Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why I'm Changing it Up This 4th of July

I don’t know about you, but holidays have taken on a new, more personal, meaning for me as I’ve aged. I noticed I’m re-focusing from partying to personal growth.

Take the Fourth of July.

Traditionally, July 4th has been an easy holiday for me. With my eyes closed, I can reach out to friends, plan festivities with the best food and drink and provide an atmosphere of fellowship and fun.


Why I’ve decided to do things differently this Fourth.

Last week, I sat down, turned off my monkey mind and settled into an open and receptive stillness. Then I let my mind re-live past July 4th celebrations and the activities associated with them.

I was surprised to see a pattern unfold.

The common theme that wove its way through almost all past July 4ths was the lack of any sense of what the holiday truly represented for me. It seems I’ve spent more time partying and less time on the significance of freedom in my life.

This realization led me to break with the tradition of hosting or attending a BBQ or other get-together this year. Instead, I’m going to re-connect with July 4th in an introspective, more personal way.

What does this mean? I’m going to personalize this July 4th by identifying and celebrating ALL the freedoms available to me, not by just acknowledging our nation’s breaking away from the motherland -- with food and drink in my hand.

In fact, by spending time consciously appreciating all the personal freedoms that our founding fathers fought so hard for, I am not only filled with gratitude for my life, I feel I am paying proper homage to them for their monumental sacrifice.

I will be celebrating the rich blessings of freedom in my life.

On a more intimate level, here’s what I came up with for a truer meaning of freedom in my life:

          -Freedom of Mind - Our minds belong to us. We are 
               free to think and believe whatever whenever. No
               one can take away our thoughts.

          -Freedom of our Heart - We are free to love whomever
               we wish. I can be embarrassingly bonkers over my
               cat, Kali, and feel an indescribable passion for books
               and gingko leaves, as well as madly love my husband
               and my friends.

          -Freedom of Movement - We are free to go wherever 
               we want in this glorious land. We can wander the 
               wilderness in search of solitude and spiritual 
               enlightenment without anyone blocking our travel.

          -Freedom of Friendship - While we can’t choose our 
               family, we can choose our friends. We can’t be 
               forced to spend time with anyone. We get to decide.
               There are people around the world who don’t have this 
               freedom.

          -Freedom of Religion - You know how powerful and 
               important this freedom is.

As a senior, I appreciate the freedom of time. I can learn a new language, write a book, play Words With Friends, cook a meal, or relax and do nothing. I can stay in my jammies all day luxuriating over a delicious novel. I am blessed with the freedom afforded by retirement.

What about you? Where will you be?

If you spend this upcoming Fourth in the traditional hotdogs and hamburger, corn on the cob and apple pie sort of way, that’s fine. I wish you the most fun and relaxation possible.

If you’re like me and don’t have plans and might even be feeling a little lonely or left out this holiday, take heart. Spend a moment getting quiet. Then think about and celebrate all the personal freedoms you have that make your life a rich existence every day.

Our personal freedoms really have nothing to do with the government or politicians or naysayers. They belong to us, and no one can take them away or ruin their importance.

Celebrate that!

“Freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose.
Anything less is a form of slavery.”
Wayne Dyer

 
Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Unexpected Benefits of Being Quiet

Do you have this problem?

You’re with a friend, and all of a sudden there’s a momentary lapse in the conversation. Instead of just sitting with the silence, you find yourself immediately chattering on about some random thing neither of you cares about. Or worse, saying something inane you’ll regret later.

Being quiet is so uncomfortable you’ve just got to fill that space.

If this is you, be kind to yourself. Like most of us of a certain age, you were probably brought up to believe it’s the polite thing to do to not let conversation lag. That it’s up to you to keep the ball rolling.

Conversation (and words) were huge in my family. I was taught to be charming, show off my verbal acumen, my humor and my ability to engage others. As a result, I sometimes never shut up.

Being truly present with others

It has taken me years to learn to be comfortable in the silence.
In return, I’ve gotten untold rewards. I’m more open. I take in, and enjoy, more of my surroundings. I’m able to hear more deeply what others are saying (and, sometimes, not saying). And, best of all, I can savor the sheer fellowship of their presence.

How do I do this?

Instead of thinking of the next great thing I can say, I think about the sun on my shoulders or the smell of the pine trees or the comfort I feel just being with that person.

What I’m doing is somewhat akin to meditation. I’m open and just being -- allowing anything to happen, without having to direct or manipulate it. I'm even allowing myself to be “bored.”

What your monkey mind calls “boredom” just might be bliss.

If you meditate, you're no doubt familiar with the concept of “monkey mind.” If you’re not a meditator, monkey mind is a Buddhist term for a mind that is "unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable."

I call it the whirling dervish inside our heads. It’s the thing that runs the show when we’re doing anything other than sleeping or meditating. It makes us want to watch TV, read, shop, nap, eat… or what I’m writing about today, keep talking to avoid any silence or stillness in the presence of others.

In order for me to be comfortable in stillness, I had to learn about what it felt like. I soon realized silence and stillness felt like boredom, and that agitated me. In fact, it made me hungry, so I’d usually eat to fill the space. It was a challenging process, and one I still sometimes work on, but the benefits are huge.

Here are the ways silence and stillness benefit me. They:

          · Create space for restoration and healing.

          · Make it easier to feel gratitude for this moment, 

               this day and this life.

          · Give me the wisdom to know when my priorities 

               have gotten out of whack.

          · Quiet my mind, body and spirit.

          · Allows me to stop and feel goodness even in the 

               midst of a hectic day.

Eckhart Tolle’s Stillness Speaks is one of my go-to books on the subject of being comfortable in silence.

I encourage you to give it a try.

The next time you’re with someone and an uncomfortable silence opens up, see if you can sit with it – even relax into it -- for a bit longer than usual. Notice what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised!


Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

10 Quotes About Aging That Will Inspire You to Live More Fully

          Over the years, there have been great thinkers and role models who have spoken eloquently about aging. I admire their ability to reshape our thinking with simple statements, and I share ten of my favorites with you today.

     “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” 
               ~Henry David Thoreau

     “Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special 
     and precious for you shall only live it once. Be comfort-
     able with growing older.” 
               ~Louise Hay

     “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but 
     beautiful old people are works of art.” 
               ~Eleanor Roosevelt

     “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream 
     a new dream.” 
               ~C.S. Lewis

     “The age of a woman doesnt mean a thing. The best 
     tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.” 
               ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

     “We dont stop playing because we grow old. We grow 
     old because we stop playing.”  
               ~George Bernard Shaw

     "Aging is an inevitable process. I surely wouldnt want 
     to grow younger. The older you become, the more you 
     know; your bank account of knowledge is much richer.
               ~William Holden

     “Those who love deeply never grow 
     old, they may die of old age, but they 
     die young.” 
               ~Ben Franklin

     “There is a foundation of youth: it is 
     your mind, your talents, the creativity 
     you bring to your life and the lives of
     people you love. When you learn to 
     tap these sources, you will truly have defeated age.” 
               ~Sophia Loren

     "One of the benefits of being a mature well-educated 
     woman is that youre not afraid of expletives. And you 
     have no fear to put a fool in his place.” 
               ~Judi Dench

          Do these statements inspire you as they do me? What favorites of your own might you add ? I am compelled to add my own statement to this list:

      These just might be the best years of your life.” 
               ~Antonia Albany

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook