getting older

When I was growing up in the 1960s, we were taught to never trust anyone over 30. That works great when you are 19, 20 and 21. When you approach 31, 40, 50, 60 and beyond, you may want to modify that stance.

I have come to believe that growing older is a party to be savored. There are many reasons, but here are the top three:

I Have Freedom to Speak My Mind

When I express an opinion, I am given a modicum of respect because I am an older woman. I’m not so old as to be considered ‘doddering,’ but I do have opinions that are sometimes listened to.

Yet, I have given up the need to be right. When I don’t have to be right all the time, I can hear the heart of the other. I can accept and love without judgment. I can listen and learn and be willing to accept that the universe is so much larger than my own views.

Then there is the experience factor. I have lived through enough difficulties in life that when someone asks advice about their child – who is estranged, addicted or swinging from the ceiling – they are more likely to listen to me because I have been through ADD, LD, ADHD and ee-ii-ee-ii-oo with my own children.

I always focus on the positive possibilities of every challenge, thereby lending encouragement to others. In my relationships, idiosyncrasies are tolerated because my family says, “Oh, that’s just how mom is.” Friends who matter know I am quirky and accept it with grace and humor. This is freedom!

I Have Freedom to Follow My Passions

As a young law school graduate, there were societal expectations. In my circle, the path to take was to be a prosecutor for several years, then private practice to make lots of money, then be appointed a judge until you earned a cushy retirement.

I made a good start on that path, then decided to take a mommy sabbatical for 20 years.

Upon my return to practicing law, I have had the freedom to make it look any way I want it to look. I’ve been working on my own terms in a way that makes sense in my very complicated life. It has been rewarding to face off with fresh-faced opponents and encourage them in their craft.

With grown kids, I am freer to pick up some other interests, too. I have made a couple of quilts. I am an apprentice basket weaver. My sister and I make jewelry together for our own enjoyment as well as for sale. I never had the time of the undisturbed space or undivided mind to do this before.

I am freer to give my time to causes I believe in. When I volunteered while the kids were little, there was a constant tension between the desire to volunteer and the guilt over taking time from the children. Now, the kids are grown, I’m busy, they are busy, and we’re all happy.

I Have the Freedom to Forgive

As I get older, I realize I don’t have time to hold grudges. If I have many years left or only a few, I won’t waste those years holding grudges that were silly in their inception. I also don’t have time to nurse grievances. I would rather spend my energy accepting and loving other people.

Finally, I can forgive myself for all the stupid things I did in my youth, and there were many. I can look back in love at that young person and be grateful for the growth I have stumbled through.

I have a deep appreciation for what I have encountered and survived. It is a blessing to encourage others in their difficulties, pointing them to the peace that can lie ahead for them.

So, don’t dread getting older. Go there gracefully. There is tremendous freedom ahead to be enjoyed. The way I see it, from here on it’s all a party – and I’ve never been one to miss a good party. Won’t you come along?

Why do you think that getting older is awesome? What do you do differently now that you are in your 60s and beyond? Please share the many ways you’ve learned to enjoy your freedom!