You cannot grow older disgracefully if you have no confidence to do so, and confidence comes from self-love and high self-esteem. Nothing else. How many of us cannot bear to see ourselves in a mirror, cannot stand to hear our voices coming back at us, or to see ourselves in a photo or on a video? Too few people like what they see or hear of themselves. In fact, one famous actress said she never watches her films at all as she cannot bear to see how she acts. Luckily for her, the paying public takes a different view, otherwise no one would bother to watch her performances.
We are all beautiful and unique beings, made in the image of our god, universe, nature or whatever we believe in. But some higher power is at the back of us somewhere because our body is nothing short of amazing. Everyone has some beauty which is uniquely theirs. We tend to seek the approval of others for our existence, especially when we are younger and need help in making our way into the world. That personal need follows us into old age where we continue to wait for people to approve of us before we like ourselves. But self-love and self-respect are the key items which keep us as young as possible They not only bring out the best in us, they also give us a deep feeling of oneness and happiness in ourselves which gradually affects our well-being and our interaction with others.
When we love ourself, we give permission for others to love us too, to appreciate our strengths and weaknesses, and to enhance that sense of worth and significance we all seek. Many people undervalue themselves and use either their parents or their lovers to set the standard of acceptability for them. They deliberately ignore their strengths, preferring to focus on their perceived weaknesses, to the extent that if their relationship is 'failing', they are likely to blame themselves for it too.
If they were not loved and affirmed as children, they are also likely to see themselves as unworthy and inferior to siblings or friends, always lagging behind while clinging to the judgements of significant others in a constant comparison with them. As they become older, that negative reaction would have cemented itself inside their heads and then their self-esteem takes a battering.
By the time they are in their 50s or 60s, the weight of the world is likely to be upon their shoulders, helped by their loneliness, anxieties, endless problems and low opinion of themselves. In fact, the biggest tell-tale sign of this unhappiness is likely to be extra weight gain. As the weight piles on, they feel even more unattractive to themselves and to others. Gradually, their feelings begin to affect their health when the negative reaction of others unwittingly makes their fears come true in an unrelenting cycle of self-loathing.
Consequences of Lacking Self-Love
Again, people without self-love are usually reluctant to learn new things because their identity is attached to a past life which would unravel if they strayed too far from their anchor, or were challenged to change their outlook. They tend to live in fear of new innovations while feeling confused and bewildered by rapid change. The extreme ones are likely to make people around them feel inadequate because they are still striving for what they wanted in their earlier life and haven't yet achieved. Believing they have lost their opportunities forever, they tend to be full of regret and will continually expect their children to chase those lost dreams. More likely, they will expect anyone they value to live up to the impossible standards they have set themselves in order to feel better and to fuel their sense of significance.
This kind of behaviour is not so surprising when loving the self is not an easy thing to do. It is very difficult to change years of negative treatment and a lack of reinforcement into something positive and wholesome. Someone once said that we are prisoners of our own experiences. If we were brought up on persistent abuse, we will assume that behaviour to be not only morally right, but we would also regard it as the accepted practice everywhere else too. That perception would hold until our life experience widens sufficiently to show us otherwise.
When we have been through a lifetime of neglect, put-downs, non-reinforcement, striving to please, or even having abuse of any kind, it is really difficult to change those habits and begin to value ourselves enough. There is no quick-fix remedy, but making a start at least promises some action.
Q. I'm 20 and will be 21 in september. I know i'll be 18 in my heart for a while but, sometimes I feel like I don't wanna be 21, i feel so old, like I'm not young anymore and I get really depressed. A lot of people tell me that the 20s and college years are the best and 21 is when the real fun actually starts. Is this true? Would you consider 20s to still be youthful and young? I'm kinda scared to actually get in my 20s.
A. What a sad and discouraging perspective to have of life. :o(
You are blessed with a life, you are at the exciting start of that life where the world is your oyster. And what do you do? You sit and fret it away and worry about getting old! How on earth can you worry about ageing at 20? So when you are 60, as I am (if you ever reach that with so much worry!), what will you do? What will you call yourself then? Ancient? Fossil? Sorry, but that is an ungrateful way to live. If you really consider the 20s to be 'old', what do you call the other decades?
In case you do not know, let me count your blessings for you. 22% of youngsters do not even make it to 15 years old, let alone 21. So you are very fortunate. At this age of your life, depending on the country you are in, you can expect to live until your are 75, on average, and even up to 83. You have all the technology at your fingertips (98% of students are on email); you can choose any educational course that you want, invent what you want, like the Google founders who were early 20s when they started, launch a business, do a degree, anything at all you like. The provisions are already in place for people of your age. Not to mention youthful looks and tons of opportunities ahead.
You say you're 'scared' to go into your 20s. What are you going to do about it? Stop the next bus and go under it? Stop your body clock? I am being very blunt here because I want to show you how foolish and sad those thoughts are. When people are scared of ageing and death they simply rob themselves of a life thinking about them continually. Life comes with both good and bad, pleasure and pain, up and down. We have no choice but to accept them and make the most of them.
