is difficult to accept that we are aging, but, wow, there are just some things I just wouldn't want to go back and relearn. Here is the rest of the article I had written back in 2007.

Looking ahead I do have a list, but looking back I have realized I have “come a long way, baby.” I am thankful for all those years behind me. There are some things I have learned through my thirties, and yet I wouldn’t go back and I don’t want to relearn them. That is when going forward seemed a viable and appealing option. I came up with a list of lessons I have learned.

What I Have Learned Through The Years:

  • Value Friendships – It is easy to web ourselves into the cocoon of family and work. There is plenty to keep one busy, carting the kids to and fro to their extra curricular events, school programs, as well as running errands, working late, trying to find care for kids when working late, fitting in vacation time, trying to get alone time with husband, working on house projects, or just trying to catch up on laundry. Who has time for friends? Although one can be very busy with all that goes into raising a family and juggling work, one can get very lonely. We all need friends. Now maybe you see people on a regular basis or you do have casual friends, but I’m talking going deeper into your relationship. Sharing yourself and being faithful to others. Friends add a new perspective to what we are going through and often can relate to incidents in our lives. Over time I have learned I need good and intimate friends, and I have also learned they are not easy to come by. But if you find a person who is willing to reciprocate your friendship, do what ever is necessary to keep that friendship alive which might involve some creative solutions. Call your friend while dropping your kids off at school or use a head phone to talk to her while folding clothes. Send a quick e-mail to see how her day went, the meeting she led or how she is doing after her root canal. Meet at a cafĂ© after the kids go to bed while your husband catches up on the latest sports game. Of course there are always those periods in our lives where you or your friend are unusually busy, maybe taking on a new project at work or an extra class, or maybe your child just signed up for baseball. So being understanding and available is essential, and the benefits of a faithful friend reaps many rewards. Go further in your relationships.

  • More Confident – I am finally wearing high heel shoes. I’m on the tall side and I have taken great pains in not being any taller than I had to with the endless search for shoes with absolutely no heel. I was sure all my problems were due to my height or my big hair. My only wish was to have one inch taken off my legs and my hair to go straight. Even on my wedding day I flipped off my shoes under my dress so I wouldn’t be too much taller than everyone as I greeted them. I had it down with the leaning of one leg and shifting my body to appear shorter. In the last two years I now stand up tall and wear heels. My husband and I were invited to a black tie event and I bought some sparkling, black high-heeled shoes. This year I bought some brown boots with a good size heel that I clomp around in. I don’t know what my problem was, but even my husband, who is as tall as I am, just loves it when I wear heels. Maybe his confidence in himself has rubbed off a little on me. I also finally figured out how to style my big, wavy hair. I used to blow dry it straight and take an iron to smooth it out almost everyday even while my kids were young. But forget that. No more of that time waster. With a good cut, I have the wash and wear look. I can get ready faster in the morning with out worrying about not having the latest hairstyle. The best part about growing older is that my husband says he finds me sexier than when he first met me, more “womanly.” Reminds me of the Ponds advertisement … What people think of how I look matters less to me now. I have even realized that if I feel good about myself I can stand up more confidently.

  • Changed Image of Success – I finally realize that having a career isn’t what brings me status or value. Sometimes we calculate success by what we own or the amount on our paycheck. I’ve had big dreams since high school of being a big time career woman with my own office and many people under my management. My career goals haven’t all come into fruition, and now that I am almost 40 and a career is a long way from my reach, my definition of success has changed. My career and paycheck does not calculate status or define my value, but communicating love and helping my children feel more confident today does give me fulfillment. My source of income comes in a little differently and working part time for somebody else wasn’t my plan, but it works perfectly with where I am today.

  • Enjoy My Kids today and not wait until tomorrow. When my eldest child was born I anticipated every stage; when he would raise his head, sit up, stand crawl, walk or any other milestone. When the suggested month of this occurrence came and went, I would worry what was wrong with his growth. Thus, his first year was taken up in a tornado manner and it robbed me the pleasure and enjoyment of just him and his own process of development. I didn’t want to base someone else’s timeline on my second son and consciously decided I was going to do everything possible to enjoy the process and value everyday with him. My year was completely different with my second child. I so much enjoyed each accomplishment instead of just checking it off the list. Now that they are in school, I try not to compare where they are with others, but to encourage them to do their very best.

  • Keep My Marriage Alive – My husband and I are approaching our tenth {twelfth}anniversary. In a day and age when divorce is prevalent, we have come to realize why so many struggle. We have experienced it first hand: it’sits hard work. Basically it is so difficult to communicate, to agree, to spend time together and thus, to keep our marriage alive. If we postpone taking care of our relationship until after the kids grow up, then we have neglected a very important objective: keeping our kids emotionally healthy. Just like a muscle in our body needs constant exercise or it will atrophy, so is a marriage without constant attention. Without giving our relationship top priority, anything can tear it apart. My husband and I realized that if we don’t spend time together from occasional date nights to just lingering after dinner to talk; or are in constant communication and continue intimacy we are not as strong together and we discover we are not united to handle life problems. We have fallen into periods of steady conflict with each other and consequently our kids argue more and are challenged at school. Our relationship is important and we are in effort of spending time together and committed to communicate while putting our marriage before our jobs and even our kids. We want to do everything possible to keep our marriage alive today and not wait for tomorrow and avoid just living on the memories of yesterday. Neither money, a new job, nor a big promotion is worth neglecting our relationship.

  • Keep Focused on a Goal - So, every time I plan to go back to my career post, the years keep adding up and I keep getting older and farther away from my career goals. But honestly, my goals have changed. My new priority is my children and it may take a very long time to reach my career goal, and I’m slowly becoming okay with that. Living today to the fullest is a great reward, but if I lose sight of my goal, today is not as wonderful. Over time I have come to realize that if I don’t have a goal to work for in life, I become lethargic and unmotivated at doing my work or enjoying the here and now without the motivation of something I am working for in life.

  • Forgive – The older I get the more I have reflected on how I have been wronged. If I don’t forgive, the longer I carry a heavy burden of anger or thoughts of revenge. Time does heal and forgiveness takes a burden off our shoulders and allows us to see outside of our anger. It is better to forgive and move on with life.

Over time I have come to realize that our age doesn’t determine who we are or where we should be in life. I have also resolved not to let age determine my place in life. Our age doesn’t stop us from doing what we love or keep us from getting better or more competitive. Okay, girls, Bonnie Raitt is 56, and yet she is still singing and winning Grammy’s. How about Chiva Rivera? She should be an inspiration to us all. After she played Maria in the West Side Story, she has been in Broadway shows ever since. Last winter she had her own Broadway show and she closed down the house every night. She sings and dances and looks fabulous. Her legs are shapelier than I could ever dream of having. Gals, she is 73 years old. No, I did not accidentally invert these numbers; she is really seventy three. She is a true inspiration. Age shouldn’t stop us from living and aspiring to our dreams.

What have you learned over the years that you are glad you don't have to go back and relearn?

1 comment:

  1. Sharon, I am so happy for you that you finally have come to appreciate your height, stand up straight and proud, and even wear heels!! Wow!! I'm sorry, darling, that it has taken you so long to be confident in who you are - physically and emotionally. And I am also so glad you learned to enjoy and appreciate every day of each child's development and not compare him to any other child or statistical average.