I thought it might be good to tune in to Future Barb – the 20-years-down-the-road version of myself – and see what “Older Barb” might have to say to “Current Barb.”
Of course, at age 67, I'm already what many would consider "old ," which is exactly why I entitled this "OldER Barb Talks to Current (rather than Young) Barb."
(See the very end of this article for info on the AgingBooth app I used to generate this a-little-too-likely "older Barb" photo!)
There are many factors that affect how much “tread” we’ll have left on our “tires” by the time we get to be elderly (aka downright “OLD”), and how good that tread will be. We all hope we’ll still have a lot of good tread left by then, but...
...it takes more than just hoping. What shape we’re in by the time we get to be downright old is partly out of our control, but it's partly – maybe even largely IN our control. We at least need to act like we have a good deal of influence on our future shape.
It’s regarding those things that are within our control that I wanted to hear from "Future Barb" on. I figured that, because I haven't done the best job of taking care of myself, it would very likely be hard to hear what she might have to say, but I knew I needed to tune in and listen anyway. ::HEAVY SIGH:: Indeed, she had plenty to say…
Dearest Current Barb (aka Future me),
Even though we are twenty or so years apart, we are still intricately and intimately connected by time – with you being somewhere in the middle of the rope of your life, me at the very end. And I mean that in the best of ways, with my final fling from said rope being into Eternity... and Heaven.
But since we're still here, I want to express some concerns, thoughts and requests with you.
Please know that how and if you respond to them will affect me gravely. And it is with love – for both of us – that I share them with you...
What do you want to be doing 20 years from now, and how do you want to be doing it?
Like for example… Do you want to be walking? Yes, just plain walking, like to get from the living room to the kitchen. Silly question, because of course you do, but I'm serious. If you do, how? With a walker? Slowly and painstakingly carefully? Or do you want to be walking with confidence and ease, unafraid that you'll trip any second?
Another question… Do you want to still be able to work in the kitchen? Still cook up yumminess for family gatherings and taking meals to people? Or do you want to be sitting out in the living room, hearing those in the kitchen making the meals without you, and serving them to you? – as in all the time?
By the time you’re my age, you will still – hopefully, at least – have a lot of good tread left on your tires... with hopefully much life to live, many people to bless, and many projects to do (and finish!) before you leave this world.
But this will require your body, mind, and spirit – you – to be functioning as well as you possibly can.
Remember when you fell and broke your knee in 2017, how you were unable to do anything for yourself for at least a couple of months? Remember how often you cried because of how much you hated being served all the time? It wasn't as fun as you thought being in that position might be.
In fact, it wasn't fun at all, was it?
OK, now imagine being in that condition and position, in your chair – literally – for the rest of your life!
You knew you would recover from that broken knee, and you have, but you will not be able to recover from a body that has been allowed to weaken and deteriorate past the point of no return.
Consider your grandsons’ future weddings... Do you want to be walked up the aisle in a wheelchair? Or do you want to walk up the aisle on your own two feet, with your hand tucked into your grandson’s arm – not for support, but only for sweet connection with him?
Of course you do. And to that end, I need you to get more focused on getting healthier in ALL areas of your life! And, because you are a detail person, I'm going to get very specific...
Exercise: I really need you to get more focused on doing all of the forms of exercise that you already know you should be doing: floor exercise, stretching, aerobics, walking, those exercise programs you need to get out of the CD cases and DO, and strength training at the gym.
Do as many of those types of exercise a day as possible; not just so you can check them off your list, (which I know is fun and is fine,) but to get yourself in better shape and to arrive at "Destination Me" with as much strength, flexibility, and coordination as possible.
Water: You need to drink a lot more water than you’re currently drinking as you need to get and stay better hydrated. You know this, and you know why, but you still don't drink nearly as much water as you need.
You've got all these pretty water cups; how about using them? They won't walk themselves to the sink and self-fill-up with water!
So would you, for my sake, even though you’re not wild about drinking more than the minimal amount of water, could you drink more? For me?
Lose weight: Consider how hard it is for you to get around right now... to get up, like from sitting on the floor or a low chair, or to get down onto the floor, or to squat down and find something in a lower cupboard...
Okay, now consider the condition your current body will be in in 20 years if it still has the same amount of weight on it as it does now. It will only get more difficult to do these simple tasks that are already hard for you; how much harder will they be for me?
So please, for my sake, if not yours, get your excess weight off. Work on it now! And work on it consistently.
You have ALL the tools you need to do this; you don’t need even one more idea or source of support; you have it all; the system, the approach, the tools, the prayer support, the loving accountability...
You simply need to take advantage of and put into action everything you already have and know. Please do not put it off any longer. For my sake, if not yours?
Remember: Everything Counts! For better and for worse, it truly ALL counts! Be honest enough with yourself to admit that every single bite counts, every day counts, every time you exercise counts, and every time you skip exercising counts...
So please stop putting it off until “later,” or until after you’ve had “just one more bite” – or until you've had whatever indulgence you're considering more important than getting yourself as healthy and in as good a shape as possible, ready to handle the rest of your life.
Stay mentally sharp & keep your love of learning alive: The two are intricately connected. I truly do not want to be thinking and viewing life like an old person once you're my age. Yes, I'll have a hefty number for my age, but I still want to be vibrant and young-at-heart! Especially if I reach triple digits!!! And you are the only one who can – and needs to make sure – this happens.
