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Age Is a Really Useless Number

Age Is a Really Useless Number

This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Barbara Morris’s online newsletter, Put Old on Hold.

Last month, Barbara proposed that we initiate the option of using “perceived age” where chronologic age is currently expected.  That way, people could say they were the age they felt instead of what a document prepared decades before professed to be the case.  Barbara and I agree on a lot of things.  This is not one of them.  It’s a waste of effort to try to find a better version of a really bad idea. 

We need to stop using age as a legitimate piece of information for all but official things like starting kindergarten, getting a driver’s license, and signing up for Medicare and Social Security (and those last two might become suspect eventually).

As a measure of a specific person’s potential, “age” is a pathetic loser.  Individuals vary widely on what they do when in the trajectory of their lives.  Some are late bloomers, suddenly catching fire on something they’re passionate about after being total flakes for five decades or more.  Some can play Mozart piano concertos flawlessly at age 3.  You can become a permanent couch potato at age 28 or run a marathon in your 90’s.  It depends on the person—NOT the number in the blank that says “age”—or its cousin “date of birth.”

We put an incredible amount of weight on age with how we use it now.  We decide people are “too old” to hire.  We decide that being a certain age means you personally…individually…are in a body that can’t do certain things, even if you are doing them every day.  We decide whether we want to get to know someone as a friend or romantic partner.  We decide what a person’s healthcare needs should be.  The date you were born does not have the correlation to life skills, competence, OR needs that we give it. It’s almost as useless as birth weight for assessing a specific individual’s potential.

Often, we are trying to determine one or more of the following:

  • Vitality
  • Thinking ability
  • Appetite for assorted things
  • Ability to do a job/contribute to society
  • Physical stamina
  • Attractiveness

We need to start working with these parameters themselves instead of using age as a universal key on who can do what.  AGE JUST CAN’T TELL US THAT.  I do more complex quilting projects now than 30 years ago.  I also do more complex computer work now. Even my practical jokes are getting more complicated.  I have friends who are the same way about physical strength (often because they now have the time to work on it).  Look at the person in terms of whether they can do, not his or her date of birth.

When we think in terms of “how old” someone else is, we deny much of what they truly ARE.  There’s nothing in that number that holds an accurate accounting of what that person is able to accomplish and how he/she lives life. 

It’s normal human behavior to take shortcuts in processing information.  If we can assume something instead of sorting through a lot of data points, we can make more decisions and take action faster.  The problem arises when what we assume doesn’t come anywhere close to reality.  Judging people by their age is definitely in that category.  It’s a lazy substitute for the legitimate information gained by actually watching that person DO what you are interested in having them do. 

Why “the News” Isn’t News Anymore

Why “the News” Isn’t News Anymore

Why has “the news” acquired a political flavor? When did describing what’s happening in the world become a war in and of itself? The problem has deep roots, and it’s likely they do not grow from competing ideologies. A big piece of the problem started from something that seems pretty plain vanilla and safe–the desire to sell stuff.

Remember when sports stadiums were named for the team? And when buses just looked like buses, not mobile billboards? There were ads on TV, but mostly before and after the show. Now the ads take more air time than the content. You only needed one hour, at most, to get the news and that quite likely included the farm report. “News” was curated locally and offered as a community service to those in that viewing area.

Now, “information” is global and available 24/7. There are a gazillion cable channels–all of which and more are available on your computer or phone as well as your TV. News is everywhere. And it is rarely happy news. It definitely isn’t balanced news. And often, it’s hard to tell the difference between a real thing and reflections.

From the beginning, television has been for profit. They provided programming that people liked and watched. That wasn’t to please their viewers. The way to media profits is ads. They wanted (and still want) to get more money for their ads by showing their advertisers that they had a lot of viewers. So this isn’t about us as viewers. It’s about keeping us looking at what they’re offering. We–as the TV audience–have been “eyeballs for hire” since the start.

