It’s my Birthday this week.
And I am firmly of the belief that it is far better to have a birthday than not – Right?
Which is why I have never understood why some people, unfortunately, it seems this happens more with women than men, speak only in whispers about their age. Try to evade it when questioned. Or say coyly – I’m 55 plus – or of a “certain age” – or 60-something.
Why would you want to hide your easiest achievement, something you accomplished just by showing up year after year?
So say it loud, say it proud, I am soon to be 63.
And judging by how my 62nd year has been, I expect 63 will have even more of the perks that getting older has to offer.
Perks you say? Perks?? You may wonder if I’ve lost it. Tell me, Nancy, just where are the perks in the as-we-age bodily aches and pains? Do you find benefits in the illness of friends or family? Is there an upside that only you have discovered to death and grieving?
No, of course, not, I’m right there with all of you who experience the many woes that accompany the aging process. I don’t mean to minimize them at all.
But in the past year, I have found, rather surprisingly, for I am definitely not at all a Pollyanna-sort-of-person, that there are some wonderful aspects about getting on in years. Unexpected Perks! – that balance out the less fun parts.
I count at least 10 Perks– Here’s my List:
1. The older I get,the less I care what others think of me. Very liberating.
2. If I start a book, I no longer have to finish it. If it doesn’t wow me, I can put it down and move on to the next good read. No guilt.
3. I’ve given up bristling when someone calls me “ma’am.”
4. Resentments? Old hurts? Not so much. It uses up less energy to leave slights in the past.
5. I’m just as opinionated as ever, but I am trying hard to mute my critic voice. If a friend happens to think that wearing a certain tight blue dress that shows her every figure flaw is an appropriate look, then fine for her. My lips are zipped.
6. I still care about my appearance. I do slather on skin cream every night that promises to “rejuvenate, renew and restore” even though I know it won’t. But I have made a few concessions. I am no longer a prisoner to my blow dryer. And recently I tried a radical experiment and actually left the house to do an errand without wearing any mascara!! And life went on.
7. I know that not everyone I meet will like me -or “get me” – and that even if they do, they will probably like my husband more. Fine.
8. I don’t expect my adult kids to live their lives in ways that will make me happy. I did my best as a parent, they’ve now grown and flown (mostly) and their jobs are to find their own paths, not to follow mine.
9. I still worry a great deal – mostly about things I cannot control (like my family’s health; curious, because I rarely worry about mine) – but I try to worry about only one thing at a time. This is progress for me.
10. I’ve started to say “I love you” more frequently. I’ve always said it to my husband, kids and family. But as I get older I realize that I love lots of other people to whom I am not related. It’s good to love your friends, too, and to tell them so. Aging has made me more affectionate. Who knew?
Back to #1 for a second – while it is true that the older I get, the less I care about what others think of me – the reverse has also occurred. The more candles on the cake, the more I care about what I think about me.
As my standards for others relax, my self standards ratchet up. I expect more of me than I ever did. I’m in charge, I set the rules of how I live my life from now on. And I’m pretty demanding!
Turning 63 = Liberating, Terrifying, Exhilarating. Carpe Diem!