Staying Young At Heart

I was talking to someone a few years ago and we were discussing our childhood.  We remembered the games we played, things our parents told us, and people we knew.  Of course we laughed as we reminisced and shed a tear as we missed loved ones who had passed away.

We also talked about how we had aged.  Our hair color had changed, we both were wearing glasses, nagging health problems had begun, and those darn wrinkles … well, you know.  As we were talking, I realized something.  My mind and thinking hadn’t changed and sometimes the “real me” felt trapped in a body that just didn’t always do what I wanted it to do any longer.Later, I looked in the mirror and recognized that little spark of mischievousness in my eyes that was there as a teenager.  I couldn’t help but laugh at myself.  Oh sure, the shell I lived in had changed, but my soul and love for life was still there.  Even though I could still do my high school gymnastics routine in my head, I could still feel the wooden uneven bars in my hands, and the incredible sensation I got every time I did a back flip, my body said, “I don’t think so.”

So, I asked myself, why wasn’t I living with a zest that I once had?  Why was I allowing the aches and pains, my daily humdrum routine, and my attitude about age to convince myself that I was old and ready for a sedentary life?  I was over 50 … not dead!  It was then that I decided to make some changes.I made a list of all the things I used to love to do, even though I couldn’t physically do some of them any longer.  On that list, I included the love I had of driving my ’65 Mustang convertible.  I had traveled from New York to Los Angeles and Canada to Mexico in that car.  It was time for me to trade in my ‘safe’, middle-aged car and spice things up a bit.  I couldn’t help but smile at the exhilaration that came over me at the mere thought of owning another Mustang.

When my elderly neighbor heard my plan, he scoffed and said, “It’s a pipedream; you’re old; let it go!”  That’s all the encouragement I needed.  When I drove in a week later and dangled the keys from my new, sleek, black, shiny, Mustang in front of his face and asked, “Would you like to go for a drive”, he grinned from ear to ear and shouted, “Can I?”  That was the best car ride I ever had!  That neighbor still smiles and waves each time I pull that Mustang into my driveway.

Since then, I’ve experienced my love for gymnastics by attending area competitions.  I had also been a professional singer years ago and now I have a terrific time singing karaoke.  The truth is you are never to old to pick up an old interest and take it to the next level or learn something new like how to paint or play an instrument. I’ve reconnected with old friends, danced at weddings, gone bowling, and played softball. I’ve repainted, remodeled, and redecorated my home, visited antique shops, taken Bible classes, eaten lunch out once a week, gone to movies, and had pizza delivered.

I’ve even become adventurous and tried new things.  Now I ride horseback, paint, upholster furniture, and all the while my rollerblades hang in the closet until the next sunny day; all things I’ve always wanted to do but never took the time.

There are many who say those of us who are over 50 are in our second childhood.  I beg to differ.  I believe that our childhood never ends.  It just gets lost for a time while we’re busy being work-a-holics and career-minded adults.  It’s only when we get to our 50s that we realize we’re really not as old as our achy body leads us to think we are.  We need to listen to our younger heart and mind instead of our body.  When we do, we’ll discover … and enjoy … what can be the best years of our lives!

Isn’t it about time you have fun again?

Debe Lange

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