Caring for our Minds

books-1578589_640We are aging, there is no spinning this one. Yes, and if not we would be dead….think about it!!! I know not all my friends will appreciate the fact that I am calling us aging. I apologize. Life goes on, regardless of what we want to happen. We cannot stop time. Accepting is the best way because it allows us to concentrate in staying vibrant and involved and happy.

Never mind what we do to our bodies to keep healthier and younger looking, we are still middle aged. Looking great is fantastic, feeling good and being healthy is priceless, but keeping our minds alert and sharp is even more important. Unfortunately, some of us pay too much attention to our bodies and not enough to our minds!!!

I am sure everyone will say: well, that is not me!!! I would be willing to bet each and everyone of my friends feels this way…..but is it true? Do we all read, play mind and card games on our tablets, do jigsaw or crossword puzzles? Do we listen to music, attend the theater or have a hobby? Do we keep up with the news…..as awful as they are nowadays? You tell me.

I have friends that definitely do all of those things and more. They are on top of their game, as they say. They can talk about current events, enjoy a great book, keep up with life. They travel and visit different places, try new foods, entertain new ideas. They are good with social media and love having younger friends. Women in their middle years, but so involved and vibrant, they break stereotypes. More than worry about their looks, these women worry about not letting their minds go to waste.

These women have kept on learning, striving for a better self. Everything for them is an adventure. Some have literally drove around the country on their own, taken a volunteer vacation in Third World countries, have meditated in Bali and hiked in Machu Pichu. Never mind the ones that have started businesses after retirement or have become successful writers or bloggers.

Besides, they mostly look fabulous, dress impeccably and exude elegance and poise. Still, it’s the fact that they can talk about any topic, hold opinions that could be considered advanced, what makes them so interesting. Confidence is the best quality they posses. I am proud to call them friends.

Then, I have other friends who have so many things to complain and rant about. Who forget that aging is not a choice. They are the opposite of my other friends: they cannot stop telling themselves that this is it, life is not going to get better, old age is creeping in and soon they will be useless. Nothing seems to energize them more than talking about imaginary illnesses, aches and pains and feeling their age. A long life is a blessing, why waste these years lost in fearing the inevitable.

They might do some reading, maybe watch the news, but always with a sense of foreboding or a sense of I told you so. New things interest them little, so no new music talent, promising new artists, forget about  books expressing different ideas. Traveling is out of the question since it can be so complicated. They believe that: I know all I wanted to know, seen what I wanted to see and heard all I wanted to hear. Cultivating new attitudes is not even considered. I love them too, but I have been slowly distancing myself from them. Part of living in the moment!!!

Aging will happen, it matters not what you do or want. So cultivate your mind to keep feeling alive and happy. Make friends with younger people, people from other cultures. Engage in conversations about anything and everything, who knows, you might find new interests. Become part of a group that caters to older women, there a few out there. I belong to some and have made friends and learned about things I thought I knew everything about. It’s exhilarating!!!

Finally, just go out and try whatever you always wanted to do. You owe it to yourself, what is the worse that could happen? that it turns out it’s not as interesting as you thought? or you actually love it or you move to a small place by the beach? or your blog, business or whatever is a resounding success? At any rate, it will be fabulous, trust me!!!glasses-664078_640

Life is a Great Balancing Act!!!

IMG_3342One of my favorite quotes, and I think Dr. Seuss hit the nail on the head with this one. Of course, not everyone knows this. Most of us just go through life pretending that we know what we are doing, forgetting that balance is what makes our life so interesting.

Everything in life is a choice, everything depends on which one choice we make in every situation we face. There is no escaping that fact. Keeping that magical balance in which we know what to let go and what to hold on to is so simple, so important, so difficult.

These past weeks have been incredible hectic. I have had more than my usual share of situations that needed my immediate attention. Yes, we all have one or two of these challenges: from what to do about our mother’s care to what to say to our adult children without overstepping into their lives, from trying to keep in touch with friends we might have outgrown to keeping in touch with the ones that still mean a lot to us, from deciding what is really important in our everyday life to accepting the fact that we cannot possibly please everyone. Talking about balance!!!

Why balance is so important in life? Because it requires more than just picking one option or another. What you keep, what you decide to deal with needs as careful consideration as what you let go and what you just ignore.

