These words are being typed less than a week before a pivotal birthday.
On October 13th, I will turn 65.
When I was a young woman, entering adulthood, that milestone was unimaginable. Not sure why since there is longevity in my family; I had a great aunt (my maternal grandmother’s sister) who lived to be 103.
When my parents turned 65, they retired from their full-time jobs and hightailed it southward from New Jersey to Florida where they lived quite well for another two decades. My dad died from Parkinson’s Disease in 2008 and my mom joined him in 2010, passing from Congestive Heart Failure and end stage kidney disease.
Before that, they basked in the sun, swam in the community pools, worked out in the gym that my father helped to manage for something like 18 years. They created friendships. They volunteered in their community They attended synagogue services. They traveled. They enjoyed visits from their children and grandchildren. They celebrated life and each other.
At almost the same age, I am still working full-time and then some as a therapist, journalist, interfaith minister, speaker, and PR and marketing professional. I have no immediate plans to retire.
I just received my red, white, and blue Medicare card and have already used it for cardiac lab work, as well as the latest iteration of the COVID-19 vaccine and the RSV vaccine.
Unlike many people who dread that number on their lifeline, I celebrate it. It implies a life well lived and loved. My only challenges are a bit of cognitive decline, what I call “brain blips,” as well as loss of stamina and physical flexibility. I work out several days a week at the gym, walk, and take care of my young grandchildren on weekday mornings. They keep me running. I too have friends and activities and volunteer on top of my work schedule. I am a party of one at the moment, enjoying being blissfully single. If someone comes along to share this life with me, so be it.
I have soaked up many life lessons in these past six and a half decades that I will share in no particular order. May they be of benefit to you as well.
1. Love lingers long after a relationship ends.
2. Love is never wasted.
3. Death is not the end of the connection.
4. The heart wants what the heart wants, regardless of what the brain thinks is logical.
5. Lonely and horny sometimes overrule good sense.
6. Be the authentic version of yourself, not a reflection of what other people expect you to be.
7. Music is soul nurturing.
8. Just like batteries and computers need to be recharged, so too do we. Unplug.
9. Sleep is not highly overrated. Naps are necessary.
10. You don’t owe someone access to your inner sanctum. They enter at your pleasure.
11. Love need not be earned. Respect, based on actions, has to be.
12. Hugs heal.
13. Don’t do anything you would be ashamed of.
14. Stretch your comfort zones gradually. As in yoga, go to your edge and just a bit beyond.
15. Develop your own conscience rather than letting others’ values be the barometer by which you measure your actions.
16. You will live with yourself 24/7 for the rest of your life. Be good company.
17. Would you want to be married to you? If not, why would anyone else want to be?
18. You are more resilient than you thought you could be.
19. Live in the now, but plan for the future.
20. Consider the crop you want to grow when you plant seeds.
21. Don’t only ask for what you think people will say yes to.
22. Be sure to feed skin hunger needs with hugs and cuddles.
23. Use the power of visualization to create the life of your dreams and desires.
24. The experiences you have had prepared you for those as yet unmanifested.
25. Consider the “if not for” situations—if not for one loss, you might not have experienced a gain.
26. Giving something your best doesn’t require perfectionism.
27. Sometimes enough is simply enough.
28. Learn to love yourself as is.
29. Love without limits begins with self-love.
30. No one and nothing is worth trading your integrity for.
31. Be able to look yourself in the eye each day and know that you have spoken your truth with love.
32. Be as compassionate toward yourself as you are with others.
33. Stop practicing savior behavior; you can’t rescue, save, fix, and kiss all the boo boos and make them better.
34. Show up, stand up, and speak out about what you believe in.
35. Tap into the power of your spiritual beliefs and put them into practice.
36. Think and act outside the box.
37. Don’t just follow your bliss. Be your own bliss.
38. Keep adding items to your bucket list.
39. Trust your gut.
40. Be shamelessly self-promoting and be the wind beneath the wings of others as well.
41. Know that you can make a difference in someone’s life with a smile, a greeting, or an act of kindness.
42. Kindness costs nothing and generosity is free as the wind.
43. Have patience with yourself. Your life unfolds as it will, and what you have been wishing for will show up not a moment sooner or later than it does.
44. Surround yourself with trusted people who hold your heart sacred as you do theirs.
45. Be continually curious and you will never be bored.
46. Buoy people up; don’t bully them down, yourself included.
47. Google your name. You may be surprised at all you have accomplished, lest you doubt.
48. Don’t compare your life or successes to anyone else’s. You may never know what it took to get them where they are. Your path is unique to you.
49. Maintain an attitude of gratitude.
50. Be an Opti-mystic who sees the world through the eyes of possibility.
51. Be a safe haven for others and allow them to be a safe haven for you.
52. You are not aging, you are becoming seasoned.
53. Be willing to be delightfully surprised.
54. Welcome new friends with open arms and heart.
55. Everyone you now know and love was once a stranger.
56. Move your body daily.
57. Be on the lookout for something to smile about every day.
58. Speak from the heart. Listen with the ears of the heart.
59. Be colorfully creative.
60. Talk to the ancestors and the generations to follow. Thank the former for their example and live so as to leave a loving legacy for the latter.
61. Focus on your strengths and not just your challenges.
62. Treasure the people in your life.
63. Cherish your memories.
64. Allow the child within to come out and play. Blow bubbles, draw, finger paint, create, walk barefoot, splash in puddles.
65. It is never too late for a do-over. Start now.