Aging with grace and grit

by midlifecrisisqueen on March 26, 2013

When I first got the GenFab assignment to write about “Aging Gracefully,” I thought I would have to revolt.  I didn’t think “graceful” was the right word to describe the way I see myself today.  Then I looked up the word “gracefully” and felt so much more comfortable with that descriptor.

Gracefully means lithely, beautifully, delightfully, graciously, harmoniously, skillfully and smoothly.  It means to bend easily and remain flexible like a ballet dancer.  I loved the image of aging with such grace and flexibility!

Then I thought back to when my world started changing quickly in my late 40s, how unprepared I felt for any real change.

But isn’t that when it always happens?  I was shocked and so confused, feeling that I just could not handle so much at once.

Why is it that our worst breakdowns lead to our best breakthroughs?  Perhaps because it is only when our back is flat up against the wall, that we are forced to acknowledge our own strength of character and heightened resilience.

In that supremely memorable moment of desperation and panic, I finally learned how much flexibility would be required for me to negotiate the rest of my life.  This was not the end, it was only the beginning of so many important changes which I would need to embrace to survive my own midlife challenges.

Now I know myself so much better.  I know how strong I am, after weathering a number of difficult storms.  I know the delight of feeling confident that I will be able to weather further storms as I get to know myself on ever deeper levels.

I have learned how to live more intuitively and skillfully with this person who is full of flaws but still so worth being.

I have learned to love fiercely the absolutely imperfect person that I am.

To learn more about mastering difficult life transitions you might enjoy my books: Midlife Magic: Becoming The Person You Are Inside! and my new one: Find Your Reason to be Here: The Search for Meaning in Midlife. 

To find a new faith in love try: How to Believe In Love Again.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Tammy March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I think aging gracefully is assisted by the “soft focus” our eyes provide us with when looking at the mirror. Not seeing the wrinkles and wattle makes them not factor into my self-perception.

I fully agree with you that age has also brought more of a confidence in my own value. Experience can be a wonderful teacher.

Karen D. Austin March 27, 2013 at 7:05 am

I agree that flexibility is key. I am a Type A, control freaky, OCD personality. However, life keeps throwing me curve balls, and my life plan has changed. Now I only make plans 6 months out. Trying to control everything was making me a nervous wreck. Flexibility preserves some measure of sanity.

Walker Thornton March 27, 2013 at 7:05 am

Thank you for sharing your story with us… people benefit from hearing that we have the occasional struggle.

Nina Knox March 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

Laura Lee,
I love your line, “–our worst breakdowns lead to our best breakthroughs” So true. This aging thing does bring so many physical changes, like you say, especially once we hit the late 40′s. I try to concentrate on and appreciate the positives, which are the increased confidence, wisdom and “soft focus” as Tammy says! Loved your post!
Nina

midlifecrisisqueen March 27, 2013 at 7:24 am

Thank you for stopping by Tammy, Karen and Walker!
Yes, Karen, I used to be the total control freak once upon a time.
One of the things I most definitely had to give up with age is what I now call my “illusion of control.” When you stop and really think about it, there is so little that we really control about our lives.
Now I appreciate everyday that anything could happen to any of us at any time.
With that understanding firmly in place, what do you need to do today???

grownandflown March 27, 2013 at 7:37 am

I love how you reminded us of the many meanings of graceful that are way deeper than the superficial manner that first comes to mind. Flexibility is my favorite!

midlifecrisisqueen March 27, 2013 at 7:41 am

ME TOO TAMMY!
That was the one I hit on that convinced me that aging gracefully is well-said!
Flexibility is what aging is all about, the KEY TO LIFE!

Lois March 27, 2013 at 8:40 am

” I have learned to love fiercely this absolutely imperfect person that I am.” — I love that line! Beautifully sums up the idea of aging gracefully.

