Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

February 5, 2014

What I Like About Getting Older

AA_Pano

My friend Susannah Conway invited me to participate in a little 41st birthday celebration she’s hosting today. The topic: The (delicious) truth about getting older.

In her email she said, “I’m hungry to see positive stories on aging.”

Amen.

She wrote the following questions as a starting point: “What are the blessings of getting older? How has your experience of being a woman improved with age? What’s surprising about getting older? How has getting older affected your relationships with others?

Happy Birthday Susannah – thanks for asking me to participate!

I put together my own list of what I like most about getting older (from my perspective right now at age 38) to share with you today.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT GETTING OLDER

  1. The knowledge that I can do it. After surviving the life-upheaval of a divorce two years ago one of my biggest first-hand-learn-it-with-all-my-heart-even-if-I-didn’t-want-to lessons was that people make it through things. That process, and the way in which life has continued on, has taught me so much about myself and the person I want to be and the person I am and the things I can do.
  2. Along with the knowledge that I can do it myself comes the potentially even more powerful knowledge that I need other people and it’s okay to ask for help. Someone sent me an awesome email recently sharing a bit of their own life experience of second chances and meeting someone who wanted to help carry their baggage as they ventured together through the next chapters in their lives. It came from a place of giving and love and encouragement to let go. This is an area I continue to work on, be open to, and practice.
  3. The journey continues. It’s far from over. There’s so much life left to be lived. I think I used to think somewhere inside myself that I’d turn a certain age and have it all figured out. Ha. I embrace that life is a process and that there’s something new for me to learn (and be amazed by) every single day. There are new ways of looking at things and opinions to be challenged and books to read and places to see and horizons to be expanded.
  4. I so love that I can happily admit and much more easily accept that I don’t know everything and I don’t have to know everything.
  5. Saying “no” comes much easier than it did when I was younger and wanted to be everything to everyone.
  6. The matching-up of physical and mental/emotional strength. Let me explain because I’m not really there yet but I see it as a major blessing and it’s what I’m working towards. I have been an athlete in my life. I can vividly remember what it feels like to be in really good physical shape. For me this was in high school and early college as a competitive swimmer. Yet during that same time my mental/emotional health was all over the place (hello crazy life of leaving home for college and the new experience of freedom). There wasn’t an alignment between the physical and mental/emotional. I believe in that possibility of alignment (and I acknowledge that I will always be learning new things that impact my overall mental health) and I feel closer to it as I begin to place more importance on my physical health.
  7. The softening. Of thoughts and emotions and behaviors. I hinted around a bit here and there about my struggles with making everything blank and white all the time (it’s in my nature to follow the rules). I cry easier]. I admit when I’m wrong quicker. I like myself better with softer edges and am making room for more grey areas.
  8. I feel more alive right now than I ever have before.
  9. I’m owning my own story. Working on accepting all the parts of myself – the awesome and the not-so-awesome. Seeking to understand the pieces that feel hard and unhappy and the areas where I still have a hard time softening. I love that I know I don’t need to be anyone I’m not.
  10. I like that at this point in my life I can approach things with perspective. I’ve got some life experience under my belt. I’ve known great joy and intense sadness. My body has faced skin cancer and had babies pulled from it and has jumped from cliffs into the water below and all those experiences make up the person I am right now. And I’m so happy to be able to continue to learn and make mistakes and seek opportunities to be fantastically awake on this experience called life.

There are definitely still moments when I look at myself in the mirror and wonder who that person is looking back at me. There are moments of supreme doubt and fear. There are moments when it’s so much easier to just eat the whole bag of chips or climb back in bed or do both at the same time.

But man it’s a pretty awesome adventure overall.

And there’s more to come.


Someone on the One Little Word® workshop Facebook page linked to this post (On Feeling Awkward And Inept At Things But Doing Them Anyway: The Lesley Kinzel Story) yesterday which included this video from Soul Pancake that is so worth sharing as a companion to this post today:

And yes, corn dogs rule.

And remember, “You’re awake. You’re awesome. Live like it.”

What do you love about getting older? What are you celebrating about yourself as you age?

Comments

  • 1.
    michelle said…

    I love that I am getting older. I’ve had too many friends die young and turning 39 this year is something not everyone gets to do. i am grateful for this.

    • ….

      Amen.
      I’ve had two friends my age die of breast cancer in the past few years, both of them leaving young children behind. The death of these two friends has completely changed the way l view getting older and the routine of everyday life. I find myself wondering what they would give to be in my shoes. Life is a gift that not everyone gets to experience for long.

