How to Age Gracefully
How to Age Gracefully
By, Cassandra George-Sturges MA, MA, Psy.D
This article on discuss 7 tips on how to age gracefully that includes acknowledging the loss of youth, spending quality time with yourself; learning what your body needs; changing your dress style; spring cleaning your life; and finding a hobby to bring joy to your life.
When I was younger, life was about fitting in to the
demands of society. I wanted people to like me, love me, marry me, befriend me…
validate me. When I turned 45-years-old I stopped caring what people thought
about me. I cared more about what I thought about myself. I started speaking up
for myself more. I realized that a glass of red wine and lunch by myself is a
lovely and peaceful rendezvous.
When we are in our youth, we live our lives from the outside in. Our lives are structured around meeting the expectations of society, our children, our parents, our mates, clients, customers, employers, bosses, supervisors… you get the picture. When you approach middle age, you realize at an unconscious level, that you should live your life from the inside out.
You learn that in order for you to psychologically evolve, age gracefully, and enjoy the next half of your life you must shape the outside world to fit into your life… your biological needs, sleep patterns, interests, desires, and dreams. You realize that if you are lucky… the next half of your life is about you.
Every person’s journey to back to the other side of human existence is different. Now that I am fifty-years-old, I can look back at my mid-life crisis with a more spiritual and grounded perspective. In this article, I am going to share with you 7 ways to age gracefully that saved my life.
How to age Gracefully Tip # 1
Give yourself a few years to grieve the loss of your youth
We live in an anti-aging society. We are supposed to
fight wrinkles, age spots, and gray hair at all cost. When my hairline started
to turn white, I became obsessed with dying my hair. I didn’t have a healthy attitude
about dying my hair as part of my
personal grooming repertoire. I felt that my gray hair was an affront to my
self-esteem and my physical attraction. I was dying to dye my hair.
I noticed that my breasts weren’t as firm as they
were in the past. I started to gain weight. Noooooo God! Youthful beauty equals
power, especially for women. I felt like I was losing my self-worth as a human
being. Vitamins, exercises, anti-wrinkle creams, hair dyes—you name it—none of
those things will change the number of years you have been on earth. Every
person ages differently.
Some people have youthful faces, but can’t seem to
lose weight. Some people have the body of eighteen-year-olds and the faces of
eighty-years. Please don’t compare yourself to other people…especially
celebrities. They have a completely different lifestyle than most people.
So before I tell you to age gracefully by being
grateful for the body you have in the next paragraph, I am going to tell you to
take a moment a grieve the passing of
your youthful appearance. Keep in mind, not only were you youthful in a
physical sense, you were also youthful in a spiritual sense. Your youthful naivete and your youthful ignorance to some degree allowed you to live in
ignorant bliss. You know… before your first heartbreak, death of a close family
member or friend, or losing a job that you loved, dropping out of college.
Everything in life has its ups and downs. You may not look the same as you did when you were younger—but you shouldn’t look the same—because you are not the same person. You are wiser, smarter, stronger and more confident than you were back then. If you had the knowledge back then that, you have now…you probably would have missed a lot of fun times. Smile.
Our bodies are displaying a story of valor, honor, and wisdom that only the lines of time could write. Choosing to age gracefully is a bold act of self-love and self-respect for your time here on earth.
So, get out that that picture book, and claim it— Say it! “Yes! I was smoking hot in that bathing suit! I looked good in those jeans! Say it like you mean it! Be appreciative of your body with pride and dignity.
Write a letter to your younger self and thank her for all of your wonderful life experiences that have led you to this moment. Forgive yourself for any and all mistakes that you made in the past because you simply did not know any better. Forgive everyone and everything in your past because we all are doing the best we can.
Be grateful for your health. Be grateful that you are still here on earth to share your gifts and talents. Don’t focus on what’s wrong, or how your body used to look in the past—focus on all of the gifts and lessons your current body has blessed you with.
Give yourself a few years to settle into your aging body with ease and grace.
