The 31-Day Write: 31 Days of Aging Gracefully

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2015 marks year 4 of the 31 Day Writing challenge for me. First was 31 Days in Which I Am Being Saved by Beauty (2012), then there were 31 Days of Giving Permission (2013), and last year, it was 31 Days of Looking for the Little.

This is a year of facing into reality for me. I turned 70 in January, I landed in the hospital in February and again, at the end of April. I traveled to Kauai in July with our entire clan to celebrate FIFTY years of marriage, and in August, my husband and I moved, downsizing after 18 years in a much-loved larger home with a huge yard.

Yeah, it was time. It IS time.

I am old and getting older by the minute, and if I’m going to have even a tiny chance of doing this aging thing well, I want to be intentional about it. So that is what I’ve chosen to write about for the next 31 days.

I’m nervous about this, to tell you the truth. I happen to find myself at a somewhat painful juncture, realizing I am beginning to be invisible in some ways. Do you know that about getting old in this culture? Elders are not always seen, even in their own family setting. I’m not sure this is intentional, but it surely is reality. Maybe it’s because we’ve been around so long, we’ve become part of the furniture, always available. Maybe it’s because we serve as somewhat painful pointers to the future for those who are younger. Maybe it’s because as we age, we tend to slow down a bit, to measure our words more, to give up the drivenness and hungry ambition that are so much a part of mid-life in 21st century western culture. Whatever the reasons, I am choosing to step out of the invisibility cloak this month and put some words out into cyberspace about how I’d like to live these last years of my life.

I am hoping that these reflections will be both highly individual — reflections on my own aging process and what I’m learning — and at that same time, universal in their application. After all, none of us gets a ‘pass’ from this stuff, do we? If we’re fortunate to avoid accident or early terminal illness, we all must face into the reality of bodies that grow old and weary, of choices becoming more limited. And hopefully, of enjoying the benefits of wisdom gained, gratitude grown, joy multiplied, insights deepened. 

I’ve got a list, and will do my best to work ahead a little. I’m hoping to have a post up every day, but if I miss a few here and there, extend a little bit of grace, okay? After all, I’m OLD. (said with a smile)

In the meantime, please grab my button and follow along!

Just Wondering

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  1. I’m right there with you, Diana, and so very grateful that you are hosting this conversation. I can’t think of anyone more wise and loving than you to walk alongside on this aging-gracefully path. I count on one hand the number of years I’m behind you, and at this juncture in our journey, those handful of years are insignificant. I ran smack into this season a few months ago when my husband retired and we moved into the world of social security and medicare and supplemental insurance. It’s terribly cruel, don’t you think, that we’re suddenly forced at this time in life to make more decisions about finances and health care than we had to make in all the years before. The eye opener was when it was suggested that we consult elderly services. ELDERLY services? Elderly??? Since when? Didn’t I just do this with my mother?

    I looked in the mirror earlier this week and noticed I suddenly have a new crop of wrinkles. Overnight it seems. Then again, maybe I’ve simply failed to notice. As a friend noted earlier this week, as we grow older women begin to lose their vision — just about the time we start growing nose and chin hair! =)

    Love you big, my friend, and I so look forward to your words here.

    • Oh, I hear you, friend. I hate that word – elderly. Gives me shivers. And yet. . . here we are, right? I prefer ‘elder’ without the adverbial bling, to tell you the truth, however. Has a different ring somehow. Thanks for joining the party here this month.

  2. You will never, ever, ever be invisible to me, Diana. And I know many in this writing community who feel the same. I’m so grateful to have found you and your wise, beautiful heart. It’s so funny how loving over the cyberspace allows us to not think in terms of age in many ways. I’m grateful for that.

    • Oh, you are so sweet, dear Laura. Thank you. And you are right about connections minus age across the cyber waves – it’s a very nice bonus!

  3. I’m not sure how to “follow along”… but I’m an “elderly woman”! Please have grace… LOL

  4. Diana, you epitomise elegance and grace with a hefty dose of chutzpah and common-sense. If that’s growing mature/older and ageing well, then let me have it! Oh wait, I already do.. says she leaning on her walking stick and nodding her silver head to invisible music. Must be the ever-greying, ever-decreasing brain cells making me temporarily forgetful. I intend to read right along with you, providing I can find my specs.. must have put them somewhere.. 🙂 x

    • You are too funny, Joy! (And I am forever looking for things. . . like car keys and my phone. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve called the number from our house line because I can’t for the life of me remember where I set it down!)

