Category: Reality

What Getting Older Is Really Like

This aging thing takes you by surprise. You hear of it, you read about it. You know it’ll happen, just not the way it really does, all at once. Of course you know in the abstract, you just don’t really know. You don’t understand how it’ll unfold, don’t expect these ongoing losses.

When we are younger we don’t fully get that we are part of this cycle, too, that we will grow older too.  Somehow we think in our thirties and forties that everything will stay the way it is, forever or at least until we cease to exist. We don’t expect this public dismantling of our physical being.

I wasn’t afraid of aging. I welcomed it…because I “knew” that I’d be the same me, just older and wiser…. on the inside! Nothing prepared me for all this evidence of gravity on the outside, this decline in every area.

We look at our parents or grandparents and they seem to have always been that way, permanently old or middle aged. Their white or grey hair seems intentional somehow, a style choice, along with their thickening waist and protruding bellies. We think they brought it on themselves. They didn’t watch what they ate, didn’t exercise. They hadn’t taken care of themselves. They chose to be that way: soft, flabby, slow, old, not straight and energetic.

We think that they do everything in a dawdling manner on purpose….to annoy us. They don’t care about speed or grace. They choose not to stand up straight, or hold in their stomachs.

They choose to drive slow and don’t know where they want to go. They don’t keep up on purpose, can’t figure out that smart phone or laptop; some secret inside joke to irritate the heck out of us.

They pretend to have less energy. They can’t keep up in the gym. They take forever to get out of the car. We get so impatient and think they just need to stop acting old!

We believe that we can preserve our youth and health if we just eat right, keep it fit and firm. We assume that things will always be that way, like the real estate market before the crash.

What we don’t see or chose to disregard in our society, is the transformation happening within. The wisdom, the compassion and understanding that comes with many seasons on this earth. As we age, our heart opens up (there are exceptions) and softens to people and experiences that we ignored in our youth or judged not worthy of our attention.

Older people have seen the ups and downs of life, the light and the darkness, gains and losses, betrayals yet also incredible love. As we are pushed through this refining process, we learn the true value of life. It isn’t in things, outward appearances or accomplishments. We come to know, real deep down in the bones know, that it’s the spirit within others that lifts us, empowers us and sustains us. It’s companionship, not cars and houses and stuff, that brings us joy.

Less westernized cultures still recognize this truth. We may think that they are poor, because they lack the possessions and things we take for granted.  In reality they are rich with belonging, true connections and companionship.

May we experience the grace of truly being seen in the eyes of our loved ones while we journey through this place. May we again become a society that values the wisdom and lessons from the elders. May we see with our heart, may we see the spirit of a human being and recognize the truth of this mysterious life, which is that only our connection to each other matters, young or old.

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Limbo……not the dancing kind.

You want it! You know you want it. You’ve been preparing, visualizing, praying, expecting and putting lots of action behind it! Tony Robbins calls it “massive action”.

Yet –  nothing happens.

We’ve all experienced it: limbo. Never-never land, where our plans or expectations don’t come together, while life marches on.

You could call waiting in line a form of limbo, being on hold on the phone or waiting for something or someone.

Sadly, this indeterminate state is part of life. For the most part it’s brief; we just have to muddle through it, be patient and it’ll pass.

But what if you are experiencing an extended limbo state, one that lasts for months or, God forbid, years?

What do you do? What can you do?

I’ve experienced this state of uncertainty more than once. Years ago I lived in a location I disliked very much. It didn’t resonate, I didn’t fit in. My kids didn’t fit in.

I was determined to change our situation, but the place was like a black hole. It didn’t let us out. I left no stone unturned, no possibility unexplored, but it felt like quicksand. The more we tried to claw our way out, the more we sank.

It was a painful situation! I was unhappy.

The kids had nothing to compare it to, just some vague sense that things weren’t right.

Initially I had a lot of hope and enthusiasm because I couldn’t believe that the door was closed. I took massive action, for years.

Some situations require our determination and action is important to change our circumstances.

What if it doesn’t work? Like in my case.

Sam put several years into his education to become a psychologist later in life. He spent many late nights studying, doing research, writing papers. Then interning for a year, while raising his kids.

Interning is like volunteering; most agencies won’t pay anything. His didn’t.

 He and his wife agreed that she would support the family for the time being. So of course they were both excited and ready to finally see him graduate and begin this new life.

Graduation was a big celebration among his family and friends; the following Monday the résumés went out. One after the other without response.  Some places were kind enough to thank him for his interest, but said they hired someone more suited for the position. He did not understand how that was determined since he never even had a chance to speak to anyone; the whole process was automated and every agency wanted him to apply online.

He sent out more résumés, he talked to people who might be in a position to recommend him. He called on the friends he made in school.

Several times he came close to a potential job: he was called in for some interviews, but didn’t get the position. His wife’s resentments built and they fought more often. He was shorter with the kids as he became increasingly frustrated. He felt useless, worthless and confused.

Had he made the right choice by going to school?

One night when the tension was unbearable, he sat down with his wife and they explored some other options he might have overlooked. They were one year into it and things were looking bleak. She suggested hanging out his shingle and offering counseling just to bring in some money.

This required marketing and he approached that with gusto, although technology and social media was not his strong suit.

