Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aging Gracefully, Part I

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come. 
-  William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

With the approach of my fiftieth birthday, I’ve been looking back at how I’ve spent those years - what I’m proud of and what I could have done better.  I found that many things made both lists – marriage, motherhood, friendships.  But, since I can’t re-live the good or erase the bad, I’ve shifted my focus to what’s ahead.  How can I “finish well”? (That phrase was passed on to me by my sister, Teri.)  

During these last few days leading up to my birthday, I will be sharing a series of posts containing lessons I’ve learned, things I want to change, brilliant insights, and random thoughts about turning 50.   Disclaimer:  These are my views based on my experiences. Please, no hate mail, lawsuits or throwing of fruits and vegetables.

Over the past year, some of my reading choices have reflected my search for wisdom and I am borrowing generously from several:

Gunn’s Golden Rules by Tim Gunn
Is it Just Me (or is it Nuts out There)? by Whoopi Goldberg
Nothing’s Too Small to make a Difference by Wanda Urbanska and Frank Levering
I’m Over All That by Shirley McLaine. 
I have narrowed my goals to these three ideas:

1. Live simply.
2. Live graciously.
3. Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8

Living simply:   The word “simple” means 1) easy to understand, deal with, or use; 2) not elaborate or artificial.  So “simple living” should be uncomplicated, comfortable and genuine, right?  Yet, when I Googled that phrase, most of what I found seemed neither comfortable nor uncomplicated.  First was the “off the grid” end of the spectrum that encouraged me to wash my clothes in a hand crank washer and build my own windmill.  The second camp wanted me to buy all their products – water bottles, t-shirts, shopping bags – to proclaim my commitment to simplicity.  There were even  “simple entertaining” sites with blueprints for no-fuss dinner parties that would stump a structural engineer and cost enough to feed a family of four for a month.  

My idea of simple living is to weed out those possessions, relationships, commitments  and attitudes that cause stress or take more time to maintain than they are worth.  It’s not a fool-proof plan.  There are some stresses you can’t eliminate.  But I can control my response.  Which leads to...

Living graciously:  Not “gracious” as defined by glossy magazines that push elegance and luxury, but gracious as defined by Webster’s:  pleasantly kind, benevolent, courteous, merciful or compassionate.  

The complete text of Micah 6:8 is "He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Moving to a new town naturally means find a new church.  How fortunate for me that it coincided with this bout of introspection.  Researching the various churches in our new community has given me an amazing opportunity to re-examine my faith.  Thanks, again, to Teri for pointing out this scripture verse.  I think it says it all.

For more of my dazzling insights and witty commentary, 
don't miss Parts II - V of Aging Gracefully.


  1. I have always loved that verse in Micah. Living simply, gracefully, and in communion with God says it excellent choice for finishing well.

  2. Ahhh beautifully written - I can't wait for the next post!

  3. There is something about milestone birthdays that call for pause and reflection. I just turned thirty and spent a good deal of time beforehand reflecting on what I've accomplished and where I'd like to go.

    I like the three tenets you've listed. Something to keep in mind. :)