May 27, 2019

Glow Up as you Grow Up: The Art of Aging Gracefully.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Elephant Journal (@elephantjournal) on

I’m turning 39 soon.

Thirty-nine is not that old. Or, thirty-nine is ancient. It’s all a matter of perspective.

For whatever reason, I remember my dad’s 39th birthday. I remember the yellow light in the kitchen, the German Chocolate cake my mom baked from scratch, my brother and sister and parents gathered around the table, and me feeling melancholy, worried, and sad about the fact that my dad was “so old”!

Now I’m turning 39 and we all know what number comes after that—the dreaded 40. And just 10 years later, 50!

It’s true, life is short. My daughter, somehow, is already six. In 10 short years, she’ll be 16.

My first three years here, living and teaching at a school in Guatemala City, seem like another lifetime. As do other chapters in other cities, with other careers. Austin, advertising agency. San Francisco Bay area, yoga teaching fiend. I feel like a cat on her seventh life.

The current chapter: living in the woods with three cats, a vagabond dog, a tree-planting husband, and a delightful child. The choices I have made in my life have led me to be sitting in a small wooden cabin overlooking a pristine lake, starting my day with a cup of tea and a black cat on my lap. A meditation on birdsong. A quiet moment on the balcony. Paying attention to the music of each moment and the silence between the sounds.

My life is not stress-free; whose is? Not everyone shares their stresses on social media but we all have them. Work. Mental overload. Too much screen time.

But I am grateful for all the lessons of my life, and my 30s. I am looking forward to becoming older, wiser, fitter, happier, and more productive in my 40s.

Not “over the hill” just yet. However, I realize that death is approaching, every day, every year, the older we get the closer it comes. I’d like to think I’m not afraid to die. I’m glad to see death as a transformation to another realm, a shift of energy, a return to the light, yet I am attached to life and want to keep living it.

Here are some essential life lessons I strive to live by:

Love your life. Follow your heart. Be present in each moment.

Smile. Don’t take it personally.

Do what makes you feel most alive.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Make plans but let go of attachments to them.

Giggle at the cosmic joke.

Accept the impermanence of life.

Buy less stuff. Invest in experiences.

Learn to embrace death as a natural part of life, rather than something to be feared.

Serve. Be of benefit to others. By letting our light shine, we inspire others to do the same.

Choose your battles. Speak mindfully.

Travel. Learn a new language. Find a new favorite band. Break out of your comfort zone. Make a hard decision.

Release regrets. Forgive. Love. Be kind. Be grateful. Allow. Keep an open mind.

Keep on keepin’ on. The only way is forward.

Choose happiness. Choose love. Choose good energy. Cry when you need to. Let emotions run through you. Talk and vent with a few close friends. Let it go. Surrender.

Accept new ways of being. Upgrade yourself, with practice, over time.

And, remember that you and this moment are perfect just as they are.

author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Image: Under the Tuscan Sun / IMDB

Image: @elephantjournal / Instagram

Editor: Julie Balsiger

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Joanie Madsen May 28, 2019 7:35pm

What if you can “choose” to live by your essential life lessons and take out the word, “strive?” Striving can feel like so much work as if it is “just out of reach, whatever ‘it” may be.” I really appreciate your thoughts and have been learning to own the crone and the wisdom and humility that comes with having lived for sixty-four years. The longer I have lived the less I discover that I know and being able to own that feels like such freedom. Having a sense of humor is vital and being able to not take myself too seriously because no one else is has been such a blessing. I appreciate your thoughts! Thank you, Michelle.

A Donnee Brito May 28, 2019 8:37am

I turned 48 this year and feel like life just keeps getting better. Hard to believe I’ll be 50 soon, but I’m going to embrace it! So much joy comes with wisdom and experience and life lessons learned.

Janice Dolk May 27, 2019 9:00am

Great advice Michelle, you youngster 😉 I am 68 and some things get easier, some, a bit tougher. But, I embrace every decade and am grateful for all the experiences, even the bad ones, the crazy ones and the not-to-be-shared ones. Smile, laugh and be kind. Love your article. Thank you.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom. She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010 and has self-published inspiring books. She incorporates dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting, and pranayama into her teachings and practice. A former advertising copywriter and elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer and translator. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and started teaching at 22. She met the Buddha in California at 23 and has been a student of the dharma ever since. Michelle is now approaching her forties with grace and gratitude.

Join Michelle for a writing and yoga retreat this summer at magical Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala!