As I try to stay busy exploring what retirement will be for me…and for Zaf, a moment of realization on how old I am is when I keep scrolling down (way down!) to pick the year of my birth when filling out an online form…yikes!
Some days I feel it, other days I’m feeling like a much younger person. A lot depends on how I slept the night before or if I have too much work on my desk and am overwhelmed; it might also depend on hearing news of someone the same age as me who is sick or has left us behind.
Still other ways age becomes a reality is when I see the grand-children grow, almost overnight, into young adults. They share their experiences or their view of the world in general and I immediately flash to a moment when I too had that experience. My eleven year-old grand-niece, the other day, winced and made a face when she overheard my conversation with her mom, my niece, about me taking a walk that morning at 6:30am – how brisk and fresh the morning felt, how clean the world seemed to be, how alive I felt, etc. I vividly remember having that very same reaction when I heard my parents talking about getting up early to get to work, to do the chores, to run the errands. At that age, sleeping in till 9 or 10 was the norm and now, getting up at 5 or 6 is what I do.
There is so much out there that we read or hear on the TV about how aging is just a number, or we are as young you feel, and so on. Anti-aging diets, medicines, exercises, creams and lotions are hawked ad nauseum. They are selling hopes and wishes, in my opinion. What works for me is my mental health. Accepting my age is the first step. Eating smart and getting some physical movement going follows closely. Being clean and dressing appropriately is on the list too.
The key is energy – at this point, I only have energy for the things that make me happy. Work is a big part, but it is finally manageable; simplifying household chores is happening; planning for retirement makes me smile. Giving myself tasks and projects to keep me occupied is a daily effort – some days I do them and some days I don’t. I find that I need to pace myself and include resting times. I don’t have the get-up and go for things I have no interest in.
Being satisfied with my life inspires me and allows me to be curious. Curiosity motivates me to research further into that we could be doing: discover new destinations to travel to, join a yoga class, volunteer at the local shelter, go to the theater more often, etc. It’s all out there and awaits us.
Exploring what more we can do is divided into two sections. One is what we can do now (in our spare time) and the other is what we can do when we retire. I try not to think about what condition we might be in when that happens, but I hope and pray for the best. Either way, I’m going to continue to find things to keep us young and relevant and most of all, interested in the world around us!
In the meanwhile, all I really know is that life is short, so we eat dessert every night!
We are on it!
Chocolates! photograph from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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