One of my lovely readers suggested we spend some time exploring the idea of “aging gracefully.” ( I created illustration above, Grandma Tortoise, in 2017. She was 130 years old. Looking at the illustration teaches me about grief and letting go.

I invited readers to contribute and received an avalanche of wisdom. I’ve decided to turn the JourneyDancing blog over to them.

From Debra Schumacher:

People say getting older isn’t for wimps and that’s true. Change is inevitable. That, and death, are the two things you can count on. Your body is going to change in ways you won’t anticipate and probably won’t appreciate. Like me, you may experience everything from chronic pain (stiff, achy joints not just in the morning but all day long) to growing hair on your chin and losing it on your head. Embrace the changes so you can decide how you’re willing to respond to them. Some changes may be permanent, but sometimes they can be temporary. 

  1. Move your body and your mind — whatever you can, however you can. 
  2. Find joy — little or big — as much as possible. 
  3. Laugh – often, hard, and loud. — every day
  4. Keep learning. Always. Find interest in new things, ideas, people. Explore. Discover.
  5. Keep making friends. Especially younger friends. It helps keep you interested in what’s happening around you and gives you more people to laugh with (see 3 above).
  6. Engage in things that interest you. For me it’s playing tai chi and qigong. For my husband it’s stamp collecting. Both of us write – I send weekly emails to my tai chi community and he does a monthly stamp club newsletter and additional articles for other publications.
  7. Set goals. (see 6 above). For me, it’s teaching, preparing and presenting workshops, doing demos. For my husband it’s creating stamp exhibits (judged with awards) and organizing stamp shows. In other words, don’t stop living before you die.
  8. Rest as needed. Listen to your body and if it says “not today” or “not right now” honor that. Take a nap or lounge all day. It’s okay!
  9. Be useful. Being useful and giving makes you feel good.
  10. Love and make memories. Enjoy your family and friends.
  11. Be in the moment. My aunt (89) taught me to let go of taking pictures and be in the experience. 
  12. Let go of what you can — bad experiences, toxic people and relationships, negative self-critical thoughts. My mom went through a nasty divorce and was never able to let go of her anger and resentment that her life didn’t turn out as expected. That’s the one thing I wished that she could have done for herself because she was never satisfied or happy for more than a moment — and then that moment was lost and tainted because of her ongoing bitterness.
  13. Which leads to … gratitude. The more you can incorporate gratitude into your life, the more happiness you will find in living. Use the “magic words” please and thank you as much as possible and mean them. I always go back to the story: “I felt sorry for myself for having no shoes, until I met someone who had no feet.” It’s more than saying life could always be worse. It’s recognizing what you have as blessings and seeing challenges as opportunities.

 Debra Schumacher is a certified Tai Chi instructor and Energywork healer. She is 71 years old.