Monday, January 23, 2012

Old Dogs and New Tricks

Middle age is the period of age beyond young adulthood but before the onset of old age. Various attempts have been made to define this age, which is around the third quarter of the average life span of human beings. -Wikipedia

So I’m trying to figure out if I’m of middle age status. The average life expectancy worldwide is 67.2. If I go by this I fit into being in the third quarter of my life.

There are certainly days I feel every hour of 42. Every so often I can claim to feel like a young thirty-something. There are also days that I feel more like that last quarter of my life. Of course this is usually self-inflicted. It’s me trying to keep up with twenty/thirty something men in a Fit to Fight class because my ego won’t let me do otherwise. And I write this with a back against a heating pad for such a reason.

Then there are the interesting compliments that come with being over 40. One day after doing a Fit to Fight with a twenty-something and thirty-something couple of guys my age came to question. When I told the truth the response was “Wow, I only hope I’m in as good a shape when I’m that age.”

Uh-thanks I think? Okay-I get the compliment that I’m in very good shape but the second part translates to “damn that’s old and you can still actually work out?”

The other one was when a guy clearly younger than me was asking me questions about whether I was married or not. When I said I was divorced he perked up. He asked if I had kids. Yes. How old….

When he heard that Drew was 15 (at the time) his smile turned. Of course the next question, “How old are you?” The response to 41 was, “Awe, that’s too bad.” Like my world would have been rocked had I just been a decade younger-oh shoot.

So we have all of the sayings: You’re only as old as you feel; Young at heart; Oldie but goody; Older and wiser; Growing old gracefully, Growing old is better than the alternative. You get the idea. It may not be reasonable for us in the normal population to land, marry (and maybe divorce) an Ashton Kutcher but can we be happy in our own skin? Between hair dye (guilty), anti-wrinkle cream (also guilty), cosmetic surgery (not guilty) we are bombarded with the requirement of staying young. Just today the women in my self-defense class had a conversation about certain things being lifted. When I said maybe in 20 years it was pointed out that at 62 I shouldn’t care anymore. I agreed, but the more I think about it I hope in some way I always care a little. If we no longer care about our fitness or appearance we lose that self-respect or pride that keeps us conscious about who we want to continue to be. Not vanity, self respect.

So I find myself now looking at older women and reveling in their beauty; Julie Andrews, Vanessa Redgrave, Gena Rowlands, Betty White. All are beautiful, elegant, vibrant and often hysterically funny women who are fabulous examples of how age doesn’t define us. Men become distinguished and women get old. Let’s change that saying.

I suggest, ‘Men become distinguished and women become fabulous.’
Who wants to become fabulous with me?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Settle or Strive

Why do we wait until the beginning of a new year to make a change in our lives? The gyms are full, diets are started, we try to organize or begin that project we were putting off. Something about the changing of a calendar makes people want to take ownership of things they aren’t happy with or have procrastinated on. But as we all know, the majority of resolutions are left to die yet again within a few months, possibly to be revisited the following New Year.

I don’t make resolutions. I think because throughout the year I try to make decisions or adjustments as needed. I have my flaws that I’d like to change. I’d love to be more organized and whenever I try it lasts about three days. I’d like to be less frenetic in my schedule but to do that I’d have to completely change my lifestyle. I’d like to get my research paper done but damn if there aren’t so many other fun ways to spend time. None of these goals are going to happen if I make a resolution. They’ll only happen if I make it happen.

I guess this is something that I’ve really taken ownership of while getting my coaching certification. If something is really not working only I have the power to change it.

Through my coaching course I have to create a power tool. Without getting into too much detail it is basically looking at a situation in a yin-yang kind of way. My power tool is settling versus striving. I spent so much time in my life settling in a situation. Maybe a change felt too painful, too awkward or too daunting. Maybe I didn’t feel strong enough or in a place emotionally, mentally or possibly physically able to alter whatever was not working.

What I’ve learned is the most important part of any endeavor is having a support system. It could be a spouse, friends, a close family member or (I have to say it) a coach. If we have that person or people we know holding the parachute if we fall it gives us a bit more courage to strive for what we want. If we have no one supporting us, giving gentle motivation or encouragement, celebrating our wins and helping us through our losses, we can lose our momentum.  It’s hard to be our own cheerleader.

So maybe what we need instead of a diet or a treadmill that will become a laundry rack in a month is more positive relationships. Work out with your friends, cook healthy meals for each other and share your goals. Make time to get together with those people that give you the love and support that encourages you to create the life you want.

Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” 

You can settle or you can strive. 
Find the people in your life who will empower you and strive.