Keep your love of learning and your thirst for knowledge alive and growing. You are doing this very well now, but, as you get older, please KEEP at it, don’t think you know it all or that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," and thus let your love of learning dissipate and slip away – because learning is what keeps us – and will keep you – fresh and growing.
In an article by John Anderer entitled: "Study: Seniors Can Keep Memory, Brain Strong By Learning Multiple Skills Simultaneously"...
...I read the following:
"This thirst for knowledge tends to fade away as we grow old, and many people avoid learning new skills past a certain age. ... A new study finds that older adults who continue learning multiple new skills simultaneously enjoy improved memory skills and cognitive control.” [I, Older Barb, want to insert here that this sure sounds a lot like multi-tasking! Which leads me to believe that your proficiency in multi-tasking has probably done your brain a lot of good, beyond getting many things checked off your To-do list! ... Continuing with the article excerpt...]
“According to researchers ... older adults should do their best to emulate children’s learning behaviors. That is, be curious, seek out new interests, stay motivated, and find an environment and peer group that will encourage these pursuits. Ultimately, this will lead to a sharper frame of mind in old age and increased independence."
As you and I both know – we've experienced it all through life, including starting a home business, creating workshops for conventions and writing 8 books through our 24 years of homeschooling, learning doesn’t need to be in the form of classes; it can happen in many different real-life ways and with a variety of real-life teachers and mentors.
You are already always learning new things... learning to make quilts... to do a variety of ceramic techniques... learning from friends you meet with and teaching them new skills, and them teaching you new things... reading books that open your mind and understanding... being in mentoring groups... learning much and getting stretched in the world of blogging... all of which are greatly challenging and stretching you.
So, as difficult as "all the above" have been at times, please don't grow weary of this – ever – because it's one of the very things that's keeping you young-hearted and growing.
Nurture your spirit: The closer you get to my age – to being “old” – no matter how well you have taken care of your physical body, the more you are going to identify with this verse:
“Therefore we do not lose heart, become discouraged, or give up, for even though outwardly we are wearing out, our outer person is perishing, diminishing, weakening, and gradually deteriorating, yet inwardly, we ourselves – our inner men – are being renewed and made stronger day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16)
You can do everything within your power to take care of yourself – and I hope you will – but the only thing you will be able to truly preserve, that will never grow old because it is the very breath of Almighty God in you, is your spirit.
"For it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding." (Job 32:8)
So spend time with the Lord, worship Him, allow Him to work in you deeply, even where it hurts, read God’s Word, pray, abide in Him and with Him as your normal way of life... Not just where you run to when you have struggles, but where you LIVE!
"The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of ... living in His presence every day of my life, delighting in His incomparable perfections and glory. There I'll BE when troubles come. He will hide me, He will set me on a high rock out of reach of all my enemies..." (Psalms 27:4– 6)
The closer you get to stepping out of this life – out of your earthly suit – and into the next life, into the arms of Jesus, the more like Him you will look.
Do you want me – the “future you” – to be the “aroma of Christ” to those around you when you're my age? If you allow your spirit to become “old” at heart, hard, full of yourself, you will not be the aroma of Christ. You will have a stinky, full-of-self, no-fun-to-be-around smell. But not us, because...
"...we Christians have no veils over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And, as the Spirit of God works within us, we become more and more like Him." (II Cor. 3:18)
If you stay soft and pliable in the Lord’s hands and allow Him to continue to mold your heart and character to look/be/feel/sound/act like Him, then the older you get, the more you will draw people to Jesus.
And last but not least...
Don’t fear the future: Even if you look your age – as in even if you look like an actual old lady when you're an actual old lady – don’t fear getting or being here. Be your own unique, God-breathed expression of a Proverbs 31(:25) woman:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days (time) to come.”
“She is strong and graceful...”
“She is confident about the future.”
“She looks forward to the future with joy.”
“She shall rejoice in time to come.”
“...and she has no fear of old age.”
“All the above” has everything to do with walking through life hand-in-hand with our Lord and nothing to do with – in fact it precludes – walking in fear and self-centeredness.
I’m going to close with one of your recently acquired favorite songs: “One Less Day from Dying Young.” (Of course, who knows what newfangled device they’ll have to play it on by the time you get here! Maybe you’ll just close your eyes, think it, and it’ll start playing around you?)
It’s just a very profound and thought-provoking song, perfect way to wrap up the subject we've been talking about herein!
It starts: “I’m not afraid of getting older, I’m one less day from dying young...” but let's listen to the whole thing and let it sink in... (Click on the screen shot to go over to it on YouTube.)
Here's a lyrics-only version of it that does not have the visual video above; just one picture all the way through. But it's nice to have the words in case you missed some by just listening. (Both of these links take you OUT of this blog and over to YouTube. So please don’t get stuck over there! 😄 Click your back button to return here!)
But, dear Current Barb, don't just enjoy this song and exercising to it; heed the heart of it. Every day that you heed as much as you can of everything I’ve requested here in this letter, you're that much more likely to actually BE "one less day from dying young." One more day closer to causing me to exist, and to exist well.
I realize that a certain (much younger) segment of the population would not consider 67 to be “young,” but it's 20+ years younger than me! And it's all we've got left! So, please, just get in and DO it! For US?
With love and concern for both you and me,
Info & Link
The Older Barb photo was generated on the AgingBooth app, ("AgingBooth by PiVi & Co") which is free. I highly recommend this app as it's very user-friendly – meaning even *I* can understand and use it! And, even though I didn't like the “older me” results, they did seem like they were very possible. A little TOO possible?!?