Last August, on my 59th birthday, an uneasiness came over me that was difficult to identify. I was experiencing impatience and inner turmoil, overwhelm with all of my activities and commitments, an indefinable fear of the unknown. I found myself in a shake-up that became the impetus for unexpected transformation.
I couldn’t figure out why I was so unsettled. When the question began emerging, “Is this really about the fact that I’ll be turning 60?” I was caught by surprise, never being one to worry about age.
Throughout the fall and into the winter, I frequently asked myself, “Where am I headed?” and “What does this mean?” I found myself creating a longer than usual to-do list: lose 10 pounds, exercise daily, update website, create new brochure, write monthly articles, learn more about marketing, make daily posts on Facebook, update clients, attend workshops, keep up with Healing Touch students, organize monthly practice groups, learn Spanish (I purchased Rosetta Stone 3 years ago), clean out closets, organize photos (there are literally thousands of photos from my years raising four children).
The list went on and on and on and the tone became increasingly harsh. The longer the list became, the more procrastination set in. I was getting harder and harder on myself for not getting it done. Self deprecation in all of its glory!
By February, my intention for 2015 was laughable. “Walk the Talk?” What a joke. I am usually well-disciplined about practicing self care and positive thinking on a daily basis, but I was having a hard time being consistent, and all of the benefits seemed to be going out the window.
I kept wondering, “Is this really about turning 60?” “Why is this any different than any other age?” “Who cares if there is “suddenly” a “zero” at the end of a “6?” Yes indeed, I was acutely aware of these uncomfortable and self-defeating thoughts and feelings. Yet, somehow in the midst of it, I continued to move through the day to day activities revolving around work and family, remembering to stretch, pray, meditate, journal, and seek out the support of trusted friends and mentors, even though none of it seemed to be “working,”.
Then, one magical morning in late February, I woke up in a state of pure joy. I felt expansive, blissful, even giddy. I totally embraced who I am, where I am in my life, and the notion of being an elder. “Yes!!! I’m a crone!!!” I thought of all that I have done over the years—my family and friends, my education, becoming a teacher, marrying and raising four boys, becoming a healer, developing spiritually, and now being a wise woman, a person of experience, one who can trust that her example and way of being speaks volumes, even looking forward to the possibility of someday becoming a grandmother.
There I lay on my back, with arms and legs sprawled, relishing in the stream of thoughts and feelings. “This,” I said to myself, “is a moment of grace.”
In the weeks and months that followed, I attended a couple of retreats and continued to read and reflect on all of this. I opened myself up to healing, clearing old beliefs and emotional patterns from days gone by. And then, while I was weeding my garden a few weeks ago, the big take-away emerged:
Do Less and Be More.
Instead of my tendency to be action-oriented, to create, accomplish, and imagine I could fulfill the illusion of being perfect or prove myself worthy, I began aligning to “being” rather than “doing.” I started taking action to create more space by honoring current commitments and getting them done, but not taking on anything new. I was realizing that this is my time to simplify, to shed the things that have accumulated over a lifetime of doing, and simply be.
This year of angst and introspection and healing shifted my energy, giving me a deep awareness of the opportunity to build a life marked by a sense of self that is powerful but has nothing to do with outward action
Dorothea Hover-Kramer hit the nail on the head when she wrote, “Contrary to traditional thinking that associates living well with lots of activity, the full-energy life is about connecting to inner wisdom and refining the arrow of intention. This orientation is filled with joy, peacefulness, openness, curiosity, wonder, appreciation, flexibility, exploration, new viewpoints and moving “beyond the box” of traditional thinking about age.”(Hover-Kramer, D. Second Chance at Your Dream: Engaging Your Body’s Energy Resources for Optimal Aging, Creativity, and Health)
Today, I complete my 6th decade and step into my 7th decade feeling empowered, unburdened, and grateful. I have refined my arrow of intention. By doing less I can be more. I can simply be…
- a strong gentle resource and support to others
- more open to cultivate my intellectual curiosity and spiritual practices
- truly present, and allow the wellspring from within emanate pure love
By doing less, I can be more in tune with the essence of who I am. Come to think of it, this applies to anyone, no matter the age.
“Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”
(source uncertain: attributed to Teresa of Avila and Teresa of Liseaux)
8 thoughts on “Do Less and Be More: Reflections on Turning 60”
What beautiful reflections Katie! Breathe in the peace that Be-ing brings! I am also expanding into this, you so beautifully describe. Peace friend.
Thanks for your comments. Best wishes to you 🙂
Happy Birthday Katie!!
A beautiful article about your reflections about turning 60. You are a true testament to not growing older—but growing better! I personally took away much information & things to do personally in your reflections to “do less & be more” now that I am also in my 7th decade. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts—I am sure they will help many.
Hi Vicki. Good to hear from you! I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for staying in touch. ~Katie
A wonderful reminder that we don’t have to do on a continual basis to define who we are. Great article.
Thanks, Carol. I’m glad the article gave you some food for thought! Best wishes, Katie
I attended St Teresa of Avila grammar school. We had tough German nuns who taught us well. They emphasized the “infinite possibilities” within, but also demanded real time results.
Your article was interesting. The line about “refining the arrow of intentions” was particularly good. Focus in retirement is more difficult than our student and working/family building days. There is an apparent reduction of urgency which may not optimize the day. That needs to be avoided.
I like to begin my day with a MonteCristo. Thank you for your news letter. Keep me on the list.
Hi Paul. Thanks for your comments. Many of us have spent a lifetime believing that our worthiness is measured by outward material accomplishments. What I am realizing is that we can have a huge impact, and optimize our days, by balancing all the “doing” with “being.” For me, that awareness generates a huge sense of inner power and peace. By the way, I had to Google Monte Cristo to find out what you were talking about. I thought you meant a sandwich, but now I know better! Hope to see you soon. Take care,
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