Boomer renewal of the body, mind, and spirit: When I was in my early fifties, my health care provider told me that while I was relatively healthy, I didn’t have the same amount of wiggle room as I did when I was younger. In other words, I was mortal.
I already knew that my body was already undergoing changes. At the same time, I had recently started a new career after years of working in positions that hadn’t felt like the best matches for me. And, like a lot of other adults who start grappling with their own mortality, I started re-examining what I thought I believed about my own spirituality. Recognizing that I no longer had the luxury of ‘forever young’ thinking, I had to get serious about how I wanted to live in the coming decades. That realization was a renewal opportunity for me, and it can be for you too.
Inevitable Changes Can Lead to Renewal
Physical Renewal: Eventually, our bodies start to look and feel different. We may suddenly notice that the skin underneath our arms is no longer as firm as it once was or that we have some ‘age spots’ on our face and hands. We may find it is harder to lose weight than it once was. When physically active, we may notice that we’re slower than we once were, or that we have new aches and pains. And the list goes on. In spite of what advertisers tell us about their ‘anti-aging’ products, we are all going to age.
The good news is that even though our bodies are changing, we can make appropriate adjustments and stay healthy and fit potentially into our nineties and beyond. We can start anew by recognizing that we’re not going to look or feel like we did in our thirties or even forties, but we can certainly be our best. Even if we’ve let things slide a bit, we still have a new opportunity starting today to move in a healthier direction. Regular exercise (including walking) and a healthy diet can give you renewed energy, physical capacity, and potentially longer life. Do talk with your health professional before making any significant changes.
Renewal of the Mind: Many of us have felt mental fatigue after years of working in a particular field. Yet after fifty, it isn’t easy to make career changes. Some people feel stuck in positions even though they are burned out. After retirement, others have found they’ve missed the mental stimulation their careers had provided.
The good news is that older workers and retirees do have a number of options for mental stimulation and re-engagement. Some individuals have broadened the scope of their work as a way to stay engaged and find deeper meaning. In our first newsletter, Susan Rochester shared how she has extended her work with new purpose and meaning. Others have chosen to negotiate new roles and responsibilities by working with their employers. Still, others have re-invented themselves by learning new skills through training and coursework.
For those who have retired but want to re-engage in the workplace, the Plus 50 Initiative supports community college programs that help older adults retrain for new careers. One such program is in Gerontology through Portland Community College.
A growing number of older adults are becoming entrepreneurs. Your local Small Business Development Center (SMDC) is a great place to start if you see yourself as an entrepreneur. After I retired from teaching, I met with my own local SMDC and found they were very helpful. With a new business, I am more than mentally stimulated right now!
For others, joining a book club, volunteering, or taking free online classes (EDx, etc.) can help renew our minds and our zest for life.
Spiritual Renewal: When we start coming to terms with our own morality, it’s pretty normal to start asking ourselves questions about our purpose in life, what spirituality means to us, and how we understand our place in the universe. Do we more fully embrace “the faith of our fathers” or whatever we’ve long believed, or do we start re-examining what we believe?
The good news is that our lifetime of experience often gives us the capacity to look at life from different perspectives. Often such examinations help to reaffirm what we’ve always believed. For others, it may mean we begin a new spiritual journey. For some, this means embracing a new sense of ‘oneness’ with all living beings. For others, it may mean meditations of gratitude. Spiritual renewal gives us a renewed opportunity to live with wonder and awe.
What are some ways you might find physical, mental, and or spiritual renewal in the coming months and years?