The Gifts of Age

“I was at a wedding Saturday with a lot of women in their 20s and 30s in sexy dresses, their youthful skin aglow. And even though I was 20 or 30 years older, a little worse for wear, a little tired and overwhelmed by the loud music, I was smiling. I smiled with a secret Cheshire-cat smile of pleasure and relief in being older – ‘49 and change.’ which even I would have to admit is no longer extremely late youth. But I would not give you back a year of life lived. Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it gave me me. It provided the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life.

–Anne Lamott, O Magazine

What has age brought you?

Comments

  1. says

    Dear Roadmap Writers,

    Two things–first I wanted to apologize for not being able to respond to everyone’s posts last week. As most of you know, I’m teaching a retreat in Scotland this week and also composing daily updates to The Virtual Vacation blog every day. I just haven’t had the time to keep up with your posts. I’m sorry. My intention is to read each new post that’s put up each week. But thinking I could do it while I’m teaching this retreat just wasn’t realistic.

    The second thing is–I noticed when glancing through the posts that many of the responses are placed improperly. If you’re not sure how to respond so that your response appears under the original piece of writing, please reread (or read) the faq at the top of this page. It tells you how.

    Have a good week–enjoy the new post.

    Laura

  2. wendy says

    Age has brought me wisdom, worry and warrant… to pursue the truth and to make no apologies for doing so. I wonder less about possibilities and feel that each step made,… is through the knowing that IT, is what I want and there is less guesswork in it’s direction. Age has brought me balance and the comfort to know that sitting for a bit longer will not deny me the things that I want, that the pace I choose is the one that is right for me! Age has brought me grief over the loss of things that I have come to know and love, but the wisdom, from those losses and the WILL to continue to AGE!

    • says

      Wendy, welcome to the Roadmap blog. I Love what you say about finding and trusting your own pace. That’s something i hope to learn a a lot more about as I age!

    • Ilana says

      Awesome Wendy! I love the first line, “Wisdom, worry and warren.” I so connect with that. I also appreciated the lesson that age can give us patience, that sitting for a bit will not cost us. Really enjoyed this piece. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Wendy, power packed opening line and a piece that just gets better. Very nice writing and I look forward to more.

  3. Karla says

    What Age Has Given Me

    When I turned 50 a few months ago, I asked my friends and family for a low key celebration, the kind that would not remind the cancer G-ds that I was alive and happy. Roots to the Evil Eye are sunk deep in my people, and age hasn’t naturally tempered my instinct to sit with my back against the wall or calculate my imagined route to the emergency exits. Duck, cover, run—a tripod of superstitious security that has scaffolded my life since I was little. One of the things that age has given me is the understanding that the real dangers seep through defenses, and that the energy it takes to hold them fast isn’t worth it. Age has taught me that I didn’t come into the world with my shiny defenses; I acquired and polished them along the way. Maybe I can leave them behind, like the time I tossed my custom leather briefcase into the lost-and-found on my way out of a job that was less than satisfying.

    • Tony del Zompo says

      i like the line “i didn’t come into the world with my shiny defenses. i acquired and polished them along the way.” very cool…

    • Hazel says

      Karla,
      Oh, to be fifty again!
      Your statement: “One of the things that age has given me is the understanding that the real dangers seep through defenses, and that the energy it takes to hold them fast isn’t worth it.” Certainly rings true with me. Most of the I never saw coming.

      Your last few lines, I imagined you doing exactly that. Snap. Got a picture. How funny! Did you laugh about it at the time, well, just a little later?

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Karla, you nailed this prompt. I love this line and yelled bravo as I read, “Maybe I can leave them behind, like the time I tossed my custom leather briefcase into the lost-and-found on my way out of a job that was less than satisfying.” Thank you for sharing it and look forward to more of your posts.

    • Ilana says

      Karla- What I really liked about this piece was the journey you took us on. You started out bound by the fear that if you celebrated too loudly it would “remind the cancer G-ds that I was alive and happy.” By the end you were free to just toss away something that was “less than satisfying.” Nice job. Ilana

  4. Fran Stekoll says

    Age has brought me to the back nine on the golf course of life. I putted around the first nine, not admitting that I was getting older.

    Now I realize time is waning and I’m trying to beat the odds by doing more than ever to accomplish all I’ve neglected . Age has hit me square in the face with every surgery, ache, pain, and challenge.

    Even though I refused to acknowledge each passing year, Those in my community who have passed remind me how temporary life really is.

    Age has brought me to acceptance, love, appreciation, faith, hugs, thankfulness, mindfulness, and the reality that this is our role in life and we need to play it the best way possible.

    • says

      Fran, I love what you have to say about aging–and how our friends and family members passing on wake us up to the destination we’re all heading for–100% of us, no exceptions.

    • Karla says

      I am not a golfer, but I really thought the analogy to aging was very effective. Thank you. I guess I’m on those back nines, too. Not sure if I should thank you for that realization ;)

    • Hazel says

      Fran,
      I like your metaphor of the golf game. It works well. And your closing line finishes it well: “the reality that this is our role in life and we need to play it the best way possible.”

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Fran, so glad to read your lovely piece. Love the golf analogy. Made me reread Leonard Finkel’s Chicken Soup for the Golfers Soul. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and wishing you comfort. Sending warm chocolate chip cookies from heart to heart. J

    • Ilana says

      Fran- Reading this made me feel peaceful. I think it was the acknowledgement of your past views followed by the acceptance in the last paragraph. I have learned so much from this week’s posts. Yours included. Thank you, Ilana

  5. Tony del Zompo says

    In 1975, as I sat in middle school, a horrific thought terrified me. “In the year 2000, I’ll be thirty-four! That is so old.”

