The other night my partner/boyfriend/beau (I can’t come up with a proper name for what to call someone I live with and we’re not 17) and I watched a documentary on HBO about aging, and it wasn’t at all depressing. Actually, it was quite the opposite. At the end, he and I shook hands and vowed to keep each other engaged and being creative well into our later years.
As I watched Carl Reiner speak with his contemporaries in show business I was amazed at how vital, active and engaged they all were. Both Betty White and Reiner were working on new books - both being in their mid-nineties. Norman Lear is developing new TV shows, and Mel Brooks is still working too. Staying interested and active seems to be the answer.
That, along with of course the blessing of good health, seems to be key in staying physically and mentally agile. Staying excited and passionate about life is what makes all the difference in your world.
Two years ago I read the book, “The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner. A National Geographic Fellow, he traveled the world studying the lifestyles of people around the world who were living healthfully and happily well into their 90s and beyond. What he discovered is what the people Carl Reiner interviewed are doing instinctively - they aren’t stopping, they are staying involved, they are continually learning, and have deep social connections. They also eat whole foods and exercise.
Around the time I read “The Blue Zones,” I also read “Year of Yes,” by Shonda Rhimes - Miss Everything at ABC. After reading that I said yes to many things I would never have had I not had her voice in the back of my head cheering me on. Even as I was approaching 60, I was determined to not let a number define me.
What have I said yes to? I, a non-actor appeared on stage in a reading of a play, I, along with my fake sister have appeared numerous times on stage as our alter egos, the Fix-it Sisters, givers of questionable advice, I said yes to hosting a radio show with no prior experience, and I began writing plays. I’ve also learned to say no (that will be my next post!) and am trying my damndest to live a life that if fulfilling, happy and thoroughly engaged.
Of course, things don’t always go as planned, and I got knocked down for a little bit when I was sick, but I’m now back at it, rewriting my first full-length play, and starting the next one. I am back to doing life coaching because it brings me such joy to help others find their purpose and passion, and I have put health and fitness at the top of my list. Yoga and meditation are a priority, not a maybe.
What works for me might not work for you, but I’m going to leave you with a little homework. Okay? Look at the things I’ve listed and write down your answers. Or at the very list think about them. Feel free to email me through my contact page and let me know how it goes. Chances are we’re not all going to live into our 90s, but I sure as hell am going to try, and I hope you do too!
Until next time, see where you get with this:
How is your health? Do you: a. Exercise ? b..Eat healthy, whole foods? c. Follow your doctor’s advice? d.Keep your weight in check? e.Avoid excess alcohol/stay away from drugs? f.Don’t smoke? g.Do you have sex? Sex is very good for you and helps keep you young.
Do you have a sustaining, nurturing relationships? You may be married, you may not, but having people who love and care about you and vice versa is vital. Make an effort to see people, and do things together that you enjoy. Community and belonging are invaluable in a happy and healthy life. Church and other organizations can be very sustaining.
Are you passionate about something? What sparks you with joy that you can do for hours and not even notice the time? And I’m not talking about watching TV or sleeping! For me it’s writing, time just whizzes by as I write. Well, most of the time! Maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to do - paint, sculpt, learn an instrument (or pick one back up you put down long ago) If you don’t know, that’s okay. Keep your eyes open, something is going to present itself It’s good for your brain and your psyche..
Read, ask questions, go to lectures, museums and book clubs. Ask people questions about their work, their life, be interested and you’ll be interesting.
Say no to things you are doing but don’t enjoy. More on this next time, but there are times that saying no is just as vital as saying yes.
Please check out some of the links I put here. Choose something to read or listen to. I promise you will be glad you did! And let me know how it goes!