How old do you feel? Time to Reflect.

By Carol / October 4, 2016 /

Recently, I felt the need to journal and reflect. But where to start? I recalled a social media post I read a few months ago that offered a list of questions. As usually happens, though, I couldn’t recall exactly when I read the post or the people involved in the discussion.

However, the list included the kind of questions Laurie Buchanan, a holistic health practitioner and transformational life coach, shares on her blog Tuesdays with Laurie. I took a shot and contacted her.

note-to-self_finalLaurie generously sent a list of 365 questions that form the core of one chapter of her soon-to-be-published book Note to Self. From the book cover:

Note to Self is about offloading emotional baggage – something that’s especially important when we realize that we don’t just pack for one, we pack for seven of our selves – self-preservation, self-gratification, self-definition, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-reflection, and self-knowledge. Each plays a vital role in harmony, overall health, and well-being.

Exploring one question

I chose this question from Laurie’s list: How old do you feel?

To begin, I catalogued my physical aches and pains of the last three years, including how breaking my wrist caused me to go from healthy to  invalid. The transition occurred in my brain, since the wrist healed quickly, and I recovered full movement. The broken wrist became an excuse to exercise less, to question my balance, to move cautiously instead of with confidence, to begin to see myself as “old.”

Understanding I had no legitimate physical reason to feel old, the catalogue led to an exploration of what I’ve done to regain control of my health – from ears to feet to core strength to weight.

All this led to what society and the media have to say about age. What they say someone who’s nearing 70 years can and can’t do. The decidedly mixed societal messages caused me to affirm that how old I feel can be my own decision, not one imposed by others.

So then I journaled about what I want to be able to do with my life. A long list included things like playing with my granddaughters, traveling, hiking, riding bike, gardening, having enough energy to do whatever I feel like doing. All activities associated with good health.

Concluding that barring serious illness, “old” is a state of mind, I meandered into the positive sides of being “old.” I realized I’m Old Enough:

  • to have enjoyed a good long career doing something I loved.
  • to have made some good friends; to know what a friend means, and to value having and keeping them.
  • to have figured out (finally) what I want to do while I’m still able to do it.
  • to have made lots of mistakes, learned from them, and be young enough to make more mistakes, but maybe handle them better now that I’m old enough.
  • to know I’m lucky to be as healthy as I am, to live where I do, to have the life I have.

While feeling old may be a physically-imposed reality, barring that, feeling old appears to be more of a state of mind. I don’t “feel” 68 any more than I “felt” 40 or 17. If I even know that that means. Some comparative measure against others, societal expectations or my own, I suppose.

After pausing to reflect, I realize I don’t feel any particular age.

I feel like me.

The result of reflection

What a journey, Laurie’s question inspired – journaling for three days and returning in thought to the topic repeatedly since. After pausing to reflect, I realize how much of age is perspective. Reflecting reminded me again to be grateful.

Laurie Buchanan, author of "Note to Self"

Laurie Buchanan’s philosophy is “whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”

If even half of the questions unlock such self discovery, I’ll be journaling not for 365 days but for several years. I pre-ordered Laurie’s book Note to Self and I encourage you to check it out too.

How old do you feel? What impacts your attitude about age? What tools do you use to reflect?

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  1. Shirley Hershey Showalter on October 4, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Carol, I love this post, the question you selected, the book you chose, and the answers you’ve found (so far). We are the same numerical age, and I feel many points of connection with you in your answers.

    I’m not like Donald Trump, who looks in the mirror and sees a 35-year-old Adonis, but I do enjoy watching as my hair turns from brunette to grey to silver. I am so grateful not to have any major crimps to an active lifestyle. I don’t know how long it will be before I experience lesser health, but I believe that gratitude and awareness will sustain health longer. I love to walk outdoors, where I generally feel ageless.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on October 4, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Thanks for being the first to get this conversation going, Shirley. We do enjoy many similarities. Time outdoors – and our grandchildren – are two of the things that keep us young. I agree with you about the positive power of gratitude and awareness. As my mother aged, I watched her have lessened physical abilities with each passing decade. But though she decreased in the physical area, she never lost her positive attitude and smile. As a result, she was ‘young’ through her entire 92 years.

  2. Laurie Buchanan on October 4, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Carol — I love your perspective: “…how old I feel can be my own decision, not one imposed by others.”

    And your observation that all of the things you want to be able to do with your life are tied to good health is huge because we have so many choices—so much input to that qualifier.

    Thank you so much for sharing Note to Self with your readers.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on October 4, 2016 at 9:44 am

      I’m delighted so share Note to Self, Laurie. Even the few questions I’ve focused on have resulted in useful insight. I’m sure readers would find reward in delving into the questions themselves.

      Good health is not entirely in our own hands, but to the extent it can be, I’m on it. Journaling this idea reinforced the role my attitude plays, not just in recognizing I need to take hold of things like exercise and eating, but also in mental positioning.

      Thanks for writing such an excellent book.

  3. Kathy Hopkins on October 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Carol, love your perspective of saying, “I’m old enough.” And how important it is to reflect on being grateful. It’s a good thing to “feel like me!” So much goodness in what you wrote. What a privilege it is to get older and hopefully, age gracefully. I always enjoy your thoughts on any subject you want to share, friend!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on October 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you, Kathy. Aging gracefully is a wonderful goal. Having good friends like you around helps the process.

  4. Marian Beaman on October 4, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    There’s been a word lurking on my desktop I’ve been wanting to share: entelechy. This post seems to be the place to offer it as it describes “the force that drives things to become what they were meant to be, the spirit that makes the acorn into an oak,” according to one of my blog readers. She had read the word in Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

    I never heard the word before but I think I’m old enough to feel myself evolving to more of what I was meant to be. Right now I’m healthy, and I hope I have many more years to accomplish my goals. But you never know . . . !

    I’ve enjoyed this post, Carol, and reading the comments that follow – always a treat!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on October 5, 2016 at 9:20 am

      Thanks for sharing a new word, Marian. I’m a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd and “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” has been on my TBR list for a while. You’ve added another reason to pick it up. Entelechy sounds like another way of saying “I’m old enough …” to begin to be what I’m meant to be.

      I expect we all hope we get many more years, but you’re right – we never know. After my mother and sister died, I became acutely aware of how fragile life can be. It was then that I committed to grabbing hold of life and doing things NOW. That decision contributed to a greater sense of happiness and accomplishment.

      All the best to you, Marian.

  5. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on October 5, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    I am the oldest of five sisters, so being old has been a label I’ve been stuck with for most of my life. I was also always the oldest in my class, due to starting school at age 7 and immigrating to Canada when I was 9. Recently my four sisters and I (ranging in age from 59-73) went to visit an elderly friend and distant relative who had recently turned 90. We thought we would be the young chicks on the block for a change, but were we ever in for a surprise. This 90 year old had prepared a gourmet meal (she is Mennonite): Two kinds of Borscht, fresh baked buns, Rollkuchen (deep fried fritters), sour cherry pie and lemon cake. She made everything herself from scratch, her apartment was immaculate, and she looked fresh and spry. Age is indeed relative! It was a most inspiring visit!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on October 5, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      What a great story, Elfrieda. A visit with a still-vital person who’s lived more years than we can be such a refreshing experience. Now you and your sisters can visualize many more years ahead of you. The meal sounds wonderful.

      I can see how being the oldest child in the family would carry a different perspective. After my mother, my mother’s sister, and my older sister passed away, I was thrust into the role of ‘oldest.’ And I didn’t like it at all. I was not ready to carry that heavy mantle. However, as I grew accustomed to the idea, I realized there was an honor in the position.

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