    That was thirteen years ago. Stop looking at your fingers. If you’re bad at math, I’ll spare you the arithmetic. I’m forty seven today. But I don’t feel “old.” Sure, I’m a little more sore after a day of surfing than I used to be. And my body doesn’t seem to recover as quickly after a good, hard workout. But, I’m a wiser, at least when it comes to physical activity, and I’ve learned to respect my limitations, and train myself appropriately.

    Sometimes I feel exceptionally good and I forget my age. When I’m in my car, with the stereo cranked to the max, I’m back in high school, with my youthful hopes and dreams in front of me. And then I park, walk down the sidewalk, and pass by a store-front window and get a good look at my bald, gray head, the wrinkles on my face, and understand why that group of twenty-something-year-old “girls” didn’t give me the time of day. But it really doesn’t matter. The woman who just passed me by gave me a smile to light up my day. Like me, she has withstood the test of time.

    There are moments, usually brief, when I’d like to go back, thinking, “if only I’d known then what I know now.” Maybe I’d have tried harder in school. Or maybe I wouldn’t have smoked that first joint, tried cocaine, or applied to U.C. Santa Barbara. Perhaps I would have gotten into therapy sooner, processed my issues, and figured it all out, and became enlightened.

    Spare me…

    I’m more comfortable being me than I’ve ever been before. Today, my skin fits just fine. Despite the wrinkles. I’ve figured a figured a few things out. Like the fact that it’s not all about me. That love, tolerance, and respect for others, not to mention compassion, are critical to a life worth living. That while material comfort matters, I do not exist to acquire more stuff.

    Don’t get more wrong. I’m still confused. Frequently. But today I’m confused at a much higher level of misunderstanding. And that’s okay. Today I can say, “I don’t know” without shame or regret. But I can add, “here’s what I’ve experienced” with a degree of credibility. Because I have experience. I lived, I’ve loved, and I’ve lost. And in the process I’ve discovered what matters most. To me, anyway.

    Maybe some day we’ll talk about it.

    • says

      Tony, I loved this piece–especially this line, “Don’t get more wrong. I’m still confused. Frequently. But today I’m confused at a much higher level of misunderstanding.” That made me laugh out loud!

    • Terilynn says

      Tony, your last paragraph says it all.

      FWIW, I turned 59 yesterday. I finally bought a kayak two months ago. Moderation over a new toy is hell.

    • Hazel says

      “Today, my skin fits just fine. Despite the wrinkles” Good for you! lol

      Most of all I liked your closing: “Because I have experience. I lived, I’ve loved, and I’ve lost. And in the process I’ve discovered what matters most. To me, anyway.

      Maybe some day we’ll talk about it.”

      Thank you for sharing. Loved that last line!

    • Judy says

      Tony, delicious lines here, “I’m still confused. Frequently. But today I’m confused at a much higher level of misunderstanding. And that’s okay.” And, “Today, my skin fits just fine.” Very well done. Thank you for a good read.

  6. Wendy says

    Age has brought me closer to my body. Age has made me face some aches and pains that have resided there for a long time. Age is asking me to stand tall. It is inviting me to rethink decisions. It says, “Stretch, rest, take care. Learn about supplementation.” It tells me to walk. Sometimes age makes me despair. Sometimes it feels like the hurt will never go away, that I can’t give up the slouch. Sometimes, I think age is a hard teacher, but I think it is tough love, and I know I want to learn.

    • Tony del Zompo says

      i’m reminded of the statement, “brevity is the essence of wit.” thank you wendy. as a physical therapist, i especially appreciate this piece…

    • Hazel says

      Wendy,
      ” Age is asking me to stand tall.” Yes, she is, and she has a ruler by which we shall be measured. I like the way you make age feel like a “m-o-t-h-e-r,” because she is. And you summary is perfect: “I think age is a hard teacher, but I think it is tough love, and I know I want to learn.”

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Ilana says

      Wendy- I really like how you personified age. You call age on it’s tough love but then accept that love. You express such power in the last line “I know what I want to learn.” Thank you. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Wendy, I love this piece and am right there with you. “Stretch, rest, take care,” Wise words to live by as we age. What a strong last line. My PT reminded me this week, use it or loose it. Now where’d I put that Arthritis Foundation DVD?

  7. MaryL says

    What has age brought you?
    August 20, 2013

    Age has brought me one simple rule…
    Replace a mirror with a window.

    Oh, I remember a time, when I was much younger, when I was so self-conscious, very shy, and trying to go through life on tiptoes. In my middle 40s, I was divorced, and going back to school, and working. And I had one of those “experiences”! I realized that I was looking out on the world, not the other way around!

    First, you do see much more and much more richly when you are pointed out toward others. I am very sensitive, and directing the images and sounds around me into my psyche was causing painful jabs and dull headaches …. day after day. At that moment, which was probably like that famous “wrinkle in time” (Madeleine L’Engel), I felt a shift, from my toes to the top of my head, and even higher.

    I see and experience the world. I see the bright dawn, hear the cars sputtering and moving down my street into the city. I feel the warm hot sun on my shoulders or, in the winter, the biting cold trying to invade my hand-knit shawl. I meditate on the purple-orange-pink sunset. I don’t just see them; they reflect back and fill me with a richness which I never knew was possible.

    I notice when a friend looks sad, has had a hard day, and I reach out, gently, silently, or even with a few words. I don’t worry about what she will think of me … as I have learned … no one ever died of embarrassment. I say what I think … tactfully, of course – but I do not back down when there’s an important injustice to be addressed. I wear my colorful clothing – my palette, I call it – no monochromatic outfits in the entire closet. I feel like myself, not like someone who is being watched, judged, condemned, or even admired.

    I have a mirror, and it has its uses – morning toilette, last look before going out to knitting group. However, it’s a reflection … just that … it’s not who I am or what I am worth. I hope that – if given the time, I’ll continue to explore and experience life more – even the hard times and the losses – from this perspective.