When we are given that precious life (19 youngsters all under 21 have been stabbed in Britain since January so there is no guarantee of life) we have to live it to the full because worrying robs us of any kind of life quality. Furthermore, if every youngster of your age in the past had been scared of getting older, we would not have had the amazing inventions like computers and Internet we now enjoy. They would have been too scared to invent anything. Thankfully, they concentrated on what they could make with their life instead of just worrying about it and we are all benefitting now. What will your contribution be? Just fretting about your age?
I believe your fears relate to something else in your life. You obviously lack confidence, lack the belief in yourself and dread the onset of the adult stage of your existence. You fear getting older perhaps because of the responsibilities it brings, the expectations of you or the isolation and exclusion from current friends and family that it might entail. Perhaps you need to sort out those feelings about you personally and you will find that the age fears will also lessen. You will find more courage to appreciate your life. Growing up is inevitable, but growing older is an option. Age does NOT make you older, It's the thoughts you carry around that make you either sad or joyful, youthful or ancient, like the ones you are having now. You can be forever 18 if you like, or 81, depending on those thoughts.
Instead of worrying about your age, which you can do nothing about, start giving thanks for everything you have, everything you are blessed with that tons of teenagers around the world only dream of, and being thankful that you are healthy enough to enjoy those blessings. Give thanks for being capable of carving your own future at any time you want, instead of taking everything around you for granted and living in fear. I guarantee that living a life of gratitude and getting some confidence in who you are, what you wish to be and where you are heading would help you to not only appreciate your unique existence, but you would begin to see your life in a completely different light.
One final thought to help you on your way. If your parents were afraid of being adults, afraid of getting on with their lives and just wanted to be stuck at 18, you would not be here now. Please give thanks, stop worrying and start to live your life in a more meaningful way. You will be far happier and more fulfilled for it.
Many older women often worry about whether to dye their hair or not. But it shouldn't be any kind of issue. Dying one's hair is like any fashion statement: we go with what makes us comfortable. We do not have any angst about dying our hair in different shades when we are younger. We do it even without thinking to experiment, to be in vogue, or to keep a certain shade fresh and attractive. Getting older should be no different in that regard.
I love my age and am actually enjoying getting older. I do not have any wish to be back in my younger days, neither do I envy others the age they might be. My hair has been greying only at the front, just above my forehead, nowhere else. I find that pretty annoying, as I would like it to be either all grey or all black. So, clearly as a matter of choice, I dye my hair for consistency. When it is all grey, I will probably keep it that way.
I think the way we look is highly related to the way we feel about ourselves, the mood we are in or the desire to experiment. When it comes to new clothes or a new hairstyle, we should not get into fossilised, unmoving ways of restricting our choices. We should do whatever feels natural, comfortable and beautiful. the essence of being is to live who we wish to be. Life is too short to be rigidly sticking to anything to prove a point, to conform to expectations or to please anyone else. Live it, I say, to the max, and if dyeing your hair is part of that objective, just go for it and wear it with pride!
This age is a curious one: liberating yet often frightening. At a time when everything seems to be happening, life can become another mid-life crisis because many women now fear the ageing process, especially if they start to feel unattractive. Many dread being 50 for all its perceived implications. A breakdown may occur in a mother's lifestyle and thinking patterns, particularly when the children depart and leave a huge emotional void. Depending on her self-evaluation and level of esteem, she may make some desperate changes in an attempt to escape the life she leads.
This is often a time to start anew with a fresh approach or shiny new partner; a time when many people need understanding, encouragement and support to be able to value the remaining stages of their life and to make the most of their personal journey. Yet, though many couples draw closer together for support, for too many others it's a time when they are unlikely to get any support and that results in many divorces. In the UK, 71% of divorces sought by people over 50, since 2000, have been initiated by women.
On the plus side, by the time women are at this stage, they have developed a richness of friendships with other women which helps them to determine and understand their own individuality. They have reared their children through adolescence and into adulthood. Now it is time to reflect and accept their own lives. It may be seen as a time of freedom from childbearing responsibilities and for new opportunities to pursue interests in personal development or career. They are likely to seek fulfilment and significance outside the home, in either new training, employment or voluntary activities. If they are already in work, they will be moving up the ladder.
Period of Stress
The young/old dilemma becomes very important here too because when a person faces the fact that she will die someday in the not too distant future, it can be an overwhelming thought. The young look only toward the future, with much hope. The old can only look backward to the past, with a sense of accomplishment (if one has led a satisfying life) or with sadness and regret (if life has been disappointing). Regardless of which way they look on their life, both young and old can change very little about it and that is the hardest thing to accept for people who are older.
