Note to Self – A Guide to Self Preservation in my Senior Years

Often, we read about people writing to their younger selves, sharing advice they wish they had known in their earlier years.  This is done in the hopes that another younger person may read it & benefit from this sage advice.  An attempt to somehow lessen the stress & self-doubt a younger person feels as they move forward in life.

This got me to thinking.

At the age of 54, based on my life experience to date, what advice would I deliver to myself in my senior years?  If I had the chance to have a conversation with my older self, what nuggets of knowledge would I feel it necessary to share?

Hopefully one of my kids will have tucked this away in a safe place, waiting for the appropriate time to present me with my own words of advice.  Lord knows, I won’t be able to find it anywhere & I will most likely have forgotten my password to know how to get into my blog.  So kids, I am relying on you to make this happen, should you feel I need to read this!

 

July, 28, 2015

My dearest old gal,

If you are reading this, I am guessing you are in need of a little attitude adjustment. Consider this a friendly nudge from your younger self; to heed your own advice.  I have compiled a list of 18 suggestions for you,  all of them coming from my own head & heart, learned through the difficult process of dealing with my own aging parents years ago.  

I know what you’re thinking.  “18 is kind of a random number!” Be that as it may, I gift them to you, in hopes that you are of sound enough mind to receive them in the spirit they were written:  

1. Seek ways to put laughter in your day & maintain your sense of humour.

Sadly it seems when we get old, we feel we don’t have as much to laugh about.  We have most likely lost many of our friends, our family & possibly even our life partners.  Some days may feel unbearable, but I urge you to seek laughter.  Do not be crotchety!  Find someone to share a  good belly laugh with, one that starts at your very core.  Laughter truly is the best medicine!

2. Practice tolerance & try to stay young at heart.

I am guessing you are feeling like things have changed since you were a young girl. Rather than longing for the good old days, learn to adapt & go with the flow.  Talk to young people about the issues of the world today & listen to what their challenges are.   You are never too old to stop learning!  Be a sponge & soak up the news of today, while at the same time being able to share your wisdom based on your life experiences.  It’s a win win for everyone!  

3. Use your manners.

This seems like a no brainer but aging has a funny way of making you forget to use your manners. Please, Thank You & Excuse Me are as important now as they were when you taught your children to say them all those years ago.  Practice what you preached. It’s not okay to fart & not say excuse me.   Unless of course, you are in your own company.  In that case,  see #1.

4.  Use your filter.

I am not talking about your coffee filter.  I am talking about your social filter.  Think before you speak.  Don’t just start rattling off about things before you give pause to how this information is being received.   It will save you, your children & those around you, a ton of embarrassment.

5. Continue to exercise.

I know it hurts.  Most likely, you are filled with aches & pains, but for the love of God, keep moving!  If you can do nothing else but wave your arms in the air, do it with vigor! Remember the saying, “use it or lose it?”  It still applies!  Get up & move those old bones!

6. You don’t know everything.

Just because you are old, it doesn’t mean you are right all of the time.  Quite honestly, you have always had difficulty with this one.  I would guess as you age, it will be even more challenging for you.  Stand down my friend.  There are smart people still living, you may meet the odd one now & again, so be prepared to “agree to disagree”.  Just sayin’.

7. Be kind & generous in spirit.

These are qualities that have been of the utmost importance to you, all of your life. Extending kindness to people, offering them a safe place to fall if they need it.  Continue on this path, there is only good that come from it.

8.  Look for something positive each & every day you are gifted.

Quite honestly, seniors complain a lot!  I suppose after so many years, they have lots to complain about, but this can be wearisome to those around you.  I beg you not to be this person.  Look for the positive, don’t be the cantankerous old gal in the group.  Be the gal people enjoy talking to.  Continue to embrace every day as a precious gift, seek a wee bit of adventure in your day & put a smile on your face.  Regardless of what age you are, a smile is a beautiful thing.  It can change a person’s day.

9.  Share your story.

You have had the benefit of living such a rich & full life.  Look through your photos.  You may not recognise all of the faces, but theses photos will remind you of how much love & joy has surrounded you in your lifetime.  How lucky you were to experience such amazing adventures in so many incredible destinations, collecting stories from each and every place you visited.  Share these stories, for they are so much a part of who you are.