    • Ilana says

      MaryL- As I read this piece I kept going back and rereading a line that struck me. If I were to copy and paste them into my comment I might reproduce your entire piece. From the first line “Replace a mirror with a window.” to the end where you acknowledged, “I have a mirror and it has its uses.” A lot of good lessons here. Thank you for sharing them. Ilana

    • Judy says

      MaryL, what a fabulous opening line. WOW. You take us through the growth steps of being self-conscious in the world to that of a mature, wise, curious woman. You write as Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., does on becoming a juicy crone. Love the mirror analogy. Thank you.

  8. Kristen says

    Being only nineteen, I almost don’t feel qualified to reply to this prompt… except that the last year was the most monstrously difficult of my (admittedly brief) life, and it brought me lessons that I wouldn’t trade for any of the security and love I had to lose.

    It taught me that while a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on are wonderful, I don’t really need them. I am complete on my own. It taught me that when I make mistakes, I am capable of picking myself up, dusting myself off, and trying again, even without a single person in my corner. And it taught me that life doesn’t have to be rapturous to be right; that, while the dull daily grind may not always be its own reward, or what you had imagined for yourself, life has a way of turning out the way it should. My plans may not work out, but that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, obsessive adherence to plans and the familiar is what limits us, and only once all certainties have been removed can we see the possibilities.

    Sometimes looking back over the last year makes me afraid of the next one, but at the same time, I feel incredible anticipation for all I have yet to learn. If even one year of age can bring such benefits, what will twenty do? Thirty?

    The possibilities are endless, which is the benefit of youth; but growing into the best possibility possible is the benefit of age. I look forward to it.

    • says

      Dear Kristen, Welcome to the Roadmap blog and I’m so glad you took the risk to post your response to this prompt even though you were afraid you might not qualify. We are learning all through the course of our lives and it’s wonderful that you know that already at nineteen. Thanks for sharing your experience and adding your voice to the chorus of voices here. I hope you keep coming back.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing your insightful piece. It sounds like you have become a very mature 19 year old. You are exactly right: “The possibilities are endless, which is the benefit of youth; but growing into the best possibility possible is the benefit of age. I look forward to it.”

      I would also say, how nice it is to have a young voice among us.

    • Karla says

      Penguin books just signed a 3 book deal with a 13 year old author, so I would guess that age really is not a requirement to write, here or otherwise. I am glad to read what you have to say. I like “I am complete on my own” about self-reliance at any age. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ilana says

      Kristen- Thank you for sharing your perspective. I think it is very valuable. We all learn different things at different times in our lives and when it happens doesn’t have any effect on the import of those lessons. Reading this as someone who is just over twice your age, I recognize the magic we are all born with that we sometimes lose with age. Thanks for the reminder. I really enjoyed your piece and hope that you keep posting here. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Kristen, welcome and please keep writing here and everywhere you find. You have much to offer. I’m willing to bet many here wished they had figured this out at your age, “….. life doesn’t have to be rapturous to be right; that, while the dull daily grind may not always be its own reward, or what you had imagined for yourself, life has a way of turning out the way it should.” Look forward to reading your other posts, Kristen. This is a supportive writer’s community.

  9. MaryL says

    What has age brought you?
    August 20, 2013

    Age has brought me one simple rule…
    Replace a mirror with a window.

    Oh, I remember a time, when I was much younger, when I was so self-conscious, very shy, and trying to go through life on tiptoes. In my middle 40s, I was divorced, and going back to school, and working. And I had one of those “experiences”! I realized that I was looking out on the world, not the other way around!

    First, you do see much more – and much more richly – when you are pointed out toward others. I am very sensitive, and directing the images and sounds around me into my psyche was causing painful jabs and dull headaches …. day after day. At that moment, which was probably like that famous “wrinkle in time” (Madeleine L’Engel), I felt a shift, from my toes to the top of my head, and even higher.

    I see and experience the world. I see the bright dawn, hear the cars sputtering and moving down my street into the city. I feel the hot sun on my shoulders or – in the winter – the biting cold trying to invade my knitted shawl. I experience the purple-orange-pink sunset. I don’t just see them; they reflect back and fill me with a richness which I never knew was possible.

    I notice when a friend looks sad, has had a hard day, and I reach out, gently, silently, or even with a few words. I don’t worry about what she will think of me … as I have learned … no one ever died of embarrassment. I say what I think … tactfully, of course – but I do not back down when there’s an important injustice to be addressed. I wear my colorful clothing – my palette, I call it – no monochromatic outfits in the entire closet. I feel like myself, not like someone who is being watched, judged, condemned, or even admired.

    I have a mirror, and it has its uses – morning toilette, last look before going out to knitting group. However, it’s a reflection … just that … it’s not who I am or what I am worth. I hope that – if given the time, I’ll continue to explore and experience life more – even the hard times and the losses – from this perspective.

    • says

      Mary, I love your perspective on life and you described it so well. I loved the way you ended your piece, too: “I have a mirror, and it has its uses – morning toilette, last look before going out to knitting group. However, it’s a reflection … just that … it’s not who I am or what I am worth.” If we could integrate your wisdom…how much more we would love ourselves!

    • Hazel says

      MaryL,
      What a nice “view from a mirror.” (Just joking) I liked seeing life from that perspective. Very interesting, but best of all I liked this line: “I have a mirror, and it has its uses”

      Thank you for sharing.

  10. Terilynn says

    Ironic subject… yesterday was my birthday.

    I guess age has brought me closer to the Serenity Prayer. I accept more things I cannot change. It liberates me from the bonds of anger and resentment, guilt and regret. I find I have more courage to move beyond those old bonds and challenge myself more.

