DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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25 July 2012

I am not just a number

I have, on purpose, not written much about growing older in the past. I thought that maybe others aren't as interested in the process of ageing but I've been thinking a lot about it lately and if ordinary people don't write about how it feels to grow older then how will other ordinary younger people know that it is something to cherish and to look forward to? Seeing our 1976 photo on the blog yesterday jolted me into some sort of common sense. That was who we were then, we are different now. Both are good.


I am in my mid-60s and even though I've slowed down a lot I really only know my age when I see myself in the mirror, or when I look at Hanno. I am proud of my age, I'll tell anyone who asks, and I've never really understood the reluctance of some to tell their age. This is part of me. I own everything I am - including my age. I am not just a number.


I clearly remember teasing my mother and father about being old and forgetting things. I am at that stage now and if I don't write down what I need to know, I often forget it. I used to have an excellent memory so this forgetting thing is one of my ageing regrets. I also get tired quickly now. I still have the energy to do what I want to do, but now I have to put aside time to recover too. I've just had a busy two week period where I worked every day doing various things. Today will be my rest day. I'll do a quick clean up and then I'll sit down with my knitting for most of the day. Hanno will be out having his eyes checked so it will be a quiet day here and I'll take advantage of that.


My health has always been good and remains so. My blood pressure and cholesterol are good, I don't take any medication and most days I feel fine. I think that for me, sleep helps to keep me healthy. Whenever I don't sleep well, I get a cold or a cold sore, or I can't concentrate enough to do my work. As long as I get  enough sleep, I'm ready for anything.


But there are so many other things that I have to be thankful for now that have come with the increasing years. I feel I'm finally understanding how I fit into the pattern of my life and all the lives I'm connected to. I feel more confident now to do whatever I want to do and if it doesn't suit everyone, that doesn't bother me. I feel much more generous now than I ever did before and I'm much more inclined to give rather than take. 

There is no expectation of perfection, in fact I cherish the imperfections - they seem more human to me. I am more forgiving - I can see the reasons why some things happen; but I'm also more unforgiving. I'm not prepared to accept underachievement, meanness or intolerance and will challenge it when I see it. I see beauty more clearly than ever before, and more often. Silly things make me laugh now and tenderness makes me smile. 


I've finally reached the point when I feel okay about doing whatever I feel like doing. There is this new freedom to be discovered in older life. People's expectations of you drop considerably. We're not expected to keep up with everyone else so we live at a slower pace and I can tell you that life in the slow lane suits me just fine.

But the thing that I love most of all is that freedom to use my hours exactly how I want to. I've put the days of frantic work behind me, my needs are meagre now, my ambitions have changed and no longer have dollar signs attached to them. My ambitions now are to live well, to be part of a fine family, to lead my family by actions rather than words, to do no harm and to enjoy every day.


I have friends who really hate being older but I've accepted it and I think I enjoy life more now. Let's face it, it's much better than the alternative. If you are lucky enough to age, you're a survivor because the only alternative to ageing is death. And even that makes sense to me now.

48 comments:

  1. Thanks- I am the same age as you and feel the same. Am currently doing a massive house clear out and find the more I donate, the easier it is to get rid of yet more! I don't need gifts from everyone except the gifts of time and friendship. The best gifts I got recently was the births of my grandchildren. When my children ask what I want for a gift I tell them I have all I want 9at thier ages they can't believe that!) but it is true!
    Hoping your book reaches the US soon. I will try Amazon.uk....

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  2. Timely post! I'm not sure I'm really struggling with getting older. I do have regrets of things that I missed out on or wasn't brave enough to try. Some of those things simply can't be done now -- you can't unwind the clock. With age, I've become more confident and stronger, less likely to worry about being judged by others.

    I don't hide my age. Sometimes some will gingerly hint around and I don't mince any words. (I look a few years younger.) I say I'm almost 48 -- I've earned it!!

    I will be 48 tomorrow, July 26.

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  3. I agree with you Rhonda.

    I am going to be 50 next year. I have grown up with a mother who hated aging every step of the way, but I have embraced it and am enjoying teaching my daughters to embrace it as well.

    I feel that I have gained so much over the years, that I wouldn't want to go back and be that 25 year old young woman again, unless I could keep what I have gained in the years since then!

    Lovely, lovely post!

    Deanna

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  4. Thank you Rhonda, there seems to be lots to look forward too look forward to later on, 30's we wonderful, 40's are very busy but full and challenging but tiring, wonder what is in store for the next decade?

