I believe that having a youthful attitude toward life influences our health, happiness, friendships, attitudes, and lives in general.
I have been accused of being a bit of a goofball in the past and occasionally now. But I think that ability to be silly sometimes has helped to disguise my aging face and body into looking younger. People often tell me that I look like I am in my 50’s. I am almost 68.
In the past, more so than now, I often said and did things that most other women my age wouldn’t do. I climbed a tree at 38 years old, (but won’t do that again!) I still wear blue jeans in the fall and winter. I wear long skirts or long dresses in the summer in spite of my less than svelte body.
For years, several times a year I have driven my car alone for 5 hours to my hometown in South Carolina to see my brother and other family and friends. Many women my age are astonished that I would do such a thing by myself; driving on highways through and near large towns.
My choice of friends has also kept me younger at heart, I believe. My best friend and two of my other dearest friends are 10 years younger than I am. They also thought I was their age when they met me. But I have an 80 year old friend who acts like a 60 year old too, so I think I just attract young people or am attracted to younger acting people.
So how does one maintain a youthful attitude without looking like a “wannabe younger woman”? Well, I have an open mind to new ideas, new people, new places to see, new attitudes towards myself and to aging.
I am not ashamed of my graying blonde hair. I am not ashamed of my wrinkles, non-athletic body, nor my unabashed joy for life. After facing death several times I have a sincere joy and love of life and living, and not just mine but the lives of other people and other creatures.
That attitude helped me survive when my husband’s personality changed from the ravages of undiagnosed and later poorly controlled diabetes; and later the changes from mini strokes, (we didn’t know until he had a major stroke 9 years before his death).
I wanted to be happy, I wanted to enjoy life, learn, live, and be me. The yearning for that joy kept me going when times got tough. Sure I got depressed, angry, frustrated and down on myself. But I came out of it and kept on going! I knew I needed to be positive even when I was feeling kind of negative about life in general.
I have to admit that being 32 when I had my first son may have been an influencing factor too. I watched the Teenage Mutant Turtles, Mr. Rogers and the other kid shows with him. Since we lived in the country for most of his first 8 years and there were few kids near our home, I played with him, read to him, took him to the zoo, the park, and other activities.
When he became a teenager I learned about music that was different from what I had grown up with. Some of it I didn’t care for, but some of it I liked a lot. He was interested in certain authors and after hearing him talk about some of them and how good they were, I read some of them too. When he got a laptop computer I learned things from him about what to do and not to do for security on a computer.
When he became an adult, I met many of his friends, who often called me Mom. I hugged them like my kids, and even helped my son move with their help. Later I even drove the 20 foot U-Haul truck to move his belongings when he moved in with his girlfriend, now fiance’! He trusted me because I had driven one when we moved years before! I enjoyed many of his friends when I met them on different occasions.
I love to learn about new inventions, new music, new styles, new ideas and ways that improve methods of doing things more efficiently. I enjoy using the internet to learn things that I used to have to use an encyclopedia to discover. I can look up how to fix things and how things work that I never had access to in the past! What an amazing invention, the computer/internet!
Another factor in my anti-aging life is my love for myself, people, nature, plants, bugs, and life in general. The discoveries being made in science, the new inventions being created to improve our lives all excite and interest me.
But one attitude that contributes to my youthfulness is being thankful to God for my life, my experiences (which helped make me who I am now), my family, friends, pets, health (I do have problems but they are not insurmountable), my childhood and parents and siblings, who still are very dear to me.
Yes, sometimes I feel weighed down by the pain, destruction and hatred that exists in the world. But gradually I am learning to do what I can do, where I am, to help where I am able to help.
I can not save the world from world hunger, diseases and disasters. But I can do what I can do. That is my goal now. To make a difference where I can. Perhaps realizing and accepting my own limitations also makes me feel younger too.
When world problems get to me I remember the Prayer of Serenity: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I can also make a difference in my little corner of the world by being kind, helpful, polite, friendly, and being generous with my time and my life to help others.