Friday, June 13, 2008

Aunt Mary's Life Lessons

Last week, I imagined what I’d tell my 24-year-old self to do differently based on what I know now, 21 years later. I realized that while it was too late to change the person I was back then, I could take advantage of the wisdom of older women right now. Since my female family members have never been shy about expressing themselves, they seemed like a good place to start. Seeking advice, I called my 67-year-old mother, Jane, in Florida.

“One thing I learned from having breast cancer”, she said, still out of breath from her three-mile walk, “is to stop and smell the roses. Don’t be so overscheduled – that goes for your kids too.” Wow, that sounded really enlightened. I wanted to hear more, but my mom was running late for her painting class, book club, and library board meeting.

So, I moved onto Mom’s younger sister, my hip Aunt Mary, who has always lived life with flair and enthusiasm. Aged 64 and a former therapist, Aunt Mary has a lot of knowledge and experience to share with women our age. She emailed me this comprehensive list, and I am now passing it on to you.
  • Forget the word "don't." Think "do."
  • Enjoy the present. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Not only is "a lot still going to happen," a lot is happening right now.
  • Talk to your 60 and 70-year-old mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles. Get to know them now. Encourage your children to do this too.
  • Planning for the future should be part of your present. Have frequent talks with your partner about the values, ideals, desires you each have and what kind of future you would like to have together.
  • Find some way to give to your community. Make it a priority.
  • Stay healthy with exercise, a good diet, and yes, frequent sex!
  • I have a prediction: You will go through a period of uncertainty, even chaos, and you will get through it. Be patient.
Okay, the uncertainty and chaos part is a little unsettling, but overall, I really appreciate Aunt Mary’s advice. Older chicks really are wiser and there’s a great body of knowledge out there for us to tap into. If we think we’ve learned a thing or two since our twenties then we can expect to become even savvier in our sixties and beyond. Until we get there, let’s value the lessons already learned by our more mature friends and family members. And if you discover anything juicy – post it here!

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