Denise Danches Fisher March 27, 2013 at 10:15 am

I am trying, but I don’t think graceful is a good adjective for aging. How the hell can I do that…Especially because I would never believe I was graceful in the first place. Maybe I should explore ‘aging ruthlessly’ now that sparks an interest. Like grabbing life by horns and just enjoying its’ wild ride!

midlifecrisisqueen March 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

OK Denise! How’s this? We keep this on our ‘frig as a constant reminder!
WORDS TO LIVE BY:
Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, and shouting: “HOLY SHIT, WHAT A RIDE!”

midlifecrisisqueen March 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thanks Lois! That is how I now see the challenge of midlife in a nutshell.
Can you love yourself fiercely in spite of all the imperfections you are far too aware of?

Ellen Dolgen March 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Shared on FB! My favorite part? “Why is it that our worst breakdowns lead to our best breakthroughs? Perhaps because it is only when our back is flat up against the wall, that we are forced to acknowledge our own strength of character and heightened resilience.” So, so true!

b+ March 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm

You have it so right…my daughter repeated the old adage,”What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” You have added confident, flexible, smarter and more intuitive. Thank you.

b+

Beverly Diehl March 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Love your ballerina image and the idea of being flexible. Impossible to BE graceful without flexibility.

We are the trees that have weathered the storms, strong enough to do so, but still able to bend.

midlifecrisisqueen March 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Bev:
I also love the ballerina image, probably because I have always been so inflexible in the body department. AH, but my mind is constantly flexing and bending, and changing, ever changing!

Cynthia March 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

There are only a few things I dislike about being my age…most have to do with body parts. Most everything else I like. I especially like not being blown over easily. Not a lot throws me any more and when I was younger so much would throw me off balance. I live in earthquake country. Here they build tall buildings so they sway in earthquakes so they don’t come crashing down. I like that image for aging. We sway gracefully!

midlifecrisisqueen March 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Right on Cynthia! You go girl!

Haralee March 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Being flexible is graceful aging on many levels you mention in this great post!

Connie McLeod March 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I agree, the gift that aging has given me is the ability to love my imperfections! Well said!

Shannon Bradley-Colleary March 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Loved this post, but I want to live a shallow life where I think I know how strong I am, but don’t actually have to find out vis a vis life challenges. I want to be a wisdom slacker. Sigh.

midlifecrisisqueen March 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Connie:
We always knew they were there, we just weren’t quite ready to acknowledge and embrace our imperfections. Now we say, so what! Nobody is perfect! – LLC

Ginger Kay March 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Aging and growing really are the same thing, aren’t they? The more we learn about the world and ourselves, the smarter and stronger we become. None of us like the harder lessons, but they are the ones that push us to grow the most.

Chloe Jeffreys March 27, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I love how you explored the word “gracefully”. It really is a beautiful word when you think about it. And I also love the juxtaposition you made here, that just when our bodies are becoming less flexible, our spirits may need to become more so if we’re going to keep growing. You really can tell the difference between women who let themselves become malleable, and those who harden themselves, can’t you?

Joy Weese Moll March 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I like the idea of living more skillfully with our selves — well said and a good description.

Pam@over50feeling40 March 28, 2013 at 6:11 am

I love the word FIERCE…living and loving fiercely is a great thought! Enjoyed your post!

midlifecrisisqueen March 28, 2013 at 6:29 am

I think many of us in GenFab summarized beautifully the many gifts of aging.
WE ARE TRULY FABULOUS!

Pat March 28, 2013 at 7:01 am

“Our worst breakdowns lead to our best breakthroughs,” your line says it all. As someone who has been knocked flat more than once, I agree totally. So great to be connected through GenFab.

midlifecrisisqueen March 28, 2013 at 10:59 am

Live and learn, and keep making great connections through groups like GenFab!

Lee Aldrich March 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm

We are all imperfect, trying to find our way in this crazy world, and define ourselves in another way other than physical beauty. I love this age….we learn to be comfortable in our own skin. It look like you are doing just that.

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