When it was curated locally, TV stations gave the local viewing audience the information they needed. But when cable channels entered the picture, programming stopped being regional. News was recruited for the war for eyeballs, and each channel had to find a way to stand out.

There isn’t much room for that in factual reporting. So “the News” became part of the “entertainment” aspect of TV. Entertainment requires conflict. In a good story, something goes wrong and creates tension again and again. To approach the News this way, the sense of conflict is amped up. Recently, we’ve moved beyond even that to generating conflict by challenging the facts themselves–and proposing “alternate facts.”

Our President likes a fight. He likes to get other people fighting with each other. He’s an entertainer. He loves conflict. Others in the public view have jumped in to do the same. So there is plenty of conflict to be showcased. But is it what we need? Valid information that people can use to be informed is not part of this perview.

The media is drawn to these fights; they are “good entertainment” because of the conflict level. “News sources” replay inane, unfounded accusations again and again without any embarassment. As a nation, we are beleaguered day after day with people fighting–as “News.” Even though most of America is going about its business in peace and harmony, we are served up enough discord to believe that we are all at each other’s throats.

Add to that the “news personalities.” The pundits. The talk show hosts. Instead of just the actual conflicts that have occurred being shown a disproportionate amount of the time, the talking heads fan the flames, “interpret” so as to magnify them, and generally create an even higher sense of conflict.

It’s all about entertainment–and eyeballs. And that means it’s all about conflict. The entire world hasn’t broken out in a high school cafeteria brawl, but it seems like it. A significant source of our national stress is probably coming from all this fake fighting in the news.

A democracy encourages differences of opinion. But it also recognizes that the will of the people is in synthesizing them. No one wins if all we do is fight. Except in the eyeball war. Advertisers get to pitch their stuff. The media companies get to take the resulting revenue to the bank. We don’t even get paid to rent our eyeballs.

It’s time for a quiet rebellion on all this. We can take our eyeballs elsewhere. As consumers, we need to get wise to the distinction between entertainment and information and stop accepting the former as the latter. If you decide to watch “the news”, ask yourself “Do I need to know this?” with every article that’s dished up. With everything offered in a news feed, ask “Is this a fake fight? Who gains by frothing this up?”

When they are building angst, they don’t deserve our attention. Take your eyeballs and go home.

Modeling Wisdom

Modeling Wisdom

It’s time to step up. There are ways to improve the situation–ANY situation–instead of just enduring it when it’s become too ugly to endure. Those of us who have lived a significant number of years have been cowed into silence with the cultural assumption that we’re irrelevant. We seem to have accepted that we have no right to weigh on how our society presents itself to each other and the world. We need to ditch that rancid baloney and stand up. We were quite able to be civil in the past. We still know how and can lead the way–by offering ourselves as good examples of good people. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it “The years teach much which the days never knew.”

We’ve been places. We’ve done things. We’ve solved a lot of problems. We know a lot more than we realize. And what we know can make a big difference in how well things go in this world–your personal one, the one that revolves around family and friends, and the big one. It’s starts with the courage to project your wisdom. To be visible to the world in living with kindness, tolerance, and the emotional acuity to see that arm flapping is usually not about the important things.

You may be shaking your head and muttering “She’s not talking about me.” Don’t be so sure. Each of us can live our own lives well and be an example. Each of us can say “I’m not going to argue”–and mean it. Each of us can be kind regardless of what’s going on around us. Each of us can be a beacon for civility.

Modeling wisdom does not come from sentences that start with “When I was your age….” or “Back in the day….”. In fact, it doesn’t start with words at all most of the time. We need to use our wisdom. To put it on display in how we live our own lives. To showcase it in getting the things we are involved in accomplished. By being strong when giving up would be a lot easier. By being patient when things are going off the rails and you want to scream. By being tolerant of rough edges and underdeveloped thinking. By offering a hand in friendship when you aren’t sure you should.

