Can you remember when you first realized that you could see a long life ahead of you? Did you greet that with trepidation or joy? Have you experienced situations in your life that let you practice how it would be to be old?
In the class, How to Become an Extraordinary Elder, held at Colorado Free University (303-399-0093) in Denver on May 14, 2016 and June 19, 2016, we will begin with the emotional impact of living to elder status. It is so much easier to deal with the headlines of financial planning and downsizing and end of life, but how you approach all of those issues begins with your emotional health. Emotional health, which can be tied to physical health, is individual and based on DNA, learned coping skills, the amount of support you enjoy and knowledge and suppositions you can make about your future.
If you have been a member of the sandwich generation (in the middle of your parents and children and grandchildren) you are knee-deep in emotional issues. The questions you are asking almost everyday are focused on how to spread yourself and energy like the mayo or catsup on the bun. But, the good news is, you are learning about aging; with its care centers, paperwork hades, burial plans and cremation, wills and trusts and the grief and loss we all feel though adversity.
When you become a middle age (or older) orphan the vast majority of people feel some type of loss. Even if it is the loss of routine, or expectations or a let down from the chaos you may have experienced for a number of years, it will need to be dealt with, understood and turned into acceptance for you to move on. You are smacked in the face that you are old and next in the line of people going into the pasture.
This is the very moment you can choose to become an extraordinary elder. That big word RESILIENCE can help you do more than survive the Old and Older and Oldest part of your longevity. Finding support, productive ways to spend time, physical practices to keep you invigorated and a sense of adventure are critical at this point to avoid wasting time in the wastelands of POOR, POOR PITIFUL ME. Be conscious about your decisions and move forward with a raised head, accepting the life you have and yet finding your Better Way.
Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows
Because Optimism Counts
Every morning in the state of beginning awareness that could just as easily slip back into sleep, the question at the front of my brain is “How will you spend your energy today?”
Understanding energy as a force in life has helped me learn to pay attention to the ways life is playing out. Are the daily goals of taking care of myself being met? Would the health department shut me down because of the stacks of paper on my desk? At what stage are the extra ordinary goals ? Are they stuck? What is the best use of my day?
Twenty years ago the answer to my morning question was usually esoteric. “Create order out of chaos for yourself and other”, which was to remind my monkey mind it was not going to stay on the playground all day. Living in a state of chaos is an energy drain and living with clutter in the mind or on the desk is a habit that can be changed. Dividing my day into time or task increments is a way to help me focus and pay attention and plan my energy needs. As I age and deal with chronic pain, decisions about moving chaos out of my life makes my life easier and more fulfilling.
If you are an elder struggling with “stuff” in your mind or in your environment, we can ask a set of questions to set you on a different path. What creates chaos for you? What creates a calm space? Is there a place you feel rejuvenated? So you feel overwhelmed by possessions or people? Do you have a place where you feel of accepted by others?
How are you taking time to bring laughter and joy and the beauty of nature into your life? These are all choices about how you are going to live the remainder of your life. If you do not have the skills necessary to reduce physical or mind clutter and feel constantly frustrated, you are not too old to learn. Being mindful and paying attention to how you spend your time can become the better habit.
There are thousands of books and classes on the subject and one of my favorite oldie but goodie is If the Buddha got Stuck by Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D. It is all worthwhile reading, but Chapter 14-23. was written with me in mind I am sure! If living in the present is the goal, clearing out the past and accepting the future as it comes in a necessary skill for us old, older and oldest folks.
**** No one has every accused me of being neat and tidy. The reason the wall got dusted is to help in the struggle against spring allergies. My swifter and I made quick work of my bedroom.