Thus many people in this stage tend to live in the past, rehashing their lives and experiences, to compensate for their loss or disappointment. To them the past was better in every respect and their current environment is always worse, or more threatening. Many believe they have gone as far as they can, and feel devoid of creativity, energy or capacity for further development, and even hasten their own demise. It can even do new apprentices a disservice if they are led by someone who is likely to be settling for mediocrity at this point or just marking time until he/she retires.
Emphasis on Being Young
Saying things like "I'm 55 going on 21," and seeking much younger partners to match it, not only keeps one feeling inadequate, as one strives to be what one is not, but it is also an insult to 21 year olds. No person at this stage can ever behave like a 21 year old, no matter how hard they try! Their knowledge and experience will always get in the way and force them to be more cautious than a 21 year old would! In other words, to appreciate another's age, we have to first acknowledge, appreciate and accept our own age fully.
If you are older, do you live in continuous regret about your age? That's looking a gift horse in the mouth when dead people don't age! The best place to be is to shout: "I'm 55 and proud of it. Youthful, fabulous and formidable. I do not wish to be any other age!"
And live that life to the full!
One of the highest suicide rates in the UK is among men of 65 years of age who are in retirement. The main reason for that is that many men find the sudden isolation, the lack of job status and significance, the feeling of being useless and of having nothing worthwhile to do, after the initial euphoria of retiring, very difficult to deal with. But this happens mainly because of the perception around retirement and what it is actually for. Some people see that stage of life as the end of work, where one just relaxes and does little else. Of course, when that novelty wears off, depression tends to set in as the person begins to feel isolated and undervalued.
The transition to a new kind of life, devoid of most of the familiar things and people, can be very painful for some retirees. So ensuring a smooth transition is the key to appreciating that new situation. It can be a lonely, stressful time so a smooth transition into retirement is more possible if there is a focus on four main areas by the retiree:
1. THOUGHTS...How the person thinks at this time, whether positive or negative is crucial, especially before retirement. Thoughts affect perceptions and perceptions affect everything else in one's life, especially actions. If someone sees himself as being on the scrap heap at 65 instead of starting a new life, then those thoughts will block out a lot of other positive ones which could help towards a more enjoyable life. Thoughts at this time should be about celebrating the life one had, the achievements and the enjoyment already experienced, as well as looking forward to starting a NEW LIFE, to fulfil all those dreams one might not have had the time so far to attempt. There should also be definite plans around the options for retirement and how personal time will be spent almost on a daily basis. Boredom, a lack of purpose and low-self esteem combined together is a literal killer at this time of life.
2. PERCEPTION...This should be positive with a focus on the kind of life that will be lived after retirement, especially an emphasis on the opportunity to begin a NEW life, no matter what form it takes, instead of seeing that time as simply the end of the old one. By living in the past and merely thinking about the old life with regret, the options for the future become limited. It is then difficult to see the transition as a positive one. Many people look forward to their retirement with rose-coloured views only to find that the reality can be a rather barren and disappointing one, much more lonely and isolating than expected. Thus how one perceives one's actions, especially before retirement, is very important for the kind of things that can be done, the kind of life that is desired and the kind of success one will have in making the adjustment to that new life.
3. HOME...Home can seem like a trying place to both partners in retirement. If one partner already had a life of doing a particular thing which then is intruded upon by the new retiree, it can create immediate conflict and feel quite claustrophobic. That is why many partners tend to fall out soon after retirement because everything is suddenly changed from how it used to be to accommodate someone who is now going to be home all the time. Often the retiree will treat his home like a place of work where he still has some control and responsibility. This can then put added pressures and strains on a relationship. It is very important that the retiree does not intrude too much on the world and structure of the other party, otherwise it then makes coping much more difficult as his/her presence begins to be resented.
4. SKILLS...This is a time for finding out new knowledge, for exploring the avenues and directions which might be rewarding and for discovering the other skills one possesses, or the new ones that can be learned. In fact, retirement is a most exciting time in one's life to be one's own boss and to develop the self to new heights of capabilities at one's own pace, especially to use one's expertise as a consultant or adviser. Better still, to develop skills in a new field entirely. This is a very good time for discovering the self and who we are and so much can be achieved during this period with the right perception and focus.
The main thing to remember for a smooth transition is that retirement offers the opportunity to begin a brand new life of discovery and to make the most of it. Not just to look back in regret. Fifty years ago, if one retired at 65, one was likely to be dead within 2 years. That was the average age of mortality for men in the UK. Today the average is 77 for men and 83 for women, with lots more people living well beyond that. The question to ask on one's retirement is not what one will be doing after retirement, but this one: Today is the first day of the rest of my life. How can I have a real blast for whatever time I have left and exit with a big smile of satisfaction?
Known as the reflective years, this is the time when we re-evaluate our direction in life several times. Most people at this age wish to live forever but, since that is not possible, they seek to leave a legacy of some sort instead, and that quest usually occupies them for the rest of their lives. Successful resolution of mid-life comes from determining what legacy they will leave behind. It may involve contributions as a parent, spouse, leader or mentor, or even trying to change the world, but the content of the legacy defines the path people take for the remainder of their lives.
