People who say they enjoy getting older are liars. Most of the burgeoning 40-and-higher-set don't see ourselves a day over 25, yet we have begun to creak when we get out of bed in the morning or spread like proofing bread when we bend over to pick up a penny. I'd give almost anything to look and feel like I did in my twenties and thirties.
One day I told my doctor that I'd been feeling fatigued lately. My energy was waning. I wanted to feel like I did when I was young and got out of bed like a cartoon character whose legs rotate wildly, hovering, before they hit the ground and take off. Something was wrong. I was sure of it. Was there anything I could change in my diet?
She nearly coughed up a lung she laughed so hard.
"Welcome to middle age," she spewed between howls of laughter and gasps of air.
That I was slowing down because of middle age never...even...occurred to me. I kept up with the teenagers that I taught, I had run the Peachtree Road Race several times, I still partied with my friends and sometimes I ate cereal for dinner. I felt more like a twenty-something than a forty-something.
It wasn't until my husband and I tried unsuccessfully to have children that I began to realize I was aging. Bette Davis had it right when she said, "getting older is not for sissies." I was a sissy and began to take stock of my life.
Long ago, I had envisioned myself as a successful writer, speaker and businesswoman who carries a briefcase home each night and not a high school teacher who carries her burden bag of papers to grade home each night. I had envisioned traveling the world, drinking wine with fabulously charming people by now. I saw myself as having learned lots of different skills and experienced jumping out of airplanes, seeing my book on the New York Times Best Seller list or swimming with dolphins by now. I had envisioned a family of four and a couple of pets, not a family of four--including our two cats.
I decided to make a bucket list. I went online to see what other people had written on their bucket lists. As I read through some of them, I realized that what other people had on their bucket list were things I had already done! I began to write them down. Five full pages later, I realized that the things I've experienced in my life are things that some people dream of doing.
For example, I've seen a falling star, I've attended a jam-packed rock concert, I've built my own pond, played basketball in the rain and seen a dinosaur bone. I've attended my high school reunions, snorkeled in Hawaii and been on a picnic. I've learned to flamenco dance, hopped on a pogo stick and won a writing award. I've ridden a motorcycle, a train and a horse and seen a ghost town. I've eaten vegetables out of my own garden, flown in an airplane, been on television, asked for a raise, love my job and made a difference in a child's life. And there is so much more that I plan to do.
It's a beautiful by-product of growing older, that the sum of our lives is a collection of all of our experiences. Every morning when I'm doing my makeup, I get a chance to look at my face close up. As I watch the wrinkles, the gray hairs, the dark circles, pores and askew eyebrow hairs become more visible, I think about how lucky I am. The longer I live, the more I experience. Maybe that's what those people are talking about when they say they enjoy getting older. I still take a little while to get out of bed, and I still have lots to do, but I can eat cereal for dinner if I want to.
Causes Lisa Heeren Supports
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary