22 November 2011

Living like there's no tomorrow

Age is starting to make its mark on me. When I was younger, I didn't think about age and I didn't feel a particular age. There has never been a time when I thought okay, I'm 18/30/45/50, I should do ...whatever. Now I'm in my mid-60s, I feel it and I know it. I wonder why that recognition of age is with me now.

No doubt, part of the reason is that both my parents have died and I'm a grandmother. I have moved into the front line, so to speak, if things go according to plan, Hanno and I will be the next to die. My friends have started dying too. It's a sad time but it's also full of good memories of times past and a strong feeling I am glad to be alive and that I have to make every day count.

Age has slowed me down a bit. I've also lost some strength and sometimes I forget things. When those things happen it makes an impact on me.  I wonder if it's the start of something sinister, something that we don't talk about. But it's not all bad news, in fact, most of it is good because I love being over 60 much more than being under 40. I feel as if I've grown into the person I want to be. My hope is that now the baby boomers have started retiring, we'll somehow reverse the idea that ageing is a bad thing and restore it to being just a natural process - a part of life. When you think about it, ageing is a success - if you live long enough to be old, you've survived. If you enjoy your old age, you've not only survived, you've thrived and maybe even triumphed.

I feel that this time of life is the payoff for the industriousness and busyness and of younger years - all those years of child raising, working hard for a living, buying a home and building a strong family. I have many good memories of those times, it was enriching and fulfilling but it was hard work. When I look back to when I was young I see all the hard work yet to come, all the teenage years, the struggle to pay off our home as fast as we could and saying the last goodbye to my parents and some friends - it was all ahead of us then.

We survived it all.

We are still industrious but it's gentle now; it's more a slow and steady working towards sustainability rather than working flat out. We see rewards for that industriousness in the form of our own independence and the genuine feelings of self reliance we both feel.

Busyness is different when you get older - it's multi-layered and on your own terms. My terms are not dictated to me anymore by my job or my children; now I do the productive work of my home, and I choose activities that challenge me and make me think. The self-imposed pressure to succeed has gone and been replaced by acceptance of whatever comes my way, trust in the future and confidence in my ability to cope, no matter what.

I am firmly convinced that, for me, now is not a time for plastic surgery or dyed hair. I wear my wrinkles, thinning skin and grey hair with pride; a kind of badge that says I've been here for a long time, I know what I'm doing, I'm a grandma, I have visited the past and I have a little wisdom to share if you care to listen.

It saddens me when I see women and men who are scared of ageing. This is not something to be frightened of - growing older is the golden prize. It is the time in your life when you can choose what you want to do - and if, like us you choose to take control of your own life and simplify, make your home productive and enjoy the day to day process of that, then you'll have something new to get up for every morning. I reckon I have another 20 years to live, if I'm lucky, I might have 30 or 35. Beyond that, forget it, I don't want to be here forever. I think my job has been to raise my children and to see them raise theirs. I have fulfilled my duty to my species and now is a time for freedom,  happiness and maybe a bit of craziness. Now is the time to really live like there is no tomorrow, but maybe that is how we should live all the time.



  1. Lovely post Rhonda. I love how you are able to write exactly how you feel. I would like to be able to do that too but I am not that talented in that area.
    I am in my mid 50's and feel the same things also. I am only just starting to let go of what I think people are expecting of me and to really live the way I want too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post, Rhonda. Your words really hit me today. This was the topic of the sermon at church yesterday, so it's really hitting home. I'll be 40 on my next birthday and I'm starting to see some grey hairs, and the beginnings of crows feet. I'm trying to take it all in stride--- and not dye my hair. =-)

  3. I loved this post Rhonda!

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that we should celebrate our current age & not try to cling on to youth. I wouldn't want to go back in time as I didn't then know what I know now. Each grey hair, each line is a testament to experience & a life lived!

