In a recent AARP magazine, I read an article by Jo Ann Jenkins, author of the book Disrupt Aging. She wrote about her fiftieth birthday celebration, where she received all the typical “over the hill” birthday cards. While she found them humorous, she also thought about the subtle (or not so subtle) message they provided to older people: from now on, it’s all downhill. For Ms. Jenkins, that wasn’t what getting older was about. She looked at herself, and at her 50+ friends, and saw that they were climbing mountains, not rolling down hills.
I’m trying something new to pump up my writing momentum. I’m calling it the ABCs of Vital Aging. I actually went through the “As” in my Webster’s New World Dictionary (copyright 1964) and picked out a bunch of words. I created a list of these words and voila, I’ve got 45 words I can write about. (Looks like it might take me awhile to get to the B’s)
Let’s see how far I get with this crazy idea.
My word for today is angst. I like this word – it sounds like what it means. Angst is about anxiety, worry, and fear. An angst-ridden person is one who is living with a gloom and doom attitude.
About a week ago, I found an example of a woman with this attitude. She vented on social media about hating that she was 58, feeling fat and unhappy. She sounded very discouraged at the thought of aging. Then this morning, I thought about this word again, as I listened to a female co-work talk about her fear and anxiety about getting “old.” (She’s turning 55 soon) I joked with her that aging is a lot better than finding yourself on the other side of the dirt. (She didn’t laugh)
I feel just the opposite of these two ladies. At my age (59 in a few weeks) I don’t believe that there’s any time for angst! Anxiety and fear can take over your life and leech all the pleasure out of it. Angst about life leads to feeling powerless.
The thing is, we aren’t powerless when it comes to aging. Aging doesn’t define us – how we face aging is what defines us. In my thirties, I feared aging, because I saw the toll it took on my mother’s physical and mental health. But instead of dwelling on that fear, I took steps to take charge of my health.
In my forties, I realized that aging, in some weird way, was making me stronger and more confident. This led me to getting my Bachelor’s degree at the age of 50, then following my passion for writing by starting a blog (all about health and wellness, of course).
Now, as I approach the ripe old age of 59 (and the big 6-0 in 2017), I realize that anxiety and worry about aging is just a waste of time and energy. We have an ability to “grow old,” not simply “get old.” We have a choice; there’s no need to let anxiety, worry and dread run our lives. Angst is the enemy of vital aging.
What do you think? Are you anti-angst?
© Vital Aging for Women 2016
Since 1984, May has been designated as National High Blood Pressure Education Month. This is an important health care concern for me. In my immediate family, I’ve had several loved ones who have suffered from the effects of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) – including my mom, three sisters and my brother-in-law. My mom had several “mini” strokes during her later years; my brother-in-law had a major stroke, and my sisters suffer from varying issues due to hypertension. Continue reading