When you do use words, it’s not about “I know better than you.” Sometimes it will be a story of how NOT to do something, based on your own mistake. Some of those words will be things you’re surprised to hear yourself say. Some of it you are just waiting for the chance to share. And waiting and waiting and waiting. That’s when showing is far more effective than telling. If even one younger person sees how to do something better because of how you behaved, you have given the world a gift.

You can watch every relevant TED talk and participate in online forums day and night, but watching something handled well right there in front of you is a whole different learning experience. It’s far more potent. We can be the opportunities younger people need to learn civility. To learn how to solve a problem well. To learn how to evaluate information We knew how to do this before; we can show others now.

This isn’t a matter of telling others how to do things. This is a matter of SHOWING others how to do things with grace and ease. We need to LIVE as wise ones. Pass it on.

Dead-end Friendships

Dead-end Friendships

As we get older, we get wiser–at least that’s the assumption. So it makes perfect sense that as we get older, we stop trying to keep friendships that don’t work all that well going. Sometimes it’s easy because you interests change, and you just don’t see each other. But sometimes, you have to step up and decide. When you know it’s not working for you anymore, you waste precious time and energy continuing with it. And even if the other person is benefitting, it’s not a friendship if you both aren’t working at being friends.

Victoria Kubiaki on Unsplash

So what are the clues that tell you when to say “Enough!” (or to just mutter it under your breath and stop trying)?

  1. How do you feel after you’ve spent time with this person? Are you energized? Or do you need a nap–or a hot fudge sundae–to overcome what you just went through?
  2. What did you talk about when you were together? Is that something you are interested in? Did you feel like an equal in the conversation?
  3. Was it “all about me” for the other person? Were you listening to his/her problems, conquests, projects, and/or glory for most of the time together? How much interest did he/she show in what was going on in your life when you tried to talk about it? (If you are choosing not to talk about yourself, that’s a different issue.)
  4. What are you getting out of being friends with this person? Does he/she provide something you need? Or are you just going along for the sake of avoiding conflict?

We need friends. But they have to be real to meet that need. Is that what you have going?

The reasons we make friends vary all over the map. And having friends does require tolerance and acceptance of the fact that we are all different. But different and balanced are two very different things. If you don’t feel good about having spent time with that person after you do, dig down to find out why. Is the friendship going both ways?

Is she/he helping you become a better person? Sometimes, the dis-ease you feel is because the person reminds you of what you want to be but aren’t working on. In that case, much as there’s a bad feeling after you part, there’s also an “I want to do better” echoing in your head.. That’s a true friend.

On the other hand, if you come home feeling invisible, it may be because the person you were with didn’t really put effort into seeing you. No one needs that. Spending time with that kind of person is a waste of timne. Don’t go there!

What’s in a good friendship?

  • People you enjoy being around. Life’s too short to hang around with Grumpy Gus, Negative Nellie, or All-About-Me Al.
  • No worries about “what people will think.” In the first place, nobody cares who you hang out with except you (unless you are 12–then your parents care and they are right to do that). Age, skin color, social background, etc. make no difference in whether you can be friends.
  • Diversity–but not as a way to be politically correct. A wide range of friends is part of living a big life. That casts a wider net for new experience and knowledge. Be friends with kids, with the very elderly, with CEO’s, with janitors. Be open to friendship whenever you meet someone new.
  • FUN! That’s the bottom line. If a person is fun to be with, he or she is good friend material. Authentic playmates aren’t always about fun. They are the ones who will be with you in thick and thin.

Dead-end friends are not fun. And they are not good for you. It’s okay to let them go (even if they insist you are a selfish, mean, intolerant person because you are no longer their captive audience and/or slave).

Testing Assumptions

Testing Assumptions

It’s way too easy to assume you know what’s going on. And then to take action based on that “knowledge.” Quite often, what we think to be true isn’t the case. Maybe it’s a small thing, like assuming your friend is coming for dinner when they don’t know anything about it. Sometimes it’s a big thing, like assuming someone else is picking up a major client (or grandma) at the airport. Or assuming that you can trust a financial advisor because they have a sophisticated online presence.

