I have a rather large birthday coming up later this month (yes, I am finally turning 40) and it’s got me to thinking. Even with the years piling up faster than snow in northern Ontario, how does a person who “feels” young actually “stay” young? I mean, I know we can’t stop the clock (or the wrinkles, gray hairs, brown spots or sagging jowls) but how do we keep a young mentality? A fresh frame of mind? A sprightly outlook?
I finally figured out the answer. In order to “stay” young you have to “DO” young.
It’s a verb. An action. A conscious decision to perform tasks typically associated with young persons. This is how we stay young.
Now I don’t mean we should go to raves, get high, sleep our way through a football team or join TikTok. Unless of course we want to. What I do mean is we should DO things associated with youth. With energy. With vitality, curiosity and maybe even a little devil-may-care!
Like get a puppy. Yes, that is exactly what I did to mark this upcoming milestone. I got a puppy. While still cherishing my senior puppy who is now older than I am (in dog years). Two puppies/same house. Tons of fun.
So why is this keeping me young?
I think as we get older we settle into “routine”. We learn to love our routine. We crave the sameness of daily life. It brings us comfort and even serenity.
When you have a puppy all routine flies out the window (much like having a baby). You get up in the middle of the night so Puppy doesn’t have an accident, you never sleep in because Puppy wants to wake up, you rush home from grocery shopping so Puppy isn’t too long in the crate and you start playing with toys again because when Puppy isn’t napping, Puppy wants to play! Preferably with you.
I am exhausted. But I do feel mentally chipper and delightfully juvenile.
I’m not saying you must get a puppy to stay young. What I am saying is it helps to DO something that gets you out of the rut you may not even know you are in.
Take up a new hobby (figure skating, anyone?) that requires physical effort.
Read a different kind of book than the ones you typically gravitate to.
Stay up to date on what is happening in the world AND with technology. Allow your children and grandchildren to teach you so that you can communicate with them on THEIR level.
Don’t dress old. Have fun with your appearance, your clothing and your style. YOUR style. God, how I hate those articles that start with “What a woman over 50 should never wear … “
I’ll wear whatever I damn well please. At whatever age.
Which brings me to appearance. Yes, physical, old-age appearance.
Before I had my child and was a glamorous, professional gal, I used to get my nails done (professionally) every two weeks. They were really quite stunning. When that child was born I cut off all my nails and learned to go au naturel. In the ensuing years I have had pedicures, manicures, shellacked nails and naked nails. But what I have learned is that EVERY time we relinquish our youth to a spa, we start sliding down a slippery slope. And it doesn’t work. Because that spa can give you pretty nails and Botox and fillers and blonde highlights and plucked hairs and a billion other fixes but I can guarantee that spa will NOT make you FEEL young.
Nope. If we want to feel young we will have to DO something. On our own. Getting “done to” is lovely and pampering and absolutely a good thing but it will never alter the inner you. And if the inner you wants to be young, the outer you is going to have to DO.
This big birthday doesn’t scare me one bit because I have been “doing” young for a very long time. Don’t get me wrong … it’s not always easy. When I drag myself out to walk 3K in a blizzard it’s not because I wanna. When I climb into my cut-off blue jeans and look in the mirror, I sometimes think “Geez, Vic, maybe it’s time for grownup pants?” When I look in my (10X magnifying) mirror and see all the things I would rather not see, I long for cosmetic intervention to match the outside with the inside.
But I now know that the only thing that will actually make me feel young is doing young. So I will keep doing. And doing. And doing. Until the next big birthday. And the one after that.
They may well bury me in these cut-off jeans. Ha!
I just made myself laugh.