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Helping you navigate through the second half of life with clarity, vision and purpose

Embracing the Aging Process

© 2012 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author


The afternoon of life is a time to listen deeply to your heart.
– Carl Jung

Do you find yourself resisting the aging process? Are you fighting to hold on to your youth and perhaps pretending you are not getting older? Living in a youth-obsessed culture makes it difficult for many people to not only accept the aging process, but also to honour it.

How do you experience the aging process?

We are all aging. Our bodies are gradually changing and we are not as resilient as we once were. I had to have knee surgery and now I cannot run or jog. This is a loss.

Most of us, especially Baby Boomers, have been pretty conscientious and have taken care of our health over the years. However, we find we can’t halt the signs of aging. This is a challenge, living in our youth-oriented culture. We are urged to fight the aging process. Products are marketed as “anti-aging.” That’s like marketing “anti-life.” This is resisting what is.

There is overwhelming pressure from the media and advertising to look youthful. Advertising and selling products bring in big profits. There is no immediate monetary gain from wisdom and experience. Yet here’s something to contemplate. Money cannot buy these gifts: wisdom, life experience, perspective, deep insight and knowingness. These are treasures to be cherished.

A challenge we face is to find these inner treasures that we do have and to feel good about ourselves as we notice our outer appearance changes.

How do we talk about aging?

We speak about aging in these terms: a curse, a loss, a burden, a defeat, even something to lie about. Aging is given a bad rap. In traditional cultures, old people are the elders, the carriers of wisdom. They are respected. Unfortunately, we have completely lost this in our culture. This is a deep wound in our culture that is not acknowledged or dealt with.

Aging is not a disease. Aging is a natural process. Our generation can turn the tide of “anti-aging” into the deeper understanding that as we age, we achieve personal wholeness. In this second half of life, we have many gifts to share and life experience to pass on. We definitely have choices about how we are going to be living in this stage of life.

What you need to have a healthy second half of life:

*Eat well and have an exercise program that works best for you. Stay active.

*Cultivate nurturing relationships and friendships.

*Keep your mind sharp by trying something new.

*Meditate or find ways to calm and relax your body and your mind.

*Learn to accept what is happening instead of fighting it.

*Let go of judgment and criticism. You will feel much lighter.

*Bring laughter and joy into your day.

*Maintain a positive sense of yourself.

A study at Yale University found that older people with more positive self-perceptions of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging, even after other factors were taken into account.

Discover what gives your life meaning:

Why do you like to get up in the morning? What gives you the most energy? When you find the keys to these questions, you can start to embrace this time of life, and discover a purpose in living.

There are many treasures to be found at this time of life. When we were younger, we were so focused externally: education, career, and family.

Now we have the time and space to:
– become more reflective
– appreciate and share our gifts
– have creative pursuits
– commit to lifelong learning

Can you find the inner beauty and gifts that you are yours? Can you feel good about yourself as you notice your outer appearance changes? Perhaps we can all find comfort in knowing there will be many of us in old age. The Baby Boomers comprise by far the largest generation and we will be going into our elder years together. We are a big cohort that can support and encourage each other on this further journey through the second half of life.

Find some peace and contentment exactly where you are right now.
This will be much more fulfilling than purchasing a jar of anti-wrinkle cream.

Please reach out for additional support by calling for a free 20 minute phone consultation with Brenda 604-435-9400.

Is This My Body?

© 2011 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author

I first injured my knee in 2003. I was jogging on a treadmill and noticed pain in my knee. The pain didn’t go away that night, but I went back to the gym the next day. “What me? I don’t get injuries”, was my inner thinking. So of course, the pain increased.  I decided not to go to the gym for a while, but I didn’t seek medical help.  This is called Denial.  I refused to recognize what was going on.  I was lying on the couch complaining about my knee and my daughter suggested I go to a doctor or physiotherapist.  Which I did, two months later!  My inner voice was asking: Is this my body? Is this actually happening?

Later, in 2009 I was going to hot yoga classes, and I tore the cartilage in the same knee in a deep knee posture. Snap!  I felt it tear. That was the end of the hot yoga classes.  It took over a year to get the right specialist, an MRI and finally knee surgery in 2010.  Surgery did not fit my self-image!  I had to surrender and see that I had overtaxed my knees for a very long time.

I think many of us have similar experiences with our bodies and our health. We are operating from the past e.g. I used to easily run around the Sea Wall in Vancouver. And participate in the 10 km Sun Run.  Those days are gone for me. I cannot run now. I have had to let go of running. I now accept this and see what exercises I can do.  I have a bicycle and often bike along the river near where I live. I can use the elliptical trainer, the  bicycle and the rowing machine at the gym.  As some activities are no longer possible, we need to look at what works for us now.

It is frequently a challenge to accept the changes taking place in our bodies. Especially in our 50’s, 60’s and older, we all have some issues with our health.  Our skin is becoming dry and wrinkled, our hair thinning, our bones more brittle, our cardiovascular rate is changing and our senses are not as acute. Weight gain is common. We also experience the loss of beauty and can feel invisible as we are passed by.  We walk by a store window and see our reflection: Is this me? Is this my body?

One of the best things you can do for yourself at this time in life is come to ACCEPTANCE. That means, accepting what is happening: accepting the changes in your looks and your health. It’s when we resist change that we come into difficulty. Instead of saying “No, No, not me!” can you say: “I am willing to love and accept myself exactly as I am.”

We often hear advice about getting older:  Stay active!   This seems obvious, but I am finding it to be so true. I have always found exercise that I like and I notice at this time in my life that regular exercise is of great benefit. I feel wonderful riding my bike along the river. I enjoy Hatha yoga and stretching. I drink more water.  I respect my body more. When I was younger, I took it for granted. Now I treasure it more.

Contemplations:

  1. How has your body been a friend to you throughout your life?
  2. How has your body felt less than a friend? Has it betrayed you?
  3. How do you talk to your body? Do you appreciate it?

Thank your body for all the ways it serves you every day. Marvel at all its functions and its beauty. Take a moment to remember that all the systems of your body continue to function 24/7, without you consciously thinking about them. Finally, take three deep breaths and give thanks for being able to breathe.