  • 2.
    Elizabeth said…

    Loving just being me, no longer feeling a need to put on a mask as I go out the door. Feeling love and compassion for those younger versions of me, those 6 year old, 16 year old, and even 36 year old versions who didn’t know they were loved or that they could keep going.

  • 3.
    Teal said…

    Facing 40 in a month. Thanks for the perspective and encouraging me to look at the really great things about this season of life!

  • 4.
    Susan A said…

    I too felt like there were come a time that I’d have it all figured it out. Such a good feeling to know that I still have so much to learn and offer.

  • 5.
    Silvia said…

    Great post Ali. I’m turning 30 in a couple of months. For the past year or so I have been thinking about getting older from time to time. And I don’t mind at all. I love that I know now better who I am, what I like. I am more myself these days. I enjoy spending time with others more and I worry less. The latter is the most important one for me right now, as I used to be such a worry flower. Still am, just a bit less and it has made life way more fun. I’m also trying to let go of rules. Growing up I made so many for myself, now I’m trying to let them go. To only keep the ones that are serving me, not the ones that are holding me back. Ok, so this turned into a long comment. Wishing you a wonderful day and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! xo

  • 6.
    Kristie S. said…

    At 45, I feel comfortable in my skin. I know my shortcomings and strengths. I do not feel that I should be like everyone else or that everyone needs to like my actions or opinions. I feel more “me” than I ever have.

    • ….
      Jeanne Ann said…

      YES! There comes an age when somethings just don’t matter quite so much and others mean even more. I embrace my life and who I am in it at this time. My life really did begin at 40 and I have had 4 years to really learn and grow into myself.

  • 7.
    Melissa said…

    ‘Just turned forty eight. (gulp.)

    Something I’ve learned is to stop overthinking things. I used to examine things from every possible angle. Overanalying – of myself and of situations. Sometimes you just have to step back (mentally/emotionally) and admit that something – whether in your mind or going on w/ someone else – just IS. “It is what it is,” and leave it at that. Don’t get caught up in it.

  • 8.
    Carla F said…

    Getting older means that I doubt myself much less. I take on challenges that are difficult but in the end are worth it.

  • 9.
    Stacy said…

    I’m turning 40 this year and LOVE it. My favorite part of being older is realizing that its ok to be who you are and do what you want to do. I feel like I spent so much of my younger life trying to “fit in” – in my career, as a mom, as a wife. I now am ok with store bought cupcakes for the class party, they don’t have to be some Pinterest novelty. It’s ok if I still love rub ons for scrapbook pages when they’re no longer en vogue. And if I wear stilettos to the playground instead of Toms, that’s just who I am. Regardless of what I choose, I own it – and you bet I’ll rock those stilettos. :)

  • 10.
    Lisa W. said…

    I can’t hardly even think about getting older right now after that video. WOW probably the BEST video pep talk, inspirational thing I have ever witnessed. I feel like 12 again. That BOY needs to speak nationally to the world. And did ya not love the “brain pictures”. Just awesome Ali…you always manage to make my day!!!!!!!

    OH yes on getting older…lol Well I’m good , I’m ok with it. Sometimes I don’t like the way my body feels physically what so ever. But I guess one biggie that stands out for me is…getting older means I will have grandchildren someday in the near future. Babies make me happy, VERY happy.

    Thank you for this post. The BEST!!!!!!!

  • 11.
    Shannon R. said…

    This is a great post. I agree with so much of what you said. I’m getting my Masters right now and am taking an undergrad class with a bunch of 21 year old students. It is interesting to hear what their lives are like and what their problems are as college students. My husband asked me if it made me miss being that age and I said, “Hell no!” I love where I am in life now and I believe it does bring quite a bit of perspective. I know I still have a ton to learn.

    Thanks for this great post!

  • 12.
    Angie Hall said…

    I love this post, Ali! I am 52, and what I love about getting older is that I can look back and appreciate the twists and turns that life has thrown at me. I survived, and called up all the strength I had and all the true friends I had acquired, and the talent that God gave me, and it was like the Universe was saying, “See, I told you so. You’ll be okay.” I now celebrate that I as my children get older, they are more my friends than anything else. My son will be 12 soon and my daughter is 17. I am celebrating that there’s still, as you say, a lot that life will still offer. I want to be wide open for it all…for it all!

