31 Days of Aging Gracefully – Day 2: Living in Gratitude

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“Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” — Job 12:12

I have got the gray hair DOWN.

Just like my father before me, the hair around my face started to turn white over ten years ago. Gradually, it spread and now is pretty much white all over this old head of mine. Fortunately, I like it. It took a little adjusting, but I figured — hey, I used to spend a fair amount of money paying my lovely hairstylist (also a friend) to weave blonder hair through my dark ash. At about the age of 60, I no longer needed to do that.

Score!

There are a few other signs of advancing years that are not quite so easy to accept, however: joints that wear out, skin that sags and grows strange, dark spots as well as completely unacceptable hairs in some places and absolutely none in others. Ahem. There are definitely losses that come with the gift of years and I think they must be grieved and released.

But.

If I’ve learned anything at all in the difficult year just past, it is this: every single minute of life is a gift. Period. And none of us is guaranteed any of it. Serious illness or injury can happen in a heartbeat and we can never know which breath might be our last. I do not mean that in a morbid or maudlin way. Not at all. I just want to underscore the important truth that length of life is beyond our control. Yes, there are healthy habits we can endorse to help however many years we live to be more comfortable (perhaps!), but how long we live is not up to us.

Adopting the attitude that every minute we breathe is a gift from above can do wonders for any negative thoughts we might carry with us about the process of aging. Yes, we can still moan about the difficulties. But around and underneath and encircling all of that moaning, there needs to be something else, something even more basic and life-giving. There needs to be gratitude. Deep, overflowing wells of it.

Being grateful is the single most potent life-extending medicine I know anything about. And practicing gratitude, repeatedly and often, is good for the soul as well as the heart, lungs, and brain. This is the number one lesson to be learned if we want to enter into the last years of our lives with grace and confidence:

SAY THANK YOU.

Over and over again.

Thank you to God, for the gift of this life and this world. Thank you to family and friends for loving us and putting up with us. Thank you to the clerk at the grocery store, to the man who picks up our garbage, to the people who help you care for your garden or your home, to the children you see playing in the neighborhood, to the birds who flit by and make your life more joyful, to the roof that covers you safely at night, to the floor which holds you up and keeps you out of the dirt. Everything is a gift.

Do you see it?

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Comments

  1. Diana….when I read in your newsletter you would be writing about this, I cheered. My parents gave us a good picture of staying engaged in life (until they couldn’t) but how it felt and any struggles they had accepting this stage were not so apparent. I am glad to be part of the journey with you.

    and yes, just recently,at a family gathering I felt like I was my mother sitting there enjoying all that was happening – watching. Most of the time I am engaged with one or the other around me, but now noticing the times I am drinking it in,yet I am clearly the “parent.” it was very strange. I can’t remember the details of the precise moment, but I do remember it.

    I’ll be right along with you this month. thanks for writing about it.

  2. Ro elliott says:

    When I turned 50… I realized I had not seen many going old gracefully… So as I was seeing more gray… I told the Lord… My goal is to be gray and gracious … As I am closing in on 60.., I am still not very gray for a woman my age… Not sure what this says about my progress ☺️ so using my criteria for graciousness … You my friend have arrived😊 also around this 50 yr mark… I came across 1000 gifts… The Lord used this to set me in a whole new direction… A thankful heart is essential for this aging process… Blessing and grace.., and I love your new home … I could just come and sit outside!!!

    • I love that — ‘gray and gracious!’ Right with you. And come on by and sit outside with us anytime you’re in the neighborhood, Ro!

  3. Went on a girl trip with my besties a few weeks back. It’s been too long since we did that…and now a couple of us are grandmothers. I realized that we have come into our own in our mature years in ways I hadn’t noticed in our lives in our small town. It was enlightening! I hope you’ll write about friendship as we age. What have you learned. And by the way, you look beautiful with your hair down :).

  4. Diana, I am so glad you are writing on the subject of aging gracefully. I am just a little begin you and need your wisdom.

    • Don’t know how much wisdom there is around here, Gabriele – but I’m happy to write what I’m learning as I go. Glad you’ll be around.

  5. Having a gratitude attitude in life, I believe, is key to our happiness and contentment. I’m glad you linked it here to the process of getting older, Diana. It fits perfectly!
    Blessings!
    (And I love your hair!)

  6. sandy hay says:

    And thank you to Diana for her writings. xoxo

  7. My grandmother said she was happy when her carrot red hair turned white because then she could wear red. She thought red clothing clashed with her red hair. What a good attitude of thankfulness. BTW your white hair is lovely!

  8. Absolutely true, Diana. It’s far too easy to become selfish and self-centered. There truly is so much to be thankful for, and I think age gives me a perspective I didn’t have when I was younger. The everyday moments become more precious as do the people the Lord has placed in my life.

    • You’re so right, Linda – there is a different perspective this side of 50, I think. And I’m grateful for it.

  9. You don’t have time to read right now with all your renovating and writing, but if you get a minute next month around Thanksgiving season (because, heaven knows, we compartmentalize everything, right?) there’s a great book that goes so well with your Gratitude theme: Spirituality of Gratitude by Joshua Choonmin Kang. It nails the “thanking God for all things” theme without syrup.

  10. Diana, I’ve not been grateful for these days nor for growing older. Gotta be honest. I’m so caught up the challenge of caring for my folks. Some days can be hard. I want to gain the overall view you have, to be grateful for the little things in my day even if some of those things are hard. Thank you for the encouragement that gratitude can permeate this place. I’ll get there. Right?

    • Oh, I hear you, Cindy! Caring for ailing parents is the hardest work we do, I think. And yes, you will get there. But please give yourself lots of grace. This is a very rugged season for you. I don’t have my mom in my home, but I bear primary responsibility for her in terms of spending time, making decisions, loving her on site. And that is sometimes almost too much. So I cannot imagine what it’s like for you to personally care for both of them. Please care for yourself in the midst of it all, okay?

  11. Diana, this is so upbeat and cheerful and an encouragement to read! Two things really stuck out to me:”…every single minute of life is a gift.” and “Adopting the attitude that every minute we breathe is a gift from above can do wonders for any negative thoughts we might carry with us about the process of aging.” It’s a wonderful way to look at life with its ups and downs. I’m trying to remember this and live my life to the fullest.

  12. I think this is an awesome topic, especially in a culture that seems to value youth and doing everything possible to stop the aging process as much as possible!