The hallmark of this stage is finally letting go of earlier inaccurate ego images and accepting oneself as a worthwhile being, one with weaknesses as well as strengths. There is a confident re-engagement on a more objective, less driven and more productive level with family, friends and community. If we are not doing well at this point, it leaves us with three choices. First, to adjust our life to what we want and where we want to go.
Second, to accept the road we are on and live with the choices already made. Or third, to deny what is going on in our lives, where we are anchored and where we are actually heading: a refuge taken by many fearful people who cannot bear to acknowledge disappointments in their life or to accommodate new changes to improve them. The main consequences of this is perpetual insecurity, living in the past and a resistance to change.
Unfortunately, this is the time (at 60-65) when everyone is required to retire from work in The UK, whether they like it or not, thus losing their status, purpose and value at one fell swoop, a situation that often kills the spirit and the will to live. In the mid-20th century, the average life expectancy for men was 67 years, just two years after they officially retired. Many found the loss of status and significance that comes with retirement difficult to accept. Instead, they became a nuisance or a bully in the home and fretted away their existence. Being treated as old' and useless' at this stage of their lives, it was a difficult period of adjustment for many of them. Now the average mortality rate is more than 10 years increase - 78 - which means old mindsets about life at this time are no longer valid. Nevertheless, not much has changed with men at this age (65) because it still carries the highest number of suicides.
Fear and Loss
With ongoing self-assessment in the late twenties or early thirties, at mid-life and now at retirement, there will be a final re-evaluation coming at the point of a spouse's death or just before one's own death. Early evaluation looks forward to the future. Mid-life evaluation concentrates on the present while the reflective years are used to examine the individual's full span of life with the hope of feeling good and at peace with his/her achievements.
Satisfied people at this stage have a lot to offer the younger age groups because they have a time focus that sees all of life. They're well beyond the competitive emphasis of the young adult, or the angst of the mid-life person, and their accumulated life experience enables them to look at life issues with an understanding of their complexity which is denied to the other stages. Having abandoned their chase for the top, this is also a time of forgiveness and letting go; of preparing to move on with life on one's own terms, which boosts self-value even more.
People tend to take their life very seriously but we only pass this way once and should really make the most of it in every way that we can, particularly having fun amidst the serious aspects of living. In fact, the more we can have fun is the more we are likely to lengthen our lives because we tend to boost our immune system and are not so prone to illnesses as when we are feeling down.
There are five very simple fun ways we can live longer and four are entirely within our control.
1. Try to laugh as much as possible. The more we laugh is the more we feel good inside, the more positive chemicals are released inside us and the better we feel. Most importantly, the more laughter we engage in is the more we are boosting our immune system to cope with the rigours of life. Recent research has discovered that people who are quick to laugh and enjoy themselves tend to live up to seven years MORE than those who are grumpy, dour and constantly complaining! Seven years is a long time to lose in sheer grumpiness.
2. Have as many hugs and as much sex as you can. Hugs are one of Nature's ways of ensuring we connect to each other in a warm, caring emotional way. A hug is inclusive. It embraces others in intimate or just friendly ways and it is very affirming. Couple that with wonderful sex with someone you love or desire and the body benefits, big time! Researchers have shown that sex has rejuvenating properties and is great for our health. Above all, it is hugely enjoyable and excellent for emotional well being. It can't be ignored in the happiness stakes.
3. Try to be more positive each day. The way we see the world is entirely down to us. We can either see the world as a terrible place (as pessimists and people with low self-esteem observe it), seeing only the bad side of it, or we can see it as a place of opportunities and joy, where both good and bad exists side by side (as people with high confidence and self-belief tend to perceive it). Being positive is far more likely to yield the results you want, as well as to make you feel good than simply seeing the negatives, especially when everything in life has a balance. There is a lot of fun in being positive because we empower ourselves with positivity, we are likely to see things pessimists cannot, which then allows even more of what we seek to come into our lives.
4. Give rather than receive. Whenever you can, try to give someone something, no matter how small, and watch their reaction. Even it is only your smile, the effect on someone else can often be amazing because a simple smile speaks across all cultures and boundaries. The minute we become less self-absorbed and actually put the focus on others, we put our own lives in perspectives and get more of the joy we seek. The greatest fun and pleasure comes from GIVING, not just receiving, for the sheer impact it might have on the receiver. Above all, sometimes that impact could be well beyond what we could ever imagine!
5. Walk as much as possible with your ipod. Whether you like music or not, get yourself an ipod, pop some music on that you wish to hear and go WALKING. Not only will you feel fantastic hearing your music while you walk and keep in trim, but it is a most glorious feeling when you have finished, knowing that you have not only enjoyed yourself but are getting some necessary exercise whenever you can without too much effort. I walk two miles regularly, amounting to 10 miles per week, on average. It is a most wonderful feeling walking in rhythm to whatever I am listening while I take my exercise. Music is a very calming force and when combined with something else you might not like as much, the rewards can be massive.
