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Life in my 50s: the final frontier

Today I begin the first day of my last year in my 50s. Feels significant in some inexplicable way. I guess all the birthdays become significant, or more significant, as we age. I woke up this morning with my usual aches and pains in hips and knees and lower back, with eye issues that have become chronic, and the ability to jump out of bed becoming a distant memory, and yet I thought: I’m breathing. I woke up to see another day, another year, another birthday, and for that I am grateful. At one point this morning I remember thinking: I am now 12 years past my mother’s age when she died. Trust me, that is no small thing. And most people who have lost a parent too young totally get that.

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Only love can save the world

When I was leaving my gynecologist’s office recently, I exited the building with a younger couple leaving the same practice. I guessed that they likely were there for a pregnancy checkup and smiled at the memories of those days in my own life. As we all crossed the road, we arrived at the door to the parking garage simultaneous to a woman in a wheelchair who was being pushed by an aide. The woman, who had severe disabilities, was trying to communicate, or maybe she was in pain, and her cries were anguished and loud and continuous.

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Age & Expectations: a new Life Lines podcast is up

My new podcast is back on track. Finally! I went into hiatus immediately after my late July launch because too many other things were demanding my attention, namely the retreat I was preparing to lead, the concluding weekends of yoga teacher training, and, if I’m being perfectly honest, my inability to remember how I even managed to record and create that first episode via Garageband. (And no Olivia at home to give me pointers!)

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Seeing every day as an opportunity

When I arrived at Pyramid Life Center in the Adirondack Mountains last month to lead a retreat, I was excited but nervous. As is always the case when I lead a group, I want to be sure I give participants what they need, the spiritual nourishment they’re craving. Most times when I wrap up, I’m a bit depleted from putting out so much spiritual energy over the course of a few days, but this time I was energized and uplifted, riding a spiritual high that was fed by the 30+ people who engaged in the retreat so fully they left me awed and humbled and inspired.

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Pausing Fear, Choosing Joy

The past month has been a dance of gratitude and fear. Gratitude that, so far, my family is healthy and together under one roof — all five of us around the dinner table each night, favorite movies flickering on the TV in the evenings, coffee sipped on the deck on those warmer sunny mornings that feel like a gift. But then, often as the sun goes down or the skies cloud over, fear creeps in and, with it, an element of despair. All the “what if….” worries start to clamor for attention, pounding on the door to my heart and racing through my mind in an endless relay. Suddenly the fear of what could be overpowers the gratitude for what is.

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Defy definitions, trust your own story

Everyone has his or her own story. Our history, family, faith, environment—all of it combines to create a background story that runs through our entire life, for better or worse. Through the ups and downs, the surprise plot twists, the losses and accomplishments, we write a new chapter day by day.

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The gift of community, the joy of the tribe

The older I get, the more I like to tackle things I probably have no business tackling. In the course of the past 10 years, I’ve done everything from tennis lessons (I was never much of an athlete) to dance classes (hip hop and belly dancing, of all things), from pottery and mixed media (I was always known for being “bad” at art) to Italian lessons (Spanish was always my second language of choice). And for the pièce de résistance, I am nearing the completion of 200-hour yoga teacher training, where I am, by far, one of the oldest in the class.

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Don’t wait. Say yes.

I first got to know Sister Johanne McCarthy, C.S.J., about 18 months ago when she wrote to complain that our Albany diocesan newspaper wasn’t giving religious sisters the same treatment priests and deacons received on the obituary pages. I had to agree with her. It certainly seemed that the sisters were getting short-changed. So I joined her in advocating for equality in the obits, and that was the beginning of a beautiful-but-too-brief friendship.

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The way to ease is not easy

September always feels like the start of a new year to me, much more so than Jan. 1 ever does. It must be the perennial student in me. I can’t even resist the piles of discounted school supplies that fill every store at the end of summer. I buy at least a few neon-colored, spiral-bound notebooks and one box of perfectly pointed Crayola crayons every fall. Something about it settles my soul and makes me feel like I’ve got a blank slate and the possibility of a rainbow within reach.

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