    The wisdom part feels like a work-in-progress, yet I surprise myself sometimes. Wisdom seems to present itself when I least expect it. Mostly in dealing with my mother.

    I like to describe my “old Mom” as someone who read the book “Sibyl” (sp?) and accidentally thought it was a child rearing manual. I am still healing. My Mom today is a fragile narcissist who annoys most of us who know her best. At some point, I agreed to disagree (acceptance.)

    I moved her up here where I live because she was dying. That was three years ago. As her care manager, I could have let her go — and that would have been more lucrative for me. I guess I’ve learned forgiveness along the way.

    I usurped the power of attorney (big-time courage) from my formidable sister who wants Mom dead. I feel all living creatures have the right to retire in dignity. I’ve demonstrated this in my work with elder animals. Mom may feel like just another pain-in-the-butt critter at times, but she is very stable and alive now. I saved my mother’s life and brought her back, and have no regrets about that. She, in turn, has accepted the fact I don’t like to touch her outside of a hug, and has accepted the best caregivers I can provide.

    As I reread what I just wrote, I feel the wisdom has been trickling in all along. Yes, I’m older now. But you couldn’t begin to drag me backwards in time. I like where I am now and look forward to getting even older, as well as wiser. This is kinda cool!

    • Fran Stekoll says

      Terilyn: I really identified with your story. I too had to learn to become a parent to my Mother who never really wanted to have
      me. Sounds like you’ve given unselfishly of yourself. I commend you.

    • Karla says

      These two lines of yours:

      “I like to describe my “old Mom” as someone who read the book “Sibyl” (sp?) and accidentally thought it was a child rearing manual. I am still healing. My Mom today is a fragile narcissist who annoys most of us who know her best.”

      I first belly laughed. Then I felt compassion for you. Then I was blown away by your compassion for her. Very effective way to describe so much in so few words.

    • Hazel says

      Terilynn,
      Good piece, you took us from the mom from hell, to the narcissistic mom who is a bit more acceptable to your own acceptance of her to a point where you could say: ” I like where I am now and look forward to getting even older, as well as wiser.”

      Thank you for sharing.

    • says

      Terilyn, I could really relate to this piece and love the way you tackle the very challenging topic of mothers and daughters–especially when there’s been a difficult history and the mother is failing.

      My favorite line was this one at the end, “Yes, I’m older now. But you couldn’t begin to drag me backwards in time.”

    • Ilana says

      Terylinn- Your last line felt like you looked up from the page and winked at me. I loved that! The piece itself is so full of courage and wisdom. I really enjoyed reading it. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Terilynn, First off, Happy Birthday! I loved how you gave the reader a roller-coaster ride of mother, daughter, sister dynamics. You made the reader both belly laugh and shed tears. Your compassion came and wisdom came shining through and I join others in admiration of you. Thanks for sharing this nicely done piece.

  11. Hazel says

    Age has brought me silver in my hair. It has been replacing the dark chestnut brown for many years now, small silver strand by small silver strand until I have a crown of sterling tresses. Just like that silver has value so do all the memories that have been collected in my beautiful brain just beneath that silver hair. Memories are more golden, they tend to glow; subtle and settled with the weight of years, yet accessible at the slightest nudge on my invisible keypad.

    Age has brought me from self-reliance to reliance on others. Sometimes this is an uncomfortable situation that I would rather not be in; I would rather do it myself. I have just had to ask for help to get a housekeeper who can do the heavy cleaning. I would much rather do it myself! It is hard to ask for help even though I cannot do, whatever, for myself.

    Age has brought me smiles as I look back on the things I did; the risks I took; the loves I’ve had; the wars I’ve won.

    Age has brought me scars. Scars on the inside deep and wide; scars on the outside long, many, raised and brown. Sometimes I look at them and cry for the young, beautiful, whole woman I used to be then I think of all the battles; when I’ve lain at death’s door and I look at the picture of the female warrior and I know: all warrior women have scars.

    Age has brought me the sense that my mind is timeless. It never ages it just keeps gathering information and making memories.

    Age has brought me not so much patience but a sense that all things work out in their own time, in their own way. I have almost learned when to push and when it doesn’t matter.

    I cannot change my age; I just hope that I will have my mind in tact for whatever time is left of my life so I can write down many of those memories to share with others.

    I hope my story matters to someone.

    • Karla says

      Hazel, that first paragraph was so lovely (and lovingly) written, the description of your hair and your “beautiful brain” underneath it. Vivid and moving. I don’t have any doubt that your story matters to lots of people, including those that read this blog.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Yes, your story matters to someone! : )
      I was intrigued by the descriptions of the scars and liked the hair and silver as a way in…Thank you!

    • Ilana says

      Hazel- Like so much of your work, this piece is graceful and elegant. As I read it I saw you brushing that beautiful silver hair as it fell in gentle waves. I loved how each paragraph was its own adventure, its own ‘lesson learned’ so to speak. Beautifully written. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Hazel, what a beautiful telling of your gifts of age. I loved the vivid portrait you paint of your silver hair atop a beautiful brain holding golden memories. Delightful construction and so well crafted. Yes, your stories matter! Increase the housekeeper schedule and write write write. We love reading your wonderful, elegant, graceful stories.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you all for your responses.

      They provide encouragement to continue writing her in response to the prompts and writing other stories for my book and for my daughter who will become the owner of my writing when I am gone.

      I am not resigned yet to age but am becoming more accepting.

  12. Dianne Brown says

    My age–all 67 years–has brought me much. In addition to my husband and our strangely beautiful marriage, my many friends, and past lovers, it has given me my story–the sweet candy rhythm of my memories.

    I have always been somewhat of a reverent rebel–an obsessed beautifier of my soul–and a slightly rowdy and highly charged being set ablaze by the incredible amount of mojo and grace at my disposal. My mother bathed me in moonbeams of literary magic and poetry, my family, friends, and the people who populated all of my years are now drawn into the orbit of my life by the memories and stories from my past.

