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How Will You Choose to Face Aging?

Aging with Sadness or GladnessAging has been quite different than I expected. I thought by this age that I would have it all together; be completely secure and confident with myself and my life. Suddenly one day I realized I was 60 years old and I didn’t have it all together. I didn’t feel confident with myself or my life. What happened, where did I go wrong? How could I have lived all these years and not have achieved this by now?   And if I haven’t by now, will I ever?

Quite frankly, there have been many days I have felt like a completely insecure, sad mess! Much more so now, than when I was younger. In fact I never had these feelings when I was younger. When my children were home, I dreamed of the day when it would just be my husband and I. When we would be able to take off at a moment’s notice, travel or whatever struck our fancy. I really thought that I would never experience “empty nest syndrome”. So have I experienced it now? I don’t know, but it’s not much fun.

My children are all grown and busy with their lives and families. And yes, they still love me but they don’t need me in the same way, but that’s a good thing, isnt’t it? After all, wasn’t that one of my goals in raising them? To be independent adults, standing on their own two feet, working and contributing to society, raising their families.

I felt lonely and began wondering about what I would do with the rest of my days to feel fulfilled. I have always been the type of person to “pick myself up by the boot straps”, so to speak, and to just determine to move forward and make things better. So that is what I find myself doing when these feelings strike. I feel that for all of us, getting control of our thoughts is a large portion of the battles we fight. I determined in my heart to not allow myself to continue to wallow in my emotional pain. So, now if the negative thoughts and emotions start, I get up and keep moving, reminding myself how blessed I am! Do I have times that it is more difficult than others and times that I fail? Yes, but it can be done. It is a daily walk.

In my past work, I saw so many people living in such sad circumstances. When you see those individuals you feel ashamed for feeling sorry for yourself when you have your health, and even though you may not have all of your wants, you do have your needs. Sometimes that line gets very blurred in our own minds. To be healthy mentally and physically, to be able to walk and talk, are so often things that we take for granted, but they are truly blessings. So when I experience one of those days when I feel like an emotional, sad mess I think about the situations I have seen others living in and it helps me to snap myself out of it.

There is a fantastic book by Victor Frankl titled “Man’s Search for Meaning”. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. Mr. Frankl was a psychiatrist held prisoner in a number of concentration camps during World War II. And as terrible and horrific as his circumstances were he made some very meaningful observations and statements about man’s ability to endure, such as “….everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”. If he is stating, and he is, that even in the prisoners horrific circumstances, a few of them were able to choose their own attitude, then I definitely should be able to do it in mine!

So as I get up today I will keep reminding myself that I am truly blessed. If I am having a hard time believing it, I will say it out loud, over and over if need be! Something else that I have found that helps me is to sit down in a quiet moment, maybe outside soaking up warm sunshine, and to say to myself “I am having a moment”. A completely peaceful, beautiful moment. After all, isn’t that what life is made up of? Not the few big events that come and go so quickly, but of many small precious moments? So I encourage you to reflect on some of the blessings in your life today and give yourself some special moments to remember!

 

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