As we age stress, high levels of cortisol (the dreaded cortisol dump from the fight or flight response), people-pleasing, not standing up for ourselves in appropriate ways, and not living our best lives is, well, AGING!!!
It shows on our faces, in our joints, in our digestion, through our concentration and through our emotional stability.
There is no reason we can't face our fears of others' reactions to what we need or want especially when it is not outrageous but just a part of living a healthy life.
This means through ALL of our aging - from the time we begin BEING in relationships until we are elderly.
After 25 years of a really difficult relationship I decided to release my fears of retribution, abandonment, and judgment and be completely honest and transparent.
By expressing myself genuinely, and with integrity (for the betterment of the relationship) it took letting go of my fears.
When I addressed the pain in this relationship, and took responsibility for my actions, emotions and behavior, a magical thing happened.
Don't get me wrong, the person was definitely resistant in the beginning.
Typically there would be escalated yelling, walking away, slamming down the phone or non-communication for months on end.
I refused to allow this to happen.
I was very frank.
And, BOY, did I set myself up for epic failure. Not too many people are willing or able to have a mirror put up to their face and take a good hard look. I'll admit it took me a while to become a student of my own behavior.
It pays off in the long run.
How could I stand around for one more minute without at least trying to make the situation better?
How could I turn my back on all of my meditation and healing arts training without feeling a complete charlatan? A fraud?
"Do as I say, not as I do"?
In the end things are changing and efforts are being made.
Being honest and transparent, in a loving way, has had an overarching affect on my ENTIRE existence.
Releasing the fear of confrontation and accepting that confrontation happens released fear in many areas of my life.
Hey, better late than never. CLICHÉ but true.
How has it manifested in other areas of my life?
I’m not fearful of speaking up when I get bad service.
I WILL send food back with a pleasant tone in my voice, a smile and a please and thank you.
I’m not fearful of calling it out when someone is rude, unkind, discriminatory or out right nasty.
Firmly AND kindly.
A genuine smile, please, thank you, and NOT FLIPPING OUT, goes a LONG way.
In general, this has been greeted with little or no pushback which surprised me on many levels.
I have been gently warned by those closest to me that caring too much what others think can be paralyzing.
I have asked myself numerous times: "How did you go for so long being a people-pleaser and FEARING the ramifications and repercussions of standing up for yourself and expressing yourself?"
I used the excuse that I was in entertainment for SO many years and was trained to give people what they wanted in terms of my behavior.
It's an industry of insecurity, of desperation and of awe-inspiring creativity. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?
An industry where you may be flying high one moment and road kill the next.
Remarkable highs and soul-killing lows.
Yeah, so what? So are most big industries.
It's an excuse.
Here's a non-sequitar:
The incredible thing is my lifelong fear of spiders has disappeared.
I love all of Mother Nature’s creatures, even the creepy ones.
I have no problem with snakes and lizards, but I really struggled with spiders or centipedes.
....or any bugs from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
I was standing in my driveway and a spider crawled in front of my toes. Instead of stepping on it, screeching, or running away I knelt down and watched it.
Have you ever watched a spider? It’s nothing short of mesmerizing.
I’ve started watching spiders build webs on my lanai.
Now I gently wrangle them from inside the house and take them outside.
It makes me think of Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.
They are fascinating creatures.
Granted, we recoil from anything with a myriad of appendages. It's just alien.
NOW I’m excited and thinking "What’s next?"
What other lurking fears - conscious, subconscious or unconscious - can I acknowledge as unfounded when they bubble up?
Of course, I don’t plan on being reckless.
I still listen to my fight or flight responses... the dangerous ones.
I live near alligators and sharks. I have a healthy respect and admiration for them AND I keep a respectable distance.
Even in my travels abroad a healthy fear includes staying safe amongst exotic creatures and unfamiliar peopled places.
Maybe it’s because I watch the youth of our country stand up for their own safety, protection, and freedom of expression to live healthy, happy and productive lives.
If they can do it, why can't I?
That being said, I STILL deal with claustrophobia.
I know EXACTLY where that manifested...
...from a mean little girl - the child of my parent's friends when I was young.
She used to lock me in the basement laundry room of our apartment building and turn out the lights.
OR hold me under water in the swimming pool.
I get it.
She had her own issues.
Luckily, I still love to swim.
AND I'm not afraid of the dark.
I made peace with those pesky little demons years ago.
Nevertheless, forget about getting me into one of those dark, haunted houses.
Or an MRI machine...
I'm not taking baby steps anymore but, unfortunately, all the shadows don't disappear overnight.
You aren't going to tell a bunch of stories and end the article with no examples on what you do to address your fears, are you?
No, I'm not!
Mindset, Meditation, Movement, Music AND...
...learning to love myself.
What fears are you overcoming to pro-age?
(Click the Meditation and Qigong tab above for some ideas to help you with any fears.)
As always, thanks for reading.
See you again next week!
"Who wants to live forever?"
"Who wants to live forever?"
An interesting question posed by Queen.
Written in 1986 by Brian May for the film Highlander, and recorded by Queen with Freddie Mercury singing lead vocals.
The Highlander, Connor McLeod, had to endure the aging and subsequent death of his beloved wife, Heather, because he himself was immortal.
The song became a sort of private anthem for Mercury due to his battle with AIDS.
