We just returned from a road trip to Tucson, Arizona, with my oldest son and his family. While there were many wonderful aspects to the trip, what I have been musing about since our trip is my response to the landscape. When I was a child I went to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree with my grandparents – and didn’t like it a bit! I found it scary and very foreign. I never felt drawn to it or expected to like it. However, on this trip, I found it mesmerizing, evocative. The barren mountains felt lunar, ancient; the open spaces serene and sacred; the mystery of flash floods in this dry country almost inconceivable. The exposure and vulnerability of the structure of the land itself was very moving to me. We were walking on Mother Earth’s bones. I was truly surprised by joy! And so grateful that my old preconceptions were able to shift, to drop away.
I don’t see myself painting a lot of cacti, dry washes, or Palo Verde trees but I am very curious about how this experience will express itself as it continues to seep into me. I hope for more of this as I age, an openness to what is right before me, to be still enough to feel it. A freedom from the narrow vision of the past. An openness to be led by curiosity rather than judgement.
What experiences have you had where you found yourself responding differently than you expected? Were you delighted or shocked? Did this open something within you to explore, change your opinion of yourself or the situation?
We’d love to hear about it!
In our book we talk a lot about meaningful activities – those events and actions in which we are energized, focused and happy. I love Suzanne’s definition and it really made me question how I was spending my time – I do a lot of things just because they are on my schedule or because that is “what I do”. And I do love my little routines, so this evaluation was hard to do! I decided to take one activity about myself, one for my family and one for the community at large and see how they measured up to those terms.
Water Aerobics. I do this for myself, 2 or 3 times a week. And I have to tell you right off the bat I am not an exerciser, more of a couch potato. I like to walk and hike – and do water aerobics. Period. I don’t have great coordination or balance. The first thing that occurred to me in questioning this activity was simply how good it feels to be in the water. I swam before I walked and see water as our natural habitat – we are, after all, made up more of water than anything else! So this class and I have a natural affinity for each other. I also like the timing of the class – it meets at 8am so my day is still before me when I get home and get dressed. Raising my kids and working I was always a morning person but not so much anymore – one of my favorite ways to start the day is with a cup of coffee in bed, checking my email. So it takes something to pry me out of bed and it is excellent that this hour of exercise doesn’t take up my whole morning or really break into my day. And then there is the sense of community. This class is an amazing group of women (and one man!). Many of them have been coming for over 20 years and some are in their 80’s. I enjoy them tremendously and appreciate how willing they have been to welcome a newcomer. For years I went to regular workouts at a gym, purely (and grumpily) out of a sense of duty, and have been delighted to discover how much more I enjoy exercising in a group. I am focused in this class and work hard – even though I am often relieved that the instructor cannot see what’s going on underwater! And I am energized by how much easier it is to move in water than on land. I’ve realized that exercise, to be worthwhile for me, has to have all these peripheral perks.
There will be more blogs coming on how I’ve evaluated family and community activities with this criteria – some I’ve tossed, some I’ve retooled, some I’ve kept! What’s been your experience?
A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to see Dr. Bill Thomas performing in his Age of Disruption Tour – what a great evening! The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC, was a perfect venue for the “non-fiction theater” about changing the way we view aging. Paired with amazing musician Nate Silas Richardson, the show was creatively arranged, personally engaging, insightful, and most of all, honest. And we were invited to use our cell phones to capture the moment….thanks Bill!
Since Conscious Creative Retirement™ is all about learning to make intentional choices in the “next chapter” of our lives, this program adds another creative dimension to thinking about how we age, and navigating the new normal of our retirement years.
The tour is continuing around the US for several more months, so be sure to check their website for dates and times near you. You’ll be glad you did! Changing Aging