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  5. Bravo, Rhonda! I've never understood the reluctance to be honest about ages either. I'm delighted to be older, hopefully wiser, and definitely experienced. I've always looked to older women to show me the way; I hope I'm doing as much for the younger set. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. mmmmm some things to think aboutl; you[ve inspired me to dwell on this subject [from a positive point of view] and perhaps I will be willing to share what I come up with. On the subject of age It can be painful observing how "the world" well, the younger part of OUR CULTURE sees getting older. In the USofA "OLD PEOPLE" ARE JUST THAT ..OLD OLD PEOPLE. "OLD" in this context is something not worthy of note or of use anymore..and certainly not to be admired. This is such a total 360 from our attitude when I was a child growing up in the 1940s and 50s. Thank you for nudging me..I intend to give this some thought and see if I can come up with anything worth sharing with others..basically at 71 I still like who I am..until [mirrors] or others tell me I shouldn't. SAD~

    Jonell
    Like Grammas House blog
    http://mygrammashouse.blogspot.com

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  7. I really appreciate this post. I am going to have my daughters read it. I am only 59, but often think about how I don't feel that age, and like you only realize it when I look in the mirror or visit my older sisters. At that point it seems grand to me, we are the elders in our family now and it feels good! We are taking care of my father now. He still lives in his own home, but needs a little supervision, so things don't get left undone. I'm sure he doesn't like it as much as we like doing for him!

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  8. I love reading other people's perspective on aging. I am 69-older than all your other commenters. I can't believe I'm as old as I am-the time goes so fast these days. I find it very difficult to just sit. I enjoy reading and watching movies, but can't make myself relax enough to do much of either. I am very tired of housework and cooking. Have been doing that for way too many years- Hope to get to be lots older and be as healthy and content as I am now.

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  9. I have the odd few gray hairs just starting to show but I really don't see this as a problem as it's part of me. Friends tell me that they would never let their gray hair show through and they would have to dye it, but I am who I am and it's shows i've lived and I have 45 years of life experience behind me...this can't be bad

    Thanks for the post Rhonda

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  10. A beautifully written post! I like that you wrote that ageing is better than the alternative!

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  11. Oh such kind and wise words... I'm 43 and have really noticed a decline in both my energy level and my memory from my 30's. I just can't accomplish what I used to in a day, and I, too need a list, but that's ok :) I surely do love to hear positive things about aging - my own Grandmothers both aged gracefully (but actively) and I hope to follow in their footsteps....

    A lovely post - thank you XO

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  12. Love this post!!! I am 71 and there is so much good about this age. My husband of over 50 years is still my sweetheart and we really enjoy our three adult children their spouces and our grandchildren. What you said is so true....I am finally to a place where I can spend more time reading, writing, taking off for the day for some adventure, having lunch with some friends. I set the goals that are important for me, my husband and our family. I am working on losing a few pounds and improving my strength and balance, to cut down on falls. All and all, life is good. Blessings, Carolyn in Florida

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  13. Here Here Rhonda totally agree today.
    The more birthdays you have the longer you live, so I say celebrate each and every one with great joy.
    Have a great day
    Lors

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  14. I want to get my mum's white-blonde hair. She first went silver and now, almost at 60, she's pure white. I think what stays with you as you age, is your character/personality. And maybe that's why people never really "feel" like a number. And that's the way it should be. :)

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  15. Love this post Rhonda, I will be 50 next year and I have noticed lately I feel better keeping a list of what needs done. I am more calm than in the past and much more forgiving. I love the life I have now and the many things I have learned in the last 49 years. One of the greatest joy's in my life are my two grandkids, I love your positive way of thinking! With regards to getting older bring it on! :)

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  16. Gorgeous Post Rhonda! I share your sentiments on ageing exactly. I'm 35 but in an age where there are discussions about Botox once one reaches 30, I am so grateful for the wisdom of women like you. The obsession with remaining young is disturbing. I'm looking forward to ageing gracefully, and hopefully wiser. Thank you!!

    PS My Dad sent me a copy of your book for my birthday and it is just fabulous.

    Mel xx

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  17. I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for taking time out to write about your life. It really inspires younger women like myself who are trying to live the better life. I really liked the part of your ambitions no longer have dollar signs attached to them. I hope to live my life so my a,notions aren't about money but about what counts. I am younger but I love birthdays they are celebrates largely in my family! It's one more year you got that wasn't promised to you.

