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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Nice Little Old Ladies and New Years Resolutions

I've met quite a few older people:

An older man basking in the sun and enjoying the
view over the Danube valley.
Photo credit: my husband
An older couple that we are friends with who seem to have a never-ending supply of interesting stories and experiences from their lives.

An 86 year old client who cheekily revealed that the reason she didn't do her PT exercises in the morning was because she and her husband like to take showers together right when they get up.
An older lady I observed interacting with a man on the electricka. He had a bottle of vodka in one hand and a bottle of orange juice in the other and was taking alternating swigs as we traveled along. It's so easy to judge someone, right? This woman initiated a conversation with him. The man then replied that "well, he just wasn't having a great day". She responded with a seemingly kind and non-judgmental reply that "well, we all certainly have those".

In certain cases, I am blown away by their sweetness, spunkiness, vast life experience resulting in incredibly interesting stories, the zest for life that they have, their refusal to just sit back and get old.

On the other hand, I've met some old people who have just about had it with life.  They are cranky and crabby and want to make sure you know it!

I often think to myself, "I sure hope I'm a spunky, kind, full of zest, interesting little old lady."

To be honest, I don't think the crabby ones have had the easiest lives.  Life is just dang hard, people, and some people get it worse than others.

This isn't about judging the crabby old people we meet.

This is about my finally realizing that if I want to be one of those spunky, kind, full of zest, interesting little old ladies, I've got to start on that road TODAY.

How often do we consider a goal that we might have and just brush it off as something that is so far in the future that it doesn't actually matter right now?  How often do you see that nice, kind, spunky, interesting little old lady (or person) and think "Oh, I can't be like them."  Is that really true?  Or do we just not see (understandably) a way to achieve that in under 5 minutes?

We are taught to invest in our futures through education, sports, community service, politics, financial planning, networking.  None of these things are bad.  They actually all can (and will) shape our character and who we are.

But are we taught to invest in our future by learning how to build character?  To grow in emotional intelligence and mental well-being?  To learn to deal with conflict and disappointment in our relationships?  To learn to communicate in a variety of ways and to know when and how to be vulnerable?

Much of our learning of these things happens without our knowledge.  We pick things up in our families as we grow up.  We succeed and fail.  We have friends and bosses and intimate relationships.

The work and the learning that grows our character, our zest for life, our ability to have healthy relationships, is often quiet, slow, difficult, unrewarded.  There's no competitive league for communication and relationships!  There's not a degree that you can achieve that ensures you are an expert on this.

I am pretty convinced that if I want to be a spunky, kind, full of zest, interesting little old lady, I'm going to need to put in a lot of work on this end!  These things don't just happen.

Just like you're taught to put away money regularly in that retirement account, you can put regular time into strengthening your character, learning to communicate, investing in your mental health, learning and practicing the things that aid you in relationship.

We happen to live in an age of incredible abundance of resources (you tube videos, podcasts, online articles, blogs, etc.) to help us learn the head knowledge.  The practical application and learning?  Well, that takes commitment to show up daily in this journey we call life.

And one day, you'll wake up and find out just what kind of little old lady you've become. ;)

Happy New Year everyone!