As we celebrate the Fourth of July and the freedoms of the United States of America, we also reflect on the personal freedoms we have grown to appreciate. The practice of freedom changes during the various demographics of life. As children, our freedoms are decided for us by adults who are supposed to be wiser and more experienced at life.
As teenagers, we fight for more freedom. Glory in getting that magic driver’s license that enables us to escape in whatever vehicle we have. Yet we balk at the concept of curfews, challenge our parents, and sometimes break the rules. Then we learn about the concept of being grounded.
As adults, we experience more freedom which also comes with the intensity of responsibility. Buying a house. Changing jobs. Deciding who to marry or if to marry. When to become parents which brings us full circle to the concept of setting curfews for our teens.
But within the aging process, freedoms change. New boundaries are set around health issues. Depending on our physical status, we may not have the freedom to take a hiking vacation. Depending on the health of our brains, we may lose the freedom to live independently and think wisely.
Choices about how to live and where to live are determined by the health of our portfolios and that magic retirement number. The challenge is how to make that number stretch when inflation knocks at the door and every trip to the grocery store requires a mathematical stretch.
We find ourselves praying for our daily bread. Then, depending on the health of our A1C, we may lose the actual joy of eating bread. Who knew carbs would become such an issue?
We can lament the loss of freedoms, or we can embrace those freedoms we still own. Live within their joy and find hope for however long our timelines allow.
So what are some of the freedoms of the aging process?
The Freedom of Dress. No longer concerned about the peer group or having to fit the corporate ideal, we can dress however we like and even color our hair multiple shades. Some of my friends have their first tattoos, gifts they and their grandchildren gave each other to cement their bond.
Depending on the day of the week and the schedule, we can wear the same outfit three days in a row. Who will know? Who will care? It makes the daily dressing ritual easy.
Dressing ourselves becomes personal choice with comfort the number one rule. A friend recently told me, “You can tell your age by how many Sketchers are in your closet.”
The Freedom of Time. Depending on that magic retirement number and whether or not we’re still working, we can basically set our own schedules.
Find a part-time position to boost the income. Volunteer at a favorite nonprofit. Become the go-to babysitter for the grandkids. Or travel extensively. Write a book that explains some of the great ideas you hold in your heart. Check out Grandma Brain: Hope and Humor for the Hopelessly Addlepated Minds of Grandparents, Parents, and other Childcare Givers.
Each day can become a new adventure as we decide how to spend our time. After years of being shackled to the 8-to-5 grind and/or the daily commute, the freedom of time feels like a blessing. And if we use it wisely, we can be productive in new ways.
One example is in the numbers of people writing their life stories. Many of my Coaching clients are working on their memoirs or their legacy letters, determined to leave a written document about what they experienced and what they learned in life. If you are interested in leaving a written legacy, check out the legacy info on my website.
The Freedom to Learn New Things. Because of the freedom of time, we can now dedicate ourselves to a new type of learning. Some may actually be a re-learning, a refresher of what we’ve experienced in the past.
Or we can learn a new skill. Take up that craft or hobby that sits in a corner of the basement. Develop it into a workshop to teach others or into an income-producing project. Check out Etsy’s DIY kit.
Learn a new language or help another person learn your language. Invite international students into your home or sign up to mentor a child in the local reading program. Join a new meetup group where you’ll engage with people of all ages. These types of activities stimulate the brain and give us a reason to climb out of bed each morning, albeit with aching joints.
The Freedom to Grow Spiritually. Some of my best worship times come outside the church building. As I’m walking and praying at the same time. Lounging on my deck and watching the blue jays fight the sparrows over the seed. Feeding the feral mama cat who dares to let me pet her—but only when I have food in my hands.
As we grow closer to the time we will step into eternity, we can also grow closer in intimacy to the God we will spend that eternity with. Now we have more uninterrupted time to journal our prayers, sing a new song, and praise the God who brought us through those previous decades.
We think about those who have gone before us. How they lived and how they died. So we pray for the same courage to bravely step through that final veil, no matter what kind of pain that journey might ensue.
But as we reflect on the past, we find a new appreciation for the God who gave us hope. How God met every need and indeed, answered even the smallest of prayers. How God blessed us with children, a roof over our heads, hot water in the shower, and food in the fridge. How even in the leanest of times, God never let us down but was always present—even when we had to search for the Divine Three.
Hope weaves its positive threads through our freedoms. The freedoms we celebrate as Americans and the freedoms we celebrate as senior adults. We should never take for granted either freedom, but live in the gratitude of flags flying and lives reflecting God’s light.
Being grateful for all our freedoms offers a positive spin on the last act. On our intentional living and on our purpose for being. Let’s be more determined to live in gratitude rather than griping, in joy rather than despair.
And let’s be especially grateful for those founders who crafted a Constitution that underscored freedom at its core.
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom includes other areas where we can grow as senior adults. Check it out on Amazon.