Martha Beck

You Only Leave Once

I was out visiting my sister having some very fun alone sister time. While sitting having coffee on her back porch, paging through The Kansas City Star, this ad “appeared”. Actually, I hadn’t thought much at all that I will “only leave once”, as my life is rather focused figuring out how to live, love, learn and leave a legacy – or at least be more fabulous and a better life coach.

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Maggie Newcomer (no you cannot make this up) is the Licensed Funeral Director who will help you at AraCremation to plan ahead for that one special exit — they have actually trademarked the saying “You only leave once”. Somehow I started laughing and couldn’t stop.

People are geniuses at marketing aren’t they? Any and all troubles, thought about or imagined issues, seem to have great ready-made solutions. Except when you reach your 60s, you know it isn’t so. New comfortable but glamorous shoes, lip wrinkle eraser, the new clutter catcher for between your car seats, an additional grandchild, or tickets to your favorite band from the 70s, (see Cathy’s piece on this one) may ease some disappointments in life — but life still hurts and does so in some fresh new ways as you age.

Actually I do find that my friends and other fabulousover60 women are more than realistic about what is ahead and what is before us. We are a generation of planners, doers, and organizers. We were the first generation who went from hiding it all from the neighbors to shouting we are WHATEVER and PROUD OF IT. We relish reality and are shocked by the unevolved among us still not taking personal responsibility for their life.

We are all a little bit of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Martha Beck, Justice Sotomayor, the Pope, and Abraham Lincoln — many of us have read more self help/self love books and articles than any sane person should. We are not going to go out like our folks – in denial. We emptied their houses held on to too long, and swore we weren’t doing that to our family/friends when we pass away. We are not denying reality. We are on top of it.

But the thing is this: while we are better psychologically prepared for aging, many are still sad it is happening. We are doing it differently, but it is still happening — which is conversely funny and absolutely terrifying. I think the best thing we can do for each other is to “be real” as we started to say back in the 1970s. We need to step up and recognize, support and listen to each others freak-out stories about aging. Recognize how upsetting our friend found visiting her fast fading cousin in hospice and agree it was a nightmare. Recognize and admit to being ambivalent and understanding about what life will be like for a friend, without a spouse, a best friend, or beloved pet. Recognize that more “little falls and accidents” go with the territory as do going to more funerals than weddings.

Being present and supportive to/for each other is the bandage and ointment we need to get back to laughing, enjoying the great things about aging (wisdom and acceptance) – and if we work at it – serenity. Fabulous women know how be totally realistic and yet believe in the magic of life. After all, we have always known from our parents’ generation “we only live once,” but we now know from today’s marketing geniuses and The Kansas City Star “we only leave once” too!!

Patty Gill Webber

 

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – But Don’t Zone Out!

Cathy and I have been exploring “trying new things” in a number of our last blogs. Cathy’s attempt to grab Prince George’s birthday as a way to share about HER year and plans for the next was an example. For us over-60s success is about not just getting out of our comfort zones but trying not to zone out.

Are you bored (or more freaked out) by funeral services? At this point they are more common than weddings — a bad sign I fear.

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Do your grandchildren grate on your nerves or seem mundane and uninteresting sometimes even though (of course) you adore them?

Do you find yourself trying hard not to doze off at a concert, while reading a great book, or even when sex is discussed much less happens or is scheduled?

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Staying awake and fully aware is becoming more challenging. We are not zoning out because we don’t care, don’t want to be involved and excited and enriched by life and all the people, places and things in it, but just because it often seems like we’ve “been there, done that” or “heard that, seen that”. Sometimes I am finding that it is harder to WANT to tune in. And that bothers me even more.

With the ugly and terrifying news in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, the southern US border it is tempting to totally tune out – what’s a fabulous woman to do?

Don’t confuse moving out of your comfort zone (good) with zoning out (mostly NOT good). Understanding significant current events is important—as a citizen of the world, your country and your local town. Just read news versus watching news if you are hyper sensitive—it’s a better way to digress information. And perhaps change the source of your news — go with the BBC instead of CNN. That gets you out of your comfort zone but not zoned out.

Try to bring different hearing and attention to what is going on by asking different questions than you typically do — “Carol, saw you reading the new Clinton book that is getting mixed reviews—what’s your take?” Take more chances in interactions with others — especially if you are often with the same people.

Refuse to do the following:

Thinking, or worse expressing that young people are this, that or the other — but certainly less than we are/were/or will be.

Assuming nothing interesting can happen when the people are the same — we’re all changing if we give each other some fresh air.

Letting yourself off the hook on every single thing with the “I’m tired” or “I don’t feel like it” generic wimp out.

You can stay awake — at least till 9:30 PM — if you stop staying in your own comfort zone and start allowing the strange, new and somewhat frightening things in the door. Whether it’s tasting octopus, meeting a new potential friend for coffee, or trying a unique volunteer opportunity—push yourself with love out of the usual.

Just started a 6 session telecourse with 150 people called Finding Your Way In a Wild New World by Martha Beck. This is for sure lighting a fire under my sense of who and what I can be and do moving forward. But you know I did find myself dozing a little half way through the first session and getting through the dozens of Facebook messages on our course’s closed group page.

It Is Going To Be A Great 2014

While still trying to shake this crazy cold/flu bug that I caught interacting with the million (more or less) people I interacted with over the holidays, I am feeling good about the year ahead:

  • Most, if not all, of my fears are gone. If a bear broke into my house and started chasing me, then yes, fear would return quickly. That aside, I feel ready for anything having coped with the wide range of life experiences. I finally “get” that life is short, unpredictable, and has actual columns with what can be changed and what cannot — and accepting that brings peace. This is big. It is earned wisdom. Finally, a true honest to God wonderful thing about aging has appeared.

 

    • The recession (downturn of 2006/7/8/9/10/11) that brought fear up-close and personal and caused a zillion concrete bad things to happen, appears to be as gone as it ever will be. The world is far from OK and all better, but we can now turn our attention (or not if you do not wish to) to fixing the remaining issues that were made worse by this ugly financial calamity — (for me that includes the minimum wage reform, more workplace reform, and the government helping with more new infrastructure and less guns). We can trust that the worst of the financial meltdown has passed. We could seriously say “Happy New Year” this holiday – and do so with a clear conscious.

 

    • I have goals for the year ahead – and I know which standards I am retaining and which may be carefully put down by the side of the road to be picked up by the “it is OK police”. This yearly review and ‘setting new goals’ process is down to a “Patty science” now. That makes me feel good — if you are still a non-planner then reconsider! An unplanned life is not worth living — is it?

 

    • Keeping myself physically strong and looking as good as is sensibly achieved will continue to matter. The right shoes, makeup, and great clothes matter to me and I am okay that the world at large is not with me and that many see this as shallow. But I need to be with me — it is part of what defines me. “How I do this part of my life is how I do everything in my life”. Thank you Martha Beck, sister life coach, for this great insight!

 

    • The planned year ahead was conceived with little guilt or overblown expectations. The very best part is that I know that I can and will drop any of my plans instantly, if I need to, and turn my attention to where it needs to be. My priorities have never been clearer.

 

    • I’m planning to do more general downsizing in my life and it is thrilling to think about. No, I am not really ready for some of the radical things I am considering, but I am certain that the direction toward less is more.

 

  • I am not sure January was ever this sane, calm and starting with less absolute must-have expectations and strong tangible goals. Maybe I won’t even worry about my weight. Well let’s not go nuts here. Cathy would call me out even if no one else commented on it.

Photo credit: here

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