Friday, September 14, 2012

Being 40'ish- A Working Title

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
-Henry Ford

I just realized that all this reading, and thinking and meditating and exercising and evaluating and letting go and measuring results and altering perspectives and cultivating awareness and living more intentionally and introspective writing has a lot to do with my age. Here I thought that I was unique. Maybe even special. Ambitious? Not so, says Frederic Hudson, the author of The Adult Years: Mastering the Art of Self Renewal. The life coach and educator details generational influences as well as trends in how people cope with life changes at different ages. Hudson likens our lives to a screenplay in which we are all either in a life chapter or in a life transition. I have a friend who started telling people she was forty when she was 37 because she wanted to be mentally prepared for the milestone. I, on the other hand, told people I was 39 until the morning I wasn’t anymore. Next week, I will be celebrating 40‘ish, again. The fine line between chapter and transition has been a bit blurry at times in my forties. But Hudson really nailed 40’ish.

He says: “Forty somethings are often pre-occupied with self analysis and taking stock, They know they have reached the mid-point in their lives, but they are not sure how to address the unfinished business of their twenties and thirties and the inevitable realities of getting older...Many of them feel driven to be in charge of their own lives....That is what self reliance- the dominant pursuit of today’s forty somethings is all about.

Makes sense. We forty somethings are living with the choices we made in our twenties and thirties. Did we invest in a career, get married, have kids? Did we live in NYC just because we wanted to or take a year off to be a ski bum? Did we take a risk on the less safe plan? Can’t exactly undo where we are at now, even if we wanted to. It’s about the realization that our options are more limited. And that my friends is what makes some people stark raving mad.  Not me, mind you. Well, maybe a little sometimes.This blog, this year long experiment, is my way of trying to avoid complete crazy and grab a slice of that self reliance for myself.

Of all of Hudson’s suggestions for aging well, here were my top take aways:

Be a dreamer and a planner.
Hudson concedes that most of our dreaming takes place in childhood, where imagination is encouraged.  What do want to be when you grow up? President? Astronaut? Dolphin trainer?  In our complicated adult years, our dreams look like: What trip do you want to take? What sports car do you want to buy someday? If you can get yourself dreaming big picture again and than use your adult wisdom and experience to build a plan  around those dreams, you won’t care how many candles are on the cake.

Be a lifelong learner.
Hudson believes lifelong learners drink from the fountain of youth and will not only experience longevity, they will enjoy the journey. As I spend the month of September focused on childlike curiosity, I am discovering that the more you learn, the more there is to learn. I am currently reading Walter Isaacson’s biography on Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was a lifelong learner who made the transition from printer, to statesman to inventor to postmaster and writer. He was the sole author of each of his life chapters. Blogging is new for me. Social media platforms like Pinterest and Pinstamatic are new for me. I am taking a photography class this month. I have signed up for a screenwriting class and a dance class. On the blog, I am interviewing people like a woman in her fifties going to college for the first time and a 65 year old who just enrolled in nursing school, a total career departure. I have found you can identify a lifelong learner without even talking to them, they have a gleam in their eye and usually a trademark smile! 

Which -ish are you? Is it a chapter or a transition? Who is writing your screenplay?

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