Lesson Four: Take Time for Self—Aging Our Way

This is the fourth in a 13-post series on living well, adapted from Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond

A new book by gerontologist Karl Pillemer, 30 Lessons for Living, shares the advice of the "wisest Americans," on marriage, parenting, career, and beyond. (See my review of 30 Lessons at Psychology Today.)

Among the sage advice imparted by elders in this book, two statements stuck with me:

"Live as though life is short."

"When it comes to making the most of your life, think small."

When I read these words, I think most of Shana from Aging Our Way. Once in a while Shana gets nostalgic about the years spent caring for her parents and her children in her family home. But, to be honest, Shana prefers to focus on the present. In fact, she seizes the opportunity to (finally!!!) care for herself.

Daily simple pleasures like sleeping in, reading the paper, and gardening are now central to Shana's life. For her, there's nothing like watching a rhododendron blossom out of season, or harvesting peas for neighbors. Gardening keeps her stimulated, challenged, connected, and joyful.

Shana is taking time for herself, and she wouldn't want it any other way.

Added bonus: Shana's family gets it. Last year they put in raised beds so that Shana wouldn't have to risk falling on her nose.

How do you harness creativity and flow?

How do you take time for yourself?

How do others support you in this?

Related articles
What Are Your Life Lessons? (well.blogs.nytimes.com)
The New Old Age Blog: Hearing the Elderly (newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com)
Advice from elders on finishing with no regrets (seattletimes.nwsource.com)

Copyright Meika Loe

Meika Loe is Associate Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Colgate University. She is the author of Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond.

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