It’s my birthday today! I am 54 – a grand age to be. It’s early doors and I am propped up in a hotel room, my lovely love is snoring uproariously next to me – and the corridor outside is clomping to life as our fellow guests and the cleaners yomp up an down – some off to an early breakfast, some turning up for the morning’s turn down.
We are on a jolly. It was a mystery birthday surprise. A weekend break in a lovely, old market town. Later there will be brunch – much mooching around the Saturday market and the op-shops*. Bliss.
Birthdays can be tricky – I love them. I have never feared getting older. My waistline expands and contracts over the years – I am currently on a reduction cycle but I’ve no illusions that I will make it to the skinny arsed wonderment of yore. I’ll be happy this time with fitter, bendier, stronger and leaner than I am right now.
This year’s promise to myself is to be firmer and more lithe at my next birthday than I am today.
I love being in my 50s. I care less for the gaze of others – I have grown into my eccentricity. I find more and more women who inspire and delight me and they are all wildly colourful makers and shakers. I tip my flowered crown to the Gorgeousareans that march about in their beautiful motley – cocking two snoots at the world that would have them fade to beige. Bugger off!
I am also less inclined to give any quarter to ideas and opinions that don’t serve me. I’m not sure I can pin this down – but what it amounts to in some ways is that I have become deaf and blind to the judgements of others – I think this is the true delight of ageing – if you are fortunate enough to be able to embrace it.
I’ve just been reading about two people who have lived without money for 20 years – modern day mendicants. The comments under the short article about them were revealing. They were split between those who felt inspired by a message of love and acceptance and trust – manifest in the way these two people walked their talk – and those who were angry that their own life choices were apparently undermined by a couple who didn’t acknowledge that they were able to have a money free adventure BECAUSE of those of us who don’t eschew cash and are able to give them food and shelter.
I have always been intrigued by people who choose to live in ‘poverty’ – that’s a totally loaded notion – of course they would dispute that – they have chosen to live without possessions including a permanent home. The level of trust in yourself and the world that you need to pull it off is immense. So I find it inspiring.
I’m not about to take a vow of poverty. Good heavens no. Not while there are shoes and flowers and colouring in books to acquire. However I am attracted to the idea that the more trust I put in myself and my deep ‘knowing’ about what is right for me and what is nurturing for my well being – the happier and more fulfilled I will be and ultimately the more productive and loving I will be.
It’s this that exercises my noodle.
I have a host of deeply connected, spiritually robust friends who practice this art through different disciplines. Art, permaculture, meditation, astrology, writing, loving, giving, making music and rituals. What I observe in all of them is a willingness to trust themselves. It seems to me that what they trust is their heart.
In order to understand what your heart is advising you must have moments of silence in you life. You probably should have that every day – but at the very least on a weekly basis. Time aside for just being with yourself – quietly with no distractions. No requirements either – just time to get quiet – to breath deeply and to listen.
If you are a ‘busy’, noisy person – this can feel like an impossible undertaking. Like anything worth doing – it can take some practice to get there. I’m not talking about fancy pants mantras, or hard-core zazen – I’m just inviting us all to spend some quality time with ourselves. Being quiet – breathing deeply and letting go into trust.
Women need to do this to stay sane! I’m pretty sure chaps need to do it too – but I’m less au fait with the inner workings of yer bloke. Mine seems easy to operate. Good food, much laughter, regular sex, fresh air and uninterrupted time to listen to/watch cricket and rugby. He’s not troubled by existential angst – or worrying about what shirt goes with which pair of jeans.
I may be doing him a disservice.
I do know that I am a bird and I have buckled in the past under the weight of expectation and judgement about what I should look like, eat, say, work as or be. As I have aged. I have begun to trust my own promptings on all of those scores and am far less interested in outside notions. We live in a time where increasingly anything goes – and conversely that for me means getting way way clearer about what I want to experience.
Where I’ve ended up then – in my birthday address – (*snark) – is that I like being 54. I shall be wearing more flowers in my hair, and indulging my heart’s promptings. I plan to be more constructive with my time alone. By which I mean spending some of it in true silence and contemplation – rather than filling it with the telly, radio, mindless online fiddle faddle.
I would like to write more, swear less – which is proving more difficult than I would have thought, and be physically and mentally stronger as I prance forth into my next set of adventures. I don’t mind slowing down a bit as I get older – but I do mind just getting lazy and mindless.
This year – I promise myself to be more mindful. I am pretty sure that this simple promise will deliver me everything I need to become more trusting of my self and more genuinely productive in service to my friends and family and community.
Happy birthday to me and to my elder sister J.
We are golden X
*I use the Aussy word(s) for charity shop – because I like the idea of Opportunity Shops… I am currently sporting a full length cashmere coat and a luxurious, huge, faux fur wrap – under £10.00 for the two! I look like a million bucks. So I do.
The beautiful headdress in the pic is by Pearls and Swine – a talented hat maker and one of the honoured colour tribe. This is on my birthday wish list!