Don’t Retire, ReFire: Older and wiser, my birthday edition.

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

There are two major milestones in each year where we often, reflect on our life and assess where we are, where we were and where we’re headed. The next question is, does it align with where we want to go?

For me, those two milestones are the week leading up to the first day of the New Year and my birthday.

On both occasions, I ask what have I learned this past year about myself, others and life, in general. I ask, “Am I wiser?”

I can honestly say, yes I am. I can also honestly say, I’m a constant work in progress!

One thing I know for certain and am in 100% agreement with, is this quote from George Burns, You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.

I truly believe that. It’s been my mindset for my whole adult life.

Through the almost seven decades that I have been on this earth, my life has been far from conventional. I have had many challenges, triumphs, curses and blessings. I have learned and grown through each trial and tribulation.

I bestow upon you several key points that have become my guide and my teacher.

  1. Have an open spirit. Be open to the world around you and other points of view. You don’t have to agree but by staying open, you may learn something you didn’t know before. By keeping your mind and heart open and staying true to yourself, your spirit will be more peaceful and joyful.
  2. Don’t stop learning. It is essential to keep our brains active for a youthful mind and spirit. I LOVE Google! If I want to learn more about an event, historical or current, or if there is a word I don’t know how to pronounce or know the definition of, I enter my request and get the answer. I read my books by listening to them through Audible, while I walk or drive. These are just a few suggestions on how learning is so accessible.
  3. Eliminate regret. This is difficult to do for many, including me. If you regret something and are able to apologize for it, then apologize for it. Understand that there is a possibility that you may not get a positive reaction which you will just have to accept. Even if that happens, at least you’ll know where you stand and there’s peace in that. The best outcome would be acceptance and conversation, which leads to understanding. If it is regret for an action, you must forgive yourself, as well as the others you may have hurt. There was only one perfect person that walked this earth. The rest of us will falter until the end of our days.
  4. Put the past where it belongs. This one goes hand in hand with regret. It, too, is difficult and can be poison to your mind and heart if you don’t let go. One analogy is if you’re driving down the road, you focus on what’s in front of you, while taking quick glimpses in the rear view mirror, so that you’re aware of your surroundings. If you look too long in the rear view mirror, you’ll crash into the objects right in front of you. The object could be a project, traffic or, worst of all, a relationship. Jim Rohn said, Let the past be your Mentor, not your Club. You can’t beat yourself up for past mistakes; you can only forgive yourself, learn from those mistakes and make the adjustments necessary.
  5. Be in the moment. Soak in what’s happening right where you are. When someone is speaking with you, really listen. If you are thinking about what you are going to say, you will miss an amazing opportunity to get to know that person on a deeper level. In our fast-paced world with all of its distractions, staying in the moment isn’t easy but it is so worth it!
  6. Be laser focused. Whatever you’re pursuing, go after it with all the passion and intensity it deserves. Don’t let unimportant obstacles get in the way of your plan. There will be enough obstacles that you’ll have to deal with. Pick your battles and stay the course.
  7. Don’t forget the “kid” in you. I have come to realize that we are all just children in grown-up bodies. We need to laugh more, be playful and not take ourselves so seriously!
  8. Love the person looking back at you in the mirror. Embrace this. Internalize this. Teach this to your children and your grandchildren as early in their lives as you can. When you know who you are and believe in who you are and have faith in who you are no one can rattle you. Remind yourself every day that you are special and one of a kind.

These and many other life lessons can’t be heard just once and then applied. They have to be learned and absorbed by hearing them over and over again.

It seems that we, as humans, need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Make no mistake, I’m not done learning, growing, reinventing, molding, changing and forgiving myself. This will continue until my last breath.

Have faith. Believe. Be joyful.

Have faith in tomorrow. Tom Hanks

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