Graceful Aging Takes Practice
Aug 29, 2017 12:02AM
By Katy Taylor
What turning 50 really did for me was wake me up to the fact that I probably have less life ahead of me than behind me, and in that case, I’d better not put off living with more ease, grace and pleasure NOW!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the transition to menopause is called the Second Spring. According to women’s health expert Christiane Northrup, MD, due to an enormous hormonal transformation combined with the wisdom of life experiences, we have a chance to begin again.
This time for women is often referred to as the queen and crone years. The gifts of growing older can be summarized with a beautiful word—sovereignty: The state of supreme power or authority, or the freedom to control oneself.
Yes, finally, we are embodying our own inner authority and freedom to live the life that is ours. For many women this includes:
- Less caretaking
- More time to find and follow our passion
- Expanding creativity (often peaks in the 50s and later)
- Owning the wisdom of our years on this Earth so that we can be less reactive when problems arise as well as feel and live more deeply
This doesn’t mean that everything turns out exactly as we want it to… this is not magical thinking! But it does mean that we can develop more clarity about what we do want and be more equipped with practices to support ourselves along the way.
There are three main flowers that we all need in our self-care and graceful aging garden: the ability to Befriend, Nourish and Trust ourselves. It's never too late to learn how to do this.
Befriending: To befriend is a verb. It is to choose to be friends with ourselves, to practice self-love whether we feel it or not. The feeling sense usually unfolds when we take the practice on. Here are some practice suggestions:
- Smile at yourself in the mirror whenever you have the chance. Notice the moment of friendliness that arises in your body.
- When you act less than gracefully, be kind with yourself; try placing your hand on your chest and telling yourself it’s okay or I forgive myself.
- Choose a body part you have trouble accepting. Looking at and/or simply placing a hand on that part, say, I love you.
Nourishing: As our bodies change, our self-care routines need to change with them. It’s best to nourish our whole being—body, heart, mind and soul. Luckily, skillful choices for body, heart and mind also nourish our soul.
- Body: Cut out as much added sugar as you can, starting with all forms of white (and brown) sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners; drink enough water and other non-caffeinated, unsweetened drinks; fill your plate halfway with veggies and eat a rainbow at every meal; and move in a way that is enjoyable every day.
- Heart: Do something you love to fill your heart every day—even something as small as reading a poem, calling a friend or stroking a pet. As you do, be present for it—take it all the way in.
- Mind: Be conscious of what you put into your mind and choose things to help your mind flourish—consider your diet of news, how you talk to yourself and others, what you read or watch, and how much you fill up your mind.
Trusting: The way we build trust in ourselves is to listen to our own needs and do what we commit to. Starting small, we begin keeping our promises to ourselves.
- Build in alone time for you and check in with yourself during it. I recommend journaling daily as a way to get to know how you are doing— body, heart, mind and soul. Research shows those who journal regularly are happier, smarter and much more. It will help you make better decisions you can stick with.
- Become aware of the different parts of you that want different things. Perhaps one part wants to go to the gym but another just wants to stay home and watch a movie. As the sovereign queen of yourself, check in and help these parts come to a collaborative decision.
- Learn to say NO when your schedule is too full. You can do it nicely: I'd love to... but I need to... instead. Don't be shy about naming yourself as a priority.
Getting older feels great! We can be wiser, more comfortable with ourselves, more accepting of others and just plain happier in our lives.
It’s never too late to start practicing to befriend, nourish and trust ourselves. Let’s enjoy the sovereignty that comes with graceful aging.
Katy Taylor is a holistic life coach based in Minneapolis. You can reach her at 651-363-1877, [email protected]KatyTaylor.com or visit KatyTaylor.com.