10. Your children will most likely have to make some difficult decisions on your behalf.

This is a hard one.  At some point, our parental roles change & our children end up having to help us with life decisions that we may not necessarily agree with.   Trust me when I tell you this will be harder on them than it is on you.  Never lose sight of how much they love you & respect them enough to hear their position.  It is most likely for your own safety & well-being.

11.Practice Safe Sex.

I’M KIDDING!  I just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention. If you are still gettin’ some at your age, trust me, safety is the least of your concerns!  Sorry kids, refer to#1!  

12. Be grateful for the wonderful life you have been given. 

I read today, about a beautiful 20-year-old young girl, who was tragically killed in a car accident.  I cannot fathom the loss her family is feeling.  I imagine the things she will never have the opportunity to experience. Be grateful for the fullness of your life, the experiences you have had & the people you have loved along the way.   If you are reading this, it means you have been one of the fortunate ones. 

13. Be patient.

This seems to be a really tough one for seniors.  There is a sense of urgency to every little thing they do.  Please, please, please, do not be the prickly senior with a short fuse at the bank, or in the line at the grocery store.  Seriously, where is it you need to be?   Give people the time they need, for you probably have more time on your hands than they do!

14.  You may need to lower your expectations.

High expectations are something you inherited from your grandmother.  It is not necessarily a bad thing, for it has served you well in what you expect of yourself.   Unfortunately sometimes your expectations are hard to meet, you may need to lower them just a tad.  

15. Don’t drink too much

Quite frankly, this has always been a fear for you.  Your family history has been one plagued with the wretched disease of alcoholism.  If your kids suggest you are drinking too much, stop!  I mean it.  Clean out the cupboards of anything alcohol related, get rid of it!  Period, full stop!

16. Listen to Music

You have always loved music, all kinds of music.  For some reason when people get old, many stop listening to music.  They find it annoying.  Their car radios & their disc players are silent.  Perhaps they have forgotten how to turn them on?  It’s a mystery to me.  I hope you still listen to music.  It was & is, good for your soul!  

17. Love your life to the bitter end.

None of us knows when life may end.  Savour every moment.  Find joy in your day.  Try something new, regardless of how scary it may seem.  Never give up on life before it is taken from you. 

18. Be someone you would like to remember.  

Leave your mark in this world as someone who loved life to its full capacity in every regard.  In doing so, when you close your eyes for the very last time, you will have lived a good life, a full life, an enviable life.  One you were so blessed to have had, & hopefully one that left an imprint on the hearts of those who had the pleasure to know you.

So there you have it, my dear heart.  I hope this advice has helped you in small way, offering you guidance in knowing the person you wanted to be.  

Hugs

Your younger self

I open it up to you my friends.  If given the chance, what would you add or share with your older self?

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77 Responses to Note to Self – A Guide to Self Preservation in my Senior Years

  1. Martha says:

    Oh Lynn! This made me laugh….and think! Your list could seriously be my list. I would add one though. Don’t waste another second worrying about imperfections with your body! Too much time has already been devoted to wondering if “my ass looks big in these pants”! Finally, let it go woman! and embrace positive thoughts about the world around you free of the clutter of self-consciousness!

    • Lynn says:

      How very true Martha! We spend ridiculous amounts of time & energy fretting over our bodies. Your comment reminds of something a friend of mine shared with me years ago. His Mom was dying of cancer & in the midst of her chemo, she commented to her son how much time she had wasted trying to lose weight. Going to weight watchers & tops, fretting over whether she had gained or lost. She laughed & said, “I sure could use a few of those pounds now” I have never forgotten that.

      Thank you so much for contributing my friend. I truly appreciate it!

  2. karen says:

    wonderful!!! You hit the nail on the head, Lynn . I loved this blog!!! Im keeping it to remind me later…xo Karen

  3. anne says:

    Beautiful! I am a journal keeper and have been for years. Occasionally I go back to read entries from 10-15 years….I don’t even recognize that woman. I feel I have mellowed so much in these 62 years.

    • Lynn says:

      Anne, how wonderful that you keep a journal. Age has a wonderful way of teaching us to slow down a bit & breathe. Thank you so much for sharing & for your kind comment.

  4. Love this. I think I might have to do one of these for myself…..and I may have to read it right now! LOL

    • Lynn says:

      Thanks “A”!