There are many ways to have fun to aid your longevity but, as I seem to be ageless, these have certainly worked for me, and I wanted to pass them on. Enjoy!
When Nancy Pelosi became House Speaker I thought, "Attah Girl"!, simply because no woman in the UK aged in her 50s, let alone 60s, would be allowed to have such high office. Here age wasn't a factor for her role and competence, though it gave her more experience. With her new powerful position, she sent a huge positive message to over 60s like me worldwide much more than any fine words could do.
The BBC has been recently accused of sexism and gender bias but it is merely reflecting society and government that has no respect for age. Despite our revamped anti-ageism laws, people over 60 are plagued by negative and incompetent perceptions, and often covertly discriminated against for younger folks.
On the face of it, older people appear to be more revered and respected in the USA than in the UK, but it seems to be rich older people who have that privilege. The poorer older folks seem to have a hard time just making ends meet, surviving with dignity, being discriminated against, marginalised and often excluded. So, perhaps, on a general basis, there is really little difference between the two countries.
We do fear ageing in Britain because it is usually associated with illnesses and ill health rather than anything vibrant, energetic and sexy. Society brainwashes us into the desirability of being young through its focus on the young, especially by the media and entertainment industries, and we accept it meekly instead of asserting our presence.
We also worry about ageing skin, about being incapacitated by our age, about having to retire and lose our status, job and friends and, most important, about being excluded, unwanted and insignificant. So instead of welcoming old age as another important phase of our life, we dread it and fear it, which then affects the quality of that life in a negative way.
Yet it is not the actual age we are which should be the focus of our lives but the age we choose to live and wish to be. Personally, I can't wait to celebrate my 62nd birthday next year because age has never dictated my life. It certainly provided a direction, but it isn't the route. That's why my motto is "Over-Sixty, Sexy, Savvy and Soaring!" I defy anyone to tell me that I do not suit those words!
What a time I am having being older because I do not live according to the fears or limitations of others. My own beliefs and expectations guide my life. I am determined to make the most of every precious day and, interestingly, people tend to think that I am at least 20 years younger, and treat me accordingly. So the only predictable box I am ever going to be slotted into is the one at my funeral!
We age inside our heads first and our bodies dutifully follow, so how we are perceived is entirely personal. Chronologically, we might be a certain age, but it is up to each one of us how old we really wish to be in our attitude and actions, because that's how we will be treated by everyone else.
Do you think America is a great place for older folks or is it an illusion?
(An excerpt from my diary to share with those who might fear ageing!)
Today is the last day of my 59th year. It is also the last day of my 6th decade and it feels a little strange. I cannot believe that 10 years have gone by so quickly. But at the pace at which I breathe, think, grow and live, everything feels like being in fast forward! Exhilarating and simply delicious.
Not surprisingly I couldn't sleep. I have all kinds of thoughts and feelings fluttering about inside me waiting for expression, but fear, apprehension or sadness isn't one of them. No, siree, I don't do fear and sadness when it comes to ageing. I feel excited, thrilled, overawed, amazed, wondrous, fantastic, grateful, expectant, incredible and joyful - and those are just the words that spring to mind right now. To think that I am on the threshold of 60 years yet I feel like a teenager, someone waiting for the greatest moment in her life instead of merely being 'older'. I feel as though the sky is my absolute limit and I am about to embark on one of the most fulfilling phases of my existence. And I cannot wait for it to begin. Though I live on my own, I have never felt so excited about an upcoming birthday. Am I mad or wot?
For that reason, I have decided to do something I have never done before. Rather than lying in bed trying vainly to sleep, trying to suppress the myriad of thoughts that are fighting for space in my head, I decided to record them instead in a personal blog. Quite unlike all my other writings, this is to record my feelings over the next two days of crossing a threshold many people fear, especially women: that of being 60. It is such a major milestone mainly because if people expect you to be on your last legs in your 50s, to crawl under an 'old age' label and stay there, to play the 'old woman,' by your 60s you are expected to lie down quietly and be seen and not heard. Sixty year old women are not expected to voice opinions (too old), not to be in love (wot?), not to shag themselves silly (wot's that?), not to be sexy, alive and beautiful. No sireee. But not moi, dear folks.
I am moving from Fit, Fab, Over-Fifty and Ready to Fly (the current motto on my websites) to being Sixty, Sexy, Savvy and Soaring. I will be shouting it from the rooftops and living every word with gusto. The only conventional box I am going to allow myself to be fitted into is the one that will put me six foot under, and that's a long time in the future. Until then, like the title of my latest book, I will be busy living and behaving disgracefully!
Women Who Fear Ageing
Even Nora Ephron, the accomplished American author, wrote a book in 2006 (when she was 65), titled I Feel Bad About My Neck, where she mainly cites the negatives of getting older. I found that so tragic, that a woman with so much to be grateful for could feel so badly about herself, then use her influence to encourage others to feel badly too.
