Ageing Shamelessly: Part Two!

Thank you for the lovely messages after I posted Ageing Shamelessly. It’s great to know so many of you feel similarly, that we are not resigned to growing older the way society tells us we must!

I wanted to share a lesson I’ve learnt this week and it’s a bit of an abstract one so bear with me…

We recently adopted a cat, called Shaylou but we call her Lou Lou. She’s a very special girl. We adopted her when was abandoned by her owners to live outside after they moved. The reason little Lou is extra special is because she is 20 years old! In cat years this makes her 96 which is amazing!

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Our little old girl, Lou Lou! 

Since she’s been living with us, I’ve learnt so many things about ageing which I just instinctively know can translate to humans. We’ve been conditioned to accept so many things in our later years that just do not need to happen.

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Guarding my fancy chocs!

So I’ll details the things our little 96 year old girl does on a daily basis…

  • Eats heartily
  • Exercises: stretches, runs around (cardio) and bone strengthening jumps!
  • Plays with the joy of a kitten
  • Naps when she needs to
  • Cuddles
  • Speaks up when she has something to say! (Food please!)
  • Socialises with her friends
  • Keep herself groomed and neat
  • Has maintained a healthy constant weight

I have no doubt that this list could apply to 96 year old humans if we believed it more possible. The key difference is that no one has ever told Lou Lou to “act her age” or “she’s just too old to be doing that”. She is doing everything that feels natural to her and on the timescale that she chooses. Humans on the other hand (or paw?!), are so tied up with our belief systems that we follow what we think we should be. Old age to us, is not seen as increased energy and vitality but a loss, and often a huge loss at that.

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Let’s be amazing at 100 like Beatrice here!

Having no societal rules on ageing thrown at her, means that Lou has continued the natural behaviours that served her well as a young cat- stretching regularly, resting when tired and lots of activity in between. We can learn so much from this! Keep the joyful behaviour from childhood. Continue to play, laugh, sing, dance, eat well and rest when needed. Listen to your own fluctuations of energy flow, don’t try and fit in a box of an existence thought out by someone else!

I’m not saying she still has the full spark of a kitten. We have two other cats aged 7 and 6 and they are faster and a little brighter than Lou, but only marginally when you consider in human years they are only in their 40s!

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Our other two rescue girlies, Hazel and Saffrom! 

Again, I will say that we need to rethink our ideas about ageing. Looking to nature is a great way of seeing how we CAN age well, keep the activities we love and have a beautiful old age experience!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

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Playing Around!

As adults, we are often made to feel that “playing” is not something we should be doing. It is only reserved for young children. Even teenagers are encouraged not to be playful and to become serious. Ever told to “stop messing around” when you weren’t being harmful, just laughing?

This also extends to our imaginations and the play worlds we create in our minds. When I was a teenager I was discouraged from reading fantasy novels by a teacher I respected and so started studying “the classics”. This served me well in ways but I should have been shown (or realised myself) that I could read both! We don’t have to leave joy behind when we become adults. The two ideas can exist in the same universe!

We are also made to confuse being playful with being sexual as we become adults, particularly as women. If someone is described as playful, it often means flirtatious. This shouldn’t be the case. Anyone of any age should be encouraged to bring more traditional play into their lives, just as we would have as children.

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The energy of children is so… well energising!!

Ways to bring more playfulness into your life;

1.Play like a child, literally! At what point do children’s pastimes become a no-go? When you start secondary school? When we leave school? I think it’s the moment we become more self conscious and that can happen at any age, even during childhood. Or rather, we are made to be self conscious by the world around us. Well I say no thank you to this, carry on playing like a child! Play on the park (don’t scare any actual children though!), skip around, use colouring in books, anything that seems fun- do it!

2.Leading on, play with children. Spending time with little folk is so energising, even if  at the time they tire you out with their games. I have a young brother and sister and am so grateful to have them to remind me the playful fun that can be had in childhood and beyond.

3. Use your imagination. This is the biggest difference between having a sense of play and not. If we are able to use our imaginations, we can build a more colourful world for ourselves. We can turn a simple trip to the supermarket into a grand adventure. Or a walk in the woods into an expedition. This helps us see the wonder in the ordinary. It might take practice. We have our imaginations pushed aside as we grow  to make room for facts and figures but with repeated exercises such as pretending a simple boat trip is an exploration of a new world (which it can be, even if you have seen the place a thousand times, find the unknown) our ability to imagine will strengthen and a whole new life might just unfold. Remember, if we don’t have imagination, we also can’t picture a better way for our lives to be. So if you’re in a situation you don’t like, the best way to begin to leave it behind is by creating that new life in your mind first, just as children do with make believe lands!

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Never stop playing, it’s the base for how we can create the life we truly wish for ourselves!

Are you already playful? Feel free to share your tips below and we can start a playful revolution!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

Ageing Shamelessly!

As you know, I work a lot with our elders and so of course I listen to them and what they have to say. I have met thousands of elders now through my projects and all of them have been inspirational in their own way.  Much of what they tell me is positive and a lot of people have great attitudes, even if they are facing huge challenges to them such as mobility issues or even dementia.

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Wonderful Betty, 96 and makes a croissant for breakfast every morning- she is still a true french lady!

I also meet a lot of people who are not so positive. This piece is not to tell those who are feeling low that they must change and “cheer up”, far from it. What I’m trying to explore is how potentially our attitudes towards ageing are contributing to the negative experiences of many of our older society.

“I hate old age”

“Pain? It’s just ageing isn’t it”

“Don’t get old”

“I’m too old for that now”

“I’m too old to try”

These are just a handful of comments I’ve had from some really lovely older people who aren’t wholly negative about their lives but it’s clear they hold an entire belief system around their age that is telling them what they can and can’t be.