      It’s funny how we have the ability to see the flaws in our beloved aging parents, knowing that when we get there, we will most like be exactly the same! I am hoping I can still read & follow my instructions!

  5. Great list! Be careful what you wish for… your kids will remember this list and you actually may see it! 🙂 Love the post.

    • Lynn says:

      Ha! I am counting on it Nelson!

      This actually came out of a conversation I had with my daughter recently. She asked if my Mom ever complained about the things her mother was doing when she was aging. I told her about a conversation years ago I had with my Mom where, in one of her frustrating moments, she said to my brother & I, “if I ever get like that, please take me out in the backyard & shoot me!” I am happy to say that we have not shot her yet but I am hoping my way is a safer bet!

  6. Catherine Hilge says:

    Lynn you really summed it up well. I have witnessed both the good parts of aging and the not so good parts of aging in not only my parents but in all the wonderful and not so wonderful seniors I have had the privilege of caring for over the past 40 years. I hope as I age I keep the good parts and leave the not so good parts behind I too hope that if the bad parts put in an appearance my children will be good enough to tell me when I need to be told. I am sure they will and like you I hope I will have the good sense to not only listen but more importantly hear what they are saying.

    • Lynn says:

      You, more than anyone I know, have witnessed first hand, the struggles & challenges between our aging loved ones & their families. Your patience, your wisdom & your sense of compassion has calmed many a storm, mine included.

      Like you, I can only hope that I have the where with all to be the senior I aspire to be! Hopefully you are right there beside me!

      Thanks my beautiful friend, not only for your guidance & friendship, but for all of the mentoring you have given to so many, all of them benefiting from your calming disposition!

  7. Ingrid says:

    Hmm, interesting thoughts to ponder. I’m visiting with my 88 year old dad this week and my head has been swirling with all kinds of thoughts regarding aging. Your timely post is making my head swirl even more – or maybe that’s the champagne causing it to swirl 😆

    • Lynn says:

      I hope your visit finds your Dad in good health & spirits! Champagne? You go girl!

      Thank you for thoughts, always appreciated!

  8. Nancy says:

    I couldn’t have said this better myself, Lynn, so I hope you don’t mind but I intend to steal this and give it to my children to give back to me someday. 😊

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you for your kind words Nancy. I don’t mind at all, I am certain most of us will need a gentle reminder as we age, to revisit many of these points! Share away!

  9. Sue Slaght says:

    Lynn this is a fantastic post. Might i suggest you send it on to the Huffington Post for their consideration for publishing? Really great material. I have just spent the last week helping my Mom prepare for a move and my Mom in Law actually make one. Attitude makes a massive difference in a lifetime and especially in the senior years. Thank you for this eloquent reminder.

    • Lynn says:

      Sue, you touch my heart with your accolades! I have taken a “what the hell” attitude & submitted as you suggested.

      As you know, I have been experiencing all things senior these days as well, causing me to give thought to my senior years.

      My hope in writing this piece, is that if there were to come a time when I forget the values I so desperately wanted to display in my senior years, I can look back & read my own words, thus knowing they came from my heart.

      I hope that your moves go well, it can be so challenging. You are right, attitude has much to do with the success of the move!

      Your kind words inspire me always. I am so glad to have met you here, in this forum. Thank you my friend!

  10. restlessjo says:

    What’s to add? You’ve done a well nigh perfect job, Lynn. I especially like no. 18. I would really like to be that person. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Have a great rest of your life! I certainly know you’ll try to, and give a lot of pleasure along the way too.

  11. Lynn says:

    #18 is my favourite Jo. To be remembered as a good person with a good heart, is to have lived a good life I think. I promise you I shall try my very best to live up to my expectations. Thank you for your lovely words Jo, much appreciated!

  12. Lynn – this all so much to remember. It’s a good thing that your wrote it down.

    I’m not sure I’ll follow through on #14.

  13. Lynn says:

    It is a lot to remember Bruce, & chances are I will forget many of them! Interesting you should comment on #14. Years ago, I was having a heart to heart conversation with someone when my grandmother was dying & it was pointed out to me, for reasons I won’t bother going in to, that sometimes people disappoint us when we have such high expectations. I am very much like her in that regard, concerning what I expect of myself. It is both a blessing & a curse! The problem is, it can be difficult for people to live up them, which was a bit of a revelation for me at the time, Or as Oprah would say, it was an Ah ha moment.

