On Aging & Self-Love
I had never been bothered by age. I have always looked and felt younger than my years. At 30, I was ID'd to purchase a rated R movie. At 40 I was still getting ID'd to buy drinks. I have taken my youth for granted and deep down, denied that I was getting older. Until this week. This week I have thought more about aging and death than ever before. This week I have faced a great many of my own fears about old age and my own mortality. This week, today in fact, I turned 50.
I never saw myself as being this old. It wasn't until this past week that it sunk in that I would, in fact, be half-of-a-century old. And how do I move into the second half of the century? How do I shift from the young (-ish) woman I was to the senior woman that I will inevitably become? Like all things in my life, I realized, I must approach this too with a heart full of love.
I married my best friend at the age of 22, and we began having our children right away. We had three children in seven years. Todd and our kids were my focus for my twenties and thirties and into my forties. Now, don't get me wrong: I would not have it any other way. Todd and I raised amazing humans with strong critical thinking skills, empathy for others, and independent ideas and philosophies. I am so very proud to call myself their mother. And yet simultaneously, I have struggled internally over the past few years defining myself without them here with me. The kids are grown and living their own lives...but what about me?! Where do I fit in? What do I do now?
Practicing yoga has been a life-saver for me in many ways. Physically, it has helped me to stay limber when other people my age were struggling with daily aches and pains. Yoga has helped me to battle my own clinical anxiety and bouts of depression. Yoga has taught me to stop and take a breath before reacting. But more importantly, my own yoga practice has helped to define me as a person, without anyone else. Just me.
Today I am 50. I am a kind human, living my life with the intention to hurt no living thing. A vegan for nearly ten years, I have been a vegetarian on and off since I was 18. Making a conscious choice to consume no animal products as a part of my personal ahimsa (non-harming, the first Yama of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras) has been a true exercise in growth. I strive to embody kindness. Kindness to others, to animals, to our environment. And, yes, to me, too.
At 50, I say what I think and I speak my truth. I have never liked confrontation, but I am coming into my own when it comes to speaking my mind. It is liberating to be able to say what is on my mind without over-thinking it or tormenting myself over what others will think. Satya, or truth comes easier with age.
Moderation has never been my strong suit. If a little running is good, a lot must be better, right? I have maintained this idea for most of my life. And consequently, have suffered repeated injuries, illness, and mental fatigue. Learning to live life in moderation, say "no" when I need to, and set firm boundaries has become easier with age. I can say no to things that do not serve me and feel no guilt. Brahmacharya, or moderation has been challenging for me, but is exactly what I need.
So, what about me? What do I do now that I am 50? I live. I live my life in moderation, with empathy, love, and truth. I listen to my own heart. I explore my own interests and practice self-love along with love for others. This is less of an end, than it is a beginning. Welcome to the second half-century. Namaste.