Today it’s the fifth most requested song at funerals.
Who DOES want to live forever?
Wouldn’t it be remarkable to see the advancements in our world through science if we lived indefinitely?
To watch our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow and mature.
To see illnesses cured and the environment healed.
Yes, and no.
If no one died it would certainly be a very crowded planet.
And at what age would we stop aging? In our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 80’s?
An entire industry - the anti- aging industry - would be wiped out.
Perhaps even the vitamin and supplement industry.
What about hospitals, physicians and medical researchers?
No need for them if we are immortal.
BUT could we still get sick or injured and would we be relegated to live sick and injured forever?
Trust me, I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about this.
On the other hand, what if we were able to live long, healthy, extended lives, into our 100’s? Then one day the body just gives out or we decide we're done. We feel complete.
We have accomplished goals, made contributions to the planet and our community and family.
We have lived life fully and with gusto.
We haven't taken our time, our health, our planet or the people around us for granted.
What if we knew exactly what we have and used that time wisely? We taught each other the value of a life well lived. A life that is not simply ego-centric, ethno-centric or money-centric.
Life lived without fear of judgment or ridicule.
We didn't harm ourselves, or harm others. We didn't get our good off of the backs of others.
What if exercise is a pleasure and done to keep the body healthy and happy. It’s a big part of what we naturally do and not what we HAVE TO do. We incorporate it into our lives effortlessly.
The planet is respected and protected because we know it has to sustain us for the long haul.
Alternatives to plastics and fossil fuels are the norm, and not the exception, to keep us and our world thriving.
Imagine how many diseases this behavior would eradicate.
Farmers would farm organically and use natural means to prevent pests. We wouldn’t be putting pesticides in our bodies, water and air, therefore, preventing cancers, and lung, heart and digestive diseases.
We could live longer and do more.
Build more schools, homes, wells, and sanitary disposal methods.
Clean drinking water for all.
The few would not need to hoard or amass untold wealth because simple pleasures would be easily attainable, respected AND appreciated.
If you knew you were going to live for 100 years or more would you want to live with hate, filth, and corruption KNOWING it was a long haul and you would have to endure those conditions for centuries?
Then WHY do we do it now knowing our lives are relatively short?
Don’t we know that aging is a precious gift and not everyone around us will have the luxury of aging?
Instead of being so nonchalant about our lives, bodies, minds and environment we need to nurture ourselves to have the best life possible, for as long as possible.
It reminds me of the song by Blondie: “Die Young, Stay Pretty.”
You CAN live long, live healthily and, yes, stay pretty, if that is important to you. (Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That would be YOU!)
It’s possible. It’s MORE than possible, it’s achievable.
I hear people saying right now “but I haven’t taken care of myself. I have all these problems.”
There's no time like the present to turn your life around to be the best it can be right now.
It may not be perfect. But what is perfect? It WILL be better.
I have a picture of myself at age 2 or 3. In the picture is me, my father, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and my great, great grandmother. Five generations!!! Not many can say they have lived long enough to have a photo taken of five generations of their family.
My earliest family was from hearty stock. They lived at a time where medical advances were taking hold AND when life wasn’t full of toxins, disposable conveniences and distractions. They also lived at a time where money and stuff wasn’t the sum total of your worth.
Exercise, healthy food, a sense of community and a positive outlook were integrated into their lives. These were not elements they had to seek out, pay for or make time for in the course of the day. This WAS the course of the day.
WHO HAS TIME TO LIVE WELL AND BE HEALTHY??
YOU DO! WE DO!
We now have modern conveniences to help us live simpler lives.
You can pick up a bread maker, food processor or air fryer at a local thrift or consignment store. Most likely they’ve barely been used and are a fraction of their original costs. These machines practically do all of your chopping, kneading, blending and cooking for you. Set it and forget it. The next thing you know you have healthy, no preservative or additive bread wafting delicious smells throughout your kitchen.
Do some of the prep on the weekends.
"But I don't have time." YES, YOU DO. Get the kids to help. It's fun and good training for them.
Listen to your favorite music or a class lecture while you slice, dice, blend and bake.
I am by no means a goddess in the kitchen but with a few inexpensive and simple machines assisting me with meal prep we eat a lot healthier.
Grow some herbs on your balcony, patio, or in your garden. Inexpensive and easy. A little tending and you have fresh basil in your pasta sauce. It’s other worldly. Basil from a plant instead of a bottle!
Park your car farther away from the entrance to a store and get a little walk in.
Climb the stairs.
If you can’t do that turn on your computer and find a chair workout on YouTube.
What interests you? Read about it. Can’t afford a book? A library card is free and so are the books. Or spend a quarter at a library book sale.
You can hack the heck out of life to make it better.
Aging doesn't need to be a slog.
It isn’t forever.
You say you were dealt a crappy hand of cards?
You have the power to change the hand you were dealt.
You get the whole lemons into lemonade thing, right?
There are people much worse off than any of us and they are - as they say- CRUSHING IT!!!
If we just sit around feeling sorry for ourselves we rot. We disintegrate and fade from existence.
There is so much out there within our grasp to make life better.
Not perfect, but better.
“Who wants to live forever?”
Forever can be lived in a day.
One beautiful day.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next time!
Don't forget to click above for articles on Travel, Meditation and Qigong and soon, Nature.