    Cheers Bruce! Here is to growing old, well & happy!

  14. joannesisco says:

    Oh Lynn – how beautifully written this is! I agree with Sue, I hope this is published because this is a message we all need to remember as we age. Number 18 sums it up perfectly ❤

    • Lynn says:

      Thanks you so much Joanne. I think we could all benefit from a point or two as we age. As always, I so appreciate your support & your kind words. Also, thanks for the reblog!

  15. joannesisco says:

    Reblogged this on My Life Lived Full and commented:
    Lynn has written a powerful message that we all need to hear as we get older. I hope you will read it.

  16. bkpyett says:

    Lynn and Joanne, I really appreciated this. In these modern times, so much seems to have changed, and yet these things you speak of are the really important elements we need to remember. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. ❤

  17. bkpyett says:

    Reblogged this on Barbara Pyett and commented:
    Lynn has captured the essence of what we need to remember as we age. A delightful post!

  18. bikerchick57 says:

    This is a wonderful list. Since I don’t have children or a husband/boyfriend, #10 & 11 don’t apply, but I love everything else. Excellent post!

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you so much, for the comment & for the visit today. A very good friend of mine went through this with her Uncle as he too, did not have children or a partner. She helped him through his senior years with as much love & concern as any child. I hope there is someone in your life who will do the same for you!

  19. Solveig says:

    I found this through Joanne, and loved it. I am still under thirty for a while, but this list is great! And so many people should have a look at it…

  20. mickscogs says:

    Hi Lynn, I came here from Joanne’s blog. I’m guessing if you are thinking like this now, you will think like this when you are older; I read all of this as story about you now and then. I’m sorry if this sounds a bit rude. That was not the intention. Thanks for the good read.

    • Lynn says:

      Mick, welcome. The interesting thing is that so many of us think these things now when we are younger, they seem like common sense to us, but as we age, we lose sight of so many of things I mentioned. I am hoping my kids will show this to me as a reminder!

      Thank you so much for visiting today, lovely to have you stop by!

  21. Heyjude says:

    Came over from Joanne’s blog and love what you wrote. I think I must write something similar and give it to my daughter to keep! My parents died many years ago, but the OH’s mother is still with us at the age of 91. Sadly she seems to have become one of those bitter, manipulative and complaining seniors and the fact that she is suffering from slight dementia doesn’t help. One thing we did when she was in good health was to apply for Power of Attorney so we have the right to manage her heath and financial affairs when she can’t, sometimes she can be very sneaky and writes cheques without telling us what they are for. We suspect another family member is taking advantage, but what can we do? She is adamant that she can manage her finances, but then says she can’t remember what she has spent her money on! We don’t know how much she forgets or how much she is lying about. I hope to goodness that I never become like that!
    Thanks Lynn 🙂

    • Lynn says:

      Hi Jude! The experience you are describing is one I know all too well, which is one of the reasons I wrote this post.

      I think we all fear becoming the “bitter, manipulative & complaining senior” but despite out best intentions, in so many cases, we seem to follow a similar path when we get there!

      My Mom has been such a wonderful role model for me for so much of my life, we have been the best of friends & shared so much together. In more recent days, it is difficult to recognize the vibrant, social & positive person she has always been. It breaks my heart, knowing she talked to me about this on a number of occasions, when describing her experience with her own mom, & fearing she never wanted to be that person.

      I truly hope if I get to that point, my children share my thoughts as I have written, if nothing else, to remind me of them! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts & taking the time to comment. I hope that things remain manageable for you! Take good care:)

  22. Reblogged this on Lady in Transition and commented:
    Lynn’s thoughtful letter captures the heart of aging gracefully. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  23. Carolyn says:

    Hi Lynn, so appropriate especially since we are coping with our aging mothers at present.

  24. Lynn says:

    Yes, you & I have had many a conversation over our aging parents Carolyn. Hopefully we can learn a little something through all of our wisdom!

    • Lynn says:

      Martha, thank you for pointing out this article. In all seriousness, my poking fun at myself should never underestimate the concern around the issue of std’s, for any age group. I appreciate your comment.

