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Grandparents

Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Passion

One Easy Way to Kill Your Passion

I write. I write because I like to write. I write because I love words and ideas. I write because I want to connect with whomever reads what I write. I like feeling connected to a bigger world than mine. But I even like to write when no one reads what I write. I just have a passion for writing!

There are many other women my age who also like to write. I didn’t know this until I started writing for vibrantoldwoman.com and began searching the internet for resources about aging and retirement. Then I discovered there’s a lot of Vibrant Old Bloggers out there!

And I read every one of them I find. Some of them are really funny. Some of them are very practical with lots of good how-to’s and advice.  Some of them have thousands of followers and subscribers. All of them leave me entertained, inspired, challenged…and questioning…and threatened…and doubting of myself.

When I began discovering these other blogs, I started a running conversation with myself, very privately in my head.  I asked myself how they were able to get so many readers? And then tried to answer myself. Maybe I should try to be funny, maybe I should follow a how-to, 1-2-3-kind of format, maybe I should not be so spiritual, maybe my titles need to be pithier, or my design updated, or maybe I should copy their web design. Wow! Maybe I don’t know what I am doing! Maybe I should go to Blog School ( is there one?).

When my turmoil finally reached the boiling point, the private conversation became more open and I talked it over with my friend…Had she read any of the other blogs in my demographic? Did she realize how many there were? How did she think I compared? Did she think my blogs were worth reading? Should I try to be funny? Were my topics relevant? What do I need to change?

Meanwhile, the joy of writing my blog began to fade a bit. I found I had less to write about and started second-guessing my ideas. I found I had a sense of the “other blogger’s” presence as I wrote. They seemed to be looking over my shoulder. I felt a pressure I hadn’t had before. Consequently I began to accumulate a lot of unfinished drafts and fewer published pieces. My passion and motivation waned.

Thankfully, my friend is not only honest but also wise. After listening patiently, reading many blogs about aging that don’t apply to her, she gently said, “Stop it! Stop reading other bloggers and do your own…or don’t do it. No one wants to read a repeat of someone else’s writing. Stop comparing yourself. Just be you!”

I began  by noticing differences and learning and slowly slipped into “checking out the competition” and feeling threatened. How easy it is to get thrown off our course by comparing ourselves to someone else and then attempting to emulate the other, even if only in small ways. Fads and social norms get started like this!

I see another woman with grey hair, about my age, and she is wearing adorable leggings with a bright colored tunic, and suddenly I find myself longing for leggings and a tunic…or my retired neighbors are leaving on a senior cruise with Road Scholar and soon I find myself thumbing through the offerings trying to figure out if we can afford a similar cruise…or stories of retirees “going South as Snowbirds” and hearing a still-small-inner-voice saying “you should” too…and of course, EVERYONE must have a “Bucket List” they are working on before they die and I  feel the pressure. And what about grand parenting? It’s so easy to compare ourselves to what other grandparents do with their grandkids and come up short. Don’t all good grandma’s bake amazing apple pies, cook lavish Thanksgiving dinners, and make beautiful scrapbooks? (Not me!)

Comparisons, by nature, usually imply one is better than the other. Someone comes out less-than the other. Holding equal value for “the same only different” is much more difficult but it’s where real freedom and joy is found.

These are my Gran Finale years. I want to live them as authentically me as possible without comparisons. There is no one grading me, no one watching. I am freer than I’ve ever been. I can create my own rhythm each day and release my own peculiar passion…or I can trap myself with my own adolescent-like comparisons and strive to compete or be someone I’m not.

My heart sings loudest when I keep the quiet rhythm of my daily tasks and write. It’s a good day when I write what’s on my mind, to you, whoever you are, wherever you are, and whether you read every word or not. But I do it just because that’s what I love to do.

Vibrancy of spirit depends on freedom to be myself, do what I am passionate about, and live the life that fits me best…no comparisons.

“Today you are You.

That is truer than true.

There is no one alive who is Youer than You.  -Dr. Seuss

Know what I mean?

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Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

Magical Thinking About Aging

“You’re growing up too fast!” I heard myself saying to my youngest grandchild recently.

Seems like a normal response from a granny to her youngest grandchild.  But as I heard the words and saw his somewhat shy and maybe embarrassed look, I wondered what I was really trying to say or what I was feeling when I said this. Did I really mean I was sorry he was growing up?

It sounded as if I thought he was doing something wrong, that he shouldn’t be growing! But in fact, he was right on schedule, growing taller and stronger each year and slowly turning into an adult…just like he was supposed to do, just like I wanted him to do.

It sounded like I wanted him to stay a baby, that I was disappointed that he was growing, maybe even that I liked him better when he was little and younger.

Unless you’re a cheese or a wine, growing older isn’t much valued in our Western society. We are told by marketers and advertisers everyday that we need to look younger and feel younger, indicating looking our age or feeling our age is unacceptable.

Even the word “aging” is used when someone is showing signs of defectiveness. “My, how she’s aged over the last few months!”, meaning she’s rapidly decaying, or not-so-good any more.

And here I was unintentionally adding to this cultural message that bodies must always be cute and pretty, young, small and un-pimpled.

Without consciously thinking about my intention and what I value, I slipped into an accepted cliche and popular response. Maybe I can magically change reality if I don’t acknowledge aging out loud and everything will stay the same and the fairy tale of happily-ever-after will truly happen…these beloved babies will always be babies!

Every once in a while, I too have been the reciprocator of this kind of magical thinking when a lovely soul says something like “You don’t LOOK 74! I would never have guessed you are that old.”  And I blush and take it as a compliment, like as if I’ve done something wonderful, and say “Oh really? Thank you!”  But in reality it only makes me more aware that I shouldn’t be aging, that I should try to look as young as possible, that it isn’t good to be 74 and look 74!

Besides when I view the process of growing old with realistic eyes, without magical thinking, I agree with Michael Caine: “To me, growing old is great. It’s the very best thing – considering the alternative.”

I’m not saying that I want brutal honesty or rudeness. But a more authentic evaluation of age would be welcome. Maybe something like, “My, you are aging well…such a vibrant 74 year old.”

I want my grandchildren to know that growing up is a good thing. I want them to know that each age and stage of life is good and something to be valued. I want them to know they are wonderful right now, just as they are, and I will love them at every age and every size.

But, one thing I know is I’m ready for the next time I see one of my grandchildren. I’m ready to say, “My goodness! Every time I see you, you’ve grown some more. And you are doing such a good job of it!”

What are some other ways we inadvertently contribute to the magical thinking about age? How do you feel about this?

 

 

 

 

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