Well, there's nothing wrong with my neck. It is a beautiful part of the beautiful me! I have no wrinkles anywhere on my body, and everywhere on me is fabulous: my face, my teeth, my boobs, my legs, my body. Just amazing, because I have thought it into being. I feel so great about my intellect, my body and me, if it weren't for my children feeling embarrassed, and also giving the 'wrong' message to all those serious, posh business people I know, I would offer to be a Sun Page 3 woman (not girl!) and bare all.
Those two women obviously haven't lived my life, or had my thoughts, otherwise they would want to spend every single year, every single month and every single day that they might have left, in sheer joy, gratitude and wonder. So I do hope these personal thoughts of mine, about what I call 'positive ageing', will change some of those negative perspectives about one of the best times of our lives.
These thoughts are very important for me, not least at the end of the next decade, to remind me of where I am coming from, to compare notes on how I feel then with now, and to point out where I'm heading. You see, I believe that, at 70, I will not only feel the same but I will actually look the same, without any changes. Sounds incredible? Watch me. I wish I had a similar log at the end of my 40th decade to compare with now, because what a contrast it would have been. Wowee. There is a vast difference between today and the last day of being 49 in April 1998, as a quick review shows.
Rapid Recall of the Decade
The LOWS - Sad eyes that didn't match my smile and a much bigger body. - Diagnosed with diabetes, like my mother and grandmother. - My daughter stopped talking to me without telling me why. - Carried trauma from my childhood for 38 years and slowly let them out for the first time, with the help of someone else. Cried buckets for a week. - Mother died from a diabetic stroke. - My sister, Annette (36 years), died - Left the marriage. It was 33 years, and counting. - Son stopped talking to me too - Worst Christmas ever, 2002, alone and missing my children - My father passed away peacefully from a broken heart. - Filed for divorce - Said reluctant goodbye to a dear friend who had been my anchor. Life carried on. - Business collapsed after 12 years, went into hibernation for three months - Decree nisi through. - Very ill for the whole of 2007. Body began rejecting diabetic medication (both insulin and tablets). Told by doctor I was a 'special case', never seen anyone like me. For a week my readings were at coma levels. Was told by nurse to 'have ambulance standing by'. Very sad and surreal.
The HIGHS - A wonderful surprise 50th birthday party given for me by my family. - Published a book for an American about the treatment of his mother in a veteran's hospital, Regina's Record. A most amazing collaboration across the globe via the Internet, and with very little resources too. - Addressed students at the University of Mankato - Went to Venice for a wonderful romantic holiday with ex. Hopes of better things between us. - My sister Carmen came to Britain for the first time - My sister Marjorie visited me in Britain for a wonderful holiday - Lost nearly two stones (26 lbs) in weight within a year of leaving home. Looking fabulous. - Pioneer address to MPs and others in the House of Commons on diversity issues. - Keynote speech at UNESCO's awesome Global Women's Leadership Conference in Paris. Inspirational experience. - Went to Canada to promote my new book, a wonderful trip - Read 62 books on self awareness and development - Formulated SAVI concept and emphasis on Emotional Health for greater wellbeing - Pioneering writing on Emotional Health and its close connection to confidence, self esteem and feelings of value - Another book published - 10 easy Steps to...Finding Your Ideal Soulmate! - Invitation as keynote speaker by Bermuda's Chamber of Commerce to address their top 100 women. An amazing unexpected honour. - 10 easy steps to...Growing Older Disgracefully! is published. - (2008) Still no proper medication; living on borrowed time in view of what happened to my Mom.
HIGHS=17, LOWS=15 Balance Sheet=+2 (Not bad! Could have been much worse)
From a searing, roller coaster start, my fifties has ended on a calm, resolute note mainly filled with achievements, greater knowledge of who I am, what I want and where I wish to be. The only fly in the ointment is my fluctuating health, but I am determined to live every added day with joy and thanks. The years since 2004 have been marked by an absence of stress, a self awareness and self-love that are greatly empowering, a prolific level of writing and gratitude for simply coming through the turbulence: much poorer, health wobbling, missing my kids and loving them to bits, lots of self-love but much, much happier! Hallelujah!
Roll on 60s, here I come, in Part 2.
(This is Part 2 of my diary about reaching my 60th year.)
I am 60 years old today and it feels fabulous! Yes, you read that correctly. It feels fabulous. In fact I am not only a sensational sixty but I am also sexy, super-duper, seductive and savvy, intent on soaring to new levels of my life. I am not sure how you, who are reading this, view your life and getting older, but I love it. Last year I was 59, the year before that I was 58 and five years ago I was 55 and it doesn’t feel any different today than it felt all those years ago.
So if ageing feels different to you, in a negative way, it is mainly in the mind. Nowhere else. I have no wish to be 30 or 20 or 40 again because there is nothing I was doing back then that I can’t do now. I might not be as agile physically but my mind is even sharper than it used to be because I exercise it so much. I also have a beautiful face, with a beautiful smile, because I use that smile so much too!
