Let me introduce Sallie K. Brown as our guest blogger. Sallie K is a promising writer, a wise and experienced advisor, and my sister! She’ll be writing a blog every few weeks about life, meaning, and aging well. Join me in welcoming her to this blog group.
I'm so pleased to be able to share some thoughts with you today on this blog that encourages all of us to age well. To embrace and celebrate life, and to examine the struggles of growing older with honesty and insight.
I find myself, like many baby boomers, navigating a bewildering space of life in which I am struggling with how to respect the individual choices and journeys of children, grandchildren and parents, while asserting my own choices, and following my own path through life. It is often a challenge for me to take a step back and see that what I want for my loved ones is not necessarily what they want and is not always (dare I admit it?) the best choice. So, yes, I can be a bit bossy, but I also have a deep love for my family and a desire for them to find happiness in their lives, so I work on letting go and trusting them.
I have a hard time letting go. My firstborn child was killed nine years ago, at twenty-nine years old. Her own journey was cut short, suddenly and violently. She never gets a chance to learn…to heal…to grow, to follow those dreams that were in her heart. The empty space in my life that is created by her death causes me to hold on tighter, and to fear letting any of my loved ones stray too far away from what appears to be safety. Rationally, I acknowledge that I am unable to keep anyone safe from the consequences of random events or their own choices. Oh, but there are times when I long to have that power, and it is a constant struggle to stop myself from rushing in when I perceive danger ahead for those I care about. That struggle impacts my own journey and often stops me in my tracks, when it would benefit me most to keep moving. Still, I'm grateful for the responsibility I feel towards my family, and for the caretaking I've been privileged to do. My life is fuller and holds more meaning because of the close connections I share.
It is a fine line we walk in this life of sharing our journey with others and remembering that we are all in this together, while acknowledging and respecting that we are also walking our own path alone. And no one can take that individual journey for us.
As long as I am still breathing, my journey lies before me and I must choose to follow it. Or not. It is a conscious choice. If you've lost sight of a dream, a goal, or your plan for the future, it isn't gone. It's still there, still within reach, like a rarely traveled path waiting for the first footsteps, beckoning you to follow. Begin that journey today. You only get one.