In our younger years, we all tried to keep everything in our lives. We did not even consider letting go. Remember when even giving away something was a decision that we weighted carefully? I do remember. This did not only apply to material things, but to emotional, mental or behavioral issues as well. Ah, some of you will say, those were the days!!! Well, I have found out that indeed those were the days, the days of having too much in our plates and juggling too many relationships, emotional challenges, behaviors that were not good for us. Times have change, at least for me they have.

IMG_3333With age and maturity, I have begun to see all aspects of my life in a way that is centered on ME. This is my time. Life has giving me the chance to act as I want, to let go of what I don’t need, to keep what makes me happy, whole and centered. It’s a feeling that makes me smile sometimes and has caused me to change and acquire a new assertiveness.

In June of last year, I participated in a de-cluttering challenge. Not that I needed the idea, but it was pleasant to have company. I have done his before, many times, but it is a never-ending task. It was wonderful to have some company this time around. Letting go of all those material things left space in my home for what I really love and wanted to stay in my life. With less clutter, I appreciate what I kept more.  It has been a wonderful experience. There was another benefit, somehow the challenge is still going. The group is still putting out ideas, supporting each other’s efforts, accepting new members. Why?

Here is the simple answer. Once we let go of material things, we started letting go of emotional baggage, behavioral issues and preconceived ideas. This was the hardest part, but the most rewarding. This was when our change really started and we learned an important lesson. Life becomes simpler and more rewarding, we determine our own expectations without society or family pressure. Liberating. Of course, as with any de-cluttering process, this is a never-ending task.

Any change we introduce in our lives comes with a measure of guilt. This challenge was not an exception. The ever-present feeling that we should be paying attention to everyone around us and if we are not, then we are being selfish: guilt. For most of us women, it’s very hard to shake this feeling, but we must remember that it’s in the challenge of keeping things balanced in our lives, that we achieve a new kind of happiness. Believe it or not, we would also achieve a new kind of serenity. Everyone who knows me, must be smiling by now. I do not radiate serenity, usually, but I am learning fast. Trust me!!!

Life is a great balancing act and, finally, I have arrived at that place where I can manage without feeling guilty……most of the time!!!!! After all, this is a work in progress.

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About Time: a Challenge

abouttimeMy husband and daughter accompanied me to watch About Time, a British movie written and directed by the very clever  Richard Curtis. He has given us other gems: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually. This is another one. Do not want to spoil it for you, so all I am saying is that I came out with a brilliant idea for a challenge!! Can see your eyebrows raising and your mouth slightly open. What is she talking about? What is she up to now? Very simple: I am setting a challenge for myself, a challenge that will last  through the Holidays and into the New Year. It is about time I see every day as I would have like it to be from the beginning.

This movie opened my eyes to something so true, I should have seen it before. Life is made out of days, taken one at a time. Days, in turn, are made of moments and moments are what life is all about. Why? because it would be moments that we remember, good ones and not so good ones. Moments that would make our memories, especially as we grow older. So let’s pay attention, let’s put an effort into making our moments memorable. This is the only way to make your day just as it should have been…from the beginning.

Have you come to the end of the day and asked yourself: why did I do this or that? why didn’t I keep my mouth shut or why did I say those things? I know I have, more than once. It is not full regret all the time, it’s just a wish, a vague feeling that the day could have gone better! It happens to all of us, it’s life……

Life, the rhythm of life actually, is different for each one of us. It depends on our personalities, our goals, our work, our family. Some people seem to glide along with a smile on their faces. Others, and I count myself in this group, smile once in a while, but struggle along. What to do. I always thought that there was nothing to be done, after all it was a matter of personality, wasn’t it? All I had to do was move on and make the best of it, right? Absolutely not…..Fortunately, I went to see About Time!!!

Watching what must be the feel-good movie so far this year, my eyes opened and my mind decided. This is what I propose to do. Take every moment and  make it the best it can be. Think before I speak, harder than you think in my case, so I have to make sure to breathe at least twice before I open my mouth! Consider what the other person is going to feel if I say what I want to say, breathe again of course! Don’t rush into any reaction, breathe before you respond to anything, be it words or actions. For now, I think this is enough. I can’t overwhelm myself. I will, though, keep you posted on this.