  4. Thought provoking post. I'm seeing more and more women with grey hair who look as if they've never been happier. And they look beautiful with grey hair too.
    I'm now 44 with a bit of grey at the front. I'm the only one in my circle who won't dye my hair. I think it's part of really accepting yourself. I'm bursting with energy and I think I've never looked better - I think that may be contentment showing.
    I cut my work down earlier this year because I do want to live like there's no tomorrow. If I don't have time to garden,walk the dog and see my friends I'm not living the 'good life'.
    Have a great day :) Madeleine

  5. This is beautiful. I just celebrated my 23rd birthday so I am only just at the beginning of this road but I love this line: "When you think about it, ageing is a success - if you live long enough to be old, you've survived." Thank you for sharing your knowledge here - I read everyday and you are a fantastic role model.

  6. I love what you have written today. I just turned 40 two weeks ago and lots of people twitted me about my age - but I told them I see it as a celebration because I have lived 40 full years, when so many don't make it this far - and I hope that like you, I will celebrate and welcome each decade for the new experiences it will bring. My Grandmother who died 20 years ago in her 80's said that the saddest part of growing old was watching your friends and family die. But she is an inspiration to me because at 70 years old she got her driver's license for the first time, and flew in an airoplane for the first time when she was 79.
    Anyway - wanted to tell you Rhonda - good news for us - we have had an opportunity open up for us in another part of NZ, which means we are selling our big, new house, down-scaling to something smaller and cheaper and hopefully getting rid of our mortgage!!! So excited!

  7. I love this post, Rhonda. I am only going to be 44 this year, but I feel that I'm slowing down quite a bit. I do still have a 13 year old at home, but time flies when we are having fun and adulthood is just around the corner for her. After that, I would like to be firmly planted in all my habits of caring for my home/homestead. I love your description of your industriousness--gentle. That's how I would describe my industriousness here at home (for the most part). I'm glad someone else would use that description, because the way people run around like crazy sometimes makes me feel like i'm doing nothing, lol.

  8. You are so right. Live the way you want, now. Don`t worry about what the neighbours shall say.
    You`ve earnt your freedom to do as you please.
    I can`t wait for that time to be alotted to me, one day. Enjoy yourself!!

  9. Love today's post Rhonda. I am retired and enjoying the fruits of my labour as you might say. I now have a grown family, my allotment to tend, and I have a new computer which I am learning more about all the time. Life is good.

  10. Beautiful. I love women who are proud of their grey hair. I'm 35 and have lots of grey hair and am proud of it.
    We never know how many years we still have ahead of us, no matter how old we are... we should never take life for granted.
    Love from Portugal,

  11. That is such a wonderful post.I agree with all you have said.I love to see women such as yourself showing as how it can be done. Although I am a little younger than you (early 50's) I have also lost both my parents and soon will be a grandma. I still am pressured by work with a business to run, but it's work that is important which inspires me to keep going.It was a bit of a shock to realise that my body was not as strong as it used to be but I decided to just go with it and enjoy the slowing down by using my time for things a little less physical and find new ways to do things. We are just as busy as when I was young , the busyness has just changed form.

  12. Hi Rhonda, what a great post. I do think of this a lot. Unfortunately we are in the phase of another relative with cancer, a BIL, and its hard and it reminds us that we are at the pointy end of life. But the feeling of having grown finally into the woman I want to be, yes that really resonates. Its a good feeling!!Just got some new glasses the other week and was amazed to find out that I am much greyer than I thought! Maybe the failing eyesight is a gift not a curse!! Regards, Julia in Bowen

  13. Hi Rhonda...I am feeling this age thing with you...I will be 60 in 2 years and wonder where the time has gone...Only thing is, I am a carer for a daughter with a disability who is 30...we are still doing 'bedtime and bathtime'...We don't have the freedom to do as we choose...if we want an evening out we have to orchestrate it with respite care...we don't have weekends away on a whim....As for retirement which is coming up for Hubby...we still will be doing what 30 years olds are doing...My Granchildren in some ways are more advanced than our daughter and they are 5 and 3...Carers don't stop 'working'....I worry like you as I get older...but the worries are different... what will happen to our girl...who will look after her etc etc etc.....

    Congratulations on the spread about you in the Women's Weekly...I enjoyed that article...Dzintra

  14. Wow Rhonda....love it! I have justed turned 30 and have noticed already how much more confident and aware of myself i have been over the last few years..i'm looking forward to getting older and wiser hehehe :)

  15. The forgetting thing is happening to me too but, if I remember to write a list, it doesn't happen. I think it's simple overload on a full busy brain that's been working for a long time.

