Managing Life’s Ups & Downs As We Age

By Debe Lange
By Debe Lange

I see the world as being filled with two types of people:  Those who handle life’s interrupting situations well, and those who don’t.  It really doesn’t matter what age a person is because everyone encounters highs and lows they will need to deal with.  However, being over 50 gives us an advantage over many.  We have a background and have lived through experiences from which to pull knowledge that we can apply to similar situations today.

When we were younger, we may have had to leave familiar surroundings to enter a new school and make new friends.  Or maybe we experienced the untimely death of a grandparent.  It may have been something as simple as having our beloved dog become lost for a time.

As we grew we could have experienced the unkindness of a bully in school, losing the most important football game, getting a speeding ticket, or not attending the prom.  At the time, those things may have seemed devastating, but as we look back we now see they were just bumps in the road.  As rough as it was at the time, those situations were growing pains that have helped us become who we are today.However, not all of those growing pains were painful.  There were delightful experiences as well like visiting the zoo for the first time, going to Grandpa and Grandma’s house every week for Sunday dinner, becoming an envied cheerleader or a member of the high school band that went to state, or buying that first car.  Oh, how exciting some of those times were.Dealing with the rollercoaster ride of life can leave us spinning if we don’t handle them correctly.  I’ve known others who I’ve categorized in my own mind as being party/crisis people.  To them, whatever situation they find themselves in is either a reason to celebrate or the most devastating thing they’ve ever experienced.  To them, there is no middle ground; no constant in between.

How horrible to live a life that is totally controlled by outside circumstances and feelings.  The truth is things are never that good, or that bad.  I learned very early that there is always someone who has it worse.  It’s not the surrounding circumstances that should dictate who we are, but rather how we tend to them.

There will always be divorces, deaths, health issues, career changes, and location moves, just as there will always be more joyous occasions like new babies, weddings, renewing old friendships, and family reunions.

As we age, every day should be a commemoration of who we have become.  Stay on an even keel by enjoying the sunrise, listening to the sounds of singing birds, and watching the rain.  Even viewing the busyness of rush hour from an apartment high rise can be calming.  How blessed to be over it all and not in the middle of it.

Exercising self control in the midst of the chaos of a tragedy, or the excitement of an exhilarating event, can make all the difference when decisions need to be made.  Wisdom needs to use what’s been learned from the past without all the clutter of feelings and that can’t happen when emotions are at the helm.  Yes, we can “feel”, but we must not let our feelings rule our lives.

Of course the bumps of life can be greater as we become older, but would you really have it any other way?  Think of it this way.  When watching ice skaters, there will be those who slip, slide, and fall time and time again.  We laugh to ourselves because we know there will be a few bruises but they’ll heal and the falls will become fewer and farther between as experience is gained.

Then there will be those who lazily glide along, graceful and experienced, who almost never fall.  They took their lumps while they were beginning to skate, but they learned and can now avoid the spills.

How many have watched us from afar as we encountered the low points of hardship, trials, and tribulations, and the high points of special occasions and celebrations, and wondered, “How do they do that?”  When others are falling, we can glide because we’ve earned the right.  We’ve weathered the storms and fought the battles.

Whatever our current circumstances, we must be wise, use what we know, and choose to ride the bumps correctly.  Choose to glide!

Debe Lange

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