Grace is one of those words that seems out of step with the modern world. It rarely appears in everyday conversation and can't compete with popular media buzz words like badass. Clearly some people view the term aging gracefully as out of step too. I've noticed it's been taking some flak lately in conversations on social media.
So what exactly does it mean? Rather than growing older with a roar isn't the woman who is aging gracefully reigning in her wild? Far from pole dancing at 60 isn't she quietly living the ladylike life? Not that there's anything wrong with that. The lady is alive and well in me and I confess I'm drawn to the quiet life. The problem is though that we boomers are hitting the second half of life just as the longevity revolution is gathering steam, which means we typically have another 25 to 30 years to play with before we hit true old age. With that much time on our hands isn't it possible that ladylike might become a little tedious? Isn't it inevitable many of us are going to want to unleash a little wild in our second half? What's to be done then, with that term aging gracefully? Is it even relevant anymore?
Grace, according to the etymology of the word, originates from the Late 12C Latin Gratia, and the French Graciier. It means virtue of course, and elegance. But it also means to give thanks, to praise, to celebrate, and to favour - which in turn means to bless, to show compassion and kindness, and to serve others. Okay, so the notion of virtue may not sit well with any child of the 60s. But the rest? All of those elevated emotions? Don't they amount to timeless time-honoured ways of living that actually form a game plan for empowered living beyond 50? Personally I think so, and for that reason I'm coming out in defense of aging gracefully. In fact I've adopted grace as one of the big important words for my second half; one of those words I meditate on, write in the sand at the beach and paint in my art journal. And live from and embody, as best I can.
So with all that in mind I've mapped out a game plan for aging gracefully in the second half of life.
1) Give thanks every single day
Someone once said that life is a bowl of cherries. I agree with whoever that was. I see life as a series of little moments, each to be savoured one by one. Starting a gratitude practice in your second half is so valuable because it demands that you be fully present to at least some of those little moments, and recognise how truly miraculous they are. When you do that life seems to grows more joyful by the day. You age gracefully when you give thanks for your ever more overflowing bowl of cherries.
2) Make time for colorful acts of praise.
I'm not talking praise in a religious sense. Think of it as the outward expression of all the joy and gratitude you feel in your heart. Plenty of opportunities for unleashing a little wild here. Or a lot! Paint it. Wear it. Dance it. Yes, that includes pole dancing if that's your thing! Laugh it. Sing it. Who cares if you can't sing in tune or paint like a French master. It's about praise, not perfection. You age with grace when you colour the world with your joy.
3) Grace the world with your presence.
This is not about all eyes being on you when you enter a room. As I see it it's about elevating the world with your presence. It's about making your second half count for something. It's about knowing your strengths and aligning them with causes you feel passionate about. It's about serving the greater good. You age with grace when you reconnect with your inner flower child and make a stand for what you believe in.
4) Favor others with your kindness.
You age gracefully when you leave the imprint of your heart on the lives of others. Not just loved ones. Strangers as well. Personally I think random acts of kindness are the way of the future and what better way to spend your bonus years. We are all one. Quantum physics leaves us in no doubt of that. There are no strangers or isolated acts. When you lift someone in need higher you lift yourself as well. And everyone else. When you light a candle for a stranger in their darkness you illuminate your own life, and the world we all live in.
5) Live from a place of forgiveness.
How can you praise your way through your second half if you're hauling a load of baggage? Marianne Williamson calls forgiveness selective remembering. As she says, only love is real so focus on that and let all else go. You age with grace when you look only for what Marianne calls 'the innocence" in your brother, your sister, and yourself.
As I see it aging with grace gives you plenty of wriggle room in your second half. Pole dance in hot pink lycra if that's your thing. Or quietly live out a lavender life. All it asks is that you come from a place of love in everything you do -- for yourself, for others, and for life itself. Nothing outdated about that!