Meet Udith Frizlen – a writer, teacher, mother, and grandmother, known for founding the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center. She’s a passionate advocate for young children and play enthusiasts. Alongside her husband, she enjoys thrilling adventures, from traveling to kayaking and hiking. Udith is also an accomplished author with books like “Unpacking Guilt: A Mother’s Journey to Freedom” and “Words for Parents in Small Doses.” With her diverse experiences, her advice on Embracing Graceful Aging is invaluable.
Embracing Graceful Aging
When I was a child, I observed my grandparents showing deep respect for each other, our parents, and for us. We in turn respected them and their stage of life. In their presence, we wanted to be our best. That experience imprinted a template for aging that has guided me as I enter that phase of life myself. It has not occurred to me that I would be in any way diminished because I have lived over six and a half decades!
Instead, I think of this phase as one that endows me with special attributes like the ones I saw in my grandparents. We know life is a great teacher so it stands to reason that we would gain not only knowledge as we grow older, but also the wisdom which comes from experience.
Acknowledging the positive attributes of aging are how we embrace it. There is no point in resisting it; it is a part of the natural course of events. Fortunate enough to experience this phase, I have uncovered five simple ways to embrace aging in a youth-obsessed society.
Five Simple Ways to Embrace Aging No Matter What Age You Are
Self Care is important in all phases of life, but as we age, we might notice that our bodies are less able to bounce back from too much stress, activity, or even sensory stimulation. Spending time with the grandchildren makes it easy to remember the importance of self care. I have observed that what is necessary for optimal learning and growth in children serves us as well. That means a balance of quiet and stimulating activities throughout the day structured around adequate food, rest, and movement. It’s also key to spend time in nature, whether it is the backyard or a local park. The pillars of self care are: fresh air, nourishing food, physical movement, and enough rest.
Connecting with others keeps our minds and hearts open. Conversation stimulates the brain while we are having it and later when we remember it. Connecting with others is the antidote for loneliness. There are many different ways to connect from phone conversations, incidental meetings in the public realm, online formats, texting and so on. We may have many circles we connect with, including friends, neighbors, and of course family. Intergenerational connections are important as I mentioned above, my grandparents are still impacting me decades after they passed away. Consider the circles of connection that surround you.
Play is important not only for young children who learn through play, but for adults who want to continue to learn and grow. A playful spirit is open to not knowing the answers and engaging in a process to discover them. Our thinking is made supple by a playful spirit which then keeps us young. If you have noticed that you are taking life too seriously, shift gears and bring a playful spirit to whatever you are doing. Play is an activity that is not pre-formatted but rather unfolds as it goes. Artful creations of all kinds fit in this category including trying a new recipe, gardening, hosting a party, knitting or drawing. It is not so much what we are doing as it is the lightness we bring to it.
Letting go of what bothers us is an important attribute of graceful aging. When we hold onto painful experiences, we may grow bitter and resentful. Life gives us what we need, which may not line up with what we want. The more we accept what is and let go of what we cannot change, the more we are free to enjoy life. Watching the trees drop their leaves in autumn is a demonstration of how to let go with ease. As we age, we will lose skin elasticity, but we gain heart elasticity. When we let go of what we cannot change, we may discover the benefits of aging have more value than the losses.
Purpose is what gets us up in the morning, leads us through our day and keeps the fires burning within. Knowing our intentions in living, lends meaning to our lives. As I age, my purpose has broadened. No longer focused on running the early childhood center that I founded, I have shifted to writing. When I started writing Where Wisdom Meets Wonder, Forty Stories of Grandma Love, I thought it would be about the wonders of early childhood I was observing as a grandmother. Soon, I discovered the book was also about graceful aging and spreading joy in the process. Our purpose evolves with changing interests and stages of life – any purpose that lights us up brings grace to aging.
We may embrace graceful aging to enrich our own lives, but we are also showing the way for generations to come. If we want to live in a society that shows deep respect for its elders, it begins with elders who show deep respect for themselves.