A Plate of Thoughts and A Batch of Wishes: Choosing Joy at 60

Sixty. Not middle age. Nope, that was way back in our forties. Sixty is quickly inching its way to the finish line. Remember gas gages when we first learned to drive? Back before digital indicators estimated miles and calculated gallons? During the mid-seventies in a huge metal car filled with girls, we’d all throw in fifty cents at the gas station, because after the plastic arrow made its way past half, it seemed to quickly find empty. Yes, gravity played a part, but we felt safer as we cruised around town on a tank half full rather than half empty.

Sixty has me pondering that gas gage, gravity and all. No expensive moisturizer, hair dye, or super food will slow the descent. These past sixty years have provided me with tremendous wonder and heart-breaking grief. I would like to think I’ve learned from my missteps, yet I continue stumble my way through it all.

Age was revered in certain ancient cultures. Older women possessed sought-after wisdom, but Western society tends to ignore us. In an episode during the first season of Grace and Frankie, a Netlflix series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin that follows the reluctant yet enduring friendship of two women of a certain age, the characters are trying to get the attention of a young sales clerk. He, though, only has eyes for the lovely young woman in front of him. Frankie grabs their goods and leaves the store without paying. Grace is appalled Frankie has stolen property, but Frankie responds, “We’re invisible now! It’s our super power. Let’s use it!”

I am learning to acknowledge the plastic arrow dropping toward E, but I will fight to give meaning to that time left on the gage. Using my newfound wisdom and superpowers, I look forward with glorious anticipation to filling the calendar with joy. And now I am offering up a plate of thoughts and a batch of wisdom, because this old lady may be invisible, but, damn, I know a few things.

A Plate of Thoughts:

  1. Life can be damn hard, but it can also be oh so lovely. Joy often presents itself in the darkest of times. I remember my family’s laughter as we gathered and prepared for Dad’s funeral almost ten years ago. The wine flowed, our Dad stories topped one another, and we ended up holding each other up through our tears. It was exquisitely beautiful in its simplicity.

  2. Books have saved my life. The great storytellers’ (and not so great) words often speak to me when I need it, even if I’m not looking for what they have to offer. William Shakespeare, Pat Conroy, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, J.K. Rowling, and others have guided me through heartache, grief, and helped me navigate difficult times.

  3. Music. Oh, music, my life would be so quiet and lonely without you. Music has been an integral part of my life since I was a little girl listening to Dad’s records on the living room stereo console. I’m not a musician, yet music lifts me. And if you see me rocking out in the car, just wave and know I’m not crazy…yet. 

  4. Never underestimate simple kindness: a smile, a generous tip, holding a door open. – Kindness offers a piece of our hearts to the world. Holding hate requires so much effort. Let it go and see how much lighter you feel. 

  5. Be present. Our time is worth more than gold, which today is worth $1204.65 an ounce. There’s no such thing as “too busy.” A text, a phone call, a quick visit can be cherished. Give the gift of your presence.

  6. A few true friends mean more than hundreds of acquaintances. I hold my friends close, and I’ve chosen to step back from those who don’t give my life joy and purpose.

  7. Don’t be afraid to love your imperfections. Our cracks make us human. Each wrinkle, gray hair, and chipped tooth tells a story.

  8. Trust the voices in your head. They know best. I know from experience. Those dang voices are smart cookies.

  9. Forgive. Forgiveness is a tough one for me. I love to hang onto grudges. Resentment and blame offer sanctification, yet when I let go, I’m free.

  10. Graciously step away from things, events, and people that no longer serve you.

  11. Don’t worry so much – it steals precious time.

  12. Don’t concern yourself with what others think of you. It is none of your business.

  13. Accept you are doing your genuine best. Stop second-guessing yourself. Know everything you do is with love.

  14. Being alone is good. Quiet heals. Breathe in peace.

  15. Listen with genuine interest. Don’t always think about what you are going to say next. Listen. Ask questions. Listen.

  16. Don’t go into a relationship thinking the other person can or will change. Often people show you who they are at the beginning and change is not possible. Don’t waste your time or your heart.

  17. Acknowledge your pain, your grief. Do not let other dictate when it is time to move on or get over it. You are on your own journey.

  18. Respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha sang it best. Respect other’s views. Respect other’s beliefs. Respect other’s paths. Respect yourself.

  19. Hate cripples. Jealousy bruises. Blame weakens.

  20. Pretty is not the same as beautiful. I’ve known pretty people. I’ve known beautiful people. Beautiful is your heart, your soul, your kindness, your love. Be beautiful.

A Batch of Wishes:

  1. Let go of hurt, rejection, neglect, and expectations. Lighten my load. Free myself.

  2. Know MY heart is joyful and true.

  3. Always be on the lookout for wonder – in nature, food, music, friends, family, and pie.

  4. Don’t let fear write my story. Hold tight to hope, because without hope, there is no future.

  5. Love with abandon. Throw my arms wide open, expose my vulnerable side, and believe. 

  6. Let go of prejudice, judgment, and narrow thinking.

  7. Open myself to change, to new ideas, to admit I have been wrong, and then move on. Don’t live with regrets.

  8. Never stop learning: about others, about myself, about the world.

  9. Embrace my gifts. Don’t be afraid to share with the world.

  10. Love. Love. Love.

Yes, I will always be drunk on love…cooking in the kitchen, dancing in front of the fire, baking pies, enjoying Christmas lights, walking in the snow, singing like a crazy woman in the car, holding my family and friends close. It makes me dizzy with joy, this love. It is how I choose to live out my days. Who wants to join me?

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” – Maya Angelou

Oh, hear my prayer tonight, I’m singing to the sky
Give me strength to raise my voice, let me testify
Oh, hear my prayer tonight, ‘cause this is do or die
The time has come to make a choice
And I choose joy
Let it move you, let it move, let it move you
Yeah, I choose joy
Let it move you, let it move, let it move you
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of night
Oh, with You by my side, I’m stepping into the light
I choose joy
Let it move you, let it move, let it move you

— “Joy” by King & Country Songwriters: Ben Glover / Joel Smallbone / Luke Smallbone / Matthew Hales / Seth Mosley / Stephen Kanicka / Tedd Tjornhom

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