The (Sweaty) Seasons of Life
By Lori Welch Brown
The (Sweaty) Seasons of Life
I swear—I think I write the same sentiment every year, but it bears repeating. Summer is really hard to say ‘goodbye’ to, but look what we get on its heels—F A L L!!! The first chilly, fall evening and I’m like “summer, who?” I mean who cares about swimming pools, jet skis and flip flops when you’ve got fire pits, jeans, boots and the smell of burning wood? Devastating hurricanes and deadly tsunamis aside, Mother Nature is a pretty cool chick. Pumpkin spice latte, anyone? Fall is a ‘tween—much like its counterpart Spring. A nice little bribe to tide us over until we get to deck the halls and bust out the skis. It’s the appetizer before the entree. Personally, I love the change of seasons—all of them. It’s a nice reminder that change is a natural part of life’s ebbs and flows and there’s always something to look forward to. Unless of course, you live in Florida or Texas, and then you get one season. HOT.
I could wax poetic about all the seasons of life—and the symbolism—for days. Oh, how I love me some symbolism! I have only to look at my own hands to understand the seasons of life. Somehow the same hands that I have looked at for the past 52 years are no longer familiar to me. I saw them in a picture recently and had it not been for my wedding rings, I would have sworn it was a case of mistaken identity. “Whose skin is that?” Certainly not mine. Ever since, I’ve been trying to convince myself that the brown patches on my skin are remnants from a summer spent on the boat (the two days it wasn’t raining). That was only after I had to admit that they weren’t freckles. Pictures don’t lie. So, not only am I saying goodbye to another summer, my body is slowly saying goodbye to another season as well—the season of youth.
In her infinite wisdom, Mother Nature, is providing some trade-offs to losing the elasticity of my skin and my ability to bear fruit. Fall has its perks (see ‘boots’ above) and so does maturing. I’m trying to think of some, but my mind is drawing a blank so memory definitely doesn’t make the list. I’m certain there a cornucopia of blessings attached with aging beyond AARP discounts. Well—I guess first and foremost would be a truer, stronger sense of self. My ‘summer’ self was very busy pleasing other people. My ‘fall’ self is much more focused on pleasing me. And, I have a voice. When I talk, people listen (except for my husband, but I’m learning that’s a universal glitch in the program). Also—I don’t feel like I have to prove myself—to anyone. I’ve done the work and put in the blood, sweat and tears. I know what I’m doing (at least most of the time). When I don’t, I know I can figure it out. I don’t worry about things like I used to. I know that if push came to shove, I could step up, handle it and manage it. I don’t have life figured out, but I have a better understanding of the ups and downs and how to ride the inevitable waves. I know that if/when I get knocked down, I will get back up. I know that rest is required. I know that the better I treat myself, the better I feel. Input = Output. Crap in = Crap out. Same with people and relationships. I don’t have time for toxic, negative people—they are an energy suck. Energy is everything. If you don’t have it, you’re way behind the 8-ball.
Of course, there are still a few glitches that Mother Nature needs to work out such as hot flashes, mood swings, and forgetfulness. Hopefully, Aging 2.0 will address those issues.
If I could tell my younger ‘summer’ self anything, I would say, take GREAT care of yourself—and I’m not just talking about your skin although that is “muy importante”. No—really take care of yourself. Put your own self-care at the very top of your ‘to do’ list every day. Work your butt off to stay strong mentally and physically and eliminate anything (or anyone) that isn’t supporting that goal.
Keep an open mind. We get into trouble when we start boxing our brains into a corner. If you have a strong opinion about something, engage in a conversation with someone of the opposite opinion and listen attentively. There are always two sides to any story, so imagine how many sides there are to a political debate.
Make a point of understanding the difference between reality and perception/projection. This is where I get caught in the net. Reality is that which is indisputable. It is cold stone fact. Reality Example: My husband called me last night. Perception: My husband called me last night and he sounded irritated that I didn’t have dinner on the stove. Why bring that kind of negativity on yourself? 99% of the time, your perceptions/projections are BAT CRAZY WRONG.
The most important thing, however, is to practice gratitude. Of course, it is the season of gratitude, but trust me when I say you will be a much happier person if you treat it as a daily observance vs. a seasonal nicety. I hate adding anything to my ‘to do’ list, but I find if I put ‘practice gratitude’ at the top, my day goes much better. Winner, winner, turkey dinner! Not gonna lie though. On bad days, I grapple with gratitude. It’s hard to effuse gratitude when you’re mired in work, laundry, and overall bad juju. Some days I feel like I’d be grateful if a bus fell on so-and-so’s head which is not a Buddha-approved ideology. If you find yourself wrestling for something to be grateful for, start small. I am grateful to have a roof over my head and a bed to get a good night’s rest. Oh, and I’m grateful for mashed potatoes.