A Letter to My Older Self

A few weeks ago, we read a wonderful article about writing a letter to your younger self. The idea behind that seems to relate to honoring the wisdom and growth we are blessed with as the years pass, and that with a dose of self-compassion. My immediate thought was to turn this upside down and write a letter to my older self, so she knows that I am living with all the wisdom I have now to support who I am becoming.

Loving My Older Self

I am about to turn 76, so I am reflecting on the woman I will be at 96. We know that our beliefs about aging influence the quality of our lives as we age. For example, if you believe it is normal for an 80-year-old to go on an active vacation with kayaking and hiking, then it is likely that you will do that yourself, and live the lifestyle that supports doing so.

So, the question is, what do I believe about this 96-year-old woman I will become? This is not about imagining what I hope for; it is about having a clear vision of the women I intend to create in the next two decades of my life.

Let’s look at it in terms of the life areas that influence the quality of our aging.

Being Well on the Physical Level

We begin with physical well-being. I see myself gardening, walking, and enjoying hikes in nature although probably shorter than those that I do today. Distance is not the point; the smile on my face and in my heart is. It may well be that I have some bionic parts by then and because I take care of myself they have served me well.

Nurturing Connections

Next, I enjoy several close relationships with other women, some of them enduring over decades. Of course, some of my current friends may no longer be in this life, but certainly in my heart. It may be that I share a home with a friend. I am active in a community group. It might relate to a hobby or activity or service. The most important thing is that it is multi-generational. Just think, someone who will be my current age then is just now sending kids off to college and may be peaking in their career. I love the cycle of life!

Keeping an Explorative Mind

A third area relates to whether I live stuck in the same routine, with an increasingly narrow range of interests, or if I continue to be open to new fascinations and activities. I was born for the latter, so I can’t imagine that changing. I will still have my piles of books in varying states of being read. I will still do some things I have never done before, hoping to feel a bit of trepidation because that makes it fun. I am curious what my interests will be and what kinds of activities will feel like a leap of faith.

Bigger than Myself

Finally, I live knowing that my life is of service to others in some way. At 96, do I think I could create a container for ‘younger’ women to deepen and grow? For me, younger may be women 75 or 80! What might that look like? Can you imagine a group gathering? In what way will I be called to give back to life? This is all related to knowing that I am a part of something bigger than myself.

My Promises

Here is my letter to “myself in 20 years.” Doing this turned out to be an emotional experience. It certainly deepens the meaning of what I choose each day.

Dear Ardith,

I already love who you are – kind, present, wise and loving. I know you feel happy, you are at peace, your life has meaning, and you continue to contribute and inspire. So, I want to assure you that I am doing everything I know to do at this moment to help you be this wonderful woman. To that end, I make you the following promises.

I promise to continue to stay physically active, eat well, drink in moderation, and maintain practices that reduce stress.

I promise to monitor my health so I can make any adjustments needed promptly. You deserve healthy bones, heart and mobility.

I promise to actively nurture my relationships with friends and communities with shared interests. I will let others know that I love them and allow myself to feel love.

I promise to keep my mind active and follow my interests, however they may shift over the years. I will say “Yes” to new learning and experiences, so it is easy for you.

I promise to live in connection with something larger than myself, so each day has meaning. You will feel well pleased with your life.

With much love,

Me @76

A final thought is that no matter what unfolds in my future, keeping these promises will create the best life I can live. So, no matter when that last moment may be, I can say that I’m satisfied with how I chose to live.

What Are Your Promises?

Have you ever imagined your future self? What do you see? Have you ever thought about how you are living your life now influences the person you will become? What do you feel moved to promise your future self? She trusts you.

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