How to age Gracefully Tip # 2
Date Yourself—Get to Know Yourself
The first half of your life is dedicated to pleasing your parents, teachers, children, employers, friends, neighbors, and mates. We want to fit into society and we want people to like us. Accept us. Adore us. We ask questions like, “Do I look fat in these jeans?; Do you like my new hairstyle? “What would you like for dinner?” “What movie do you want to see?”; and so forth. Many of us are constantly asking other people what do YOU think of ME and what can I do to be more desirable.
The second half of your life should be dedicated to pursuing, wooing, loving, cherishing, admiring, and adoring—Yourself; in a way that you never have before. Go on a vacation by yourself. Go out to dinner and to the movies with by yourself. Make up your face, put on your matching bra and panties, and that red hoochie-momma-dress you have been saving for a special occasion. The special occasion is has arrived. It’s you getting to know and develop a relationship with yourself like you have never done before.
Cook a magnificent dinner for you. Burn the candles; use the gold dinnerware, the good dishes, and pour yourself a glass of the best wine you can find in the gorgeous wine glasses you save for company. You are the special guess that you have been waiting for. Don’t make dating yourself a special occasion. Celebrate and date yourself as often as possible. The body you are in will never exist again. Love it up—with all you got! Spending quality time with yourself is the greatest honor that you can give your soul. Fun time spent alone is when the gods, goddesses, and muses come out to play with you.
How to age Gracefully Tip # 3
Ask Your Body What it Needs—and Listen to How it Feels
The mass media saturates us daily with promises of eternal youth if we purchase new exercise equipment, diets, pills, surgeries, and magic slim-down-no-stomach potions. And if you don’t want to lose weight, surely you want to get rid of wrinkles, grow new hair, and/ or remove age-spots. These commercials are followed by why you should increase your insurance policies and plan your funeral. Society forbade you to age gracefully.
I use to ride an exercise bike that was destroying my knees. I didn’t want to admit it to myself that I could barely walk up and downstairs. One day I just got super honest with myself and said, “Hey you, if you are around another 30 to 50-years if you are lucky—you will be in a wheel chair. If you want to be able to use those knees…and I know you do… you need to find another type of exercise.”
Not only have I have come to the conclusion, that certain exercises are not good for my body at this juncture in my life; I have also learned that there are several foods that no longer agree with my digestive system. Additionally, I have discovered that I can’t eat before I go to bed because it affects my sleep. When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted-- whenever I wanted to eat with no negative consequences.
Now that I am fifty, my body demands being pampered. She wants enough sleep, breakfast, and vitamins. My body enjoys hula-hooping, yoga for beginners, and naps. She insists on reading not just self-help, non-fiction, and current events like in the past—she indulges in fiction erotic romance novels and suspense thrillers.
Don’t listen to what other people are telling you to do to be healthier—what they did worked for their body type. Every person’s body is different. It has a different DNA design and history of usage. Listen carefully and respectfully to your body and it will tell you what it needs to be healthy and vibrant.
How to age Gracefully Tip # 4
Ask Your Soul what it would like to experience. What is missing in your life?
It’s never too late to change jobs, go back to school, start your own business, join a club, or try out for a team. Look within your heart and ask yourself, what would I like to do that I haven’t done before—before I leave this body?
Aging gracefully is not about the quantity of how long we have lived on this planet; aging gracefully is about the quality of the life that we have lived unabashedly, without shame, and without regret.
You don’t have to quit your job. Start small. I think that the “all or nothing” and “go big or go home” philosophy has stopped so many people from living their dream life. Whatever it is that you want to do, my unsolicited advice to you is to first—google what you want to do. Read about it. Learn how other people got started. Look at pictures. After you are finished looking at images, reading articles, watching YouTube videos and taking meticulous notes—do one small act towards your dream.
Let’s say you want to write a book. If you write one sentence a night—you will still be much further along than you were last year.