    These memories constitute my shiny collection of stars. I add to these stars constantly in my imagination and my focused thoughts. I seek in these bright galaxies the unfolding inspiration, which promises a yield of even greater soul-star-stories to come. These galaxies serve the ever enlarging and enhancement of my universe.

    I like to sing, “We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon,” from Joni Mitchell’s 1969 “Woodstock.” I also like to bless myself, “In the name of the Moon, the Sun, and the Holy Stars.” It all resonates with me in a splendid way.

    As a poet, writer, artist, and later known by some as a wise woman–Starwalker to others–I have had intimate relationships with most of the muses. But never before have I had such close relations with my other mother, Queen Mnemosyne. She sleeps over at my house frequently. Being the muse of memory, she is my guru.

    In summary, I guess it would be pretty right-on to say that age has given me the most delicious, sensuous, and repeatable memories–memories and a wholly, holy imagination.

    • says

      Dianne, I loved this piece. I love the optimism it expresses and the ending. Also this phrase: “strangely beautiful marriage” grabbed me as a reader and made me want to know more!

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing that imagination with us! How clever, how fresh, how old you are. lol “Age has given me the most delicious, sensuous, and repeatable memories–memories and a wholly, holy imagination.” Gifts from the Goddess for sure.

    • Ilana says

      Dianne- I really loved the mystical, magical, flavor to this piece. The way you honor memories too, meant a lot to me. This part will stick with me. “These memories constitute my shiny collection of stars. I add to these stars constantly in my imagination and my focused thoughts. I seek in these bright galaxies the unfolding inspiration, which promises a yield of even greater soul-star-stories to come. These galaxies serve the ever enlarging and enhancement of my universe.” Lovely piece. Thank you for posting it. Ilana

      • Dianne Brown says

        Thanks Ilana, for you wonderful comment–means a lot to me. It takes a “mystical, magical” person to recognize those qualities in another!

    • Judy says

      Dianne, what delicious selection of words, phrases and images. I was hooked immediately with this line…’sweet candy rhythm of my memories’ And again on this line…’I like to sing, “We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon,” from Joni Mitchell’s 1969 “Woodstock.” I also like to bless myself, “In the name of the Moon, the Sun, and the Holy Stars.” It all resonates with me in a splendid way.’

      Thank you so much for this lovely telling of your journey of the Gifts of Age. Loved the read. Blessed be, J

      • Dianne Brown says

        Thanks Judy, and thanks for the song–a perfect song for this prompt and us prompt-writers! I loved “May you always sprinkle whimsey” and “May you taste the dance of tango”…..Mmmmmm superb!

  13. alison says

    Age has brought me some most unexpected companions – a large, white dimply flesh cushion which follows me everywhere, and has most unceremoniously squeezed me out of my favourite old pants. It bounces along behind me, with sometimes with an elephantine grace all its own, depending on the speed of my gait. I didn’t have that when I was 20. My pants simply zipped without question, as I scarfed french fries and gravy without a second thought.

    Its also brought me a droopy waddle beneath my chin, which shakes in gregarious and good-natured agreement whenever I laugh about something. I didn’t have that when I was 20 either. My neck simply stayed in place.

    Age has brought me coarse and silvery gray hairs, which sprout hopefully and ferociously from an increasing number of surprising places. I didn’t have those when I was 20. I simply brushed my effortlessly shiny hair and never considered that one day it might not be the same.

    But the most extraordinary thing that age has brought me is the wisdom to realize that these changes, contrary to what the beauty industry has always told me, don’t actually matter at all. And as it turns out, I couldn’t possibly care less about the arrival of this enormous arse, neck waddle and suddenly witchy hair. Who saw that coming? I sure didn’t.

    • says

      Alison, Welcome to the Roadmap blog. I was delighted at your full-bodied acceptance of your body (pun intended!). So many people suffer with needless shame about not looking like 20 year olds anymore. Bravo for setting such a great model of self-acceptance. Your wit was enjoyable as well!

    • Hazel says

      Alison,
      How amusing your piece is, and those of us who are “aging” are experiencing all those things but few of us have the sense of humor to look at them in the way you have nor the wit to write it down. “Who saw that coming? I sure didn’t.” is an often heard term around our house these latter days.

      Thank you for sharing. Still laughing.

    • Ilana says

      Alison- Absolutely delightful. I love the lightheartedness with which you approach the subject. The last line is nothing other than delicious! Thanks for sharing. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Alison, what a delightful, refreshing and funny piece on your Gifts of Age. I’ll take four exquisitely packed paragraphs on being comfortable in the body over the pain of being 20 again. Thank you for giving that that gift. Love this post and I look forward to reading more.

  14. Judy says

    The Gift of Age
    (An Homage to Bob Dylan’s Forever Young)

    May you keep all your five senses
    May your batteries never fail
    May your walker keep you upright
    And your eyesight always hale
    May you taste the dance of tango
    And caress your lovers’ cheek
    May you have the Gift of Age
    The gift of age
    The gift of age
    May you have the Gift of Age.

    May you stop to smell the roses
    May your family all be near
    May you build loving friendships
    And push away all fear
    May you always share your humor
    And help to find the joy
    May you have the Gift of Age
    The gift of age
    The gift of age
    May you have the Gift of Age.

    May you always sprinkle whimsy
    May your heart be full of love
    May you build a strong community
    When anxiety is near
    And foster wisdom when others are unclear
    May you have the Gift of Age
    The gift of age
    The gift of age
    May you have the Gift of Age.

    • Ilana says

      Judy this is so creative! Somehow you’ve managed to improve one of my favorite songs. But the wisdom you’ve added and the beauty… I love it! So glad you posted this. Ilana

    • Karla says

      I’m a shameless Dylan fan. Loved it– and thought you did a great job with showing us that you can shake up a writing prompt with something other than essay-prose.

