Frank and I were taking Lucy out on a walk around the neighborhood. I was on my bike and Frank was wrangling our sweet Pit bull rescue mutt. We were passing in front of the next-door neighbor’s house and we said hey. We saw our neighbor, as Frank calls him, Flanders, helping his wife down the driveway to the car. He was holding her by the arm and she was leaning her weight into him. They were moving slowly and looked up as we passed. Flanders hollered out to Frank, “I use to be cool like you. This is what 56 looks like.” My eyebrows shot up and I gave Frank a look.
After we were out of earshot, I turned to Frank to discuss. Wow, I said. That’s definitely not what my 56 is gonna look like. I’ve heard this line of reasoning a lot doing what I do. Whenever I go visit my mom in New York I’m likely to hear, “Don’t get old, honey.” What’s wrong with getting old? We age. That’s life.
How we choose to age and get older is up to us. We can take care of ourselves both inside and out. My neighbor’s comment was a limiting belief that so many people carry around. I’ve heard it from so many people over the age of 40. Once you reach a certain age, it’s all downhill. But, not so, it all depends on staying youthful, active and interested in life. I’ve seen a few loved ones slip into depression and lose interest in life after they became inactive and sedentary. If we stay curious about life and continue to learn and create we can maintain our youthfulness. A prime example that stands out is my mother-in-law and her husband. After retiring, they left New York and bought a place in their birthplace of Ecuador. They’ve both been active most of their lives and share common interests. They both love gardening and spending time outdoors. Daily walks by the river are one of their rituals. He continues to build things since by trade he was a contractor and carpenter. He will spend hours on building an intricate wooden ship down to the smallest detail. Both of them are upbeat and positive people that share a gratitude for life. They eat well and for the most part prepare most of their meals at home. They’ll share a beer with lunch or dinner. They live a peaceful life in the mountains and take frequent trips to their second home at the beach. They call themselves beach bums because they sunbathe and on their walks collect shells. At the beach, they can easily get freshly caught seafood for their dinner. Both share a common zest for life. They acknowledge that with age they’ve developed a few aches and pains here and there but nothing that keeps them from going. I’m fortunate to have great role models like these and many more. This is what I look to as how to age well. Aging well has to do with treating ourselves well, keeping our interests alive, doing what we love, staying active and healthy. I choose not to define myself by a number but by how I feel. I’m 40 btw and I feel amazing.