Savoring the Moments and Milestones of Life

I’m experiencing the bookends of life. Last Saturday I was rolling around on the floor with the eight-month-old daughter of friends as they went on a rare date; this week I’ve been helping my daughter prepare to move to the great Pacific Northwest to begin college; yesterday I marked the eighth anniversary of the death of one of my best friends; and, of course, today, we remember those who were lost on 9/11.

And soon, I will meet a personal milestone. In a month, I’ll celebrate my 53rd birthday. I’m taking a deep breath here as the words of my former manager ring in my ears: “You’re not really going to tell people how old you are, are you?!” This is apparently a cardinal sin in the world of talent management, promotion, and “looking good.” I must confess that I have mixed feelings about telling you my age. To be dishonest would perpetuate the beauty and youth myth created by Hollywood and Madison Avenue. Why wouldn’t I want to tell you my age? I think I’m holding up pretty darn well. Just to look at me, most people would never guess that I was over 40. My former manager would argue that I shouldn’t tell you my age because in an industry where “It’s better to look good than it is to feel good,” I could eliminate myself from being considered for certain projects if my age were known—like 52 makes me some kind of fossil or something. And frankly, in my new business as a life and executive coach, age and the resulting wisdom are bonuses. In the television industry, though—notsomuch.

I’ve never understood that line of thinking, given that in this day and age, Boomers are the wealthiest, healthiest, most highly educated generation of middle-aged Americans in history and yet, we buy into this “younger is better” mentality. And if, in fact, my last television employment contract was not renewed because I was “too old,” I’d be crazy to tell you my real age. But it takes too much energy to lie about it. It’s too easy to get caught fudging the years. Then people who know how old I am would think, yeah, who do you think you’re kidding? I vote for authenticity here.

So, I’m 52-and-11/12ths, if you’re counting. I don’t know how in the world that could have possibly happened. True, my daughter has aged 18 years since I gave birth to her, but I just can’t fathom that I’ve aged 18 years, too. I still feel 30 on the inside. Did you ever notice how when were we younger, we couldn’t wait to grow up? As an early achiever, I had all kinds of cheerleaders psyching me up to do more, better, faster. Looking back now, I wonder…what exactly was the hurry? As a child, I always wanted to grow up quickly; always pleased that someone thought I was older than I really was. For what? To enter the workforce full-time at 19? That just gave me new and different cheerleaders—television news directors and talent scouts—psyching me up to do more, better, faster. I couldn’t wait to be 20, 25—even 30. It’s like I was in a hurry to finally “grow up.”

I guess the joke was on me because we never really stop growing, do we? Of course, we all seem to reach that point in our 30s and 40s when we want to back-pedal and have people think we’re younger than we really are. Even my father’s mother—Bubbie, we call her—did this. God rest her soul, she passed away in 2005 at the ripe old age of 103. Since her first grandchild was born some 70 years ago, she’s been called Bubbie, short for stutta bubba, which my grandfather told me is Croatian for “old woman.” But if you were to ask Bubbie her age, she’d tell you she was 99 or 100! What difference does it make if people knew her real age? When you hit 100, people should be seeking your counsel and doing television specials on your long and exceptional life, and awarding you prizes. Yet, Bubbie still fudged about her age. Go figure. At least I know I come from hearty stock and will be around for a long time, doing what I can to transform age and experience from liabilities to assets.

So…during this time of contemplating the bookends of life, I offer some advice. To my daughter and son and all young people: Enjoy the process and savor the delicious moments of your life. Don’t rush. There is no hurry. Be a child. To those responsible for the raising of children: Let children be children. To adults—who are often just children in grown up bodies—remember to feed your sense of wonder and awe for the world around you and the world in you. That’s where your real treasures are found.

What do you notice about how you experience the moments and milestones of your life? Please share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you!

1 comment to Savoring the Moments and Milestones of Life

  • Heidi Lee

    With regard to the authenticity of sharing your true age, all I have to say is “Amen, sister!” It is refreshing to read someone EMBRACING their true age, completely unapologetically. Very inspiring.

    I’ve had some interesting experiences around milestones. For age milestones: 24–I felt like I needed to get married before I changed my mind about getting married, though I had no real desire to be married at that point in my life nor did I have anyone to marry! 26 was a challenge because I realized I was closer to 30 than 20, and, although I couldn’t wait to be 30, I wasn’t anywhere close to where I thought I’d be in my life at “almost 30.” I love being in my 30’s now, and, at 38, I’m relishing in where my life is and have no challenges about being close to 40.

    For other milestones: Being an auntie for the first time three years ago was heavenly. I get to experience the same thing again with a new nephew in the past six weeks…another heavenly milestone for me. And, I remember when I finally felt professionally successful as a self-employed entrepreneur. Yeah, that was a great day. And, the realization that I had extraordinary people in my life…though not technically a milestone that could be measured, that was a milestone for me.

    This is a great article, Denise. Thank you for inspiring a warm-fuzzy trip down memory lane and a reminder that life and the passing of time is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated, not resisted!

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