    • Hazel says

      Judy,
      Age in motion. Poetry at its most memorable for this generation anyway. Thank you Judy for giving us the concise poet’s view on the subject of “what age has brought you.” And, Age is a gift which we all share sooner or later.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Thank you Ilina, Laura, Karla & Hazel. Your comments are meaningful and you’ve all made me laugh. Love Bob Dylan and watched the YTube of Forever Young several times to get the cadence. I’ve tinkered and replaced a few words and like the results. BTB, grandson Sam learned Maggie’s Farm at the tender young age of 5 and always cracks me up when he’d sing it ‘Dylan style’.

    • Bobbie Anne says

      Judy,

      I loved your poem! The Gift of Age is so good to have. Consider the alternative. In my mind, I hummed the Bob Dylan song.

      Thanks,

      Bobbie Anne

      • Judy says

        Bobbie Anne, Thank you. When I finished it I felt as if I were Cate Blanchette in the “I’m Not Here (I’m not Dylan)” rather than Dylan. Made me happy you got into the Dylan voice, too.

  15. Ilana says

    The Many Gifts of Age

    Looking in the mirror, I deconstruct my face. Laugh lines, brown stains beneath my eyes that appear to be permanent no matter how much sleep I get, flaws, scars; all of it the marks of a life lived. I back up, take off my robe, and inspect my naked body. Extra skin and stretch marks; the products of three successful pregnancies, three incredible children. They cost me my once lean, flat belly and perfect skin. I wouldn’t undo it for anything.

    I have used my body; to live in, to procreate, to feed my children and it is showing the wear. No matter how hard I work to take care of it, giving up sweets and alcohol, working out five days a week, I cannot force my body to lie. I gave up pulling out the silver hairs, trying to believe I earned them and they’re beautiful.

    But what has age given me really? I mean beyond the changes in my body. It has given me wisdom, perspective and understanding. Age has given me courage, patience and strength. Age has given me freedom, self acceptance and peace.

    It is so strange to look at those words and realize I have written them even in this time of uncertainty, fear and pain. It’s true though. I am uncertain, suffering tremendous pain and downright terrified. Yet at this moment I am now more contented, wiser, stronger, more accepting of myself and more peaceful than I have ever been.

    The girl with the flat stomach, unblemished skin and tiny waistline was nothing, compared to what I am now. She hated herself, but kept that deeply hidden. She was petrified to take any of the risks that lead to the many successes I experience every day. Pride, the depth of pride I experience now, was a thing entirely foreign to her.

    That girl, with the tiny figure and so much life ahead of her, she never gave weight to the incest for having any affect on her. All of her failures, all of her limitations were her fault, a testament to what an awful person she truly was. The pain that was deep inside of her, she refused to acknowledge it, refused to feel it. Still, it tortured her, nameless though it was.

    Not me. With the help of age, and all life has taught me, I am facing that pain. It hits me harder now but that’s only because I am finally dealing with it. My 39 year old self, the one with the wrinkles, blemishes and scars, I can face it all because I have the strength. Even when it feels like the pain is killing me, I know it won’t. Even when the terror overwhelms me, I know deep down, that this is not my destiny. This will not go on forever. I don’t know what the future will look like but I have faith. It will not look like this. That’s what age has given me. It has given me hope.

    • says

      Ilana, thanks for this piece. I love the way your wiser, more insightful self lays out the truth for the rest of you. I hope you will reread your own words the next time you feel lost in fear and panic.

      I especially loved these lines about your body and its aging process: “I have used my body; to live in, to procreate, to feed my children and it is showing the wear. No matter how hard I work to take care of it, giving up sweets and alcohol, working out five days a week, I cannot force my body to lie.”

    • Karla says

      I also really gravitated to this line: “I cannot force my body to lie.” Really captured in just a few words the aging process for women’s bodies. The piece more generally– I most appreciate the arc from the physical gifts of aging to the emotional ones. I notice some resonance and also forward movement of your wiser self from previous postings. I like where you are headed; it seems like a good place.

    • Hazel says

      Ilana,
      “It has given me wisdom, perspective and understanding. Age has given me courage, patience and strength. Age has given me freedom, self acceptance and peace.” Very nice and then your summary “It has given me hope.” tells it all. What more do you need? At 39 you are only getting started there is much more to come. As the song says, “Live, Love, Laugh and be Happy.”

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Dear Ilana, I echo what others have said here of your well crafted post. This line has such wisdom, “I cannot force my body to lie.” You are a woman moving forward and that is the greatest gift to yourself. Thank you for another wonderful piece of writing. Be well.

  16. Mary says

    The Gift of Age

    I had spent a good part of the late afternoon walking up and down the edge of the water fascinated by the wake of shells the ocean tide had left behind. Methodically I bent down and chose shells to add to my collection, dropping them into my pink sand bucket. As the sun was about to set my parents packed us kids up to head home. My mother tells me that I have to dump the shells out telling me that she didn’t want a sandy bucket of shells bouncing around the trunk of the car.

    “But they are my treasures” I tell her.

    “No they are not. They are all broken. They are no good” she says.

    As I stood down by the water and tipped my bucket of broken shells over and watched them dropped to the murky sand a brush of heaviness flowed over my eight year old heart much the same way the ocean waves brushed over my feet.

    For years I would not put anything broken in my pail of treasures. For years my pail stood empty. Everything I encountered, every person I met, every event was never perfect. There was always some chip, some flaw, something broken in everything. “They are no good” is what I kept hearing over and over in my head. Including the shell I call me.