Today I start of my 60th year and 7th decade with an awful lot of plusses. I am beautiful, gorgeous, loving, caring, wonderful and serene. I have shelter, food, enough money for my needs and amazing friends. But most important, I am breathing. I am alive. I have a pulse. How could I take that for granted? I have a life threatening illness, yes, but who cares? We all have to die sometime. So I give gratitude for being favoured. In fact, I might keel over tomorrow if my blood sugar runs riot, but I am darn well going to make the most of today because that is all I am sure of, and what a day it is. Phenomenal!
I shall be taking some pictures, as I do on every birthday, I shall be meeting friends and I shall be relaxing at the end to reminisce before getting on with business as usual. I start the day being among the top 7 members on Newsvine (past 3 months) as well as their top writer (I can live with that! ), and pioneering the recognition of a branch of health that has been long overlooked and underrated - emotional health. :o)
I have a budding new website attracting visitors daily. As of today, I have written 640 articles in only three years on my subjects: emotional health, self-empowerment, relationships and dating. Put with all the other things in my life that I have already achieved, I feel fantastic about me. I am living proof that life is, indeed, what you make it and every day brings me new opportunities to make it what I want. Somedays will be crap and some will be incredible, but my own sense of value and perception will keep my happiness levels at top rate and a sense of reality in place.
For my 7th decade I have 7 main things I wish to do now:
So there you have it: my feelings today and all my hopes, ambitions and expected achievements over the next 10 years. Of course, it goes without saying that I shall still be looking sexy and sensational throughout each of those years. I have deliberately written this article (Part 2 of my birthday blog) to encourage people who dread ageing. To show that it can be what we want, not what everyone else has!
Thank you my friends, supporters and fans -especially Gwenllian in Wales - for your wonderful encouragement, affirmation and simply being with me on my fascinating journey in my 50s. I now look forward to your company again in my 60s and all the amazing surprises waiting in store or us. What a time we are going to have! Cheers!
On April 18th, yet another birthday passed me by. I had a truly scrumptious celebration and, as usual, I took some birthday pictures to mark the occasion. Here they are in all their glory. I have never felt better or look better and I seem to be getting more youthful as I age! It's a joy to be alive, despite my illness. So to all those who worry about ageing, hope these lift your spirits! CHEERS to being 62. I love it! :o)
But what's the secret to ageing disgracefully?
There is no secret to ageing gracefully, or disgracefully as I prefer to call it. Many younger people fear ageing, but there is nothing to fear about it. Just because someone else might have problems in old age, or look really bad for their age, does not mean that will automatically happen to you. Each of us is an individual, influenced mainly by our genes, by our surroundings and, importantly, by the way were brought up and the perceptions we have of our life. Genes apart, ageing depends entirely on how we approach it. You approach it in fear, and a fearful accident prone life is all you would be sentenced to because one cannot have positivity out of negatives. The body can only deliver what we think, so we are the ones who either age ourselves badly or age well.
There are 5 major tips to how we age, and if they are followed to the letter, ageing would be a cinch, as I am living proof of that. When I think about it, the following is what I have subconsciously followed, without any real effort at all or set regime. I know that when I am 70, 80, 90, I will look exactly the same as I do now because I seem to be getting better with each year. It is getting difficult to tell which pictures were taken at 50 and which ones at 60! And I am not complaining.
In order of their importance, the five tips are: 1. YOUR THOUGHTS. Ageing disgracefully begins with your thoughts. Everything in life starts from our thoughts - all inventions, intentions and actions. So why should it be any different with age? What kind of thoughts do you have? Are they fearful, complaining, whingeing, victimlike? Whatever you think, you are. If you believe you are ugly and awful, soon enough your thoughts go out there, affect your interactions and come back to confirm themselves through the reactions of others. I tell myself everyday when I look in the mirror, how gorgeous and wonderful I am.
How grateful to have such an amazing life, just even having a pulse. And guess what? People keep telling me how gorgeous and wonderful I am!! There is a connection there somewhere, whether we believe it or not. People cannot treat us better than we treat ourselves, so we have to set the standard for others to follow. If we believe we are crap. So be it. We will be treated like it. So thoughts are the most important things for setting the quality, direction and essence of our lives.
2. LEARNING. Following close on your thoughts is what you do with your brain. READ, LEARN, EXERCISE that mind. Anchor yourself to the Internet. It is the greatest respository of knowledge our world has now. I subscribe to tons of sites which send me words to learn every day and games to do to boost my brain and memory power. I play scrabble and card games on my computer, and am always finding out unusual facts. In short, I am voracious in my quest for knowledge and the more I learn the less I think I know and want to learn even more. Somehow, by exercising my brain non-stop it seems to have an effect on my youthfulness and general well being. I have no time to feel bored, feel pain, feel sad or feel down. I am too preoccupied living, learning and reaching out to others to feel sorry for myself. The effect all round has been astronomical, especially on my writing, my confidence and general capabilities.
