Submitted Date 06/09/2019

It's funny, I think the Lord created me to be part chameleon. I tend to adapt fairly quickly to whatever situations I happen to find myself in which is such a blessing. Unless where I find myself is uncomfortable or exceedingly toxic, then I pray.....A LOT. Because for me, that's when change becomes incredibly challenging and much harder to adapt to. I believe, for the most part, we as human beings are all creatures of habit. I think we end up creating our personal comfort zones because they make us feel safe and secure. But when changes occur, sometimes we no longer feel that way. We feel threatened by it on a visceral level. However, change is an inevitable part of life for everyone. If we are blessed by Christ to live full and fruitful lives there will undoubtedly be any number of significant changes and transitions as time marches on. Although, out of all the changes, throughout a person's life, I think the hardest one is when you cross the threshold into what our society considers to be "old age". It's at this stage in a person's life when it becomes glaringly obvious how much things begin transitioning. Not just within yourself but with the world in general. You may no longer see the world the way you once did and it can seem quite daunting. If you were blessed enough to of had children, you find yourself one day coming to the stark realization that those precious little people that you spent the younger part of your life caring and nurturing have all of a sudden grown up and moved on with their own lives. Its that all too clever catchphrase "empty nest syndrome". Also during this time of your life due to unforeseen health reasons, you might find yourself unable to work any longer for whatever reason. You also may discover that with increasing age your views on many things have dramatically changed from how you once saw them as the younger version of yourself. Many of these changes can seem downright scary. But they can also be amazing if you allow yourself to gently lean into them, rather than feeling as if you have suddenly been violently thrust into them.

It's a sad but all too true fact that getting older is not particularly valued in Western society. We tend to regard it as some type of shameful experience. It is looked upon with distaste and seen in a negative light rather than from a more positive perspective. We are living in a culture fixated on youth and seem to chase after it as if it were some kind of creative game. In the end we spend so much time playing that game we end up not living the full, fruitful lives God graced us with. There are many cultures where the elderly are revered and old age is not only embraced, it is celebrated. Greece, Rome, Native Americans, China, and India just to name a few. So, how do we as either quinquagenarian, sexagenarian or octogenarian intend to view ourselves as part of this Western ideology landscape? As I see it we have only one choice. We embrace it! Even if the younger generation can't or won't. There is so much wisdom, clarity and insights to be gained during these elder years. The one very satisfying part of this is the knowledge that the younger generation will all reach these ages themselves one day. But typically while people are young, they don't consciously spend copious amounts of time thinking about the day they will be considered "old" by our societies standards. Or how that significant change will make them feel, or how they will embrace it. In my humble opinion, I think we need to change the narrative in Western society regarding age and aging. Perhaps our society needs a more in-depth type of study with regard to other cultures as far as how they appreciate this inevitability in theirs. And then put it into practice in our own. It could be taught as a class in our schools, starting as early as the elementary grades.

By filling our classrooms with older generations from all walks of life on occasion and having them regale the kids with their insights and wisdom on virtually anything and everything they have learned and now value from their experiences we might be able to achieve a greater understanding of what it actually is like to grow older. They can help them understand that growing older is a privilege not always afforded to everyone. And most importantly, there is no shame in it. They can impress upon them what a wonderfully magical time in a person's life it can be and how it doesn't have to only be associated with death and dying. It's not about how many years a person has in this life but more about how those years are spent and what lessons can be learned throughout them. I will end with one of my favorite quotes by Eckhart Tolle: "Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge". So, embrace the changes!!!

Julie 🌺


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