A Week Before 60

Happy Birthday – I made it!

 

In a few days, I turn 60. WTF?? It seriously boggles my mind. 

I’m utterly fascinated by age and the aging process. My age fixation is wonderment, not despair. I’m not depressed or trying to deny where I’m at in life. I celebrate each passing year with increasing gratitude and a stronger sense of who I am.

I’ve learned to find the joy and see the beauty in the small things – the rabbit hopping across the trail, the sunflowers reaching up to the sun; the ecstasy of freshly baked bread.

I wasn’t always like this. In my 20s, 30s and 40s, I wanted more, more, more. I never felt successful enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc, so I was always striving for something outside of me. I was always comparing myself to other people and trying to be something I wasn’t meant to be. Why did I care so much?

I chat with the rabbits that cross my path

 

I wasn’t capable of appreciating what I had and looked more toward what I thought I should be. I defined myself by the success of other people and by societal standards that are impossible to reach. No matter how successful, how well off, how whatever I was, there was always someone with something more. Now I understand that happiness and contentment can never be found outside of oneself.

Age is so much more than a number. It’s a signpost of our growing wisdom, gained through life experience, should we choose to grow inwardly with our years. 

Things I’ve learned include:

  1. I am in control. I can say no. I can set boundaries. I can do what’s best for me, and it’s not selfish. This realization changed the course of my life overnight.

  2. I create my own reality. We can choose to see the glass as half full or half empty – and we can change how we see it. I know because I’ve gone from half empty to half full. Gratitude is the quickest way.

  3. Wisdom grows with age. Well, assuming you’ve done some internal work. I’ve taken (nearly) every bump and bruise and turned them into valuable lessons that have shaped my life in a good way. The key is to stop blaming outward and look inside. From that has grown strength, resilience and the ability to start letting go.

  4. Your drama is not my drama. If someone gossips about me, spreads lies or does something malicious – that’s them acting out their drama. It has nothing to do with me. If I feel hurt by it, I’m the one hurting myself, not them. I have the power to walk away and not speak to this person ever again. Confrontation rarely solves the problem.

  5. Every wrinkle tells a story. Millions of people botox, chemical peel and do whatever they can to try to erase their years. I’ve earned my wrinkles, and I’ve got great stories to go with them all. Earn your wrinkles – stop trying to hide them.

  6. By saving myself, I can save the world. This one’s for another time.

Dancing into the next phase of my life

There’s a tradeoff in our lives. When we’re young, we have the energy, flexibility and youthful drive that allows us to stay up all night dancing or talking with friends. We have the physical endurance to do so many things, and we bounce back quickly.

When I was younger and living in New York City, I never went out before 10pm. Now I’m getting ready for bed around then.

When I was younger, I was focused on career, making friends, doing cool and fun things – always striving, striving, striving. I was going to be different – I was always going to go out all hours day and night; I was always going to work 12-14 hours days; I was always going to go, go, go. I had to go out every weekend – FOMO is a disease of the young.  

Late summer sunflowers in Santa Fe – bliss (©Diane Hatz)

 

I eventually stepped into some of the wisdom – and reality – of my life. And I’m more than okay with it – I’m so happy to be where I am. I might not be able to stay up all night and party anymore, but I don’t really care – I mean, I don’t even drink anymore. And I don’t need to be better than the person next to me – I’m just looking for my own peace and contentment.

I don’t have the physical strength or stamina that I had in my youth. An all nighter would probably leave me with three days worth of jet lag. I can’t do a full squat anymore, and even though I’m working on it, my knees might have seen their best days. You should see me try to get up off the floor – not pretty!

And, yes, I’m adding more stretching into my routine and am working on getting back at least that type of flexibility, but it doesn’t mean as much to me today. I eat well (most of the time); I exercise most days; I look after myself within my body limits – and it’s all good. 

What I might lack on a physical and material level, I more than make up for on a mental, emotional and spiritual level. I now have the ability to stretch and be flexible inside myself. I don’t get as riled up over what other people have to say; I’m learning to set healthy boundaries; I’m learning to let go and let things be as they are. 

One of the best aspects of being where I am today is the amount of stress I’ve let go – that’s probably the healthiest thing I could do for myself at any age.

Me – almost 60 (©Diane Hatz)

 

Is there meaning to age? Yes, there is. But not what society tells us. 60 is not old, decrepit, ready to die – unless you’ve given up on yourself as some people undoubtedly have. To me, 60 is the beginning of the third chapter of my life, the one where I pull together all that I’ve learned and present myself to the world as I am – and as I want to be. 

I can’t wait for this next decade – now is my time to go kick some ass!

If you like what you read, please buy me a cup of tea!