    Now what were we talking about?

  16. Work…. like you don’t need the money.
    Sing…. as though no one can hear.
    Dance …like no one is watching.
    Love…..as if you’ve never been hurt
    Live……like it’s heaven on earth

    The above is on the wall when you enter the Eden Project in Cornwall UK!

    I think the last line should be the first for you.

    xx from another white haired lady x Sally

  17. This post is so close to what I wrote yesterday, only your post reflects a truly accepting and happy spirit and a gifted writer. I'm still floundering a bit. As I said in my post, I probably have another 40 years to live and my conundrum is how best to live those years, basically I have my whole life to live over again.

  18. Rhonda - I love that there are people like you to set an example about being positive about aging for my generation. I'm in my 20's but I do worry about my parents losing their health as they get older, I hope they stay healthy and have long lives though because I want any children I have to know their grandparents. In my area a lot of women don't want to be grandmums, they insist that grandchildren call them by their first names. Hopefully if I have grandchildren I'll be one of the women who is proud to be a grey haired grandmum who makes birthday cakes and takes the babies to see farm animals.

    Lauren M

  19. Dear Rhonda,

    I loved this post. It's so inspiring and profund...
    I'm 32 and i hope to grow older with a spirit like yours.
    Thank you so much to share your thoughts with the rest of us...


    Pipinha (Portugal)

  20. Great thought provoking post Rhonda!

    I am one year away from 50 with parents still living and they are healthy at this stage. I have one grandson too. Now is the time I am improving my health and fitness so I can cope better with the onset of old age.

    I love your attitude to life, it is very inspiring...

  21. What a lovely thought provoking post Rhonda and so so timely for me as i turn 39 tomorrow. I am trying to reflect on the positives and remind myself what i have achieved and what is yet to come.
    Enjoy and rejoice in your freedom and craziness...you have indeed earned it!

  22. Rhonda,

    Once again you are a fount of wisdom for us all. I agree with Nicola and love your reference to ageing being a success and a survival.

    As I approach 60, I'm aware of my body's limitations, but thank the Lord for each day that I can still move around and care for my home and garden. And what a blessing strong husbands are!

    Hope you have many years yet to enjoy your simple life.

    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

  23. Right on sister!!
    Erin, age 55, white hair, gardener, wife, mom, sister, store owner.....happy.

  24. Hello Rhonda,
    Thank you for being such a wonderful mentor to
    me. I am approximately 10 years your junior, but old enough to understand what you are talking about. Your life certainly sounds very fulfilling...I strive to be there, too.

  25. Fantastic post! I realised recently that I have more friends with artificial boobs than not! Saddens me too. You are truly and 'Elder' not an oldie.


  26. I totally understand what you are saying. We are the same age. I look around at people and try to guess their age...thinking they are older than my husband and I are. Then I find out they are actually younger. I think we think we look younger...but we two don't. I know we are sure feeling our age. Seems in the last year and a half especially. I watch people doing things I used to do without thinking and wonder where that physical skill went. When was the last time I could move like that? :) Thinking I still could I have tried and was totally surprised! :) There is more reflection now. We too are the oldest people on both sides of our families. Now the younger ones look to us to answer questions about the family history or things of our past. Now most of our mentors are gone. Things it seems only yesterday we had older family members to answer these questions. I wish I had written more down. Our parents and Grandparents seemed so wise and confident. Did they feel as we do now? I sure wish they were still here. To all you out there reading please cherish each and every moment you can with your loved ones. If you have any questions to ask,.. ask them. ..Now. If you have any thank yous to give them please tell them very soon before it is too late. Life happens and it goes by fast. We are enjoying our life but note the difference in our bodies for sure. Even two years ago I would not have understood the difference it makes. Neither would I have noted the subtle difference in my thinking about life either. It happens little by little like all of life and then things have changed. Life never stays the same. We must embrace each season and live it to the fullest. We extend to do just that. Thank you for another thought provoking honest post Rhonda. In many ways our life is like your's and we totally enjoy it. Sarah

  27. At 37 I've decided to wear my grey hair with pride too. I'm in that in-between stage, where it's not quite blatantly grey but you definitely notice the silver sheen all over.