In the current political environment, this tactical shortcoming has reached fever pitch. But just pointing a finger at “those people” who are assuming something about you that isn’t true, doesn’t get you what you could have in working with this idea. It’s far more useful to look at how you’re doing it yourself. Then you can benefit from correcting it in everything you do, all day, every day.

“Testing assumptions” is not all that sophisticated. It is mostly a case of asking yourself “How do I know this is true?” whenever you’re using a piece of information to act/make a decision.

What is it that makes you think this is the right thing to do? Why is THAT true? What are the assumptions that provide the base for that underlying assumption? Why is THAT true?

Most likely, you assumed that I screwed up–that the above photo is upside down. The main element is a mountain shape. Mountain tops go UP.

It IS the shape of a mountain–Mount Rainier to be exact. If you’re assuming the photo was taken in Mount Rainier National Park, my favorite playground, you would be correct. But it’s actually the picture of a LAKE. Reflection Lake–with Mount Rainier reflected in it.

Once you look carefully at the photo, there are clues. The reeds don’t make sense as a photo of a mountain. The focus is weird. But you have to LOOK to notice these things. It’s just a fun exercise when you’re looking at this photo. How you make sure what you’re assuming is true as you live your life is far more important. And we want to believe that as we get older we get better at “knowing.” But that’s not always the case.

Don’t assume it’s true. No matter what “it” is. If it’s the basis of a decision check it out. How do you know it’s true?

“Well aged” or “old”?

“Well aged” or “old”?

photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

We live in a culture that lionizes youth. The logic of that is simply not there. What does “looking young” have to do with anything important?

A big reason for our continued obsession with this silliness has nothing to do with beautiful people. It’s easier to sell to young people–for whom fitting in is highly valued. Getting what everyone else is getting, wearing what everyone else is wearing is important.

It is a whole lot easier to sell stuff if everyone wants the same thing. So we have an entire advertising industry and the retailers it serves furthering this perception that “Looking young is essential.”

But looking young is nothing. It doesn’t get you a good job–because you don’t have experience. It doesn’t find you the perfect mate–because you don’t yet understand what you really need. It doesn’t even guarantee you freedom from bad hair days.

As we age, we become more unique. This is not a bad thing. But it’s inconvenient for commerce. Instead of convincing the masses they all want that one special thing you are selling, a seller has to figure out what each person wants and offer that. It’s a lot easier to accomodate individual differences with online retailing. So no surprise that as a culture, we’ve been moving in that direction. But the big emphasis on youth remains the driver in advertising and fashion articles.

Which brings us back to “aging well” versus “getting old.” The value of a life increases as it proceeds. You know more. You have more experience with how to handle problems. You’ve been through tough times that make you more resilient. At least if you are aging well. If you are just trudging along, resigned to the idea of getting old and not putting effort into becoming ever more of yourself, none of that may be true.

This is a choice. We all make it, either intentionally or by default. It’s the height of folly to think we can be something other than human–that we can remain young by buying the right creams, getting the right procedures done, taking the right supplements, and wearing the right clothes. No one is going to stay young! (This in itself should be a strong argument for not relegating “older adults” to some unacceptable, invisible trash pile. We are all going there–if we are lucky enough to live that long.)

How you age is your call. Are you going to make yourself a masterpiece with what you learn and the refinements you make to who you are? Or are you going to go into the dumpster of “old” with both arms full of potions and lotions, receipts for spa treatments and youth hormones falling from your pockets, and a crotchety curse on your lips?

Becoming well aged is just that–becoming. That means you are still growing. And that is how to stay young.

Greetings from Lazarus…

Greetings from Lazarus…

photo by Peter Pryharski, unsplash.com

About six years ago, I went from a cocky, exuberant, in-your-face active “senior she-jock” to a physical basket case. Every day became a struggle just to get the simple things like laundry done. I took naps morning, noon, and sometimes in the evening, and still fell into bed exhausted. I woke myself up moaning in pain.

