…but only if you want to be inspired. Here’s why.
I just got finished reading a story by one of my silver sisters, Jean Anne Feldeisen, about building a habit late in life. She writes pieces about the Seventy-Something woman, many of which I find thoughtful and insightful. This one in particular. She made several very key comments which were so telling they deserve to be teased out.
In writing about her desire to inculcate* a yoga habit, she made a few very revealing comments which, for my reading dollar, hit us where we all live at any age.
It is getting too late to rely on wishing, I need to take action.
and this in particular, for if you ain’t old yet, you will be, and this is so true:
I yearned for it, for someone to make me do it, for something to happen to force me into a regular practice.
Much of the rest of her piece is about what she did and how she did it, along with some advice about how to establish a new habit.
Why her? Why any of us? Why listen?
Far too many of us dismiss older people, most especially older women, because, kindly, what do they know.
Well, for one thing, they know damned good and well what happens when you put something off too long, and the costs involved. They also know what happens when you wait around for someone else to “make” you do X, whatever X is.
They know that short of a heart attack, a car accident or a pandemic in some cases, we will NOT take care of ourselves unless we see the need. And, kindly realize that not only is nobody else going to successfully “make” us do anything for ourselves, the fairy tales were lies and we really do have to save ourselves if any saving is ever to be done. We know that. We’ve lived it.
Perhaps what is even more essential is that Women of a Certain Age realize that time is indeed short. If you want to develop any kind of new healthy habit, if you want to create a new kind of life, if you want to see the world or even your own state, waiting for something to happen is a death sentence.
As in, sitting around like Rapunzel, waiting for a rescue.
By this point, women like Jean Anne, women and men who write for Crow’s Feet, have figured this out. Not without humor, which is one of the great gifts of late-in-life perspective, we haul ourselves forward, laugh it off, shrug it off, and by god start doing yoga before coffee.
Or whatever it is we’ve decided to do.
For me it was finally saying goodbye to Colorado, and getting my aging ass out of the state to where I really wanted to live, and dreamed of doing for a long time. And by god I’m here, finally, with all the challenges and costs and delights and issues that such a move demands late in life. Loving it. Every minute of pulling out the blasted blackberries, putting out bird seed and water, trying to figure out how to the hell to come up with the $25K to fix a huge railroad tie eyesore in my front yard. It’s hard work and I am loving every single minute of it.
I have met people who bought Australian cattle dogs because “this dog will make me get out and be more active.”
Six months later the dog is up for adoption.
People buy horses because it’s going to get them out riding.
Six months later the horse is for sale.
Exercise equipment, gym memberships. You get it. Nothing will make us, nobody is going to motivate us.
By the time you hit sixty and beyond, like Jean Anne, you have seen what you do. Noticed what you assumed. What didn’t work and why. You can shrug it off and go about finding out what you will do, because it really is just that important.
Because she, and her fellow silver sisters and brethren, are running out of runway, as one woman put in a while back.
A dear, dear friend of mine who is now homing in on eighty, a decorated professional speaker, world traveler, PhD, fluent in Russian and Chinese is busy as hell creating Air BnB properties and producing training videos. She has so many ideas she said that the biggest regret is that she may not have enough time to see them to fruition.
That is living.
I read, hang out with (on the phone for now, anyway) and attend what older folks say because, well, because. If you haven’t figured it out by now, when our society shuttles off the finest repository of life wisdom available into those death hovels called nursing homes, we ensure that some of the most salient observations about how to live well are stripped from us.
I never knew my grandparents; it was years before I realized that the tall, taciturn man I called grandfather on my mother’s side was one of the primary reasons the thriving city of Madison, Wisconsin ever came to be. I met him once, I was barely twelve, and I only remember that he had a long face.
What he had was a long, storied history which I’d have loved to know.
Jean Anne writes, after developing her new yoga habit before coffee:
And I notice how much more alert, organized, lucid and pain-free I feel as I sit down to enjoy my cup of coffee and begin some journaling.
This experience isn’t unique to those of us past sixty. It’s true for all of us, a story about choosing life, choosing self-care, and doing what it takes to make life better. Not just at seventy, at any age. Those who are doing this later in life have a lifetime of reference points which younger folks don’t yet have. You won’t either until you get to our age, if you’re fortunate.
But you can pick up some pretty good tips from wise women and men who have been there.
You don’t have to read Crow’s Feet. However, for my reading dollar, every so often I read a line that pierces through so much bullshit and makes such a good point that it was worth the read. Those lines aren’t pilfered from a book. They are lifted out of life, life lived and lost and won and all those things that give older people the kind of sight we wish so badly to have at twenty. Which is why we have articles like this:
25 Lessons from a 25-year-old
The importance of learning life lessons can not be understated. If you do not learn from the lessons that life is…
Given a choice, and you will forgive me, if I’m going to read about life lessons, all due respect to the very young author’s overheated enthusiasm-but-severe-lack-of-life-experience, I am going to lean into Crones. Not a putdown, but a gentle reminder that there’s a reason we spend time listening to our elders (don’t listen to me, you might hurt yourself). They always and forever have something to teach us. Because, well, they’ve lived it already. And to that, while it is a truth that we can learn from anyone at any age, when it comes to life lessons, for my part anyway, I prefer to turn to those whose lessons come from having lived it. But that’s just me.
*Inculcate, for the uninitiated, means to instill. I was inspired to use this because Johnny Silvercloud used it the other day in an article and I did a backflip. I LOVE words like this. Thanks to JS for the inspiration and the reminder to use my education already.