At the end of January, I turned 79…which puts me now in February living into my 80th year. That is a major milestone. I’m noticing life reflections increase, prompting laughter and tears.
- I am happy remembering my long and interesting life.
- I am sad for the reminder that I am mortal.
- I ponder my choices for the days that remain.
- And recommit to the activities that nourish my being.
I also pay attention when the occasional model for living well in one’s 80’s comes along.
It happened just three days ago in the woman’s locker room at the YMCA. A beautiful woman was returning from her swimming lesson. Full of vim and vigor, she admitted to being 82.
“Why take swimming lessons so late in life?” I bluntly asked. She knew the answer to that one: “Four years ago, I lost my husband of 60 years. When I turned 80, I said to myself, ‘I miss my husband, but I AM STILL HERE. IT’S TIME FOR ME TO DO WHAT MATTERS TO ME.’ ”
- “I’ve always wanted to know how to swim, and now I can.”
- “I’ve always wanted a tattoo and now I have one”, pointing out the beautiful rose decorating her upper arm.
- “A friend twisted my arm to enter the Senior Women of Massachusetts pageant (open to all those over 50), so I did. I read Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman and ended up as 2nd runner up, and, Ms. Congeniality.”
What an incredible few moments chatting with such a model. That serendipitous interaction is still on my mind. Because…
- I, too, am still here.
- Anyone reading this is still here.
- Are we choosing to make our lives matter?
The end of each year always prompts me to look back and look forward. Over the last months as I contemplate entering my 80th year, I’ve been thinking about how and if my life will have mattered And thus…I’ve been led to to the topic of legacy. Enjoy my ponderings on the subject.
It’s a given that we all leave legacies…both positive and negative…whether we area aware of it or not. That means we can also choose to be a bit more conscious and INTENTIONAL about them. At the very least about not leaving a mess to our children. And beyond that, perhaps even leaving something behind that the next generation will cherish.
In the process of pondering this myself, and frankly, experimenting with software on my computer, I created Legacy 101 – 5 Questions to Ponder. It’s a 9-minute slide show which references some questions to get us started. Even more important than thinking about them for ourselves is using them to start conversations with others. When we share our ideas, we always learn something, and, we are likely to get inspired to act on whatever we need to do next.
Link to legacy slide show
One of my inspirations is my neighbor Joan. She loved to sing and did so professionally as a soprano for most of her life . Recognizing that one day her voice would no longer be her easy joy, she prepared for that day. She took piano lessons, learned to play, and started volunteering her time at senior residences leading popular sing-a-longs. She insisted that music would still be a part of her life and her gift to others. What a smart lady! When she, now a resident herself, comes into our lobby and sits down at the piano to practice, the neighbors gather round with great pleasure.
And then there’s the inspiration of those creative types you find when you visit the internet. Street Art is becoming a trend. Artists with a crazy streak have found a way to have fun out there, creating joy for everyone else. Check out bored panda.com for an article about a street genius running wild in New York. The photos are hilarious.
Once arriving at the ages of 60 or 70, many more years await us. Much of our life has been lived. So? Now, what about the rest of it? Longevity is either a gift or a curse….depending on how we choose to manage the days remaining to us.
Soooo…which of your many gifts have been hibernating life long and might be calling out for expression?
Or, what is the expertise you’ve enjoyed amassing in the workplace for decades and where else would it be fun and useful to share it?
The world is waiting for you.