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  18. There are always lost opportunities somewhere. At 54, I like my mostly silver hair and agree that age brings its compensations. I do have health issues though and there are still two teens at home to care for so life is still rather frenetic. But I can see that in just a few years, slowing down for good might well be an excellent thing.

    viv in nz

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  19. a beautiful post rhonda
    wish i could feel the same about aging but with disabilities plaguing me as i get older i can't say i am enjoying it & i'm only 51 this august. i don't consider myself old but age is taking its toll on me.
    i love the fact that i'm still here to enjoy what's in store for the future though & your post about the alternative is a real eye opener for appreciating what we have in the now
    thankyou

    selina from kilkivan qld

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  20. To Lynda re Rhonda's book - I'm in Canada and ordered mine from http://www.fishpond.com.au/ - it arrived quickly and the ordering process was simple. And the book's well worth it :)

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  21. Hello Rhonda

    I am a little older than you are. I do not feel old but looking in the mirror reminds me that I am. I see my mother looking out at me - but that is OK!
    Soon we will be embarking on a new adventure. Moving house and lifestyle. From small farm self-sufficiency to semi-rural indulgence! The choice is not ours but an enforced one. A mine bought us out! We are making the best of it. Something new and I hope exciting ahead.
    Old age is something that only comes to the lucky ones.
    Enjoy it!!!

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  22. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for the beautiful post. I am in my late 30s and it is an eye opener for me. I like this part:
    "my But the thing that I love most of all is that freedom to use my hours exactly how I want to. I've put the days of frantic work behind me, my needs are meagre now, my ambitions have changed and no longer have dollar signs attached to them".

    i am totally the opposite stage now, i am currently working and pursuing my law degree part time. I have to juggle between work, study and my 3 year old son. Real Hectic. Looking forward to the day when i am finally at your stage where everything has been done and achieved. In God's own time- He make everything beautiful as we aging gracefully and mature in character, more understanding and more loving. God bless!

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  23. From Texas...who knew this was going to be such a popular subject!!! I have gleaned soo much information from your blog. I am 48 and a caretaker to my dad, 86, and have little help from 6 siblings..I know sad. Not taking it personally.. their problem, not mine. My last child at home is 18 and fixing to enter our LOCAL college. Whew! My hubby and I have 3 acres, chickens, eggs, ducks, a goose and are so lucky to be able to have eggs, and garden and use our land. I used to own a yarn shop. Closed due to economy. Still teaching knitting. It is my meditation. Thank you for all of your information..oh, yes I am also making bread...and couponing (maybe an american thing) and stockpiling..I do not work OUTSIDE of the home. No time. Thanks!

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  24. Well i have just turned 48 and my life has changed completely, i have a 21 year old a nine year old and the sunshine of my life a bright and happy 1 1/2 year old,I stopped work started to keep chooks started cooking from scratch and have started a vegie patch life is good, but i would not of done any off that without you Rhonda your blog and book has helped me start, your 5min bread is fantastic. Now i will give any thing a go thankyou Linda

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  25. I'm in my 50's and not accepting it so well yet...

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  26. I'm glad to read this. I just turned 40 and I've been having some issues. Swinging back and forth between panic, depression and resignation. Being glum is affecting my energy level so I'm trying to kick my butt out of it :) Reading your posts really makes me smile. Thanks for sharing your insight.

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  27. Rafael Yglesias once wrote that "The last gift a parent can give is the lesson of how to die." I know that sounds all very gothic but I honestly believe that we teach our children about growing old and dying through our example - my mother fears age but I have been able to take a step back and see this so I hope that my children will see me embrassing every season of life. As a person in their thirties I am very glad to hear those older than me talk about their age and what it is like experiencing a different season of life as it is how I am learning not to be afraid.

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  28. When I entered the 'change' years, I had a moment of panic. Then just hung up the towel and embraced age. There is freedom in being authentic. Wisdom and grace and gray hair indeed. Why fight with nature?

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  29. Beautifully written Rhonda, there MUST be more discussion like this. I've just turned 54 but my physical capacity has declined in the last year following a couple of musculoskeletal conditions and I still get frustrated at that. Otherwise, I cherish grey hairs. I earned every one of them (and there are a lot of them). I keep a diary for reminders and tasks (but then I always have). I'm happy in my skin and to see beauty where I didn't in younger years. Any wisdom I've accumulated with years and experience informs the way I live and deal with others.
    As the pace of change accelerates in our world, it's harder for older people's life experience to be of relevence to their growing children. In societies that have traditionally venerated their elders, those elders lived very similar lives to their children and their experiences and wisdom had direct daily lessons for their children. That is rarely the situation today. Many of my 'wisdoms' are about self awareness and the satisfaction of having done achieved so many of my dreams already. My children live in a very different world than I did and I have to learn when to hold my tongue (mercifully easier as I mature!). I hope to just be able to lead by example and support by my presence, until they work out their lives for themselves. I didn't listen to the sermonising of my parents either!