My healthcare team were involved but pretty much useless. All the tests came back normal. “You’re doing really well for someone your age” may have been well intended, but it stung like hell. What seemed so acceptable to them as my new lifestyle was lightyears away from what I had been doing recently. And enjoying immensely. Most of them never grasped that.

Instead, they were firm in trying to make me believe all that was over. “You are just going to have to do less”….”Get used to being less active”….”This is the way your body needs you to live now”…etc. Given as professional advice. Stunningly clueless. And nowhere close to what I needed.

Eventually, the right resources came into the picture. I am grateful for them. But I am also proud of my own dogged persistence in not accepting all the wrong things I was told along the way and continuing to search for the real answers instead.

It’s tempting to go through a litany of the things they decided I had that were not the case, to give you a long list of the tests we did and describe the heavy emptiness that came from not knowing what to do next when each “maybe” came back normal and ended in silence from the doctor who’d ordered it. It was hell, and I won’t pretend it wasn’t. But it was my hell and one I had to walk through it to learn what it was time to learn. My job, so I could get past it, was to get honest about who I am, what’s really important to me, and what it is I’m here to do. That took six long years. It was worth every second of it.

This website and my commitment to living the last third of life on fire and growing went dormant while I did that work. There was a TON of doubt that I would ever again have enough of a life to be able to enjoy living it, much less have anything to offer for others to use in living theirs well.

I don’t need to go into the details of this quest–at least not right now. But I do need to point to what’s different about Mining Silver as of today.

Today we launch a completely revised version of the website, which has been around since 2008. When I started, I was in lock-step with the marketing and online gurus, focused on “what I had to sell”–my books and availability to speak, do seminars, etc. Now the emphasis is on providing information and insights to spark conversation, either by comments posted here or in real life after you read something here.

This is not about making money for me. This isn’t even about creating a following. I want to do what I can to raise awareness about what’s possible, reasonable, and worth pursuing in the last third of a life. That will be a work in progress until I take my last breath and a collaborative effort with anyone willing to be involved. As of this moment, there are new pages (the permanent information that stays in the same place on the site) plus ten years of blog posts about living this stage of life well (a list that gets longer every time I add something new). The site is content rich. That’s ALL it is–content…ideas, information, observations–you get the drift. Please explore. (And comment!)

Getting into Volunteering

Getting into Volunteering

A lot of us enter retirement with a strong desire to give back.  A lot fewer of us have already established how we are going to do that.  The difference in what happens with those two different starting points can be dramatic.  Why?  Because finding a way to “give back” when you are approaching existing organizations who don’t know you is every bit as daunting as finding a new job.

You have to prove yourself.  That comes over time.

That means you will have to make peace with the reality that those who were there before you will have more say in how and what gets done–even if you are an expert with 35 years experience in what the group is trying to accomplish.

You will have to accept that politics can exist and be every bit as lethal in the volunteer setting as in business, academia, education, or whatever arena you just stepped out of.  

And you have to accept that you are a beginner in everyone else’s eyes because they don’t know you (yet). If you’re already smarting from losing the sense of competence the job gave you, that can be a more brutal beating than you’re ready for.

Do it anyway. 

But be ready to be “the new kid” in terms of what you get to do and how you are perceived.  (And be ready to do your happy dance if being seen as “the rookie” when you aren’t turns out not to be the case.)

Find a volunteer gig that relates to something you’re deeply interested in rather than just jumping into what a friend is already doing.  With paid work, you show up anyway if what you’re doing isn’t that interesting.  With volunteering, “ya gotta wanna” to keep at it long enough to achieve the momentum of enjoying being part of the group.  If you quit a lot of things right after you start because they aren’t interesting, you lose interest in volunteering altogether–an unfortunate overreaction.