    Forty years later I find that I’m tired of looking at an empty pink sand bucket. I want to fill it back up with treasures. My treasures. Treasures that are broken because of a life lived complete with cracks of hurt scared over with hope and flaws held together by compassion and love. The treasures I collect today will never be dumped out because today I don’t listen to those who tell me something is no good. Every treasure in my bucket is perfect just the way it is. Including me.

    That is the gift of age.

  17. Sheila McGinley says

    Perhaps it is this simple for me:

    A pause, a moment’s breath, before I have to defend myself, or be right or smart.
    A closing of the eyes and a sigh before I follow that same old useless path to nursing a hurt or anger.
    A feeling that I have used up the useless and silly rage that consumed me and can now own and inhabit the rage that I deserve to know.
    A kindness that can flow through me when I watch us all struggle so hard to make life as complicated as possible.
    A permission to be like the old lady that sits on her rocker and orders the grocery boy around in a cranky voice now and then.
    A sad awareness of the same tired paths that our world insists on trying over and over, and a feeling of thanks that I have lived long enough to feel, now and again, for a moment, what it means to be wise.
    (Too bad it comes along with the body deserting you and a certain leakiness of the mind, and a tiredness sometimes that can knock you down)
    (Too bad it comes because life’s losses and sorrows burn you clean so that you can learn to look at a face you have raged against and hold it close to you, so that you can say you have let go of the hurts and injuries and mean it.)
    Because nothing, nothing can touch the pain of your mother dying in your arms. Or your sister dying without words. Or the knowledge that you permanently hurt someone you meant to love.
    And the rest all falls away.
    And what is left is shaky in limb but powerful, powerful in spirit.
    Now: what is left is to conquer the fear of dementia, or cancer or just the deep aloneness that may lie ahead.
    Face it with our eyes open.
    With full knowledge that no one gets a free ride.
    That is the goal, that is the wish. That wisdom increase even as pain does too.

    • Hazel says

      Sheila,
      It was interesting how you worked your way from: “A pause, a moment’s breath, before I have to defend myself, or be right or smart,” to “And what is left is shaky in limb but powerful, powerful in spirit.” It is so true. We all meet there.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Shelia, This line is stand-out to me, “Now: what is left is to conquer the fear of dementia, or cancer or just the deep aloneness that may lie ahead.” Nicely crafted piece. Thank you.

  18. Ilana says

    Hi guys. I just had an amazing experience. One of those things you just have to get down in writing. I hope it’s okay, I’d like to share it with you. Thanks! Ilana

    Did She Just Call Me the Voice of God?

    I just got off the phone with a dear friend of mine, a sister-survivor. We met when she joined my incest survivors’ support group. I called her because I was worried. She’s having a very hard time right now. Even eating has become too overwhelming a task for her. Yet Sheila is an incredibly strong woman and I know that.

    In the beginning Sheila did a lot of talking and I did a lot of listening. After a while, without either of us noticing, I started talking more. It felt so natural for me to share experiences of my own that helped her to see that I understood what she was saying. She started to cry. “You get it. You know how I’m feeling.”

    We talked a little while longer and then I had an idea. “Sheila, will you have a snack with me? I don’t have any kids at home so I don’t have to cook a real dinner. I’m going to make myself some oatmeal. Let’s stay on the phone and eat together.” She liked the idea very much and she managed to get down some cottage cheese while I ate my oatmeal.

    At our last group meeting Sheila told us how she was struggling and asked that we pray for her. So after we had been talking for a while I asked permission to sing the Mi Sheberach, the prayer healing to her. She gave me permission and listened while I sang and translated the part that was in Hebrew for her. Again she was in tears. “Ilana, I have gained so much from talking with you. I feel loved and cared about. But what you just gave me was something more. While you were singing that prayer I felt God talking to me through you. I felt Him here, telling me that He loves me and I am not alone. For me, just now, you were the voice of God.”

    No one has ever given me a compliment like that before. In that moment, as Sheila was saying it, I did feel the presence of God. He was there, saying that I had done right by Him. I had given something to someone very special and she had successfully received it.

    I spent two hours on the phone with Sheila. Two hours that I paid for in childcare. Two hours I could have spent writing, reading , watching television or doing anything I wanted to. Before I called her I thought it was going to be a sacrifice; something I was doing for my friend but would cost me my precious private time. It was not a sacrifice. I enjoyed spending time with my friend. I enjoyed eating a snack with her. I enjoyed singing to her. It could not have been a better use of my time. And I learned something about myself too. I learned that when I am acting out of love, not charity or obligation but love, I can have a truly magical and spiritual experience.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing that mystical moment. Sometimes when we don’t set out to give all of ourselves but just go with the flow wonderful things happen and we may think we are giving something to someone else but find out we ourselves have gained much more. This was beautiful! I understand your excitement and your story made me smile with you. I felt like this was a great experience for both of you.

      Thank you again.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Hazel! You totally understood where I was coming from and honored my experience. I truly appreciate your comment. Be well, Ilana

    • Karla says

      Ilana, I was right there in the moment with you while you were recounting this experience. Your writing was very clear and flowing. Thank you very much for sharing this, on many different levels it pinged my own experience as a survivor, a Jew (I love the Mi Shebierach), and as someone who has, a time or two, acted out of love for someone else.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you, Karla. I really appreciate your reading and sharing your thoughts on my experience. It is a good feeling to share the Mi Shebirach with you, too. I think the Debbie Friedman one is pretty well known so I am assuming we sing the same version. Isn’t it lovely? Take care, Ilana

        • Karla says

          Hi Ilana, yes, her version (I have an itunes version of it too) is the one I’m familiar with, and the one that I love. As a side note, I’ve also found that sharing it with non-Jewish folks can be healing for them.