3. STOP WORRYING. We are back to those thoughts again! People worry needlessly about things happening in their lives, but worry merely paralyses action. It resolves nothing. Moreover, when you have lived to be 60, and looked back to what you worried about, you soon realise that life always pleases itself while you worry. It will happen with or without you, and you can either accept it gracefully or fight against it, getting the same result later on, but with a lot of angst in between.
Whatever you want to happen in life, just work towards it, trust in the Universe, your God, a higher power, or whatever, and LET GO. Don't try to control it because the minute you do that you rob yourself of any surprise you might have had and you will also feel less capable of bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion. Let go and enjoy life while you do the best you can. You would be surprised at the outcomes. Life tends to deliver in its own time, not ours. That's why a lot of the best things in life happens when we are not looking, and are least expected.
4. EXERCISE DIET. I just realised today while I was doing my simple exercises that I have done them sporadically for the past 25 years. I used to go on diets and buy exercise books etc. After the umpteenth book of not really getting any long term remedies, I threw away the books and did two things. First, I devised my own 10 minute exercise programme from activities I really liked and which worked for me and did them 4 days each week. For 4 other times I have walked at least 2 miles per day. then on two or three days, I do nothing. If I didn't feel like doing it on any day, I didn't which meant it didn't become a chore.
Second, relating to my food, I keep away from sugar, fat, and alcohol and eat anything else that I like in moderation three or four regular times each day. I stopped putting on weight years ago, I am now very shapely through the constant exercising over the years, and I have no angst about my body. Join a gym by all means, if that makes you feel good. But something that is simple and done regularly, like running up and down a stairs a few times, has far more long term effects than a few quick blasts in the gym now and then. By the way, I don't use any kind of anti-ageing creams or anything that isn't natural, except cosmetics. My beauty comes from within and is reflected in my face and body. It doesn't happen the other way around.
5. INSTINCTS. Many people ignore their instincts which are always trying to talk to them. They think they know best, that they have all the answers, but they would be surprised how little they know about their lives. Our instinct is our subconscious. Look how awesome it is at night when we are asleep, protecting us through our autonomic system until the next morning. We have nothing to do with it then, yet the conscious part is completely controlled by our subconscious when we are asleep. The same with during the day. If we wish to do anything and just listen to any inner voice that we might hear, it connects us spiritually to others and the world at large, often giving us answers we don't even dream about. Without some kind of spirituality we are nothing and people who fear ageing are not really connected to themselves so everything becomes a pain. No joy or contentment.
I have learned to listen to my instincts and the effect on my life has been phenomenal in what I am achieving, how I relate to others and the gratitude I feel. Most important, I feel protected and fearless because I know that I will always have an answer. There is nothing to fear, not even death.
Each year on my birthday, I like to record my thoughts and compare them to the year before. I guess I started doing that because I thought I would somehow feel different with each new year after I became 50; perhaps apprehensive etc., but my thoughts have been most consistent in how I feel: usually joyful and blessed to add another year to the tally.
I am 63 today, and I feel fab. Friends have already got in touch this morning, my sisters from abroad will be ringing, and I even have a hot date for later on with a very nice guy. I couldn't resist the offer of spending some time in his company and it will make a nice ending to a great day, but he is company rather than potential. When I became 55, I thought I might look different as I age, but I look at all the pictures taken over the past 8 years and I am exactly the same, I feel the same and life feels just wonderful.
What that tells me in striking form is that life tends to be exactly how WE see it. That is our reality. If we see life in gloomy miserable ways, that's all life gives back to us. I love life and live it, so I have no angst around age and I keep looking better and better. I have a strong message around ageing, having written a book called Growing Older Disgracefully. The irony is that to prove the fact behind that message I have to get even older!! But that doesn't bother me because I am busy using myself for research purposes around ageing and am having a great time discovering why some people age badly while some do it right. In a nutshell, it is all down to the individual.
For example, I was talking to a guy a few weeks ago and he kept worrying that he might have dementia because his mother had it too. I found that fascinating because dementia affects only a small percentage of people, compared to the whole. Yet he didn't look forward to a healthy life like the majority of people do, he focused on the unhealthy part. Sadly, what we focus on we usually get because our thoughts and behaviour gradually confirms it.
Even though my mother died from a diabetic stroke, and I am a diabetic too, not for one moment do I believe I will share her fate. I will probably just die in my sleep! Each one of us is on an individual journey, having our own unique destiny. When we automatically think we are going to be the same as someone else, we are actually denying our own fate and living the destiny of others. Yet, being unique beings, the possibilities and potential for us are limitless.
I think my ex said it best when he described my future. He said then: "I can see you at 90 years, with a toy boy on each arm, a wicked smile on your face and busily telling others how to live their lives!"
I wish a most splendid Happy Birthday, too, to all the folks who share my day! It sure feels good to have another year!
(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).
(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).