Long story short: Two years later he was still in the same position and his marriage had reached a breaking point.

This is an extended limbo situation, wherein things seem to be deteriorating in life, while we wait for our plan to come together.

What was Sam’s option? He and his wife had carefully considered all angles, figured out how to support him through school so they could later enjoy a satisfying life together while raising their children. It was a good, well thought-out plan.

Being in prolonged limbo requires some tough soul searching. Our human nature urges us into a “doing” mode when things aren’t coming together.

If we try to force progress, we exhaust ourselves. We put extra strain on ourselves by trying to go against the flow.

Our mind may say “I don’t know what’s going on. We have to figure this out. Do something.”

Yet, we have to learn to live with uncertainty, especially during those times when nothing is coming together.

Uncertainty doesn’t stop you from living your life, because the mind is not the captain of our ship. We use our minds, but there is more at play than we can see.

At times planned projects fall away, as in the case of Sam. Many aspects of who we think we are have to fall away. Sometimes it seems that nothing comes to replace them.

Not for a while. Not yet.

We are living in limbo.

We have to trust that life brings us what we need to navigate through these stormy waters.

We could listen to our mind, but it doesn’t know what’s coming. It only wants illusory certainty. It grasps, searches, and clings.

Life seems to know when and where we need to go.

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emotional pain




Until you heal the wounds of your past, you are going to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex; But eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of your pain that is holding you in your past, the memories and make peace with them.” Iyanla Vanzant

I couldn’t say it any better.

This is the truth!

In all my years on this planet, I have not found an easier solution.

Most of us will not experience God’s grace the way Paul did in the Bible (1 Corin 15:10) Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is a miracle that shifts our old way of thinking and makes us new.

Most of us will have to do the work while practicing faith and patience.

It will be different for each of us, but we have to deal with the wounds. We cannot cover them with a smile or false laughter; they will find a way to creep into your life when you least expect them.

This life, your life will reflect your choices made from that unconscious state created by your wounds.

Each day you are faced with choices.  Your life, as it is now, is made up of choices that you made in the past.

These choices will ultimately reveal the real you.

The sum of your life will show your thoughts, your beliefs, your character.

Do you choose to care about others, or only about your pleasure and comfort? Do you choose to try to get by, take shortcuts or put in the time and effort? Do you choose to stay open and learn or do you stay with your fixed perspective? Do you choose gratitude or complain and find fault? Do you choose lies or honesty? Do you choose defensiveness over vulnerability?


What has happened in your past?

If you discover that you are living a selfish life, ask for courage and look at what happened that made you feel so empty that you cannot consider others! Open this horrible, deep wound of rejection and abandonment within you, look at it (you will need help from someone), shine some light on it and begin the healing.

I’m not going to promise that doing the work means that you will live happily ever after, but you will find a deep peace and joy that will forever elude you if you choose denial. You will discover a strength and a faith that will help to create a richer, more meaningful life.

For additional tools for Personal Growth go to is the most complete guide to information about Self -Improvement, Personal Growth and Self Help on the Internet. It is designed to be an organized directory, with articles and references to thousands of other Web Sites on the World Wide Web.

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REALITY: Objectivity is Subjective







Life is a subjective experience and that cannot be escaped.

This truth is becoming more and more clear to me.

I recently visited a friend who lives in a place of complete disrepair, dirt and discomfort.

In my opinion.

However, because I love her so much, I listened to her perspective of her home. She feels such gratitude for her heavenly, peaceful retreat. While she shared that she dreams of having a functioning kitchen, she simultaneously acknowledged the enormous improvements in her home already. She has a vision of what it is to become and in the meantime she is surrounded by her books, music, art and her home-made gourmet meals.

This was a powerful example to me that every experience I have comes through my own, personal, unsharable viewpoint.

There can be no peer reviews of my direct experience, no real corroboration. This has some major implications for how I live my life. The most immediate one is that I realize I must trust my own personal experience, because nobody else has this perspective, it is all mine.

Another is that I feel more wonder for the world around me, knowing that any “objective” understanding I claim to have of the world is built entirely from scratch, by me.

Of course I am influenced by my culture and environment. Whether I live in Indonesia, Africa or wherever, I will take on that culture’s viewpoint and thought-patterns. But overall what I build depends on the experiences I’ve had, the books I’ve read, and the people I’ve met.

This means I will never see the world quite like anyone else, which means I will never live in quite the same world as anyone else — and therefore I mustn’t let outside observers be the authority on who I am or what life is really like for me.

This means that I must stop judging others!! I absolutely, positively must stop acting as the authority on everyone’s life, because I do not know their viewpoint, background, purpose or goal in life.

This leaves me with the responsibility for my own life, determining what is right for me without hurting others, yet being discerning about what I want to surround myself with.

No one can tell me what I should do, nor can I tell anyone what is in their best interest. That is why a good counselor or therapist will listen, truly listen to your subjective life experience and elicit the best answer for you.

Subjectivity is primary experience — it is real life, and objectivity is something each of us builds on top of it in our minds, privately, in order to explain it all.

This truth has world-shattering implications for the roles of religion and science in the lives of those who grasp it.

This contemplation was written in conjunction with a piece by David of Raptitude.

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