Thoughts on Aging: Red Hat or Grumpy Old Bitch?
Something happened to me when I turned 40 – I started thinking about death, as well as getting old – which isn’t too hard when your bones ache and your vision gets worse overnight! It’s been a bit of a spin-out thinking about this stuff, but it is what it is – I’m only going to get older and die at some point after all.
However, one of the things I’ve been thinking about specifically, is how do I ensure I get old with a smile on my face – if I do indeed get old – rather than turn into a cantankerous old bitch who no one wants to spend any time with? We’ve all met these people, because life can be shit, and the result can often be a cranky pants. How do I make sure I never become like that?
A good starting point is I’m a pretty optimistic person – so I think that’s good. However, the last few years have been pretty tough and simple things - like smiling - haven’t been coming as easy as it used to. I’m also a heady-kinda-person, who spends too much time inside my own head thinking about everything (and I mean everything), and that can make it harder to be joyful. Just being, loving and living to the full is all that’s necessary after all, right? I love being around people who understand what life is all about and ARE living it. Bravo to you, you lucky buggers.
But I decided to come up with some ideas on how to ensure I don’t go down a negative path, and my shower time in recent weeks has been spent coming up with this list…
- Disappointment – It’s one of those things everyone experiences at some point, and sometimes the disappointment is very deep. It’s never nice when it happens and it can be a case of people disappointing you, your body disappointing you, or the greater world disappointing you. I believe the only thing that matters is how you deal with it, because that alone makes all the difference. You can’t let it destroy or lessen you, and for me, it’s about always taking on the lesson I was given and growing in a positive way. Additionally, if another person is involved or is the cause – I know I need to silently thank them for teaching me a valuable lesson and never ever feel hatred towards them, because they really did give me a gift. Hate = cranky old bitch for sure. Sometimes you’ve got to walk away from people, but sometimes you just need to forgive and forget - it all depends on the circumstances. I do believe that embracing all experiences as a gift – the good and the bad – and taking the lessons on board (without any resentment towards anyone or thing) is a BIG part of a future containing lots of red hats.
- Victim or Champion? – I have definitely gone through the “why-me?” victim periods – it’s part of being human, right? I usually wake up at some point and think: well that’s been a waste of bloody time because I am responsible for my life, I am responsible for what has happened to me and what I’ve allowed in, and I am responsible for my happiness. Everything else in ancillary to that – because I am responsible - so how can I blame anyone or anything else? Now I’m talking about me here. A kid being sexually abused, or a person starving to death in a famine, or Muslims being hacked to death in Burma, or the Palestinian and Israeli families being bombed in their own homes as I write… - they are certainly victims, but I am not. I have endless opportunities; I’ve just got to make sure I embrace them every day no matter what and never, EVER, blame anyone or anything else for any of my shortcomings or failings. That’s my fault entirely.
- Non-judgement – This is an easy one for me as I hate judgement and am often the boring person at a dinner party picking people up for being judgemental and hoping to get them to see something in a different way. I firmly believe that we just don’t know what anyone is really going through - even those closest to us - so when people’s behaviour offends me or mystifies me, I always try to understand why if I can (the underlying reason), and if their actions are hurting me or those I love, then I step away. Obviously if I CAN help – great. If I can’t help, I recognise it and move on, because who says I’m the person they need right now? I sincerely believe that we can never ever know anyone else’s story, and therefore, we should never judge. Compassion is a quality that seems to be losing strength in our world, and I hope it comes back as something valued and important. Also self-judgement is of equal importance here, which leads me nicely on to…
- Be gentle with myself – I’ve always been VERY self-critical about myself – not others, just me. I don’t know why, but I know I never give myself a break and I need to change that. Essentially I’ve got to get better at accepting me for who I am, with all of my faults, and even though it sounds a bit corny, a bit of self-love wouldn’t go astray. I know I’m a good person, so that should be enough right?
- Be silly - I’ve always been a pretty silly person, but I haven’t been these last few years – things just got too serious and stressful. But silliness is awesome and when I took the boys for a fish spa (a first for all of us) I giggled like a five year old girl and the boys thought it was brilliant seeing Mum laugh like that. I need to be silly more often, find more moments like the fish spa, and make a fool of myself too. I’m a clumsy oaf, so I’ve got to remember to laugh at myself often and do silly things, because it makes me smile.
- Don’t take life too seriously – Many of us have gone through really intense times financially since the Global Financial Crisis hit and we’re only really coming out of it now. Others have just gone through really tough and confusing times as life has a tendency to get complicated. I’ve been taking life too seriously, and I’ve been taking the punches too deeply. I need to be more light hearted and just laugh myself through the shit storms, because it always feels better when I do.