I’ve always been happy to have been born when I was – even if it does seem like a long time ago! Being at the leading edge of the Baby Boomers has been a good ride – sometimes it was a roller coaster, others a slow easy bike ride. I’m no longer distressed at the pace of technology and my inability to keep up. I don’t’ mind NOT looking at hundreds of channels, mastering the nuances of my phone or the internet and social media. I let myself pick and choose what’s relevant for me. I don’t even mind the comments about boomers! I have been reflecting of late about the changes in later life, health and its connection to aging – like retirement, medical break throughs, the psychology of not being in the main stream anymore, to name a few. One of the things that has stood out to me, particularly since the pandemic, is how do we continue to ‘fit into’ the world as it rapidly evolves. How do we manage change and not feel overwhelmed, irrelevant or all alone? I don’t have a lot of ‘earth’ in my astrological chart, (mostly water and air), but I think feeling grounded or anchored is a key to navigating our evolving world successfully.
What "Anchors" do we need?
We don’t have to be in the Navy or even own a boat to need a few anchors… they’re virtual anchors but you get the idea. Anchors are parts of ourselves and lives that hold us in place, help define who we are and provide reassurance that we matter. Examples of virtual anchors might include:
Town where we live
Church or spiritual practice
You can name more virtual anchors, I’m sure. So, what happens if we weigh anchor (willingly or not) and start to drift? There is the feeling we are no longer in control (we all weighed anchor when the pandemic hit, for instance.) What happens when we retire, a partner departs, we move to a new house or town, or experience a significant health issue. In other words when life pulls up the anchor on us? How do we get that solid footing back?
Losing my Anchor with Ageism
I learned about this the hard way about 7 years ago. I weighed anchor and moved to an island with my secure job. Three months later my colleagues and I were laid off after being told we had done the best job yet - in the 8 years we’d been providing a wellness program to a major corporation. I felt pretty lost without my work identity (anchor), not to mention being separated from my ‘homies’ by a ferry ride and knowing almost no one on the island. All of a sudden, in the grayest time of year, I was home all day alone trying to figure out Medicare, Social Security and unemployment as my new hobbies! And no one wanted to hire me as a health coach even though I was amply qualified for the job openings to which I applied.
It was my first ageism experience. Around this same time, I was asked by a friend of my youngest daughter if I would mind being interviewed for an article she was writing about “Finding Work Past the Age of 60”. I said “sure, but she might not like my answers.’ It was a nice interview and my opinion was that it’s REALLY hard to get hired if you’re over 60. My interviewer laughed ruefully and said she had determined from all her interviewees that the best way to be employed after 60 was to start your own business! Ageism again!
So, below I share a few simple steps that helped me get some new virtual anchors (and better/new hobbies).
How to set your own virtual anchors
Don’t be an island
Reach out to people, family and friends and talk about what you are experiencing or need. There is so much going on it’s impossible to be aware of it all ourselves. Other people are fabulous resources and their kindness and concern are wonderful as well. The collective creativity I encountered was amazing! I do admit to having to push myself a bit, even though I’m an extrovert.
Think back to what you used to love doing
When we spend a lot of time in the service of others through our job as we are earning a living or taking care of the family it’s easy to forget about our own original identity. Make a list of ten things you would like to do/try… start a business, work at a favorite charity, take a class in that subject you loved back in school, learn guitar or wood-working, write a book – or at least your memoirs! Maybe there are things you remember wanting to do that are no longer possible in the exact way you might like… becoming an opera singer is no longer an option but you could buy season tickets, design an opera vacation, volunteer as an usher at the local company, study the lives of current star singers…and sing arias in the shower. You got this!
This can be a tough one since we want to revert to our creature comforts when we are under stress – a.k.a. lose an anchor – and that might include our less than stellar habits. The fact that we’ve worked in the service of others for decades and put ourselves last doesn’t make it easy either. Think of how you would take care of a race horse if you owned one – the best food, vet care, exercise, rest…now treat yourself as if you are that horse!
Reconnect with nature
Get outside! This is easy to do, assuming your neighborhood is safe, and helps us be more grounded. You could cook a meal with all fresh ingredients; go for a walk just to appreciate being out in nature, check out the local farmers market, work in the yard or plant a garden. (Boxes work great if you are in a small space. They can even be on legs to save your back!)
Find like-minded people
If you like bike riding, gardening, quilting, volunteering, singing, walking, photography or ?? look on the internet to find a group to join. Having a common interest will help break the ice and you won’t revert to watching TV reruns with a pint of ice cream nearby because you’re feeling shy! If you can’t remember what it is you like to do for fun think back to your younger days…were you artistic, athletic or an activist? There are people already out there having fun and you can join them!
Those are some tips that helped me feel back at anchor and in charge of my life. If you feel adrift give one or more of them a try. I’d be happy to help you figure it all out!
Make that list of 10 things you’d like to do or try and start setting your anchors!
Claire Denise is the founder of Positive Aging and takes pride in promoting lifestyle as a tool to improve your health/resilience. She has 20 years of experience as a personal trainer, nutritionist, health coach, and yoga instructor. Her classes are easy, informative, and fun.
If you would like to increase your potential lifespan, have healthier activities, and feel younger again, then join the Positive Aging Community today and get your first BrainEx session free!