I’m in Napa the day after my 50th birthday, compliments of my friend who was here for a conference. I’m along for the ride. I don’t feel fifty. One of my favorite writers, Ann Lamott says, “Here’s my theory: I’m all the ages I’ve ever been.” That’s what it feels like to me: adding another layer, another year – to where I’ve been, what I know, who I am, and who I want to become.
As I approached fifty, I found myself not bothered by it, but rather more acutely aware of the rapid passage of time. I feel an urgency to be purposeful about how I spend my remaining time here. I want to spend time with the people I care deeply about and to do creative, fulfilling and worthy work.
To do this, I have started to make more room:
Physically/Financially/Environmentally. This has meant getting yoga on my calendar and going to a class or practicing at home. It means eating food that nourishes me – for real. It’s meant cleaning, decluttering and organizing my home so that the things that remain are the things I really need and love. I’m also getting my finances arranged by putting every bill I can on automatic bill pay and meeting with a financial advisor so I’m sure where I’m putting my money makes sense; life simplified.
Mentally/Intellectually/Occupationally. This has meant setting clear and measurable goals for the year ahead – both personal and professional. It has meant keeping a planner in which these goals are re-evaluated on, at least, a monthly basis. It means setting aside time to read all those books I buy, listen to lectures, and have conversations that stimulate growth and challenge me, both intrapersonally and intellectually. Most importantly I am striving to not get to the end of the year wondering where the time has gone!
Emotionally/Spiritually/Socially. It’s important for me to slow down and stay focused by meditating daily, spending time in nature, being clear about my expectations, prioritizing my family, and distancing myself from people who don’t contribute positively to my life. This also looks like expanding those social circles that are make me a better human and further my potential. It also means getting restful sleep, so these new and rejuvenating behaviors aren’t so hard to incorporate.
Evaluate your life by using the model below – what are your goals to live a balanced, whole, meaningful life? It is my hope that mindful aging will make the experience of living even more rewarding; that by being present and purposeful, life will not pass by so quickly. 50 years is teaching me that being healthier allows me to “hang around” here just a little bit longer.