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Education

Aging by Dr. Ellen McMahon

Aging by Dr. Ellen McMahon

Photo: Growing old is not for the faint of heart.

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Growing old is not for the faint of heart. There are lots of things that change whether you like it or not. Suddenly things that you took for granted as a constant are no longer there and that includes people! I notice now that my hands look like my mothers and the style of clothing and hair has shifted based on my changing size and shape. I look in the mirror and I see my aunts and mother and as a bit surprised when I realize that the image staring back at me is me.

In truth, there is something quite liberating about aging. Now that I am nearing retirement I have decided to focus on those things that I can do rather than those things I can no longer do or that are now beyond my reach.  With children launched and my career well established I can focus on learning things for my own enjoyment.  I can consider retirement occupations or hobbies and can begin studying about those things now.  I plan to be much more artistic and maybe even more eccentric in my old age.  I have already started painting but not the traditional sort of painting you might think. Visiting thrift and junk stores I have found old damaged prints that are in nice frames. In the last year or so I have “restored”, and I say that loosely, these paintings to their former glory.  I completed a great old hunt scene and a standard floral still life.  Right now I have a glorious old French provincial garden party in progress.  As a result of my new hobby I have learned a lot about the original painters, not to mention the fun of finding new thrift stores, and that has led me to doing more research and even to museums to see other works.  The museum visits have been a lesson in humility as I look at my restoration against the backdrop of the artist’s other work.

Aging gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself, to indulge in those things you didn’t have the time or money for in your younger years when you had so many things competing for those resources.  Take a moment and think about those interests that have remained at the edge of your consciousness. What would you love to do that you haven’t yet done?  You don’t have to be perfect or professional or even vocal about your new interest. But I would encourage you to begin investigating what you might do with your free time in the stage of your life. You are never too old to wonder about what you will be when you grow up.