    I considered if I should get it dyed recently (just one more for the road) but then I thought, who's it for? I'm okay going grey. Actually I like it. Because when you let your hair be natural, it distinguishes you from everyone else. No hair colour is ever the same! Unless it comes from a bottle that is. ;)

  28. You said "if things go according to plan Hanno and I will be the next to die". My brother died almost 20 years before our dad, and 27 years before our mom. Things rarely go according to plan so, I hope to be reading your blog for the next 20 years.

  29. Dear Rhonda, I have only this to say: when I am older, in your stage of life, I hope to be like you. Not so much in the sense of sustainable gardening and skilled knitting (though that would be nice), but in the quiet enjoyment of life, and preserving a young, fresh spirit that enjoys each day to the fullest.

  30. I've loved reading your blog today. I to am in my mid 60's (wife, mother and grandma to 4) and I could not have expressed how I feel at this stage in my life any better than you have today. I love the freedom I have now, 60+ is a good place to be.

  31. Thought-provoking post, Rhonda. I have been living one day at a time for some time now, and have found it to be truly freeing and joyful. For the first time in my life I am not worried about anything. I never thought I'd ever be able to say that. I just get up each day and decide to enjoy it, no matter what. To look for the lovely and focus on it. To bless others and to be caring and considerate. The past is out of my reach and so is the future. The moment I am in is what I have, so I make the best of the moment. My faith in God means that I leave all the big stuff in His hands, and try to have a kind and caring day. Thanks for this post. xxx

  32. This will make you laugh. I went for a mammogram and I'm standing there in worn jeans and a hoodie, no make up (never worn it), no jewelry, my hair is sticking up every which way from the hoodie and the lady asks

    "Do you have breast implants?"

    I laughed and said "You can't be serious!"

    Apparently they have to ask every woman that now.

    Thank you for this post. I haven't bought into the whole lust after youth mindset either.

  33. Well said Rhonda! AI am 63, the same age as you and I love just being me. I saw a TV show the other night with with a woman who was one of the beautiful beople in the 90's who looked just the same as she did way back then. I wondered how she kept looking so great, then I noticed that when she talked the only thing on her face that moved was her mouth. She looked like she was made out of plastic. Botox had erased not only her wrinkles, but her personality. How sad.
    Susan from Michigan USA

  34. I am 35 and joyfully look forward to each year, especially "milestone" years. I feel like I am acquiring wisdom and more confident of the person I am becoming and the life path I am on. I don't understand the maniacal obsession some people have with clinging to their youth. Such a good post.

  35. This is such a good post.
    I know for me at 51, I've noticed a few things that have changed, but like you I don't mind telling my age or letting people see my gray hair. I think of my age and wonder (laughingly) what happened to the last 30 years, but hope that should I live for another 30, I make good use of my time and live each day to the fullest.
    Life sure goes by quick!

  36. I'm 44, and the past few years have taught me to enjoy now. Living in the future and lamenting the past makes you forget what is right in front of you...life!


    AM of the Bread

  37. I could have written that (apart from the not dyeing my hair!) if I had the skill to put it into words like you do. I'm 62 and I love it! A very happy age to be........
    I am not ready to die, yet, so I hope I have a few more years to enjoy the post-family raining peace!

  38. What a beautiful post, Rhonda! And I enjoyed Sarah's well-thought-out response, too. I love finding kindred souls here and being "mentored" by you. Have a great day!

  39. Hi Rhonda,
    Thanks for your great post which I read with my morning coffee here in Northern California. I turned 61 this month and like you, I never was consumed with my age. And like you again, I am beginning to feel/see signs of being a young senior. I read your blog for many reasons but mostly for your outlook on life. Thanks again for always making my day!
    Nancy in Fair Oaks

