Our society doesn't seem to celebrate aging. In fact, as actor Francis McDormand recently shared, society doesn't want to grow up at all.
"[In our society,] there's no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It's not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face."
Not so for me, and for many people, who are learning that with age comes many gifts as well as the realities. Recently I celebrated my 50th. In the approaching days beforehand, did I quiver, cry or cringe? Absolutely not.
Instead, I joyed in the journey in my "50 Days to 50" blog posts, sharing insights and experiences during those 50 days. Each person is going to age, it's a fact. So how can each of us find joy in the journey too?
Teach your children, spouse and others by example the positives of aging. You set the pace. If you see it as mostly a fun fabulous gift, they will too. So ditch the black!
My children are fortunate to have a grandmother who is "past 45." In her senior status she has started a successful therapy business, is teaching seminars to baby boomers, and has just begun her own TV show. Our family can clearly see the joy, fun and creativity in getting older.
Take time by yourself and consider the previous time period, such as six months or a year. On my birthday I like to go to a quiet place, such as an overnighter at a hotel or by necessity, the laundry room.
During that time, review mental snapshots of the most meaningful moments during that time. Then ask yourself: Why were they meaningful? What was something I overcame, accomplished, or learned? What was one way I contributed? Answers to these questions help me see how I've progressed when often as a mother it doesn't feel that way.
Especially at milestone ages like 30, 40, 50 and 60, our body, mind and soul shifts. These changes are real. For example, a woman's brain shrinks during pregnancy, becoming about 4 percent smaller by the time she delivers, according to a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology. Who knew! (It returns about six months later, so they say …)
We can anticipate those physical and emotional changes to look for the good. Then share your feelings with loved ones so that they understand the shift, even when you're not quite sure what it means either. In my uber 20s and 30s, I felt I had to save the world. By the time I hit my 40s and now 50, I feel compelled but not driven. That's a big difference. I enjoy more and hurry less, even though it's still busy.
You've got savvy, experience and some moxie, now use it. If you hit an age milestone and feel unsettled, ask yourself these three questions:
What is something you had wanted to become, do or experience by now?
What's stopping you?
What one step could "move" you?
Allow yourself to develop, for the vision to unfold. Recently and unexpectedly, I found the opportunity to return to teaching on-site Back to Basics programs. Because I had put this on hold for a few years, I was a little nervous to restart it. However, my program director and I decided to put together an introduction class. Due to the holiday timing, we anticipated maybe 25 women would come. It wasn't ideal in several ways, but I made a move. The night of the class we had 70 women, and even had to put chairs into the hallway space. That taught me a good lesson. Once you feel it, do something about it. Make a move.
No matter your age milestone this year, celebrate! The joy of aging is layered and lovely, embrace it with open arms.