    • Judy says

      Ilana, what joy that you and Shelia shared grace, love and the healing prayer of Mi Sheberach together. Deeply touching. I googled both Mi Sheberach & Debbie Friedman and found her voice soothing and comforting. In my practice, I’ve both received and shared something we call qi gong (energy work) and Zhen Qi (true energy). These experiences so often defy description but with your usual clarity and wisdom I felt that ‘presence’ on a deep cellular level. Thank you for sharing–we all need comfort and love. J

    • says

      I know that experience, Ilana. Here in California we call it channeling–it’s when we get out of the way and allow ourselves to be a vessel for a healing energy greater than ourselves. It requires trust and letting go and the intention to be of service. I’m so glad you had that moment–and it came out of generosity toward your friend.

  19. Deb Mansell says

    I shall be 50 years old in December, an age I never thought I’d reach. At one time I thought I’d never reach 30, I was in self destruct mode for many years. I drank to the extreme, put myself in dangerous vulnerable situations and self harmed and tried suicide on several occasions. But I managed to get through those years.

    I met my lovely husband when I was 29, and had 3 lovely babies who grew into incredible children and are now wonderful, intelligent, fun loving teenagers.

    But where am I now?

    Surviving?

    Waving or drowning?

    I am here trying to heal from my past still, each time I go back for more counselling something else crawls out of the wood work…. I start to talk about things and then I remember something else, more memories surface. But I no longer feel that I have to kill myself, I no longer have the feeling that I should die, my family and friends have given me that will to survive.

    So I suppose that age has given me life.

    • Ilana says

      Thanks Deb, I really needed that this morning. If you can do it I can do it. Right? You also point out that there is always beauty out there, even if we can’t see it right now. Because your piece is so well written and flows smoothly I was able to glean comfort and strength from it. Have a wonderful day, Ilana

    • Hazel says

      I liked your question, “waving or drowning?” I thought, what a fine line there is sometimes between waving and drowning and that when I am waving I always have my board. I have indented finger prints where I have hung on, thinking I was drowning. When I would give up fighting and go with the tide I would feel my feet touch the bottom and I would be fine. I needed that message again this morning.

      Thank you for sharing.

      It is good that “age has given you life.”

      • Deb Mansell says

        Thank you Hazel, I do like the safety of being able to touch the bottom too even if at times the single is a bit sharp on the feet.

    • Judy says

      Deb, I’m so with you on this piece. Your questions, surviving, waving or drowning called this to my mind, ‘sometimes just treading water is the best we can do in the monent. Tomorrow might be the Australian sprint and a joyful day in the waters of life and aging.’ Keep writing and posting here with your s/hero writers, cuz, you are one. Blessed be.

    • says

      And it will continue to give you life. It may be that you are at one of those life transitions where it seems like things are ending, but really hiding inside is a new beginning.

      • Deb Mansell says

        Let us hope so, I’m clinging on in here by my finger tips. Had a really hard painful counselling session today, I feel raw inside and out. It’s half past midnight here and I’m going to sleep.

        Hope tomorrow brings good things for all xx

  20. Jennifer Ire says

    My first response to reading this prompt surprised and delighted me, it was a huge smile that came unbidden and a feeling of delight inside of me. Hmm! I thought as I experienced this, age has brought me delight. Or at least the thought of what age has brought me is delightful. I am happy about that.

    The prompt has produced a life review, a second one. About 4 years ago the first life review began and lasted about 2 years. At first I thought I was being prepared for death. I have read many, many stories of people having their lives flash before their eyes as death approached, and so I was preparing myself. Death did not happen, however then review involved a re-experiencing of some of the difficult and puzzling experiences of my life with a level of understanding of the impact of the experiences and my responses to them. Also I saw how decision points defined a pathway that led me to where I ended up and that the points on the decision tree grew fewer and fewer until the recent past produced no choice, just a single pathway. I understood free will in a new way and it brought resolution to some of those prior experiences and peace with my current circumstances..

    The response to this prompt brought a different type and series of reminiscences. Experiences came up and this time the looking at them was combined with a sense of the older Jenny standing aside looking at the younger Jenny and finding a sense of what has been gained; a sense of admiration for her as she handled some pretty challenging things. I could feel all the emotions of the periods, felt empathy and understanding for Jenny in the handling. From the distance of the years I recognized the wisdom received from them; and could laugh with delight at some of the things I did then.

    At the same time. The elder aged Jenny can look at the people involved in the experiences without residual emotions even through watching instances of betrayal, disrespect and other responses that used to anger me. My righteous self had matured. Halleluiah! I had come a long way facilitated by being older, having let go of the distraction (necessary though it is) of the constancy of work life that adds experience and yet subtracts time to digest and integrate experience. Another beautiful thing about age that I have experienced is that it has brought forward more pleasant experiences to relive, and feelings of joy, delight, pleasure. It has reminded me of so many things I enjoyed and would be delighted to do again.

    Age has given me contentment and pleasure with me as I am now, love for who I used to be in many phases of my growing up. It gives some jabs when those not so old call me “Tanty.” I want to say, “who yuh calling tanty” Then I remember I did that as a sign of respect and honor and so receive it with pleasure giving back a greeting as an elder did then. Age has not slowed me down much, two days ago I had a younger person puffing and panting keeping up with me. Yet I had to slow down because I remembered that the “exhaustion of the elderly” shows up from time to time and I was far from home if it chose to show up. Age has freed me from expecting people to be different from who they show themselves to be, now I let them arrive in my life and easily let them go. It is so much easier. Yes, age has brought wisdom, a level of contentment and joy. I am smiling.

    • Judy says

      Jennifer, WOW, I love this. From ‘the unbidden smile’ in the first graph, to the ‘understanding of free will’ in the second graph, and; the two Jenny’s standing side by in dialogue and appreciation—it’s all well crafted. You take us on a journey that is delightful, full of hope, joy and end with great comfort in your skin. Thank you for sharing.

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