Friday, April 24, 2015

Positive Aging

I'm dying. We all are. From the moment we are born we all suffer from the disease called death. In my youth I never thought about it much. In fact, death was never  a concern or an issue for me. Death was only experienced by old people...  decades older than I was.
Well, I've caught up in age to those I called old decades ago. Mentally I've put-off embracing the fact that I've aged, but a few days ago I was rudely awakened out of my 'young' slumber.

"Are you Ella's grandmother?" a ten year old tomboy asked me as I supervised my 2 year old niece at the playground.
"NO!" an icy dagger glare was my initial response. I was horrified, but quick to catch myself to avoid a heated confrontation with a very young and unwise girl.
"So who are you then?" was her counter question beginning her interrogation with vigor. The only thing missing was a rickety old wooden chair with rope dangling from it to tie up my hands and one of those powerful spot lights that can blind you.
"My name is Anuschka. I'm also known as Tante Noopie. I'm Ella's Mom's sister, so that makes me her Auntie. I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hypothyroidism. I was born in the year..."
"How old are you?" she asked at me firmly, her brow furrowed.
"Almost 50." And so began the awakening into the aging reality.
Truth be told, I have seen the signs, clues if you will, over the last decade. Every now and then, when the light is not bright enough and the words are typed too small I have needed to pull out magnifying glasses in order to read. My joints hurt and I get very tired standing on my feet for 8 hours a day. Watching your face mature, age spots creep up on your hands, and inflammation and joint pain reeking havoc on your body is not the most gratifying. The process of aging involves a certain amount of loss. I have felt depression set in, triggered because I miss a certain younger image of myself. The one where I was healthier and didn't worry about mortgage payments.
I don't mean to make light of the worries youth face, I had worries back then and the point of this campfire is for us to share those worries and help each other through the confusion and chaos.
There have been times when I wished I had a mentor to help me through those tough moments in life. Someone, to help (not laugh at me) when I have failed miserably at the choices I have made, and someone to rejoice when I have found success.

As a youth leader for a program called "The Landing" I have been blessed to share my Monday nights with a group of teens. Although, we don't have a campfire at the church we do sit around in a circle and share. Truthfully, I learn just as much from them that I hope they learn from me. I believe God puts people into our lives to love us, encourage us, and even to  challenge us.
Perhaps, these campfire stories are similar to your experiences? Or if you are young, it may be what you will experience decades from now. My hope, is that these stories and experiences make you laugh, and if you learn something from them, well... that's just an added bonus.

For generations, the elders would sit with the youth around a campfire and share stories and experiences. Preparing the next generation for what's to come. Aging is not for the faint of heart, but I would like the next generation to be more prepared for it than I was. This is my campfire. All are welcome here.

Campfire wisdom:

Where there is negativity, you have the power within you to focus on the positive. Negative and positive happen around you each day. When we focus on the negative (like being old) it turns us into who we were not created to be and we fall behind. When we focus on the positive we move forward. Being positive is a powerful force, harness that power and embrace it. Loss and negativity are going to happen, don't hold on to it, learn and grow from it, then turn it into a funny story.

Later that same day, after the 'grandma' incident, I was pleasantly surprised when walking out of Costco I handed a young gentleman my receipt, he said, "Wow! what 3 beautiful sisters." he smiled as he handed me the receipt back. I was pushing the cart in between my two beautiful teenage daughters. After his comment, I found there was a lift in my spirits and a bounce to my aging steps.
"Mom!" my eldest exclaimed, "He was so flirting with you! I can't believe it, you were getting checked out! What would Dad say!"
"He would laugh." I replied.

There's a rainbow after a storm, you just have to look for it.

Thanks to my daughter for letting me use her picture