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  30. Hello Rhonda,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I am 34 years old and am enjoying life much much more than I used to in my twenties. I feel I was quite unhappy in my twenties actually. I cared so much about that outer appearance and about how everyone would judge me,and I was chasing after someone else's dream. But now I have discovered my inner true self and am living according to that and that has opened up a whole new world for me. I recently went through a bad personal problem and during that time I realized that I had indeed changed from that uncertain young girl I used to be to a woman who is strong and able to take care of herself and her family, even in a dire emergency. It made me feel proud of myself. Thank you for the wisdom you give out Rhonda.

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  31. Amen! I am on the close side of 60 and have just realized that the number bothered me! Not because I am nearly 60, but because I felt like maybe, just maybe, I had failed to live life as I dreamed. Of course, that is silly because I am on my farm and have all the sundry critters that come with it, plus I have a growing soap business. I think what really made me sad was to think that now I have less life before than behind.... less time to make a difference in the ways I hoped to when I started this little journey. But, we never know who we impact and how, do we? Perhaps we all make a difference, regardless of what we see on any given day. I am reminded of Milton who wrote: "Those who stand and wait also serve." Can it be that success is written in the effort more than the attainment?

    Thanks for the gentle reminder today that "I am not a number!" but rather "I am an individual finding my path a moment at a time!" Hooray for all of us who march to the different beat!

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  32. Hi Rhonda, once again you have written a wonderful thought provoking piece. For me, just coming out of another hospital stay, one of many in my future due to advanced breast cancer, it seems so unbelievable that aging is seen as a negative.....I would give anything to live a little longer.

    When did it become normal to think that a 40 year old should try and look like a 20 year old? and that if you didnt, then you were a failure?? I am all for eating well, everything in moderation, looking after yourself, staying healthy.........but I dont understand for example....... injecting botulism into ourselves?....ITS POISON!

    I want to be remembered for being loving and funny and thoughtful and kind.......thats more important than my ass fitting into a size 8 (Australian) pair of jeans. I think I have rather got myself off track......sorry. Enjoy life, love lots, laugh even more and everything else will fall into place.

    hugs
    Tarnie

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  33. I'm in my mid-40s and experience some of the same issues. I always tell myself and others 'what do you expect, they don't make things like they used to. the older models are much better made.'

    I think the key is to know your own limits, and to embrace every single phase as it comes. More times than not it could be worse.

    Love your blog!!!

    Jlynn

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  34. Such beautiful words Rhonda. My parents were much like you, and my oldest sister is about your age. They, my parents and my oldest sister, never let their age change who they were. Yes, more time for recovery, but they relished their age and every bit of wisdom and freedom.

    I am in my forties, still with young children, and can feel myself slowing down too. But I love the person I have become and look forward to getting even better as the years go by. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, I am happy to know that I can enjoy my age, whatever year it is or whatever life might bring me.

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  35. I am loving being a 52 year old, empty nester, Nana. My husband will be 55 tomorrow. We are in good health and med free and are loving the freedom of our kids being grown and living simply. We have become comfortable with ourselves and do not feel that we have to prove anything anymore. I am looking forward to our 60's and my husbands retirement so we have even more freedom and tme to do the things that have become important. Thanks for your thoughts and I agree completely over here in the USA.

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  36. I am almost a year older than you and enjoying life too at this age. We both have some health problems but we are working to be the best we can be. Our health does not define who we are. We can still do so much for ourselves and others. Stay independent and keep on with our simple sustainable type life style. Keeping open for new ideas and new ways of keeping our little parcel producing even better. We keep learning and try to keep giving and mentoring anyone who we can. People seem to be looking for some peace and comfort from stress in their lives and this lifestyle offers that for sure. While working for yourselves at your own pace you are producing the very foods and things you need to sustain your lives. Learning to barter and reuse and such balances other needs. The calm you feel over time with each skill is an added bonus. We cannot be completely self sustained now a days, but we can do more for ourselves and join with others who feel the same. I know you know all about this plus! We just feel so blessed to have started this journey so long ago and never want to get off of it. It is a journey as there is no end to it. When we decide to take the next step that is our decision and one we love to explore! Yes this age has so many extra benefits!! I agree with your comments on how you view the world now. I can agree. ;-) About not realizing how we have aged till we look in the mirror. We keep in our minds eye the way we looked oh so many years ago... I once mentioned on another blog I cannot see myself in the mirror as this old lady with white hair keeps standing in front of me!!! :-) Sarah