      • I think it’s kind of funny that the author thinks boomers had bad sex ed. We are the ones who taught him/her sex-ed. Oh well! But yeah STDs are not a problem limited to the young.

  25. What a good buddy you are to your younger self, and isn’t it a shame we can’t time travel and give our younger selves a good shake!! I guess there can never be a life without ANY regrets at all, or else we are deluding ourselves. Life is a learning process and I think we only stop learning when we die? Or suffer with severe dementia. I hope I can live a simple life when I am older so that when I go, it is relatively simple for the surviving family to deal with all the accumulations of my life. Interesting post.

    • Lynn says:

      I so agree Amanda, life without regrets is life without learning. I love your idea of living a simple life, peacefully exiting life with not too many ripples in the water.

      Thank you so much for leaving your thoughtful comment & for the follow. I will be sure to check your blog out as well.

  26. LB says:

    Well, Lynn, you have clearly hit a home run with this one!
    Lots to think about here, and I have saved this post to read again … and again.
    Thank you!

  27. Mrs. P says:

    I loved this post! So many of your 18 points were spot on and if they didn’t apply to me they applied to my dad when he got old so I can relate.

    I was blessed to have two people in my life who set an excellent example of growing old, my grandmother and my aunt. It is with great hope that I can follow their wonderful attitude and outlook on life as I age, that I never need these reminders…but just in case the unthinkable happens I have left my daughter instructions to give me this letter! 😀

    Thanks for sharing these pearls, enjoyed them immensely.

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you Mrs. P, for both your kind words, & your visit! I was trying to think of a way I could talk to myself in my own words, in the event I need to hear them. Like you, I hope that I don’t but it was fun writing this! I am glad you enjoyed it too. I so appreciate you dropping by & having a read.

  28. ChristineR says:

    Hello Lynn, I’ve wandered over here from Barbara’s blog. This is a thoughtful list, full of sound advice. Now I better pop back to B’s. Nice to meet you.

    • Lynn says:

      Lovely to meet you as well Christine & thank you for taking the time to pop over to have a read! Hopefully Barbara didn’t miss you too much while you were gone;)

      • ChristineR says:

        Well, Barbara had time to pick herself up from the floor after the shock I gave her, with my sudden appearance. I’m not a great follower, but I did remember to go back and catch up a bit. 🙂

  29. Finally adding my comment to this great blog which really made me reflect on where I’m at these days! There are so many points in your list that hit home with me and some of them I’ve been trying to live up to…one of the surprises for me and your point#13 really made me think, is the fact that I am getting less patient. I always thought impatience was the realm of the young but slow lines, bad drivers etc make me more prickly all right! I’ve resolved to breath deeply and get a perspective and then maybe for good reasons I can achieve #18 one day.

  30. Lynn says:

    One of the things I find fascinating about aging is that, it appears in many ways, we revert back to some of our childhood mannerisms. We lose patience, we don’t listen well & I hate to say it, but we don’t always recognise that we are not the center of the universe! I am not sure if it is because we don’t have as much to focus on, but there seems to be an immediacy about seniors, needing things done right away. I too, hope to aspire to achieve #18!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read & to leave your thoughts!

  31. Norm 2.0 says:

    Some great advice at any age. Wonderful post 🙂

  32. barbtaub says:

    I came over from Susie’s Hop, and I’m so glad I did! What a great list, and fantastic concept. Of course, #11 made me snort coffee (messy!) but it was worth it.

  33. Cassandra says:

    What a great list. I may need to write one for myself. Enjoying exploring your blog. Susie sent me!

  34. What great advice to give to yourself! Keep learning, keep laughing, keep moving! You said many great things in this post, but I think I could get by on those three alone! (Oh and also by just generally trying to be nice to people. That’s important!)

    • Lynn says:

      Being nice to people is key Domingo. Not only does it make the other person feel good, but it leaves us feeling good as well. Glad you enjoyed the post. Will be sure to stop by for a visit on your blog as well!

  35. As an older self I really enjoyed this post. Your advice is impeccable and all us oldsters would benefit from keeping a copy handy.

  36. Kiri says:

    What a great list! For anyone at any age.

  37. Jodi says:

    so glad you brought this to my attention Lynn! Very well done. Gave me goosebumps. You nailed so many things we have experienced in dealing with aging parents! May we heed this great advice as we age!

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