    • ….
      Paula said…

      At 50 years old with a 23 year old son and 16 year old daughter, I echo your post in many ways. Things have definitely gone somewhat wayward, and I am getting wonderful opportunities in live I’d never dreamed of while also realizing some of my dreams will not come true. But there is lots to look forward to, bring it on!

  • 13.
    Marie-Pierre said…

    beautifully said. I will think about the questions myself. It’s interesting. For now I’m still pulling every gray hair as they show up on my head. I don’t really want to get older, but you are right, there are so many good things about it. And if i’m honest with myself, I’d rather go forward than go backwards….

  • 14.
    Cathy L. said…

    Beautiful. I think what I love most about aging (I’m 42), is that I really don’t worry about what other people think of me anymore. I have my family that loves me, wonderful friends, and that’s all I need.

  • 15.
    Michelle t. said…

    I’m in a little different stage. I’m 45 but it’d not age. It’s my health and in the next yr I face serious changes with many aspects of my care. Meds, plastic tubing in and out of my body, even what I can or can’t do on a daily basis. Been rocked a bit. Every time I think outside of my 4 walls (my home, boy what a metaphor), something happens to throw me right back there. But in going along with my word for the year I’m continuing to try to keep an open mind. So so hard, but do-able, just a matter of getting by, staying true to who I really am. Not what people, even those closest to you, see when they look at you. There’s more to me then “sick”, and as long as I remember that, then I’m getting by. Oh jeez sorry this is so long. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Insightful. Michelle t

    • ….
      Paula said…

      Praying for you Michelle!

  • 16.
    J Allen said…

    Ali, I’m 48! First of all I never thought I would live this long! I suffered a huge fall (I was trying to fly…if only for a minute) as a five year old. The doctors told my Mom I would never be “okay” if I woke up at all! Because of that I kinda grew up thinking I was living on borrowed time!

    All that said, I love aging because I know who I am! I don’t need or want anyone to fill in that blank for me anymore.

    I like that I’ve learned to listen, really listen. Not think about what I’m going to say next but just take the other person’s every word in.

    I now know that things are rarely as they seem at first glance. We all judge people and circumstances from our own standards. I’m still learning to see people for who they really are and not who I see them to be.

    I totally agree with the softening you talked about. I love the kinder, gentler self I am now. I even love the brokenness that comes from loving and being loved too much! Like the Velveteen Rabbit!

    I proudly embrace all 48 of my years. I don’t want to every stop learning, loving or embracing this life, with all it’s craziness!

  • 17.
    Jill said…

    44 is right around the corner for me. I think my 40′s have been some of the best years of my life. It feels like the older I get the better life gets. I am more confident in myself. I am wiser. I know myself and understand myself better than I ever have. Getting older isn’t scary like I thought it would be when I was younger – it is actually awesome. Thanks for this post – and the video – that brought a smile to my face and my heart:)

  • 18.
    Karen Beldon said…

    This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read! Thank you to you and your friend for finally celebrating some of the positives about getting older. :) I just turned 37 and I am liking that I feel more comfortable in my own skin….it’s a confidence that only comes with some experience under your belt like you said. And I can’t wait to be one of those beautiful, older ladies in life who are so lovely because of their gentle souls and keen wisdom!

  • 19.
    Angela said…

    Ali this is just awesome, thanks for sharing, very inspiring article.
    I’m 47 and I love to feel wiser.

  • 20.
    Debbie (from Sugar Land) said…

    Ali, I’m 55 this year, and almost one year since my divorce from a wonderful man I was married to for 35 years. Life throws us a curve sometimes, but we get through it, and usually stronger. I have noticed that ‘softening’ this year. As I struggled through the pending divorce, I began to realize that all those things I thought were critical were not. What was important was my family, my self, my mental health. I had to let other things go to center on these. Now, I’m able to do the things I need to, and have time for lots of those things I ‘want to’ do. I’ve had to re evaluate what is important and focus there. I appreciate your blog – and your insight, as I have seen you get through it gracefully.

  • 21.
    Susannah Conway said…

    Ohhh, ALI! Yes yes yes to all of this, especially to feeling more alive now than ever before. To being more conscious and aware. To being more present. *deep sigh* Love to you, sister x

  • 22.
    Judi said…

    You are wiser than your years – I have to take some time and write down what I feel like now at 62 – better and better as you age

  • 23.
    Jamie said…

    “I like myself better with softer edges and am making room for more grey areas.”

    Thank you for this. It’s exactly what I needed to hear right now. Now, to implement it.