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  37. Lovely words of wisedom Rhonda. I am in my late 30's and just reached a turning point in my life. After many years of working, I am now a stay at home mum. Its tough adjusting and trying to change your mindset. Thanks you giving me a new perspective on not just been a homemaker but also about aging gracefully

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  38. I'm 67 and very much relate to what you are saying! I would like to have the energy I had in the past, but I don't. And it takes longer to bounce back from exceptional events. But I can. I do. And I find life very good and full of blessings. And one of them is this feeling connected to all of life in a more conscious way than I was when younger. I enjoy watching others growing older and/or growing up, and seeing the continuity of life. Perhaps that is part of what helps overcome feeling I had to do everything perfectly. I am a very small but happy part of something immensely bigger than myself. And since I won't be here on earth forever, I do want to concentrate on what is important and cultivate compassion and loving kindness and what good I can do. It's so satisfying to be my age.

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  39. The warm fireplaceJuly 27, 2012 6:20 am

    A timely post i am 50 in a few weeks i dont bother about age or numbers i am who i am. I do feel freer than at any other point in my life, i feel more confident more outgoing i know what i want out of life and God willing i shall achieve it, i only wish i had felt like this 20 years ago! I know i must keep fit mentally and physically to keep going as long as poss, you are such an inspiration both of you.
    sue

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  40. I am in my early 40s and appreciate reading about your experience of aging, your dwelling on the positives and your attitude. But I think of my 81-year old mother-in law, who has always had a simple life, growing veges, enjoying her garden, helping others, cooking from scratch, knitting ... Her life at 60 was much like yours, until she had a stroke. She worked hard and made a good recovery and has a good quality of life. But now at 81 she finds herself so busy just managing daily life, (downsized) which takes longer as they age, dealing with a husband with mental problems, walking everywhere due to not being able to drive anymore ... It all takes time and she says she is busier than she ever was in her life. Which doesn't seem right! She has always had a similar attitude and energy to you, so it is hard to see her so busy, everything such an effort, and yet to respect their independence by not doing everything for them. Not sure why I am telling you all this, certainly not wanting to depress you(!), except that I hope your life continues as it is now for many many years. I would love to hear about your thoughts about others you know who are older, how they manage simple living.

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  41. 50 here and trying to embrace every moment of life! I am reading Rev. Billy Graham's new book, Nearing Home, and it really speaks to me at this time in my life. Love your blog! Valerie in SC/USA

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  42. Beautiful and wise sentiments Rhonda :)

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  43. Rhonda, your posts never cease to inspire me. I am 34 and am moving to a slower pace. My husband and I have 4 children between us, and my work of 4days a week was absolutely making me unhealthy! Our new (of 3 weeks) location, pace and focus is so so nourishing and I want to thank you for your influence on that... your book and blog really do inspire me a great deal! THANK YOU!

    Sarah

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  44. A wonderful read. I'm 45 and have no problem telling others my age, but I'm feeling the sorrows of the passage of time. I have lost both of my parents this year and have one child who is just 4 years old. Reading your post makes me realize I need to simply embrace the life I'm blessed to have and to stop fretting about the limited time we have on this Earth. I appreciated my parents, loved them dearly and have wonderful memories to sustain me. I feel fortunate that my daughter was able to meet my parents and spend the short time she had with them. Not all children are so lucky. Reading your blog and this particular post makes me so much more comfortable with the process of aging. You have a blessed life and are an inspiration to me. Thanks.

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  45. I hope you will write more about ageing, Rhonda. Beautiful post.

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  46. Thanks Rhonda! I'm 47 and sometimes wonder about how 50 is going to feel because 40 did not phase me-glad to here 60's are awesome! As a nurse, I speak with many patients that curse getting old. Having hip pain, knee pain, heart problems,diabetes, and a host of other problems. For most of those patients, its not age that is the cause but poor diet, minimal exercise, and obesity as the cause. So I encourage those younger folks not to be discouraged by aging...if you take good care of yourself, you can enjoy those golden years and look pretty darn good too!

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  47. This is a lovely post rhonda, thanks. As a (relatively) young person I couldnt agree more with your opening statement. We need to hear more from the older generation about how it feels to grow older, not just see ads about how to pretend you're not (facelift, anti-wrinkle cream, Porsche etc etc). Thanks!

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