Half a century, five decades, fifty years…and life, by now, has most certainly left its imprints on me. Do I exude grace or resentment? Probably a little bit of both. What I do know is this process we call “life”, with its finely woven blend of struggle and ease, has brought me to a place of inscrutable strength and also bewildering fragility. Yeah it is hard to explain when they seem so diametrically opposite. But think of it like a butterfly…. It’s the strongest cocoon when it encloses and shelters a new life within, yet fragile enough to break when life within is ready to emerge.
So in my 50th year I learned a few things that helped bring a lot more clarity and focus into my own life. What I learned about me and the world at large amazed me. So a week shy of my 51st birthday, here’s five lessons I have learned, lessons that have changed me for life:
A healthy lifestyle, not only makes me feel better and brings energy, but also brings more clarity of thinking.
I wasn’t a yo-yo dieter by any means, but weight management through a better lifestyle always was. My migraines in the past few years have bothered me no end and I’ve tried a combination of low carb eating regimes and eliminated various foods in an attempt to calm my troubled existence. However, it wasn’t until I turned 50 that I found out that it is a combination of healthy eating, sleep habits, regular exercise (without going overboard) and adding supplements to daily diet that actually improves a person’s overall well-being through mind-body balance. I still get the occasional headache (and that I suppose comes with the territory of being a middle aged woman) but they are less often and much less intense! Some of you must be thinking… what the hell??? As if we haven’t heard this before. Yes we have (as I had) but we do little to change our lot. “Having a migraine” is rather trendy. Downing meds is commonplace. “Carrying off “excess weight with élan is a compliment! It’s time to change that! A lazy lifestyle is the reason we have so much time to think about unnecessary things. Skipping meals to look “thin” is the reason we are fat! Stop thinking “Weight Loss” start thinking “Healthy”! Just think about it if, you are what you eat then to be awesome you must eat awesome! Eat well, sleep well, stay awesome!
Learning and Growing is a Daily Practice
Man is a learning creature and the lifelong practice of learning is what makes us humans and our lives worthwhile. Most of us have one or two areas of knowledge that we strive to know very well — things related to our jobs, of course, and maybe a hobby or two. But while it’s important to develop a deep understanding of the things that matter most to us, it is just as important to develop a broad understanding of the world in general. Don’t just dismiss all the things there are to learn and know that don’t impact your life immediately as “trivia”. Learning
- across a wide range of subjects gives us a range of perspectives to call on in our own narrow day-to-day areas of specialization.
- helps us more easily and readily adapt to new situations.
- a broad knowledge of unfamiliar situations feeds innovation by inspiring us to think creatively and providing examples to follow.
- deepens our character and makes us more inspiring to those around us in turn giving us more confidence.
- And, like I said, there’s the whole “making like worth living” thing.
With the entire world of knowledge just a few mouse-clicks away, it has never been easier than it is right now to learn something new and unexpected every day. For instance, subscribe to RSS feed to Wikipedia’s “Featured Article” list. Free Dictionary. Motivational thoughts. Tell me why. Daily Art! There’s so much out there to learn. So go ahead you won’t be sorry! There is, after all, a reason the term “well-read” is a compliment.
Life is a series of ups and downs and you just have to go with it and be in the moment.
Now, I remember how I felt when my Perima used to say, “Live the moment. Don’t worry too much about the future”. My reaction used to almost always be, “Easy for you to say! What would you know? Live my life and then we’ll see”. I was wrong. After a certain age, you don’t need to live someone else’s life to know how to help them fix their life. My life felt like a scary roller coaster ride, reaching wonderful dizzying heights and then falling to awful lows. In the lows, I’d wonder why I couldn’t stay at those heights and feel like I’d never get back ‘up’ again. Sometimes during the highs I’d be worried about when it would all end and the lows would come. Well if you are like me, know that you are not alone! It happens to most of us… if not all! Remember by doing this you can never fully enjoy a high and never appreciate the high when you are at a low… I’m not sure I make sense here J. Just go with the flow… be present and enjoy the heights to the full and live through the lows as best you can, knowing that it’s just part of life. Each is a cycle and will pass… nothing lasts forever not the ebbs and not the flow!
Spend some time in solitude every day.
Our world is just too noisy now. Between people, gadgets, the never-ending cacophony of social media and 24-hour news, the quest for quiet in our existence can seem more difficult than solving the national debt crisis. And while I always recognized my need for other disciplines, like study or work, I found it difficult to acknowledge my need for silence or solitude. I felt selfish and dismissed it. “Time for that will come in other seasons of life, but not now” was what I told myself. I see the fallacy of that now. I have been practicing solitude/silence/meditation (doesn’t matter what you call it) for over a year now. And I do believe that it is the best thing I have done for myself. It forces me to stop! Coming to a sudden halt even for just ten minutes was Herculean for a person like me. Do nothing. Don’t try to make anything happen. Just stop doing. Stop producing. Stop pleasing people. Stop entertaining yourself. Just stop everything. Imagine you are a spectator in a tennis match! Hard as it may be, it is one of the most liberating experiences. Imagine your only job is to relax and listen to your inner voice. The incredible thing about solitude is that, it works just about 100% of the time. After all I am in the company of my most favourite person in the world J. Additionally, while you are sitting there, rivers of ideas flow through your mind. You get to think about countless subjects in an uncontrolled stream of consciousness. And miraculously, solutions to the most pressing difficulties I face emerge quietly and clearly, like a boat putting in gently to the side of a lake. The answer that avoided me in the muddy clarity of the day looks clear, straightforward and perfect. What started out with derision now defines my day.
Life is short.
It is!!! Youth does not appreciate mortality, but at my age I see it clearly. Nothing and no one lasts forever. Health is the only wealth we have. In today’s day and age genetics is not the only factor to affect one’s life span or quality. Party hard, work hard, take a break, get a massage, travel, learn a language, knit, take yoga classes, write a book, take a scenic route once in a while, take a day off for no reason!! There is so much to do. Life is a journey to be savoured not a destination to be reached! And in the bigger scheme of things, the journey is rather short. None of us knows how far the destination is. Nothing shouts out mortality as much as losing a dear one your age suddenly! Enjoy life. You get only one hit at it. Make it worthwhile. And here’s a pro tip… the more you make your life worthwhile for others the more scenic the route to your destination.