55 and alive: welcoming the second half of life.
When I was little, 29 seemed like the perfect age of life. I wanted to be a mom like my mom, and by the time I was aware of stuff like that, my mom was 29, so perfect. Forty was cool, but anyone beyond that was… a grandparent person, right? In retrospect, my child’s view of life stages wasn’t too far off from the mark, because here I am in my fifties, and a grateful grandparent. I am 55 and alive.
In fact, half of our lives, if we are blessed enough to live that long, happen after 40 and possibly 50. So, I have to conclude that we are just getting started, right?
Here I am, 55 and alive, just getting started, and incredibly thankful. It takes some focus to stay in this frame of mind.
First, without question, gratitude and awareness of my state of mind are my best lines of defense against illness, depression, or despair.
There was a time when I sincerely didn’t think I would live this long, so forgive me for sounding hung up on numbers.
My mom died before her 45th birthday and my dad died the year he turned 50. So, when I was so ill in my late thirties and forties, I thought there was a chance I might not make it.
Undiagnosed Celiac Disease, asthma, and Fibromyalgia had taken me to the brink. Surely it is understandable then, why I am not flippant about each passing year; I am deeply grateful.
Over the years, I have written about my story many times in some form or another, because when a parent dies, it changes your life. Even though I was almost 20 when my mom died, I felt so small when it hit me, like a little girl instead of a capable successful young adult. Then, losing my dad a few years later created a fissure in my joyful nature, but I had to put my grief aside and raise my daughter.
Ultimately, losing my parents and my own illness made me hyper aware of the passing of time, and gave me the desire to slow it down and really live.
Slow down. Stop the rush.
Each day is important. I find myself imploring people to stop and say I love you and thank you, to tell loved ones they are important. Because one day, those loved ones will move on from this life. Your memories will be what you have, so make them good.
In addition to fostering gratitude, I find a change of focus combats the increasingly negative narrative from outside sources like social media.
Anti-American sentiment from anyone blessed enough to have grown up in the land of opportunity gets me riled up.
Recently, I began to focus on changing my own words and thoughts to those of life and joy on a daily basis once again, because words become substance.
To be truthful, I am not always successful. Lately, in fact, I found I needed to speak up against the burning, chaos, and lawlessness. Normally, I am a person who smooths and unites, someone who fixes things, an explainer. But seeking out truth and putting it out there to combat the assault on freedom has helped me weather feelings produced by constant crisis.
It is not easy to try to keep a positive attitude and a soaring spirit in this world. However, if we surround ourselves with positive people, TURN OFF most of THE NEWS, and have a healthy prayer life, we will be more successful changing the narrative. I find that it is a constant effort that will pay off in more positive self talk.
It also helps to unfollow the sites that make you angry. Treat them like a drug and go cold turkey.
Part of my inner narrative is positive prayer for myself and my family. For myself, that prayer is to live without constant physical pain, and I desire energy and a healthier life overall.
For my family, it is protection, guidance, health and to be filled with joy and gladness.
At 55 and alive, I have a lot to be thankful for and much to celebrate, but living our best lives requires vigilance.
When I am in pain and desperately tired, which has been most days, it is hard to keep the grimace off my face, much less answer the phone and be cheerful. But that is only where I start, so I press on.
Like most people, I don’t want my life to be all about illness, so I try to put it in the back of my mind and speak what I want to feel instead. Healthy, pain free, and energetic!
With more constant awareness, I am resting more, eating better, and forcing my body to move. I stretch in the mornings, write, take my meds, and keep my animals fed and the house clean. Sometimes, that is all I can do. Other days, I am a whirlwind of activity out of nowhere. When that happens I am so thankful!
(For a post about real advice on feeling young and living a youthful lifestyle , try this post: Youth Serum, also from Barefoot Inspiration.)
As additional therapy, I write encouragement. It helps to drain the pain from my body like a good pain medication without side effects.
It is amazing what trying to inspire others and answer life’s questions will do for your own inner man. In the same vein, letting the current political climate get to us won’t help, so I will continually look for a better response.
Another favorite anti-negative tool is an ongoing good things list. It is a count your blessings and be grateful stress and pain remover.
Read the good things list post highlighted above and keep your own running list on your phone, fridge, mirror, car and purse. When you find yourself going down the rabbit hole, it will remind you of what is important and how many blessings you have in your life. Gratitude and gratefulness makes us better people.
This birthday year, I would start my 55 and alive blessing counting with my family, who are all so precious, I get emotional pretty often just thinking about them.
Thank you God for my family! My brothers, sisters in law, and brother in law, are such good people. The next generation has a great start with this group all thoughtfully raising them up. In this world, that is a huge thing. Healthy, well adjusted, loved kids make better futures.
I am beyond thankful for my husband, daughter, and son in law who communicate so well with me and listen to one another. A good relationship with my family keeps me going. In reality, they help me cope just by their positive attitudes and creative fun.
Since 2009, I have also been a grandparent. I am aware that it is up to me to be a gift to my grands the way my grandparents were to me. So, overcoming illness and being my best self is a big motivator. I want to spend time with them and be a positive influence.
Grandkids restore energy like a battery charger if we focus on the moment and give them our attention. Their energy and enthusiasm are contagious.
Scripture is another way to encourage ourselves and replace all the negative voices with life.
In my morning scripture reading recently, I came across a favorite passage, which seems perfect for today: Isaiah 55:9-13.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return without watering the earth, making it bud and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat,…11 So, My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it. 12 You will indeed go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn-bush, a cypress will grow, and instead of the brier, a myrtle will spring up; they will make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign, never to be destroyed.”…
Barefoot Inspiration is my something for everybody. A little joy, a little encouragement, and a reminder that God is in control. He hasn’t forgotten you or me. Let’s send out some prayerful thankyous for another year on this earth and tell the ones we love how much they matter.
And no matter what your age? Celebrate, for the life you have been given and years yet to come. Gratitude, new focus, good self talk, a blessings list, and scripture are a good start to this next life season.
55 and alive, still barefoot and writing,
You might also enjoy: What you whisper to yourself is powerful,
or the post: Why I write. My story and how it fueled my writing.
Definitely don’t miss The Birthday List, a true account of how making a list changed my life. It can change yours too.