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Are You "Reeling in the Years, Stowing Away the Time?"

Personal Perspective: Making each year count takes effort and attitude.

Key points

  • Can you relate now to the person you were at the start of each previous decade?
  • The top benefits of aging indicate that more life experience means gaining wisdom, which bestows more confidence.

There are a number of facts as well as myths about aging. Point in fact: The writer of this blog is now no longer “pushing” 70. She is in her 70s, having posted this on her 71st birthday. To type it, to say it, and to admit it may sound bizarre since most women would rather you guess their age.

Recently, however, I have been called upon to defend saying it. News about this later.

 Anna Shevts
Source: Pexels: Anna Shevts

Over the past year, I’ve noticed a whole lotta changes going on in my life, both fortunate as well as those presenting cause for contemplation. Instead of shrinking into older-age-malaise, however, it’s as if I am in a discovery bubble, like a mere 20-year-old when little adventures were happening right and left.

I have always said we live many lives, and now? I mean it more than ever. After all, can you even relate now to the person you were at the start of each previous decade? I am sure I sound nothing like my 30-, 40- or even 50-year-old self. And what I have learned since age 60 could fill a book.

The National Institute on Aging says that aging may also bring positive cognitive changes -- that older adults have more extensive vocabularies and greater knowledge of the depth of meaning of words than younger adults. We may also have learned from a lifetime of accumulated knowledge and experiences.

Moving because you have to.

The CDC has found that as an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health, preventing or delaying many of the health problems that seem to come with age. In the meantime, it also helps your muscles grow stronger.

Those who want me to stick around as long as possible by making a concerted effort to stay healthy figure into all this as well. Aging offers few choices if I intend to stay upright. Thinking strength training will make me gorgeous and svelte is a bridge too far for an undisciplined person like myself, however.

I do it simply because I don’t want to see a storefront window reflection that reveals I have become hunched over as the years progress. So I consider it "vanity with a purpose." I also like being able to balance standing up when pulling on my stretchy jeans.

Taking up a new sport.

Medium blogger Julia E. Hubble proudly admits that ever since she turned 60, she takes up something new every year, bruising and making a fool of herself. On a side note, bruises begin to appear very differently as we age. One little bump into something you didn’t see coming ends up being a purple trophy that takes its sweet time disappearing and causes you to look for leg makeup. But getting bruised or feeling sore from attempting a new sport sounds much better than admitting that simply picking up a bag of groceries led to wearing a neck brace.

I took up my first outdoor sport–ever–a year ago, and even that feels strange to type out loud. I am not a “sporty” person. Golf was a game I labeled as patently boring and slow-moving -- what paunchy old men did. But last year, I realized that I was a person who loved beautiful surroundings wherever they happen to be, and as a result, this is something I should try.

So golf? The permanently manicured surroundings at every tee literally take my breath away. Apart from trying to hit a ball straight, I delight in challenging myself with every drive, pitch, chip, and putt while dressed in my golf uniform of the day. I honestly lose sleep the night before a morning tee time. Who the hell IS this person?

Getting invited to do something.

Experts now say that instead of our brain cells shrinking as we become older, we actually build new neural pathways throughout our lifetime. It’s called “neuroplasticity,” and it makes us capable of dealing with many challenging events.

Over the past month, I was unexpectedly asked to moderate a panel of health and wellness media personalities for a New York City press event sponsored by a now 100-year-old wellness company. They took a poll/survey on people’s attitudes toward aging, ageism, how we are constantly ignored as a demographic, and how we can and should change the narrative about older people.

There I was, having been flown to the Big Apple to question and network with some fascinating women spanning four decades in age, having a ball. Who’d ‘a thunk it?

Dusting off muscle memory.

Washington Post’s Stacey Colino said,

Although people colloquially refer to never forgetting how to ride a bike, throw a baseball or serve a tennis ball as examples of ‘muscle memory,’ those comeback skills actually stem from a motor learning process. In other words, they are 'motor memory.'

You talkin’ to me?

After 50+ years, I am re-learning to play the piano. A haphazard short-cutter all my life, I never learned to play past a certain (fairly elementary) level but always delighted in plunking out what I had already learned using sheer muscle memory. So I found a teacher who "gets" my penchant to imitate rather than go back and learn the basics.

Taking on a new, boomer-challenging job …

Time Magazine's “5 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp As You Age” explains how brain scans of some 70-year-olds resemble those of 20 to 30-year-olds. The top benefits of aging gleaned from the poll I mentioned earlier indicate that more life experience means gaining wisdom, which bestows more confidence. Which is why I must mention my most recent and steepest learning curve — a short-term contract customer care job that has me learning apps like Kajabi, Drip, JustWorks, HelpScout, and Slack.

My mind is navigating, copying, pasting, and nuancing information to respond to those enrolling in an online course that gets them ready for the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. I want to scream out loud to them that if I can learn to do this, they can start/run a business, and that the decades will only make them better at what they do, whether part of that means falling on their faces and learning from their mistakes, or grasping and applying all the concepts from the get-go.

The ageless Jane Fonda once said, “You don't become wise by having a lot of experience; you become wise by reflecting deeply on the experiences you've had.”

Admittedly, my third trimester of life has just begun and I won’t be fully formed until it’s over. How about you? Like that famous Shawshank Redemption movie reminds us, “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” If you saw that movie, you'll understand how I need not etch my name into a hotel room rafter to indicate my intentions, however. I'll be doing the former instead of the latter, because unless DNA dictates something I can’t fight the good fight against, life is often all about decisions.