  • 24.
    michele said…

    These feelings are not easily articulated…you express them well!!!Thanks for sharing…we see ourselves in your words.=)

  • 25.
    Jaimee H said…

    Being everything to everyone is not a realistic goal and I am finally truly at peace with that (at 35). How I choose to give myself to my family, to my job, to my son, to my life documenting….it is all good enough. I am enough just the way I am. I don’t have to prove to anyone that I am a good mother, a good wife, a good person because I know that I am. I have also learned to judge less, myself and others. Every single person has a different path life, different successes, different failures, different struggles…..that brought them to the place and the person they are. I did not live their story, so who am I to judge who they are. and if others want to judge me, it is without the education of living my story…..so their judgments do not matter. They do not make me a lesser person. Thanks again Ali for being so open with all of us!!

  • 26.
    Debra said…

    I think age is becoming less and less significant in the modern age. One of my best friends is in her fourties (I’m 28) and I totally forget until she starts talking about one of the vast amount of life experiences she has had. I’m like ‘when on earth did you fit that in?’

    And yet, we still manage to provide each other with equal quantities of advice when needed.

    I love your number 8…

    My mother-in-law told me nobody ever truly feels grown-up, some people just choose to act like they are. :)

  • 27.
    Mary R said…

    you are so awesome!! happy to know you friend. xoxo

  • 28.
    Shaela said…

    I just turned 32 last week, and I love that I’m finally learning to “let go” and not be so uptight about everything, and not having to have everything “just right”. It’s still a process for me, but I’m definitely less controlling (and thus less stressed, haha) than I was a decade ago. :)

  • 29.
    Wendy said…

    This is an awesome post! You are an amazing person, thanks so much for always sharing so much!

    I have to add… I just the love the Soul Pancake videos, that little boy is one awesome dude!! We need more people like him:)

  • 30.
    Jana said…

    I love how much more confident I am in myself as I approach 55 – yet I also continue to have moments of self doubt that keep me humble. I don’t know if I’ll ever lose that need for approval, but I’m really working hard on it!

    I love how my style is evolving, I’m less concerned about what’s trendy, and more interested in finding my own look as I explore thrift shops and find used treasures that help define who I am.

    I love that I feel 30 years old, and am in better shape athletically now than I was at age 30!

    I love that I’m tremendously curious about people, new creative techniques, science, everything! and am constantly wanting to learn more about how to do this or that.

    I love that I’m getting more brave about stepping forward towards things that might have scared me in the past. Taking risks and discovering they’re not nearly as frightening as I thought.

    I love how strong the relationship between my husband and daughters and myself is, and how it’s changed through time, and gotten even more wonderful!

    I love how LOVE is becoming my word to live by, and the power it holds to change everything!

  • 31.
    Susan Tuttle said…

    Isn’t being able to say ‘no’ such a blessing!? — making room for the things we really want and need. This is such a refreshing part of getting older. Thank you for sharing so openly. I’ve collected some wonderful pieces of wisdom here.

  • 32.
    Jennifer K said…

    Yay for life experience and perspective. Wish I could stay physically young forever, but thankful for gaining some wisdom about people and myself and life in general. When I get down about being “old”, I like to be reminded of this quote: “Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many”.

  • 33.
    Teri H. said…

    This is amazing Ali. I’m only three years behind you and I found myself nodding along. We’re learning a lot of the same lessons, it seems. Imagine how different our lives would be if we knew at 20 what we know at 35+…

    Thanks for this. I’m going to write my own.

  • 34.
    Valerie said…

    Loved your post! I’m 54 and after raising 4 sons and having at least one child living at home for over 30 years my youngest is now in college. I didn’t know how I was going to handle not being an “everyday mom” because I love being a mom. Man I was so surprised that although I miss my boy I feel like I’m on vacation! I have so much freedom and my husband and I are enjoying our time together with each other being our focus. I’m really enjoying this season of my life.

  • 35.
    Maggie Zygo said…

    Keep up the good work, girl! You’re an inspiration, Ms. Ali!

  • 36.
    Erin said…

    Great article. I’m 22 but can relate to some of the things you mentioned. I think you get to a point (or many points) where you realise that you have to live for yourself and that you can’t impress everyone. I feel like I change everyday, but at the same time not at all. When I look back on who I was this time last year I’m a completely different person. I suppose that’s a thing that happens in your twenties, as you discover more about yourself.

    Erin
    beingerin.com

  • 37.
    hk said…

    it’s my birthday today and reading this first thing made me smile.

