Sunday, April 25, 2010

Aging Gracefully ... Or Not

I received an invitation recently to a reunion of an organization I belonged to almost four decades ago. This was followed by one of those moments that I experience often at this stage of my life. I was semi-attracted to the event, but after a brief reverie, I wondered if my interest was more about being remembered rather than in actually attending.

It occurred to me that a dear friend had also been a member at the same time, so I e-mailed her asking for her thoughts on the relevance of the event to us. This was her response:

I am semi-interested, but I will have to lose 50 pounds, get a facelift and tummy tuck, dye my hair or wear a wig, find a fashion designer who has the expertise and experience to outfit me in a flattering way – if there is such a person – and learn to walk in high heels again, but let me think about it.

Her ready sense of humor highlighted the challenge of being a female senior citizen in a society that tries every day using any means possible to deny, hide and slow signs of the aging process. It’s very easy now with plastic surgery, liposuction, breast and hair implants, hair dyes, as well as fashion savvy and health spas, to elect to remove a few wrinkles or several or more decades of normal wear and tear.

Being members of the rare birds species that have embraced natural aging as part of being born into life on this planet, we stand out like Oprah at a Kitty Kelley book signing. I often wonder if others look upon our courageous stand as being a healthy and balanced way of accepting what is, or as old fogies who don’t have the guts to move with the high-tech-Avatar times and go for all the gusto with every high-tech means at our disposal.

While many seniors have accepted that the obvious signs of aging, such as grey hair, liver spots, memory loss, lack of energy and gravity’s relentless pull, are reminders that no one makes it out of this adventure alive, millions of others are in a fevered rush to stop the march of time – or at least that part we can see. We’re living in an era when the nearly-dead and newly-weds can look about the same.

Evidently everybody didn’t get the same memo, which is that we’re here on Earth to learn how life really works. In order to do that we need to fully embrace each stage of life and glean the lessons from it. In this way we discover what is truly important, and can live better lives and die better deaths.

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Woody Allen: "I’m not afraid to die; I just don’t want to be there when it happens." Maybe fear of dying is one of the motivators behind the frantic search for the fountain of youth. But the truth is that no matter how young we can manage to look, when our time comes we’re still going to die.

Being human, when I look at a photo of me in the bloom of youth, I feel a twinge for what was. Yet I wouldn’t trade one wrinkle to try to reverse time, actually or artificially. It is meant for us to become more real and authentic and to express more of the spiritual beings we were born to be. We need to embrace every season of life and learn everything we can from our experiences.

I believe that the perks in seeking to age naturally, gracefully and healthfully are freedom, peace, power and wisdom. We use the wisdom gained to choose what is for our highest and best good. With freedom and power we claim that right and decline everything else. This brings us an inner peace that is priceless.

I e-mailed back to my friend: Forget abut struggling into Spanx and forcing your feet into shoes you haven’t worn since your grandson’s college graduation. Give thanks for elastic waistbands and take a deep breath – your brain will love it. By declining this invitation, we can be in our pajamas that evening by 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm at the latest, enjoying a healthful dinner of our choice and watching PBS or reading a new book. Let’s talk. LOL
Copyright © 2010 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s books: “Tea with Elisabeth,” “The Heart Knows the Way,” and “You Can Live A Balanced Life In An Unbalanced World,” are available at and other online booksellers, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Believe in the Miracle of Life

When we can accept the fact that we live in a loving, miraculous universe and can align with the awareness of that, miracles of all types abound and surround us, including those in nature. The miracles I’m talking about often occur in quiet ways – and if you aren’t open to such gifts you would miss seeing them because they can come and go in an instant.

For example, today as I walked across the grass to the mailbox, I was stopped by a vibrant ball of red energy that hovered before me about a foot in front of my eyes. As I focused, I realized it was a tiny, chubby hummingbird with a ruby red throat. I was transfixed in amazement. When I slowly reached out my hand as a perch, it moved and hovered closely over it. I don’t remember hearing the movement of its wings, or thinking anything. I was just totally present in the moment. Then the tiny bird whirled and it was gone.

Yesterday the workmen completed the required drainage work on my patio and at dusk all the furniture and potted plants had been returned to their appointed places or close to it. Naturally, I was out there bright and early this morning to do some fine-tuning.

My kids tend to humorously dismiss the time I spend in my beloved garden as “just puttering around.” Someday they will realize that showing up in nature, as in life, and being conscious and aware is the key to experiencing magical happenings.

This day was no exception. As I leaned down to admire the new catch basin, I sensed movement under the large glider-swing and bent over a little more so that I could see what it was. There were two tiny baby bunnies, the smallest and youngest I had ever seen. I was thrilled and welcomed them with a gentle soothing voice, which I hoped would reassure them. It didn’t, so I quietly walked to the other end of the patio.

As I embraced the moment and watched the playful bunnies, I recalled a few of the many miracles I have experienced in nature through the years. One day I noticed a small bird’s nest outside my bedroom window and from my perspective the only occupant looked like a medium-size worm. It was interesting that an adult hummingbird visited the nest a number of times during the day, and before long the “worm” turned out to be a baby hummingbird. From then on I was enthralled and watched every day, and was there front row, center when the baby hummingbird took its first and last flight from the nest. The mom and offspring never returned. Another time I was stunned to find a family of desert owls had taken up residence in our carob tree, and they stayed there for a week. This was the first time I had ever seen an owl outside of a zoo.

Similarly I had never seen a raccoon until a family of them moved into our yard, and left their distinctive paw prints on the skylight as they scampered across the roof at night.

For the past several years, in the early spring, a quail couple has set up housekeeping in one of my larger flower pots producing twelve baby quail the first year and seventeen the next. During the first event, my sister was visiting and together we watched the dozen baby quail either rappel down the asparagus fern fronds or simply bail out and land in soft plumps on the brickwork. Each time I watched in pure joy and delight as the tiny quail moved in unison as a quivering and wriggling mass of life energy while learning from their parents how to survive their first day on Earth.

In my experience, being in alignment with the universal life force-energy-God, and consciously directing our positive thoughts and prayers toward realizing good opens the way for marvelous things to occur in all areas of our lives. As this becomes a habit, we begin to train our minds to contemplate, to pay attention and to expect good. As our trust increases, we not only believe in miracles we can rely on them.
Copyright © 2010 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s books: “Tea with Elisabeth,” “The Heart Knows the Way,” and “You Can Live A Balanced Life In An Unbalanced World,” are available at and other online booksellers, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.