Do you like the hustle and bustle and energy of a big group of people? Or are you like me? I’m just not a lover of crowds.
We have a 24-hour grocery near us and it’s one of my favorite places. I can go at night, when most people are settled in their homes, and I can browse in a quiet store with clear aisles and little (if any) chaos. The moon greets me as walk back to my car in a peaceful, mostly empty parking lot.
Which is why I think I love off-season traveling/vacations, because it’s a similar concept. (I guess my broad definition of “off-season” is when most people do NOT typically visit a place.) By not having children, my husband and I have the choice to travel whenever most schools are in session. The options for accommodations are typically outstanding. AND, like my grocery store experience, the crowds are less, the lines are shorter, and the general atmosphere of most places tend to be a little more relaxed.
Another perk of off-season traveling is that the places seem less touristy. I get to taste the local atmosphere and experience the more everyday feel of a place sans gimmicks.
As for picture taking? We’ve gotten spectacular, crowd free photographs of b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l places.
Is there something to be said for excited people (I’m not going to lie, excited children are pretty fantastic), peak options, extended hours, and a place all decked out for tourists and visitors? Sure. And I can always choose that option. But by being childless, I find as I age that I’m gifted with this flexibility, and I’m absolutely grateful for it.
Aging While Childless Entries: I want to help empower those who (for whatever reason) are living childless, so that they can further embrace their situation and find joy. A life filled with children is a life filled with treasures---but so is a life without children.
To make oatmeal, I add whole oats to the boiling pan of water, and then I turn the burner flame off. I pop a lid on top, and the oatmeal continues to cook as the pot cools down. The result is less mushy oatmeal. Which I appreciate immensely. I’m not into mushy oatmeal.
My friend shared this cooking method with me years ago, and while other people probably already know it, it was new for me.
So, you are probably wondering, what does my oatmeal routine have to do with aging and its benefits? Because I recently contacted that friend and told her how I’ve been using for years the cooking technique she shared with me. And I know it was a compliment to her because of the length of time I’ve been steadily following her suggestion.
It’s a lot more impressive to have been doing something for years than to have been doing it for only hours, days, and months. It shows persistence, it shows dedication. And for a friend, it shows how her influence made a desirable difference in my life.
So why is aging amazing?
I’ve mentioned in other blog posts I’ll be talking about the simple, easy to overlook benefits of aging. And this one is pretty simple, yet amazing: we can look back over our time and use its length to brighten other people’s lives with a compliment. In this particular instance, time IS on our side.
I would absolutely be tempted to time travel. Especially on rough days. It’s easy to want to step back in time and re-experience the better moments from the past.
I just can’t dismiss the fact that I made a lot of mistakes in my past. I really don’t know how else to put it, but in some areas of my life, I was just plain wrong, even during the “good old days”. So, I can’t ignore that if I truly time traveled, I would have that same mindset, ripe with error.
I don’t want to go back to that mindset.
I’ve had some polishing over the years, and I imagine you have too. I like my knowledge. I like the wisdom I have gained. I like the confidence that I carry. And all these things have come as a result of A LOT of days; I don’t want to lose any of them because they are too precious. (Note: I’m not by any means perfect: I still mess up. I say stupid things. I act too rashly. I stumble and fall. But I’ve grown.)
I absolutely see the benefit of reliving special moments in my mind, but at the same time staying grounded in reality.
How can we stay grounded in reality? I think we can’t allow ourselves to become so wrapped up in the past joys that we start to dislike our present. It seems critical that we not lose sight of who we are currently, even while we decide to do a little reminiscing. (And while you might not be at a place in life you want to be, you are at the very least a survivor, which is worth celebrating!)
Havelock Ellis says it well: “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on”.
We should let memories bring us joy, but not rob us of the joy that we can have today.
While putting dishes away in my kitchen the other evening, I was also doing my typical overthinking. Because recently, I’ve noticed a phrase pop in my mind that I say to myself: “I feel old.”
And it doesn’t have a positive feeling connected to it. Bleh.
I don’t like this, and I don’t want this thought pattern to continue. I searched online to see if there was any encouragement for myself that I could then share with you, as we are in this together. My typical way of balancing my thinking is to remember the difficulty of being “young” and the hardships I faced: it wasn’t all roses. But I wanted something more. I wanted a back-up plan for when this method just wasn’t powerful enough to combat my thoughts.
I decided to do an Internet search, and I found this gem of an article on Psychology Today by Katherine King Psy D. It's titled: "Feeling 'Old'? What Do You Mean?" And I’ll put the link to the full article at the end of this text. I really recommend you save it and read it when you are having a similar down moment. It’s like vitamins for the soul.
Dr. King asks a very real question about positive experiences associated with being young:
[W]hy shouldn’t these experiences also be part of what it can “feel like” to be 70, 80, 90 years old?
She continues on to suggest we squash the negativity and instead associate “feeling old” with optimistic enthusiasm. Here are some of her examples:
What are some positive ways in which we might “feel old”?
Maybe when we retire and finally have time to pursue a lifelong passion. When our hearts burst with pride to see the amazing adults our children have become. Or maybe “feeling old” can happen when we sit with our dying parents or siblings and feel full of gratitude for all the life we shared with them. Or, it can refer to that realization that we’ve survived hardship in our lives and we wouldn’t trade it for anything because it taught us something important.
Her suggestions are crucial because they help us take that leap into a more positive mindset. “Be Positive” is not just a slogan on a cute card or sparkly pillow, but an action in our mind that can pull us into a better place.
Her final paragraph is a perfect call to action for all of us:
We could look to the good in aging, in ourselves and others, and speak it out loud when we see it. We can show our children and grandchildren new ways to think about aging to slowly change the conversation about what it means to be, and “feel,” old.
Fantastic idea, Dr. King.
When we are having an “I feel old” moment, we should remind ourselves why feeling old is actually pretty amazing. Without all the years behind us, we wouldn’t have met such fascinating people, worked past our major challenges, and witnessed some beautiful moments from nature. By reminding ourselves of truths like these, we are not only positive, we re-explore the richness that is in our life.
(To read the original article, please click below – and enjoy!! Feeling "Old"? What Do You Mean?
Creator of Love, Auntie.