    As I grow older I love the quality that comes with life experience … the security, the sure footedness, the loving oneself and others as they are, the joy of less worry and more happiness

  • 38.
    julie said…

    Thank you for the reminder that yes being here is a gift and a privilege. Not a gimme.

    I’m going to be 49 and can’t wait! Soaking up this big world and saying yes more often to fun things and no more often to things that don’t excite me. That’s so cool!

    Love soul pancake…now I have a new hero!
    Julie

  • 39.
    Patti L said…

    I love Susannah, her Unraveling class was very eye opening. I wish women would support each other more in aging, and just be realistic about it, tell the truth, talk more openly. I am 31, but I def have loved getting older now more than ever. Having also been thru emotionally traumatizing (in some ways) twenties, surviving divorce and basically peeling back lots of layers to figure out me, I just feel so much more me now. Its a sense of control and being at peace with the lack of control that I could not balance out when I was younger. I so look forward to the journey, and the work-in-progress of my life.
    Your correlation between the emotional and physical resonates with me, as I think I’m getting to the point also where I’m trying to bring my physical health in line with the work I’ve done on my emotional health.
    Wow, good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  • 40.
    Leanne in CA said…

    Oh my gosh, I love that little kid and his awesome wisdom! He made me smile and laugh. Love it. Thanks for sharing your blog today. Getting older is the best. Take care and have a fabulous week!

  • 41.
    Ana Roat said…

    Your post was lovely. This spring I will celebrate my 53rd birthday. My daughter will turn 33 one week after my birthday and my son will be 26 in October. I’m a grandmama to two beautiful little girls that remind me daily of just how wonderful life is. Getting older has made me more grateful for everything. I too am softer, wiser and comfortable offering no excuses for the woman I’ve become. Trisha Yearwood pretty well sums it up in her song Real Live Woman. Give it a listen if you find a free minute or two in your day. Wishing you many, many more days of a simple but oh so worth it life!

  • 42.
    Di said…

    At 42 I am stronger emotionally and physically than I ever have been. Age really isn’t something to be feared. Being strong enough to say no, having the courage to try new things, and the sass to say “screw it” when things aren’t going how you planned.
    I feel so much HAPPIER at 42 than I did at 22 or 32… happiness seems more important now. If I don’t want to do something or it doesn’t make me happy then 99% of the time I won’t do it, unless I have to (mammograms! lol!). Age is feeling more secure in ones self, it’s more confidence. I think that’s why older women look sexy, more confidence.
    I’m 42 and I’m a part time college student going back to school to get the degree I never got chance to get in my 20′s. It’s never too late to follow your passions, and your dreams.

  • 43.
    Anna Aspnes said…

    Less pressure to conform. No make-up. Creating my own rules. I just don’t care what others think anymore, and some of that softening and crying you’re talking about. I relate to that.

  • 44.
    Jenn said…

    Beautiful!

  • 45.
    Bobbi said…

    Thank you for this! I feel it everyday. At 51 (still seems odd to say that-only other people are in thier 50′s) it just keeps getting better & better. It’s what u make it. And then, if you get to be a Grandma…no greater joy! You get to be young again w/o all the pressure. :)

  • 46.
    Ksenia said…

    Great food for thought. Ali, where were the photos at the top of the post taken?

  • 47.
    sharon Dodd said…

    Great post, Ali
    And to Michelle T – hang in there.
    I turned 60 last year.
    When I was 51, I had an emergency appendectomy, then developed breast cancer. I had bilateral mastectomies, reconstruction, chemotherapy, including my port leaking the adriamycin. You can get through anything as long as you have your sense of self and support from friends.
    Then in 2009 I developed leukemia. I had a bone marrow transplant in 2011, and have had lots of challenges. But I have learned that it is ok to ask friends for help, and frequently even people I don’t know are more than willing to help.
    I think worse than my health issues was going through a nasty divorce after more than 30 years. And I learned that I could forgive and not look back, but move on.

  • 48.
    fafuna said…

    Thanks, Ali. I’m turning 22 in two weeks and I know that might not be the age Susannah was talking about, but still – I think we’re all “hungry to see positive stories on aging”, like she said. Enough with glamorizing the 20s, like any other age is not worth it. (I love being 21, don’t get me wrong, but that’s exactly why I need to hear about how lovely it is to be 41, and 51, and 81.)
    I loved reading your post. Thank you. You are a true inspiration.

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