Lessons Learned and High School Reunions

Just came back from my 50th High School Reunion!!! It was a wonderful week of celebrations and reacquainting myself with old friends. What an experience!!! We went to an all-girl school and most of us were together from kindergarten to our high school graduation. Our class had only 30 students, so you can imagine. We had the well-behaved, the mischievous, the studious, the fun-loving, the glamorous, the quiet ones, the IĀ couldn’t care less ones, the stylish, the care-free, you name it. Most of all, we knew each other rather well and were on friendly terms…….most of the time.

Attending an all-girl school has advantages that are now being discovered by different studies in American universities. Seems girls who study together have a healthier approach to education, have a higher interest in subjects like science and math and develop self-esteem early in life. Well, apparently our parents knew this and gave us this great advantage!!! Not a shrinking violet in the group, I am glad to report. Five doctors, engineers, writers, business women, nutritionists, university professors, partners in international firms, well-traveled, speakers of several languages…….amazing women each and everyone.

Once we graduated, we went our different ways to study, get married, develop careers and raise families. We gave to our communities, and still do, by working with local charities and spreading goodwill. We have taken care of ourselves and have many years to enjoy what we have sown. Life has been good and this celebration brought together a group of women who are seriously talented and full of life. They have learned from their mistakes, moved on and can now flaunt their successes without shying away.

The Organizing Committee had a year to plan and they did a fantastic job. They even started a chat on WhatsApp to keep us informed of the ideas as they developed. This brought everyone together, before the celebration even started.

Most still live in Panama and have kept in touch through the years on and off. For the ones, like myself, who live abroad it has been harder. So this was a brilliant idea. Here’s to Social Media!!! We immediately clicked again and it was as if time had stood still. All those years melted away and we had so much to talk about, to reminisce, to laugh at and even to shed a tear or two while sharing stories and details of our lives. Let me not forget about hugs……there were more hugs given and received than I could count.

Each activity throughout the 5 days was wonderful. Did I mention that our school was run by nuns? Yes, so the first order of business was attending a special mass, followed by dinner at the Club Union, best one in town. We danced, sang at top of our voices, ate and drank and were merry. Only us girls, as we were all those years ago. Even better, since this time there was no thought of boyfriends or flirting. One day we walked along the cobblestone streets of the Casco Viejo, Panama City’s historical neighborhood. Then dinner, drinks and dancing. The next day, we went by bus to see the works of the new addition to the canal on the Atlantic side of the country. Lunch afterwards. The trip was part of the fun we had that day.

The last day we travel to a mountain resort town, El Valle. Stayed in different homes, got together for dinner, drinks, more singing and dancing and fireworks!!! The next morning, we had brunch with everyone high on the side of the mountain. More hugs and goodbyes, promises to get together again soon. Plans are already in the works. I will not miss any of them for the world. The adventure will continue. Hats off to the organizers for taking time off from their busy lives to make sure our celebration was fun, unique, warm and just perfect!!!

 

 

 

 

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 aboutĀ  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