Pay attention to the tone of the organization.  Do they appreciate volunteer help?  Are they upbeat with their mission?  Do they treat both those being helped and those doing the helping with respect?  Are they well organized?  Are they using resources wisely?

When you volunteer, you really do get paid–but in emotional benefits.  Being part of a group effort for the greater good can foster a sense of belonging, create the opportunity for new friendships, and make you remember how lucky you are yourself.  But you need to choose the organization wisely to get those things.  “Whatever comes along” might leave you way short of that.

Or, as a good friend used to say “I’ll work for nothing but not any less.”

Online Dating Scam — Field Notes

Online Dating Scam — Field Notes

Okay, this has happened twice. Time to say something. I don’t know if it happens to guys (probably), but here’s what it looked like for an older, heterosexual woman:

OMG. Dreams DO come true! This amazing guy contacts you. He’s beyond your wildest dreams…handsome, cosmopolitan–and European, experienced with the world in ways you aren’t, fun, and very very interested in getting to know you. He’s protective before he’s even met you, worrying that you might be working too hard or that you were at risk with some minor bold thing you mentioned doing.

He gushes about how wonderful you are–ordinary you!–and goes on and on about your beauty (heady balm coming from a guy 7 years younger than you). At his most polished, he transports you to a romantic world that leaves you breathless with delight. He gets me!

When executed by someone less practiced, it comes across a bit more like clunky job interview–lot’s of questions in quick sequence without much chance to reply. But you see that as his earnestness about wanting to know more and still buy in. And you give him the benefit of the doubt with the way he phrases things because “he wasn’t born here”.

He hits all the right notes: He wants a deep, loving, trusting relationship. He wants to make you his queen. He wants to give you the finest things in life–and has the money to do that. He wants to travel all over the world with YOU.

But…. he’s busy with important things. So he can’t meet. He wants your phone number and email so you can “go faster” than with the messaging the dating app provides. He promises you will meet “soon”….when his work situation calms down….when he’s had time to tie up this important deal….when he has this big professional event he’s working on planned.

Before “soon” arrives, there’s an emergency, perhaps due to what he’s attempting with his exotic business. Before “soon”, you will have developed enough of an appetite for his attention that you’re tempted to give him that money. Very tempted, even if you’ve been 60% sure it’s a scam from the very beginning.

This romance is not something online dating can do for you. Online dating is just a way to MEET people you want to date. You have to take it from there to build a relationship. If your dream guy is suddenly there and acting like you two are in fully committed relationship as just an online dating profile, you’re not looking at the real thing.

You have to meet before you know if it’s going to go anywhere. When you get wound up in a 100% online romance, you’ve taken a detour into Fantasyland. IT IS NOT REAL. And don’t think that because he has a business website and/or a LinkedIn profile it confirms what he told that he’s legitimate. ALL of it can be faked.

Don’t blow off discrepancies. First he spouts Bible verses like a devout fundamentalist Christian, then he says he’s a lapsed Catholic who hasn’t been to church since his wife died five years ago. His profile says he’s 6’3 but when you ask him, he says he’s 5’10. He sends you a photo (of someone else) and says he’s making coffee in his office when the kitchen pantry is open right behind him. We all want to give people the benefit of the doubt with little mistakes. But if they keep happening, pay attention. If the person running the scam is part of a big operation, they’re going to have trouble keeping the details straight. If they’re operating in a foreign country, the difference between what we call an “office” and a “kitchen” might not be apparent.

Be wary of a guy whose use of English is off. I’ve communicated online with an “Italian” and a “German” who both turned out to be fake. Neither was good with English, particularly grammar and syntax. I tolerated this, because “he wasn’t born here.” But looking back, that wasn’t justified. Both had mentioned that their last 30 or more years had been spent in English speaking countries and that they ran successful businesses there. You have to speak good English to do that. I’ve also met real online dates, one who left Hungary at age 13 and one who arrived from Kenya about 10 years ago,. Both spoke perfect English. This is not about “spurning immigrants”.  It’s about paying attention to whether his backstory and his performance match.

