Goodness, I find myself at this “well seasoned” stage of life once again reevaluating my choices, creating a new action plan, and purpose statement. Really? Again?
This has come about in the wake of the long lockdown due to the world wide pandemic. Honestly, I got so comfortable staying at home, entertaining myself with the animals, writing, reading, and exercising that I had sort of decided that I was through with all my running around the world adventuring on big trips. I had kind of thought I would simply mellow out my life at home with my husband and family. That was what I was thinking when suddenly last month a very long postponed journey to Iceland was back on..
I admit I was hesitant. Iceland is far away, and the prospect of being squeezed into a crowded airplane while Delta Variant raged on did not inspire me. However, my daughter-in-law and I had paid our money and Iceland was ready for us. We met up with our dozen or so tour mates and enjoyed the hikes and sights of an eco tour; glaciers, geysers, an active volcano, waterfalls, and more. It was all marvelous, but the higher and further we hiked, the more I was hearing my trip mates commenting on how “spry” I was and that I was an “inspiration.” Mind you the travel mates, excepting my daughter-in-law, were well into their 60’s and 70’s. As the most senior in the group, I felt a sting of being outed as “other.” These “compliments” felt “ageist” as they kept coming to me, making me uncomfortable. I admit I began to feel annoyed. Probably the comments were well intentioned but they hit a sour note and were not really welcome.
However, the majesty of the vast volcanic lava fields, the expedition through ice bergs in an amphibious boat, and the enormity of hiking to Europe’s largest waterfall, were telling me a different story, that there is still so much more to see and do. Then I saw this REGRETS OF PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE DYING chart by Barry Selby on social media and I began to question my earlier thoughts.
All that was roiling around in my brain on Saturday when I joined my daughter and three grand daughters for Goat and Llama Yoga in San Diego. It was a sprawling class of 30 under a shade at a farm. Not having practiced yoga in a decade I thought I was situating myself at the back of the class where I could hide out. I was wrong. I had inadvertently put myself in the front row a few feet from the instructor, thus challenging me to do my best, to rise above my reticence. Class began. I contorted into the poses, the goats came out, the llamas came out, but my attention was focused on the where of my arms and legs. By the end of the class my back, sore from all the plane rides and driving 1500 miles around Iceland, felt good, really good.
My takeaway from Goat yoga was that I must keep it up, maybe without the goats! I have committed to a practice every day and have been loyal to that decision. In addition I have reevaluated my earlier plan, I am not giving up traveling until I have to. I do not want any regrets. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and say, “yes it was a good life, but I regret that I succumbed to the expectation that older folk should live a smaller life.”
Also I am changing my perception of what it means when people offer to help me, comment on my stamina, and set me apart. I am going to graciously accept the help when my fellow shoppers at the grocery store want to lift the water or the bag of carrots into my cart. I am going to smile and say thank you. I am embracing who I am, but I will not let it shrink nor annoy me. I am changing my ways. I will make a conscious effort to not let others define me. This is our time now. If we can go for it, why shouldn’t we? I think we need to embrace the attention, say thank you, and keep on keeping on. If any of what I have recently been experiencing resonates with you, I would love to know what you are thinking.
My best, donna