Last thing, I want to say about getting started on completing unfulfilled goals and dreams—please don’t tell anyone. I don’t know why…I don’t know what the spiritual law is… but I have found that when I want to achieve a goal it works best when I keep it to myself and share the completed results with others.
How to age Gracefully Tip # 5
Dress to Express Your Divine Diva Soul
When we are younger, we dress for success, to impress some boyfriend, girlfriend, potential employers, parents, and society’s latest fashion fad. I believe that as we age our fashion focus should not be about impressing other people—our sense of fashion should be about expressing our own unique personality.
The hot flashes that I endure have completely changed the way I dress. I can’t stand long sleeves or having anything around my neck. My body needs to breathe. Sometimes people look at me strange when it’s cold outside because I am wearing a sleeveless dress or blouse. In the past, I unconsciously sought the approval of my colleagues by trying to dress appropriate to their standards even though I was hot and miserable.
I don’t care about what other people think any more. It’s none of my business. I wear clothes that make me feel beautiful. My soul is obsessed with wearing bright rich colors like red, magenta, and teal. I didn’t realize how being conditioned to wear neutral colors like beige, black, navy, browns, and gray for many… many… many… years washed out my individuality and connection to my authentic self.
Buy clothes with vibrant colors, lace pantyhose, and bold colorful jewelry. Wear comfortable shoes that respect your feet. When you are eighty-five you want to be able to go for a morning hike with those feet. Yes, this is why I stopped wearing high heels; they are not the right shoes for my journey to self-love.
How to age Gracefully Tip # 6
Spring Clean Your Life
If you haven’t already, (if you are reading this article—you are probably well along this journey) remove people, things, practices, habits, and beliefs that no longer serve who you are.
Don’t complain, whine, or rationalize to yourself or others why you continue to associate with people whom you know do not honor the highest version of yourself. I have had friends where I knew that the only conversations that we could discuss were based on gossip, politics, and unrequited love affairs of the pasts. If I brought up the subject of a new book idea or doll that I was working on their eyes would glaze over.
You can’t spiritually bring a person to where you are. You must accept them where they are. And if you find that you have nothing in common with old friends that bring you pleasure spend less time with them with ease and grace. You don’t need to expend energy on belittling them or telling them how they should act or feel. Love them with all your heart for who they are. You are not required to spend time with people who no longer resonate with the real you.
You know that dress and those jeans that you have been trying to lose weight in order to fit into them again? Throw that shit out! The psychic energy that is attached to trying to re-live the past is toxic. Lovingly remove items from your life that you no longer like or use in order to prepare space for something new and amazing to come into your life.
How to age Gracefully Tip # 7
Nurture a Talent, Gift, or Hobby
Sometimes in our lives, if feels like we are surviving and not thriving. In other words, it feels like our life is on automatic. You go to work to pay the bills. When you come home from work, you make dinner, help the children with their homework, wash dishes, do laundry, and go to bed—to start all over again.
One day the children (if you have any) will move away from home, the monotony of your job will numb your senses and you will wonder, “Is this really what life is all about?... bills and work?
I can truly say that the Jungle Beauty Goddesses saved my life. I started making dolls at the age of 45. I realized that the dolls that I was making had a story and I started writing fantasy fiction at 47-years-old. My children are in their mid-twenties, I have been on my job for 15 years, and the only people who need me to survive are the Jungle Beauty Goddesses. They are the reason that I rush home for work, get up early, stay up late. I fantasize about them when I am waiting in traffic.
I don’t care if anyone else love them—because I do and I am writing the story that I want to read. I have learned so much about sewing, making YouTube videos, and writing. I feel like I am 18-years-old because I am so very excited about the artistic world that I have created for myself. The Jungle Beauty Goddesses fill my life with magic and wonder.
Find something to do that brings you pleasures in a way that money, relationships with others, and social status could never satisfy. Find that project that needs you to breathe life into it. I guarantee you that the life you save will be your own. You will know when you find it because you are creating is built from joy and every ounce of your mind, body, and soul will be utterly engaged. And you will feel like a timeless being.