Be sure he’s still on the dating site. If you suddenly can’t find his profile when you go to remind yourself of something in it, get suspicious. He might have taken it down so you can’t check details or the dating site may have recognized it wasn’t a legitimate profile. If his (her) profile disappears, back away! Also be wary if he wants to jump to texting or email right away instead of using the messaging site for your initial interaction. Messaging on the site it safer.

Don’t buy excuses for not meeting in person. He may claim he wants to wait so that meeting to be special (and then wax eloquent about how he will treat you when the time comes). He may say he’s swamped with work and just doesn’t have time right now. He may claim he’s stuck in a foreign country. (This one is a great set-up for the pitch–“I need money to get home because….” .) When you push him to meet, he (she) will accuse you of not trusting him as a deep relationship demands–to make you think you are wrong. Real date material wants to meet you. Neither of you have anything to gain by doing the pen pal routine any longer than it takes to decide if you are interested in meeting each other.

The first time this happened to me, I was too curious to walk away quickly. I sensed it was very likely a scam, but I wanted to know how it worked. Was it a group doing it or just one sociopathic romeo? Does a scammer request photos from his marks (which both did) so he can use them to create personas for new cons? Was a woman or man the mastermind? (I’m guessing women write the scripts. They are uncanny in saying what women deeply want to hear.) Was it a foreign operation or a homegrown version of despicable?

When it happened again a few days ago, I only had one question: Am I being romanced to finance a Russian troll farm? Are some “troll farmers” spending their entire shifts cooing sweet nothings in the electronic ears of well-heeled older Americans looking for love online and vulnerable in their generosity. (Yeah….repulsive.)

I don’t have answers to any of these questions, and it’s wiser to leave it at that. The more important thing is sound the alarm so you don’t get caught up in it in the first place.

If the situation is a full blown romance before you’ve even met–and the other person keeps postponing meeting, shut it down and move on. The longer you let it go on, the more tempted you’ll be to give him (her) that money when the inevitable pitch comes. JUST STOP!

Do YOU celebrate?

Do YOU celebrate?

Night before last, I went to a funny, holiday-themed play at a community theater with a group of friends.  On the way home, I learned that two of the women with us were turning 80 within a few days of each other at the end/beginning of the year.  They are both vibrant, engaged, and living real lives.  I had to admit I was surprised.  (We have the stereotypes on this so wrong as a society!)

What was more interesting though was how they were seeing the milestone.  The difference between the two of them could not have been more dramatic.  One was going to San Diego (from the Seattle area) for two weeks of assorted celebrating.  She was excited about the coming decade and ready for it to be her “best decade” just as her grandmother had admitted of her 70’s a generation before.

The other was dreading it.

They are both virtually the same age.  Are they going to have the same quality of life?

The “dreader” saw the need to redirect herself as we finished the ride, which is the great news in this.  But what about the ones who don’t get the innoculation of someone else’s happier approach?

You’re gonna turn 80 either way (at least if you are lucky enough to get that far).  Seeing the pluses is a whole lot more fun.  And ignoring the ridiculously inaccurate set of expectations we are bombarded with from the culture is critical.

I always make a big deal over the “zero” birthdays.  It’s my excuse to do something particularly grand and/or self-loving when they are mine.  I also love to mark 75 for women friends.  Party, fresh flower crown, BIG deal fun.

But celebrating doesn’t have to be reserved for certain birthdays.   There are unique milestones that also warrant some festivity.  (At the moment, I am looking forward to the last day of my online dating subscription….)

What does celebrating accomplish?  At its very core, a celebration says “There are things going on in  my life.  I have completed something important.  And I am happy about that.”

It also says “Life is good!”

But the most important thing it says is “I am not done yet!”  Oh yeah.  I will celebrate that again and again and again.