  40. Splendid post Rhonda!
    I am 44 years old. I have had a good life.
    I have had my ups and downs by I have no regrets.
    My childhood is full of wonderful memories.
    I have had great adventures in the outdoors.
    I have met wonderful people and said farewell to dear ones.
    I have seen technology grasp my little country and change it completely, I have surfed its threatening wave and held on.
    After disappointments and acceptance that I wouldn't find my love and was planning a life of spinsterhood, along he came 14 years ago and I started my own little family.
    Growing up I resisted the use of any foreign substance in and on my being. I have always embraced the natural.
    I don't like taking medicines, I believe that my body could heal with a little extra care...I don't like any creams, perfumes or powders on my skin...I have worn very little makeup all my life.
    I stopped colouring my hair earlier this year (after 2 self-conscious years of doing so) when suddenly all around me people were getting cancer. It scared me and again underlined the importance of going natural.
    Along the years, my family have had health issues but we made it through. I even had a health scare with my youngest when the possibility existed that she could have cancer. She had soaring fever every month like clockwork for a year and a half. After multiple tests the doctors could only guess that it might have been a bacterial infection or a hyper immune system but diagnosis was never conclusive. For years after that I would wake and check her during the night, I would have nightmares and freak out when she had a cold. I still do occasionally. I never knew the cause and thus never knew if it would start all over again. THAT takes years off one's life.
    When people ask about the greys and the wrinkles, I say that it shows that I have lived. That I worked hard to earn those. They are the product of laughter and tears. I wear them as a badge of my survival. That those lines and colours are what give form and texture to the canvas of my life. Maybe life will bless me with more =)

    Trinidad & Tobago

  41. Thanks for this well written post Rhonda. Having lost our baby a couple of years ago (and would-be brother to my son Dylan) we are mindful of how precious life really is. You have put my thoughts into words so well.
    Best wishes Bridget x

  42. What a beautiful post, thank you. I am going to share this with my Mum (69).

  43. Thanks Rhonda for this post. I agree with you, I recently had my 47th birthday and the amount of people who stated to me, "how scary, so close to fifty". "What are you going to do?" Well, for a start I will be celebrating such a milestone, (some people don't reach it and hopefully I will) and I will rejoice in everyone of my wrinkles on my face. Time and experiences had put them there and I could probably give a story for each one of my wrinkles (yes, would be a long story but such memories). I am really excited about my future. Watching my children finish school and start there new phrase in life. I believe you should be happy we what ever you have.

  44. This was a beautiful post Rhonda. Though I'm in the midst of child rearing this makes me realise that I need to relish it because tomorrow these days will be gone. Each and every stage of our lives holds it's own rewards. Your attitude is truly uplifting and a refreshing change from the youth obsessed media.

  45. what a great post.... on this thanksgiving eve i contemplate your words and know that they could not come from someone who is young. They just do not have the rear window to look out on as we do. i am 49, and will be 50 in 7 months...i have started thinking about that, I mean, WOW 50!!! half a century?? it is amazing to me, but i still think as if i was much younger...and like you i too have decided to not touch up my hair as my hairdresser has suggested, I mean the grey that is starting to come in really does not bother me... I think a little less worrying about how we look and more concern for how we feel and make others feel is certainly long overdue in our society. I also just became a grandma a week ago and am loving every minute of it...I just wish my son was here to see his nephew, he passed over two years ago...we all miss him terribly. Wishing everyone here a very happy holiday in the USA and hope to keep seeing such thoughtful, from the heart insight from you.

  46. Wonderful post Rhonda! At 46, I think that I am just starting to "get" what you are saying - and I am so grateful that there are a few like yourself, out there speaking words of wisdom to us following behind.

  47. Lovely post Rhonda, it reminded me of one of my favourite quotes:

    "Do not regret growing old. It is a privilege denied to many."

  48. Just beautiful. I do not understand the fear of ageing... (although I'm only 32, so I'm sure it may still be to come?!) but I have often looked at women, particularly, who have aged beautifully and well and I admire them and can't wait to be like them. My dad died when he was only 58 years old. Every day we live is truly a gift and we must embrace it all. We are lucky to have each one. Thank you for sharing x

  49. I am so glad that this post was at the top of your blog to read again. Like everybody else says too, this really strikes something within me. Although I am only 44, I struggle, I struggle with saying final goodbyes to good people because they passed away, I struggle with my growing boys who will leave our nest soon (the oldest one is moving out this summer). It is soothing for me to read about your acceptance. And it makes me aware that I hold on to fear and sadness. Not quite sure how to turn that one around, but with time and thought I am sure it will. Thank you Rhonda for putting this sometimes difficult subject into words.


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