Joys of Age

As I was thinking back over the last year, what was positive or fun, what I learned from, what succeeded, what failed, what the jury is still out on, what seems to want to expand in the coming year, who I enjoyed being with and feel honored to have in my life, I realized that there is a true joy in coming of age.

You can come of age at any age, though it’s often in response to some life changing event: having a baby, running your own business, death of someone you love, the serious dis-ease of you or someone you love, the end of an important relationship, financial hardship.

It’s a never ending process, and we can choose to grow and learn through awareness and joy rather than pain.

That said, here are a few joys of age:

You know who you are.
– You know what your strengths are (speaking, I hope, writing).
– You know what you’re bad at (proofreading, typing) — and have other people or systems to do that for you. –
– You know what you love to do (readings), what you hate to do (clean bathrooms), and what you will no longer tolerate (washing dishes).
– You don’t define yourself by that great shirt, or the cool watch or cool car or even right neighborhood. You define yourself by the content of your character, the size of your heart, you compassion.

You are good at things you enjoy.
– If you like to eat, maybe by now you’re a good cook. And if, because you like to eat, you discovered you like to cook, you’re definitely a good cook.
– If you like to run, you’ve learned where the edge is, between not pushing hard enough, so it’s not really a workout, and pushing too hard so you hurt yourself. You know the edge is a little different every day. And you stay on that edge.

You know who other people are.
– You know who you can count on, and who you can’t.
– You know that when someone is always late, they’re always late, no matter how much they say they’re going to be on time next time, and that it’s about her/him, not you.
– You know that Mom gets anxious when anyone else drives — it’s her control issue, not your driving.
– You know that Jane runs off at the mouth — she needs to be heard really badly, and you can either be around her or not, but you can’t shut her up.
– You know that when two people get on each other’s nerves — it’s them, not you, and you don’t have to be in the middle of it.

You know who your friends are — and you know you have them around you.
– You know who shows up to help you move and who is conveniently busy.
– You know who to call when you are heart-broken at 2AM.
– You know who will bring you groceries when you’re sick, and who just can’t be around sick people.
– You know that these are 3 separate people, and you don’t expect the one who helps you move to be the one you can call at 2AM.

You can see patterns.
– You know that when Joe calls his Dad, Joe’s going to be in a bad mood for a few hours.
– Or you’ve learned that your husband is most cooperative when he needs sex, so that’s when you ask for something big (this is truly what a very smart woman I met told me about how her marriage worked).
– You know that when George Bush says he’s not doing something, like planning to attack Iraq, or Iran, or spying on the American people, he really means the opposite.
– You know that anything the government is hiding, it isn’t hiding for your good.

You are doing something about the things you can change.
– If you don’t like where you’re living, you figure out how to make it a place you like — or how to move.
– If you don’t like your financial situation, you figure out what field you might like that could make you more money. Or how to save, or how to invest.
– If you don’t like how your body looks, you join a gym and go. And you eat less and stick to it. And if that doesn’t work, you eventually figure out what in your body isn’t working right, and do something to get it to work right.

You are gracious in accepting what you can’t change.
– You can’t change the weather, you just deal with it the best you can.
– You can’t change other people, you either deal with them the best you can, or you don’t deal with them.
– You can’t change the past, but you can change your memories of it, and how you deal with it — that’s the grace part.

You are smart enough to tell which is which.
– A friend of mine, a single woman, adopted a 3 year old Russian orphan a few years back. When the girl got to be school age, she began to have projects about her family, like drawing a family tree. Since she was able to remember the orphanage, it was clear she had no idea about her family tree. Of course, they used my friend’s family, but it never felt right. When it came to stuff about the family pet, though, they went and got a cat. As my friend said at the time, “this one I can do something about”.
– And if this is beginning to sound like the Serenity Prayer, perhaps this is why those of us who are “awake” grow more peaceful with age.

You have let go of a lot of the baggage that led to stupid choices.
– You’ve learned that some of what you learned at your parents’ possibly dysfunctional knees may or may not have worked for them, but it definitely doesn’t work for you, and you’ve learned to act or be different.
– You’ve learned that you don’t need your peers’ approval, or your parents’ approval, for your life to work.
– You’ve learned that your need for security is often a trap, and that giving up what seems like security, in service of something you truly want is actually the smartest, safest choice in the long run.

You have learned from all the bad choices.
– Choices always have consequences, and you have learned from the consequences of your actions. So you’re making different choices now.

You have your own spirituality.
– You’ve read enough, and talked enough, and prayed or meditated enough to know what you believe, and what rings true for you in other people’s writings or speaking.
– You’ve developed your own relationship with (pick your word here) God, a higher power, Goddess, All that Is, the Universe, your guides or angels, your higher wisdom. And you rely on that relationship to get you through hard times. And if you’re really together, you remember to say “thank you” in good times.

Please write me with any ideas you have for additions to this list — I’d love to hear them!

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.