  5. Such a good point you are at, Diana! I am encouraged by you more than I say, and I’m sorry I don’t say it more, or come find you…
    I agree with the other comments that it’s hard to see you being invisible, even to your family.
    You mentioned availability, painful pointers to reality, and slowing down. But these have virtues and vices attached, don’t they? Could you say more about them, in the upcoming posts?
    I have a goal for aging. I saw my mom and her cronies sitting on the beach on a glorious day, bemoaning the state of the world. I don’t want to do that. How am I going to keep from doing that?? (one stupid way is not to stay informed, but my friends don’t let that happen) I think you are modeling living life fully for me, and I expect you to keep doing it!
    Also, the way you keep caring for your mom is what you should receive, tenfold.
    Random thoughts, perhaps not well expressed, but I’ll publish anyway because hey, I’m getting older too!

    • Yes, they do have both good and bad sides to them – and that’s part of what I’ll be talking about this month. Thanks for your encouragement, Beth – always glad to read your thoughts, no matter how random. 🙂

  6. I am looking forward to this. You are just a little ways ahead of me, but we have already felt the effect of health issues, slowing down a bit, etc. and looking ahead to probably downsizing in a few years.

  7. I’m so glad you’re going to do this, Diana. I’m just a year behind you and wrestling with the same things. That invisibility thing – so true. And what Patricia has so eloquently said as well. I’ve even been struggling with whether it’s time to step away from blogging. I feel rather ancient and a tad out of place – and weary with trying to keep up with it all.
    Bless you for being brave and wise. xo

    • I know you’re right behind me, Linda – and please don’t stop blogging. Just keep it short and sweet, even seldom – but keep at it, okay? We need your sweet voice out here.

  8. You’re button is lovely. And I’m so happy to see you on here again. And, the topic? It’s needed. But I can’t say it isn’t hard also. So much has changed with the older people in my life – things don’t look like they’ll play out the way I’d hoped at all. And that’s a grieving for me. And I carry a huge weight of responsibility toward my “elders” so it might be hard to hear your experiences without feeling the guilt of a younger generation that’s trying its best. But you keep writing, I’ll keep showing up.

  9. So happy to see this topic. I’m “only” 52, but I sometimes feel invisible too. Not to mention a lot of unexpected judgment that I’m letting my hair go gray! I’m really looking forward to reading your thoughts over the next month.

    • Thanks, Kelly. Thank LW Lindquist for that button (though the picture, I will take credit for). And I can sense that you carry that weight, Kelly – it’s how you’re wired and one of the reasons you’re a pastor. I carry it, too, not always in healthy ways! And PLEASE let me know if any of this makes you feel guilty. That is NOT my purpose. At all. I’m just trying to help us all think about how we want to do this last part, that is all. Not about how our children need to ‘be there’ for us. . . not at all. It’s up to us to choose well, as early on in the whole process as possible. NOT your problem, honey.

    • Sorry, Denise – WordPress decided to go wonky on me and posted my response to Kelly here, instead of there. Rats. Thanks for joining in the conversation this month. And listen to me, friend. If you want to let your hair grow out – then LET IT GROW OUT. It’s your hair, after all. Enjoy it.

  10. It takes courage to confront a lot of things in life, because we first have to admit their existence. We live in a culture that tries to avoid aging — silly us! — so acknowledging it as you are is both bold and refreshing. I’ll follow along with much interest and more than a little empathy since I’m even older than you (gasp!) and will undoubtedly recognize some of the things you discuss.

    • I know you’ll recognize a lot of what I’ll talk about, Carol, and I look forward to your contributions to the conversation. We each walk through this on our own, even though there is much to be shared and learned from one another.

  11. I am excited about your series. I am writing about going gray. It has made me think a lot about how society views the aging process. Looking forward to your wisdom.

  12. As I turned 60 this year (I know, just a youngster!), I’m really looking forward to this series, Diana. I recently touched on this subject on my blog, Meditations of My Heart: Hope you’ll stop by!

  13. diana, i look forward to reading what you have to say. my 70th come up in april. our 50th anniversary comes in a couple of years and we recently sold our home and downsized near one of our daughters. it has not been easy nor are we done.

    i agree that the feeling of being invisible is irritating…both at drs. offices, churches and in the community at large! the very people who need to know us are the ones most likely to look through us! sad for them:(

    i too am writing for 31 days…on a different topic, but i write on the topic of aging as well. in the 7 years i have been blogging, i have seen more bloggers writing on this topic compared to when i first began. it is needed for sure. great:)

    i’ll be checking back in:)

    • You’re about to hit all of the markers we’ve hit this past year! And I imagine these kinds of themes will emerge continually as the blogging world ages along with all the rest of humanity! Thanks for joining in.

  14. Thanks for sharing your heart! Looking forward to more of your writing…