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I turned 60 years old this summer

I’m thinking of eggplant parmesan for dinner.

Crickets, cicadas…sounds of deep summer.  A dove song echoes in the distance.  I’m suddenly feeling the quick approach to the end of summer.

Did I know my last pond swim would be my last pond swim of the year?  I’m wondering this and trying to remember it.  Did I honor it the way it deserved…what sweet relief and beauty it gave me after my baking days.

I turned 60 years old this summer.

I was listening to a podcast today about women and aging.  The general opinion being that you don’t actually “wake up” and become yourself until 50…or maybe 60.  Comfortably past the point of being able to rely on your beauty to open doors and create opportunities.  I can honestly say that I never thought of myself as particularly pretty, although, those were my father’s first words upon seeing me for the first time.  When I look back now at pictures of my younger self, I am always surprised at how pretty I was.  What on earth causes us to do this?  What keeps us from looking at ourselves in this moment and seeing our own beauty?  Is it a culture that thrives upon comparison and our insecurities around that?   We would never look at a person and think, they’re pretty, but not as pretty as her.  How hard we are on ourselves.

I’m not particularly afraid of my gray hair…although I was, until moving to Maine. I don’t spend too much time looking in the mirror…somedays I forget entirely. It’s easy to do here because it’s so far removed from the mainstream of life and advertising…if you want it to be.  I suppose with anything, we choose what we want to be important for us.  I choose what I want to spend my time doing.

Lately I’ve been getting up first thing in the morning and walking down to the woods in my robe and sitting, listening and feeling myself ground in the way only nature offers.  All summer it’s been hot enough to run through the woods in my swimsuit to the pond.  The early mornings warm enough to walk out in my underwear.  I don’t care what I look like…it FEELS SO GOOD! I feel light and free when I’m walking around outside without all my clothes on.  I feel like a kid, swimming in the pond, I grew up playing and swimming in the summer.

There’s a peace with myself and an ability to listen to what’s in my heart and follow it.  An ability to differentiate between my own heart and the outside voices, that I didn’t have so well when I was younger.  Always trying to be worthy, what others expected of me ranked very high as my guiding principle.   There’s a freedom in realizing that I AM worthy and as it turns out…everyone is so busy with their own life living dramas that they really don’t care what I’m doing!

I’ve learned to relish the moments…to feel the sun on my skin, the cool water on my head, the sand on my feet when I’ve been standing all day.  Moments I may not have again.  Summer will pass.  People will say goodbye, time marches on.  Even the simple feeling of joy is often fleeting.  Yet, I know that that is the seat of my soul.  I have to pay attention to experience that and then the bonus: I am able to cherish that moment in the way I would like.  I don’t speed through it and realize later it’s importance.

How often do I experience something or someone for the last time of the season, of my life… and not know that it is going to be my last?  If I had, how would I have expressed my love and gratitude or my appreciation?  What would I do differently?

How do I honor the end or the beginning?

The last zucchini my plants produce or the summers’ final tomato?  The first sprouts coming up in the garden. The last ear of sweet corn off the grill…the last time I wear my shorts and a tank top? The last time I see a dear friend, the last time I wave goodbye or the first time I wave hello. Do I show up in each moment so that they or the world knows I am happy to be there?

How would I live a day if I knew within it, were moments that I would never have again.

The touch of my husband…the hug of a friend, belly laughs and tears, the strength of my own body as it carries me through the world.

Just this morning, I learned how to apologize and take responsibility for my behavior and the hurt it caused someone else in a way that truly spoke to their spirit.  60 years it took.

These are the things that 60 years have taught me.

Every day I wake up and meditate.  Even if I have to get up earlier, that’s what I do.  I might read something inspirational.  I always list things that I am grateful for.  I make that choice, every day, to begin with intention, to begin with gratitude and to breathe myself into the deepest place of my heart where pure love resides.   How often in my haste for something different or new or the next thing, do I unconscientiously move through the season, the day or the moment…and take for granted that tomorrow will bring the same experience or whatever experience I have planned?  Sometimes I expect things to go as I plan.  How frustrated I can get when they don’t.   Often, I just assume I’m going to see you again.  My heart breaks a little with every goodbye.

“In life we must learn not only how to live, but how to die as well.” -Seneca

I remind myself that with the beginning of something new, there is the ending of something else.  With a hello, there is often a goodbye that I forgot to say, a thank you left unsaid…to myself, to another, to the world as it offers itself to me again and again. Celebrating each simple joy and honoring each heartbreak. We feel the depths of both in order to feel the power of both.

We embrace a moment with all we have, and when the moment is over, we step back and let go.  Practice.

So.  It’s with thoughtful intention I begin a day and thoughtfulness as I end the one before.  These moments teach me a practice I’d like to carry out into my day, into all my experiences and my relationships.  Often minutes later, it all goes to hell and the chaos of the world and my own mind creep in.  Then I just try again tomorrow.  Life is simply the practice of living.  Practicing to live the way we imagine.  Each of us gets to choose how and what we practice.

Today…as I listen to the deep summer sound of cicadas and crickets, I feel the final days of summer and wonder if I’ll swim one more time.  I hope so, because I have something to say to the pond before I get out for the last time.

Fall is coming.

I love fall.

 

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