The season of light is upon us, and with it, comes an opportunity to go within, to seek inner peace, and to take the time for solitude and reflection. Winter is the season that bids us to grow still as silent snow falls onto earth, coating trees and the landscape with frozen, glistening winter white everywhere we look.
Reflecting on the year that is about to conclude, I smile and I breathe in simple joy remembering our travels. We first went on a road trip in February driving ourselves and our little dog Winky to visit friends and family in Austin, Scottsdale, and Dallas; at each place we enjoyed their version of “Happy Hour” – a practice we have continued ever since coming home!
Then we took a bucket-list trip that I have nurtured for years – an unbelievably beautiful train trip from Vancouver to places that included Lake Louise, Calgary, and Banff. The gem of Canada, the Rocky Mountaineer train ride is luxurious, pampering, deliciously stocked with gourmet foods and beverages, and provides an unforgettable immersion into the natural beauty and majesty of the Canadian Rockies.
Finally, in July, we spent a week with family in a large beach house on Cape Cod that sleeps 14 (we filled each bed) and was situated right on the water, with two sandbars, and located near the historic town of Hyannis, home of President John F. Kennedy’s family compound. We ate lobsters in many forms (steamed, salad, lobster rolls), a local sensation, fried clams, and ice cream at a place notably called “Sundae School,” as well as a home cooked Greek meal worthy of a festival! We ate like Kings!
This year was also a time of realizing my blessings as a life coach, having met with many clients from previous years as well as new ones. Teaching the course, Conscious Aging, for the local organization, Oasis, has given me numerous chances to explore what makes life meaningful with elders who are 65 + in age. We know that good mental health relies on three things, no matter how old we are:
- Something to do – Meaningful engagements with work (volunteer or paid) and the community, or our family, that fill our hearts, minds, and spirits with energy, joy, and a sense of purpose.
- Something to love – Being with people we care for and who care for us; being involved with a sense of mission that is devoted to something greater than ourselves. Delighting in time spent on passionate hobbies, such as painting, writing, and storytelling, all bring a sense of doing what we love and contributing to others.
- Something to hope for – This one comes up more often than the other two in my Conscious Aging classes. What elders find most challenging is how to avoid becoming pessimistic, or depressed, in the face of life’s more difficult times, such as the loss of loved ones, or the loss of a career, or a familiar neighborhood. Growing old is not for sissies, and so much depends on our attitude and the ability to stay in a positive mindset that actually encourages healthy living and good habits. Counting our blessings in daily gratitude seems to be an effective way to retain youthful optimism, a sense of hopefulness for the future, and a graceful manner with others that helps attract friends and companions.
As you take stock of this soon-to-be past year, I hope you find a good measure of all three of these “somethings” worth pursuing in your own life. I send you best wishes for a beautiful holiday season. Peace be with you.