As published in The Huffington Post: 5/16/2005
The ageless Cher just turned 68. She recently was seen attending the Met Gala in New York City. The theme of this year’s gala was everything Chinese and those in attendance wore costumes to reflect an aspect of the museum’s exhibition. Cher wore a long gown of bended vivid dark colors with less vamp than in previous decades (think Bob Mackie’s beaded bustier-and-loincloth she wore at the 1986 Oscars, complete with headdress). The only alluring factor was a risky décolletage. Oh dear me! What happened to Cher?
There are certainly aspects to aging that might require reframing as each decade passes. I assume Cher was reframing at the Met Gala this year. Cher is still very much Cher, but she saw no need to compete against Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker.
I just took a road trip with my best friend from grammar school (we have known each other since we were 3 years old and lived on the same street), and tromping through wineries in the Napa Valley reminded us of how our rhythms and energy have changed very little since we were children and teenagers. We seemed to intuit each other’s awareness and pace. Yet, we reflected that we couldn’t drink as much wine as we thought; we looked more forward to reading before bed than drinking at a local pub — and we ate less. But still, we had energy to spare and laughed outrageously.
My favorite reframing age anecdote happened when I recently purchased a used, fixer-up bike. I test rode five bikes with the vigor and excitement of a 10-year-old, but the bike I selected was a downsize version of a Gary Fisher mountain bike. It will do just fine.
Here are 5 ways to reframe aging with subtlety and grace:
1. Take Care of Yourself, Not Just Others
It is an axiom that women are the caretakers of the world. And of course, there are men who are very good in the nurturing department. People, organizations and places where you volunteer give gratitude for your help and that makes you proud and happy. But as you age, the way you take care of yourself matters more. In fact, you probably need more breathing space, more reflective time and more mindfulness during the aging process. It’s perfectly awesome to give yourself many gifts throughout the day, the week and the month: practice yoga, meditate, play a round of golf, read, learn something new, take a bath and relax in bubbles. You are the most important gift to yourself as you age.
2. Set Boundaries in Personal and Professional Relationships
From the time you entered adulthood, you heard the caution: set your boundaries with family, friends and in your professional life. As you age, there may be a growing or extended family that requires your attention; you might have friends who need your companionship or your resources. Yet, part of reframing age is that time is precious. And the mantra – honor your body, mind and spirit – takes precedence. Listen to your needs and desires and be aware when no is the appropriate response. Sometimes, I tell my family I can’t pick up the grandchildren from school. And the joy is that they completely respect my response and time.
3. Face Life’s Challenges and Changes Joyfully
You’ve lived many decades. You are one of the fortunate people. Most of the struggle has passed and you are living a freer life. Yet, there are still challenges and changes you face – physical moves you might make to other cities or other locations or travel that might be uncomfortable. As you age, there is a need to reframe your needs and desires, to leave your comfort zone due to necessity or just to reconfigure your life. Remember to manage these changes with joy and remove negative responses and feelings. Challenges are stimulating, exciting and motivating.
4. Learn from Your Mistakes, Forgive Yourself and Move On
We all make mistakes. And it is often said that it is hardest to forgive yourself for those mistakes rather than forgive others who inflict verbal injury toward you. Forgiveness is about surrendering and moving forward. If you get sucked into the vortex of the unforgiving mindset, you will risk losing clarity of thought, clear communication and empathy. Reframe the way you look at forgiveness. Take time to assess those negative feeling that result from closing off your heart. Practicing a generosity of spirit will make life easier as you age.
5. Learn to Develop a Greater Sense of Personal Awareness: Stay Present
As you age, it is often noted that past memories seem more important than the present. In fact, during the aging process, you remember more of the past than you might imagine. It’s easy to be drawn into memory, but it is mentally more productive and exciting to stay present, to be aware of your environment, the people who surround you and the opportunities that are in front of you. Reframing age means staying in the present and realizing the possibilities of living joyfully.
Taking time to live a healthy and well-balanced life is your legacy. It is an accomplishment, an acknowledgement that you are still unleashing and reframing your personal power and professional integrity as you age.
Joan Moran is a keynote speaker, commanding the stage with her delightful humor, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. She is an expert on wellness and is passionate about addressing the problems of mental inertia. A yoga instructor, Moran is the author is “Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer.” Visit her at www.joanfrancesmoran.com.
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