What is the perfect age?
Was is five or twenty-two or maybe we haven’t even reached it yet?
Sometimes we see ourselves and our family members with our brains put on pause, not wanting to fully accept and embrace our own, or their, ages. It can be bittersweet to accept the passage of time and the evolution of who we, and our loved ones, are on this very day – not five, ten or twenty years ago – not even yesterday.
Not acknowledging ourselves and our loved ones for who we are today denies us of fully experiencing the wonder of aging. Instead, we need to wake up – and open up – to accept that aging is happening, from the moment of our birth. It’s a natural process, a journey, a ride – and we’d better enjoy it.
Every day of life is precious, from childhood on up… and the gratitude for life doesn’t end at fifty. In fact, it ever increases.
Get your brain off age-pause! Whether it’s with respect to your age, your kids or your parents, aging is a gift!
“Breath and life. If you have nothing more, you always have that.” – Alicia Keys, musician
Aging is what facilitates the evolution of who we each are and is the process by which we all continue to grow in mind, body and spirit.
We’ve watched little ones in our lives grow from babies. Many of us still see them as children even though they now look back (or down, since they’ve grown so tall) at us from the faces of teens and young adults.
If we continue to see them as children, we aren’t giving ourselves the treat of embracing who they have become.
By the same token, we can stunt the growth of our relationships with our spouse, partner, friends and parents by still holding them to who they were twenty years ago. Or even one year or a month ago.
And the same goes for us.
Let’s not try to deny the years.
It’s the experiences we’ve lived in those years that are what makes us who we are. We must allow ourselves to embrace our age and where it has landed us on this very day. A day in our continued journey.
“The future starts when I wake up every morning. That’s when it starts – when I wake up and see the first light. Then, I’m grateful.” – Miles Davis, musician
We are all evolving. We continue to grow and change. Our bodies, our minds, our spirits evolve along with our interests, abilities, and our capacity for love.
This summer I woke up to accepting aging (not just mine) as a gift. And to a deeper understanding of how we can’t pause time and trying to do so robs us of today’s joys.
Not only my own aging, but I (finally) clearly saw my kids as the young adults they are, not the little children my brain wants to freeze them as.
The wake-up moment
We’ve been going to a campground in South Carolina for the same week every July for over fourteen years. We started taking this annual trip when my kids were 2, 5 and 9 years old. (I could write a whole book on why I feel camping is so uniquely suitable for quality family time, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll stick to the wake-up moment.)
Inside our travel trailer we’ve stored all the blankets, sheets and sleeping bags that we’ve used summer after summer since we took our first camping trip. We’ve only used those items for a few weeks each year, so they’ve lasted all this time.
On our trip this year, when the “kids” got into their usual sleeping spots in the camper at the end of our first day there, I looked at them and had this very real, poignant, mindfully present and awake moment.
Each of them being over 5’ 10”, their feet were hanging off their sleeping spots by nearly a foot. Where the heck was I while they had apparently long outgrown the same little nooks they had curled up so comfortably in for years?!
They lie trying to get comfortable under the bed coverings and the sleeping bags I had pulled out that morning. Rearranging their long legs and arms beneath Power Rangers, Mickey Mouse and Cars themed sheets and blankets.
It was the first time I had really seen so visually how many years had passed since our first camping trip. For all of us.
How ridiculous that they’re shaving and driving for crying out loud – and yet, I’m still hanging on to those cartoon kiddie blankets! (They might not admit it, but I think there’s a part of them that enjoyed the chance to feel like a little kid again for a moment as they lay under those blankets.) It brought them back to their own childhood, if only for a few minutes as they drifted to sleep.
The next day, I watched my nineteen-year-old snuggle his girlfriend in a hammock with the Power Rangers blanket dragged out of the camper to cover them in the cool evening air. Wake up mom. He’s certainly not five years old anymore.
Part of the wake-up was realizing that they know how to embrace their age. They’re not wishing they were any younger, or any older. Yes, I know, they’re young, but it’s more than that.
They are living in the moment, fully.
Something we, ahem, older adults, need to remind ourselves to continue to do.
Let’s get away from the habit of wanting to freeze time. Away from wanting to put a pause on allowing the growth of our kids and ourselves. Away from denial that these years have passed. Away from overthinking it.
As they say, the days are long but the years are short. Don’t use your energy to look back because you’re not going that way.
Open up your heart and your mind to the present.
To fully immerse ourselves in this day is to show ourselves and our kids, parents, partners – love. Deep love and acceptance.
As the evolution of you continues, you deserve the same love and deep acceptance for who you are today. To be awake to and grateful for the ever-changing shades of your journey is to live fully present.
All we ever really have is today.
We are not promised the future – but what you can sink your teeth and heart and soul into – is this moment.
So, embrace your age. Embrace your loved ones without trapping them in your mind on age-pause, whatever their age. Think positively.
What a gift it is to be alive and on this journey.
“Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff.” – Betty White
Embrace the growth and age of your kids, your spouse, partner, parents, friends – and enjoy them for who they are at this very moment.
Sink into it, accept it, revel in it, rejoice in it, breath into it, feel gratitude for it.
Because right now is as perfect as any other moment to be alive. And whatever age you are is the perfect age. And so will it be tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day after that.
Cheers to un-pausing time in our brain and to fully acknowledging and enjoying every stage of our journey (including our kids growing up). Cheers to you because you are the perfect age! – Marlene
A note on camping: A year ago, I posted about the Silver Lining in a Rainy Week at the Beach – because it rained the entire week we were camping! This year I’m happy to share that it was sunny every single day.
Last week, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Janine Pettit, host of the Girl Camper Podcast and GirlCamper.com as a guest on her show. We chatted about how much I love the family memory-making experiences camping provides. We talked about how it started out as an affordable way for me to take our three kids away for weekends together when they were little and we were on a tight budget, (and the camping bonus of lots of nature and unplugged family time). I spoke about how those annual trips are still truly special but have evolved over the years as my family has grown and grown up (but are still sleeping under Power Rangers and Mickey Mouse blankets!)
Looking for immediate inspiration to help you think more positively?
This free sheet will give you 11 self-affirmations to help you begin to shift your mindset and turn down the negative self-talk (so you can get your kick-butt mojo flowing!)
You will also receive a once-a-week blog post update so you can be kept in the loop on new stories and offers.
Your email information will never be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.