By Icy Frantz

Cracking, creaking, and clicking out of bed early this morning, I awake to that familiar feeling – fatigue. Yet again, a good night’s sleep has eluded me.

I grab my cell phone from its charger and head towards the bathroom, a room that I frequented over the past eight hours. My lower back reminds me that it is tight as I gaze into the mirror – “Who is this person, and what did you do with that bright-eyed, bushy-tailed blonde young thing I used to know?”

This is how I start most days – in awe of the passage of time, in combat with sore and stiff muscles, and in wonder – what now?

Because as body appendages are becoming less recognizable, like an old rusty clunker puttering around the block, I have noticed a shift in some of my beliefs and attitudes and these changes, however, are more appreciated, like a classic automobile out for a spin.

Ever since I bought my first readers at 40, I have become cognizant of novel aches and body parts falling apart, and no matter the number of green drinks, vitamins, red and blue lights, exercise classes, and general healthy living, things aren’t what they used to be. It’s more maintenance for scarcer results.

It may sound a little crazy, but often I think of myself as 60, even though I am not quite there. “You are doing alright for a sixty-year-old,” I tell myself.

And I read all the advice columns – What To Expect When You Are 60. It’s like taking out a new car for a test drive before purchasing it. How does it feel? Does it hug the road? Are the brakes too sensitive? Are the wheels aligned? 60 scares me, and I need to know that it’ll be okay before it happens.

All that being said, it is not my intention to whine about this natural process called aging. I am a part of it – and that is a privilege and it’s fascinating, really – and there are some wonderful psychological changes that I did not expect. I have traded in some old beliefs and habits for new ones.

When I was younger, I wanted everyone to like me (not just my dogs). Actually, I needed everyone to like me. I could walk into a room and find the one person who didn’t like me, and I would go to work morphing and mutating myself, hoping for better results. Usually, my efforts were in vain, and I would sulk.

Today, the not-yet 60-year-old me is unwilling to become a contortionist to win your heart. It’s not that I don’t care, but rather I have accepted reality – I am not going to be everyone’s jam, and I am grateful for my people, my pit crew (and my dogs).

Put down the sword. I read these words a few weeks ago – I can’t remember where (which is a common occurrence and indicative of my, ummm, “maturing” mind) – and I realized that mostly I had done just that. I am simply not interested in fighting anymore.

Not to say that I was overly combative in my younger years (okay, maybe a little), but these days I strive for more peace and less confrontation. I am not reluctant to voice my opinions – I am just less committed to bringing you out of the dark side.

And when I put down the sword, my ability to listen improves. A true win-win.

“How do you do it all?” is a question I have been asked more than once, and I used to find my worth in this question. I was busy – very busy. I liked busy. I was proud of busy. There was honor in busy. Sometimes, I was just busy to be busy.

And maybe I wondered, who would I be if I wasn’t so busy.

I no longer do it all. In fact, I’ve spent the past few months stepping down from several long-term commitments; most of them had run their course.

More importantly, though, today I am mindful of my time, and discerning about the way I spend it. Maybe I know that as an almost 60-year-old, my time left is not as plentiful as it once was, and I want to spend it doing the things I love, with the people I love (and the dogs I love).
And speaking of time – I want more moments when I feel alive, truly alive. I know that sounds a little cliché, but it’s true. Those moments aren’t superficial, spent worrying about how I look or engaging in small talk at a cocktail party.

Those moments are more profound – deep in relationships that are vulnerable, appreciating the natural beauty that is our world, feeling close to God, taking a risk that terrifies me, and being in service to assist or help another human being.

Those moments can take your breath away (also cliché).

Sometimes, they can be challenging (spent at the bedside of an ailing family member or friend) or they can be ecstatic (dancing on a crowded dance floor to a song that carries a thousand memories or just out for a joyride on a beautiful sunny afternoon, windows down, music blaring). Often those moments bring new perspectives on life and how to live it.

And finally, these days I think a lot about impact – my impact – not the loud crushing sound of cars colliding, but the subtle kind that involves our own stories bumping into each other.

Because that kind of collision and connection can create a fresh kind of energy that is both life-sustaining and life-fulfilling.

So, it’s true, sometimes I look in the mirror first thing in the morning and wonder, how did I get here? I am not always 100% comfortable with the physical changes that have accompanied my journey, and I am fearful. I want to slam on the brakes and put the gears in reverse – if only I could find my keys.

But with this new phase comes new thinking, and for that I am grateful. So, rev your engines – lets go.

Icy Frantz
The Icing on the Cake

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