You are in control of how you age. Choose vigor!

Part of the wonder of BoomerCafé is reading how others our age are coping with being … well … our age. Baby Boomer Kathryn Fernandez Brown of Alexandria, Virginia, a contributing writer for Caring.com, spent decades working in the field of early childhood education and training. But now she is taking on something brand new: a choice, to age with vigor.

Fortune smiled on me at every stage of my life. Not fortune in terms of monetary gain, but currency in terms of joy and gratitude. Being a young woman during the ’70s in a rural community was comforting and structured. The life I envisioned was college, marriage, and children. Becoming a mom was fulfilling and satisfying. Days were built around the needs of my children and husband. What they wanted and needed became my first priority, along with the demands of a full-time job.

Kathryn Fernandez Brown

Kathryn Fernandez Brown

The joys of an early retirement. Full days of working outside and inside the home left little time for me, however. After 40 years of attention to others, I experienced strong urges to step back and reassess. At 62-years-old, I took early retirement and indulged my yearnings. For 36 months, I participated in activities that fed my inner child: ballroom dance classes, singing in a choir, and traveling to exotic places. Having adeep well of energy, a youthful appearance, and good health, this phase in my life was playful and inquisitive.

When age reality sat in my mailbox. On an ordinary day filled withappointments and a long to-do list, I was collecting and sorting mail. There is always a heightened level of anticipation while sifting through the daily barrage of catalogs, bills, and general correspondence. Did someone send a greeting card or an invitation for an upcoming social gathering? Sadly, this was not the case. Age reality sat in my mailbox today— my Medicare card arrived. My hand shook and a wave of sadness moved through me. I know I’m aging, but to hold that card drummed it home. It was time to step back and assess what deep fears were arising, and why.

woman_ageHow would I choose to age? Did this card represent a dependency, a loss of power, or, worse yet, a stage of invisibility? As a woman, my sexuality is diminished and contributions discounted. Will I be alone and forgotten? Are health complications for myself or my husband on the horizon? The voice of my mother echoes in my ears: “When a woman can no longer have children, she loses her value in society.” A wave of anger washed over me. How I age is a choice, and I choose vigor.

My value takes on a whole new meaning. Being physically no longer in my prime, I’m painfully aware that the needs of this aging body must be balanced with my wants and desires. If I choose vibrancy, I choose the now, the present moment. Changes are in order— a healthier diet and a daily exercise routine. Just as important as my physical maintenance is my mental health. Time must be set aside for the quieting of the mind, so my inner voice can be heard. Let my inner voice guide how I use the knowledge and skills acquired over the years. Now is the time to use my skill sets to assist the community I live in. My value in society will take on new meaning.

With each day . . . How I measure the passage of time and its different life stages is noteworthy to observe, but any negative feelings around those stages must be released. Even though the Medicare card reminded me that time is ticking and my days are limited, I have chosen to live in the moment. The present moment has no time. Old fears and future expectations have no place here. I will stop to feel what is stirring within, see what is awakening. If every day has an awakening, aging and time lose their influence. I’m filled with a profound sense of well-being.

6 Comments

  1. “If every day has an awakening, aging and time lose their influence. I’m filled with a profound sense of well-being.” Thank you Kathryn for a wonderful and inspiring way to greet a dreary Tuesday morning in May!

  2. Aging has everything to do with attitude. At age 4, my mom (early 20’s) was diagnosed with MS. She lived an incredible life, reaching the age of 73. Without any doubt it was her positive attitude that carried her through the aging process as well as her disease. There were short setbacks, and each one, aside from the physical ailments, her attitude would make the difference. When she would slip from a positive attitude into the state of her ailment…she would slip so quickly. However, she had an incredible energy to pull herself out of negative thoughts and beliefs and place herself in a positive place.
    Her life was rich with endeavors she loved: traveling, art, community and most of all, family. She truly embraced her “currency of joy and gratitude.”

  3. A lovely and thought-provoking post. Vigor is an excellent word and goal! Who knew that health would be so important? That is where I choose to place my focus so that I can continue to move forward in life successfully and happily. Being of service to others is also a large part of my aging process. Life is too short to live with ‘what ifs’

  4. Thank you for your encouraging article…….your closing words are just what I
    needed this morning…..I have printed them on a card to be pinned to the wall &
    viewed & reread often as a constant reminder that these last years are to be
    savored, lived to the full & cherished…..after 35 years as a classroom art teacher, I
    am, with each day, learning to ‘live in the moment’…..no more lesson plans, no more
    documentation of things that really are of no consequence & no more ‘school code
    book’ ……….just this freedom for my time, thoughts & dreams……tempered only by
    the constraints of a teachers retirement income……..I feel like I am going to school
    all over again…….thank you for your insight & inspiriation…….diann

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