I’m 57 years old and 60 is fast approaching. I was recently told that I don’t act my age when I showed someone a home obstacle course/jungle gym I’m building. This was meant as a good hearted rebuke, but I take it as an affirmation. I freely admit I don’t act may age because I’m not convinced that age is a limitation.
There are plenty of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond who don’t “act their age”. Daniela Barnea, 73, recently won three gold medals in swimming. Jacinto Bonilla at 77 competes in CrossFit and even had a WOD named after him. Paul Tetrick, 85, has won more than 12 USA Cycling Time Trial Championships. A quick online search will turn up so many “seasoned” athletes it will make your head spin!
Growing older is inevitable barring illness or injury. To my knowledge there is no law that says we have to grow old in our spirits, though. Certainly there is nothing that mandates allowing our bodies to fall apart from disuse or misuse. I honestly do not see myself growing old with anything approaching complacency. As Dylan Thomas wrote “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I plan to go down kicking and screaming until I draw my final breath!
In no particular order of importance here are some things that I learned this past week.
If you have it, you hardly notice it. If you don’t have it, it’s sorely missed. What is it? Good health! Issues lately with my knees and my eye- all mostly resolved-have made that clear to me.
I can only do so much, which has become clear to me at work and in my private life. I’ve recently been maxed out at my job and my off-work “free” time has been appropriated. I need to learn to say “no”. Or perhaps, “NO!”.
The downside to cooking a lot of something to eat all week is culinary boredom. A better choice may be to cook smaller batches of several things. And hot sauce-hot sauce is good!
Worry is a total bummer. Worry about things you can’t control or even influence, more so.
A simple “thank you” and card can really make someone’s day, which makes both parties happy.
Two days ago I started an new workout program, The Masters Hammer and Chisel, a weights and sculpting program, having completed two rounds of Body Beast, a weights program. I’m pleased with the results from Body Beast with one exception: my belly. I can’t seem to get rid of my excess middle!
So I’m going to try something for a while. I’m going to consciously minimize-not eliminate-my intake of refined carbohydrates. For example, last night I had leftover organic spaghetti with homemade marinara. While the spaghetti was organic, it was still a refined carb. Ever since I went vegan, I think I have unconsciously gravitated toward carbs. When I do have refined cards from this point on, I’m going to seek out whole grains.
Lucky for me, I have a Fitbit that I can use to help me track my intake. So far today by mid-morning, my refined carbs have consisted of two fig Newtons. Wish me luck!
There are a lot of benefits to pursing a simplified lifestyle. Two of the more tangible benefits are a less cluttered living space as you decrease the amount of stuff you own, and the satisfaction you feel when you pass along or sell your unneeded items to someone who needs them. But there are also some less tangible benefits, though they are no less meaningful.
A simplified lifestyle fosters the habit of being mindful. It gives you the chance to be mindful in your spending, in your giving, and in your consuming among other things. This is so because pursing simplification means that you have to weigh your choices and make well-reasoned decisions.
A simplified lifestyle can provide you with the time and resources you need to improve your health, your attitudes, and your relationships. Because you are less hung up on the acquisition of stuff and winning the “rat race”, you can devote more of your time and resources to improving your physical health (exercise and nutrition) and emotional health (relationships and so on).
By spending less money on possessions, you can grow your savings account. By spending less time on counter-productive pursuits, you can devote more time to those thing which matter to you. By spending less emotional energy in worry, you can experience the simple peace and joy of hope.
This is the primary thinking behind my pursuit of a simpler lifestyle. I’m not there yet, but I am well upon my way.
As I have been pursuing a simpler life with fewer possessions and less stress, I have had three insights.
A bit more than a year ago I stopped eating most animal sourced protein. I deliberately did not say that I gave up meat, since I feel that I gained from the experience. Initially I stopped eating meats and so forth except for wild caught fish, free range eggs, and cultured dairy products like cheese and yogurt. I did so because I reached a point where I could not support the way the industry treats animals and workers. About a month ago I went completely vegan for ethical and health reasons. (And yes, I do miss cheese.) But I have found that my heart and my mind are more at ease, I put that in the “win” column for sure!
I came to realize that decluttering (or simplifying, or whatever you wish to call it) is not a one-time event. Sure, in the beginning it was easy to think of it as one big project that was going to take a while. The reality is that decluttering is an ongoing process of assessment of your needs, application of your principles, and action on both. The great thing is that I have learned to distinguish between need and desire. This is something our consumer culture does not promote in any meaningful way.
I discovered that my time is at least as valuable as any material possession. I have found that as I take on more responsibilities in my life, my “free time” seems to be much more at a premium. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have not volunteered for anything I didn’t want to do. It’s simply that I have had to reassess my priorities with regards to my time. For example, I’ve been getting up at 5:00 AM instead of 6:00 AM so that I can work my exercising into my schedule. I have recently been reassessing that, and I honestly don’t know how it will pan out. The good thing is that I’m now cognizant of the issue, and thus, I can deal with it as may be needed.