The greatest gift aging presents is the wisdom allowing us to become our most authentic selves.

I believe that the greatest gift aging presents is the wisdom allowing us to become our most authentic selves. Over the span of my 30 year career, I’ve met many people—myself included—who have hidden under layers of personas. We don masks to hide the real self in lieu of pleasing individuals who gave us messages that they thought would serve us throughout our lives. It usually starts with our parents. It is a shame that parenting skills are not taught as part of our education since this is one of the most important things we could learn.

Instead we often parrot what we heard growing up. Most parents try to do the best they can. My Mother shared many of her positive attributes with me. But she also shared many of her fears. I was an only child and she tried to protect me as if I was made of glass. Not a day went by without her cautioning me about something. Following are some typical comments : “Stop moving so much, you’re going to hurt yourself”. “Don’t run with that stick in your hand, you’ll poke your eye out!” “ What will people say if you act silly?”. As I got older I started to realize that a some of her “fear tapes” had elements of humor around them.

If you run around with a stick in your hand you can’t poke your eye out, but you can poke it in. The worry that “they” might see you do anything is ludicrous, since I don’t know who “they” are. I have met so many people who discount their own needs in deference to a group of individuals they have never met or seen.

I used to clean my house until it looked like something out of a museum, mostly out of fear that someone unexpected might come over. I should have put a velvet rope across the front door. What a waste of energy! Unfortunately the messages we heard as children become embedded in our brains and we often act on them automatically. That’s why it becomes very difficult to change our behaviors. The voices of others become our own and then we use them on our friends and families. How many of you have said “ Wow, I’m starting to sound like my mother or father.

It’s not easy to find our uniqueness. It takes courage and tenacity. We have to decide what messages we should keep and which ones we should discard. I am grateful to a community of relatives for much of what they taught me, but I have also realized that I can choose to follow my own path even though I know many of them would not have approved. I still don’t know who “they” are, and furthermore I don’t care!

Too much of a good thing….is TOO much.

Have you been to the movies lately? Can you please tell me what’s going on with the size of the snacks? They ask me what size popcorn I want and when I say small, they respond by telling me that if I get a large, I can get refills. I’m sure some of you have seen the “large”. How can one person eat a portion of popcorn that is enough for a herd of goats, let alone go back for more? It would make sense if I’m sharing it with a few people, but I have noticed that a fair number of folks are watching a movie while clutching their tub of popcorn.

Of course you must have a drink to wash it down with. So now you get your choice of small, medium, or large. I naively thought that a small would be “small”. Well, I was wrong! A small beverage in movie terminology is analogous to a swimming pool for Gerbils. The large is big enough for a family to use white water rafting. Imagine people navigating the hallway to the movie and trying to open the door and sit down while balancing the tub and the drink? It’s like watching a Cirque du soleil act with bumbling performers.

The size of movie snacks is just one little symbol of something that’s become epidemic in this country. We believe that more is better in everything we do, buy, eat or see. We take everything to extreme. Why does anyone need a “super-sized” portion of french fries? I’ve been in restaurants where my entrée could have fed a family of seven. It seems that the average American snacks every 45 minutes. Isn’t that what cows do? Look how easy it’s become to eat throughout the day? Wherever you look there’s a drive through for some type of food or drink. Who over would have predicted we would be eating in our cars? Perhaps the next invention will a vending machine you can have implanted in your body filled with all kinds of snacks.

Food isn’t the only thing to become extreme. There are types of exercises that are purported to make you as strong as a Navy Seal. I don’t know about you but I’m fine being able to lift groceries, garden, clean the house and take a walk. Going further then that is a choice, but you do have to keep in mind that overusing your body parts can make you a candidate for replacement surgeries.

The social media trend is part of the excess. Not only do we have to do everything to extreme, but then we have to report it as well. How about discovering a little moderation? My Mother often reminded me that “too much of a good thing, was too much”! I think she was right.