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I want to be a rock-climbing grandma. Yes, I know that is many decades away – but there is a vision I have of me being an 80-year-old hip and feisty, rock-climbing grandma.  Why rock climbing?  I don’t know… as a matter of fact, I haven’t even taken up the sport yet.

As for the whole concept of aging – well, let’s face reality:  time keeps on ticking.  There isn’t really a way to ‘win the game.’  This whole hyper-fascination with age – I think most of it’s really all in our heads.

However, there is a difference between a person’s chronologic age and their physiologic age.  And since I can’t change the first, I am putting my bets on the second.  I want to be healthier in my 40’s than I was in my 20’s.  I want to be happier in my 50’s than I was in my 30’s.  I want the quality of my life to make the anticipated quantity worthwhile.  Simply put: I want to play full out.

No one can deny that time passes and that we all get older.  But I’m happy to say that after years of writing that one of my goals was to be in the best shape of my life, I can finally say that it’s true.  It astounds me that I am stronger at 37 than I was as a varsity athlete, but it’s simply the truth.  As for all those years that I set the goal without achieving it… well, I didn’t take action to make it happen.  Now I do.  I work out harder (and smarter!), I eat better, I take more time for myself, I invest quality time in the relationships that mean the most to me, and I take time to have fun.  It’s my recipe for success.  Simple but powerful.

After almost 10 years in practice, it never ceases to amaze me how many people state that they feel old ‘because they are in their 30’s’.  They chalk it up to aging, without looking at their lifestyle, stress levels, or how long they have neglected their health, been inactive or eaten garbage disguised as food.  Of course our bodies slow down with age, just not to the degree that most people think.  The sad truth is that by the time people reach their 30’s, many have already accumulated decades of poor habits. I’d feel old if I did those things, too.

What I remind them is that they are designed to be extraordinary;  that we never lose the natural drive within for our bodies to move towards health when given what it needs. 

Feeling old, tired, stressed?  It doesn’t have to be a life sentence. That, too, can change.  It takes time, effort and consistency, but believe me – you’re worth it.

I believe that age is relative.  And while I can’t change the number of days I’ve walked this earth, I can certainly take responsibility for the quality of those days and the quality of my own health. It doesn’t even fit to say that I want to age gracefully.  No, I want to age vibrantly.

Vi-brant / Adverb : full of energy and enthusiasm.

So here it is:  I want to live to be 100+, with great quality of life.  I want to be one of those grandmas that are feisty, and full of life.  I want to live my life to the fullest, traveling around the world, having new experiences, being a lifelong learner and all while making an impact in my community and profession.  And the vision that solidifies that for me is being an 80-year-old rock-climbing grandma.  Maybe it’s the idea of taking up an outdoor, physically challenging sport that I didn’t grow up doing.  Maybe it’s the idea of pushing the limits.   Maybe it’s an image that fits for trying to prove a point.  Or maybe it’s just that I want to feel that I have lived my life to the fullest for all of my days.  No regrets.  Nothing left on the table.

SkydivingGrandma_7-21-11

At the end of my days, I’d like to ask myself:  Have I played full out?  Have I given my life all I’ve got?  And the only answer I expect to hear is a resounding YES.

If I break it down, I realize that I spent roughly a decade playing as a young child, another one experimenting as a teenager, another one growing through the school/career/marriage/babies stage, and this one discovering more about who I am and what I want to do in this lifetime.  Even if I only live to 80, I’m not even half way there.  And that’s kind of exciting.  So much time to use, to learn, to explore, to make a difference – and ultimately to make the most of.

Worried about aging?  Hell, no.  I’m just getting started!

(And for the record: Ethan and Audra started rock-climbing classes this week.  I’m almost giddy to join them.  Oh yeah…. it begins…)