And I’m certain this didn’t suddenly enter their minds when they turned 65. It’s drummed into us so early. Our whole society is set up to value youth above all and discount the wisdom of our elders.

We are shown representations of elders in television and film that make fun of old age. They use lazy writing tropes such as deafness or memory loss and so these become a template for what we think we will encounter.

We treat older people as though they are stupid. We speak louder and more slowly to them whether or not they have hearing problems. We laugh behind their backs, roll eyes, give knowing glances and generally dismiss their presence.

So is it any wonder that people become ill and depressed as they reach their older years?

Surely it makes sense that if we expect to have illness and reduced mobility as we get older, then this will come to pass? Just as if we tell ourselves we are less attractive as we age, then it will be so as we’ll see ourselves as such and then project that to the world.

If we expect people to not want to listen to us, we will stop speaking. Stop going out because we are not wanted anyway, which in turn leads younger people to believe that older people become dull and lifeless. And so you can see how the attitudes are self perpetuating.

I think this will be individual to each person as to how much they hold these views and how it impacts on their health but I would love us to change our views surrounding old age and death also.

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Beautiful Elsie, who had such a smile despite challenges

I’d like to add that I do not hold these views at all. I can see how they manifest and also some of the reasons why, but I always challenge them, in the kindest ways I can, when I come across them being held. I offer suggestions, try and spark as much joy as I can with music and make sure I see smiles and hear laughter as much as I can.

A change needs to happen though if we are to tackle these issues.

I would like to call for a shift in how we view old age. I am only in my thirties so I cannot be a true ambassador for that (yet) by showing through how I live but I intend to be as I grow older. And I implore you to do the same, to defy the conventions set for us.

Do not “grow old gracefully” because that is synonymous with accepting all of the nonsensical narratives we hold about age- that you must retire even if it’s from what you love, that you need to slow down (I aim to live beautifully slowly anyway) that we have less of a voice, that old age brings suffering and pain.

This is NOT how it needs to be. I’m not saying a long life will not bring challenges. Of course it will, but we can decide how we face them and how we tell our stories.

Grow old shamelessly! Carry on doing what you love, know it’s ok to make changes, don’t accept ill health as being part of old age, we can still stay well and healthy and live a life of joy right up until our time here is at an end.

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Wonderful Beatrice, 100 years on this Earth and still dancing!

Change starts within ourselves but as we’re working on that, let’s change our communities too. Place value on conversations with our elders. Don’t see popping into an isolated older neighbour’s house as a charitable act but as a gift for you both in what you may learn from each other. Make elders feel included and loved, so that when your time to become their age arrives you will find yourself in a beautiful, loving community also.

I know that I’m going to work very hard on changing my own beliefs surrounding age right now so I’m as happy and healthy as I can be for the rest of my life and I wish for you all the same!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

 

 

Finding True Creativity

We’re a funny society aren’t we. The way we box people up, some are this way, others are like this. Some are creative, others aren’t. When the truth is we are all made up of so many different things but what unites us is that we are all supremely creative!

Of course, this may show itself in very different ways. We traditionally see creative people as the artists, musicians, poets of our world. Yes, this is beautifully creative. What we don’t see is all the other ways people are being creative every single day. Teachers creating new ways to pass information, parents creating new ways of reaching their children. Everything we do in life is creative from the obvious- making a meal- to the abstract- constructing a sentence to speak with one another. If we viewed ourselves differently we could open the flow to even more creativity. Who knows what we could access in our minds if we all saw ourselves as having the ability to make what we want out of the materials we have at hand whether that be words, wood or even our thoughts. It’s all the same when we reduce it down- it’s all a bare form that we can build with and transform into something else. True alchemy.

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Music is only one way, not the way of expressing creativity

If you say to yourself you’re not creative then that is a definite way to block any motivation you may have. Trust in your ability to make things happen.

Deep down we know we have this in us. Our language reflects it. It’s why we speak of “building relationships”, “making a home” or “forging a path in life”, all are ways to describe forms of invention. Think about it. What is creativity other than bringing something into being that was not there before. So if we think traditionally, this would mean to us a new song or a new artwork. How is a nurtured relationship any less than a song. It is also a new thing on this Earth that didn’t exist. It too takes work to bring it to life. It also needs work to thrive.

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Creating can be whatever that means to us

Begin your year with a new way of thinking. You ARE creative. You CAN make the life you want. We are all the architects of our time here. We are all the alchemists, transforming what we find into works of art. We are all the creators of our lives.

Just because you do not fit into categories we have so far reserved for creativity does not mean you are any less creative than the poets, artists and musicians. We all create every day and if we do so with love then we will add as much beauty to the world as every single song or painting in existence. I would also add that if you do follow a traditional path then that’s perfect too. I express my own creativity in many “accepted” ways as well as in many abstract forms too. I see them all as equally valid.

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Here I am bring creative…

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…Here I also am being creative, just in a different way!

That will be our contribution so let’s make it a beautiful one.

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

Surround Yourself With All People!

I listened to a presentation this week where we were told that we are the average of the people we spend the most time with. This echoes the ever popular (and slightly cringey!) “Your vibe attracts your tribe”.

I understand this mentality, I really do. It’s great to surround ourselves with inspiring people and boost each other.

However, there’s a danger that this mentality is going too far. Imagine if a nurse told her patients they can’t be around sick people, “bad vibes, soz babez!”

Imagine if every husband that cares for their chronically ill wife decided to tell her he couldn’t be around her as “you’re bringing me down, love!” and vice versa.

Every parent with a difficult teenager told them they had no time for them as they’re not in a positive enough “zone”.

I have personal experience with this having had depression myself and living with my boyfriend Tim who has dealt with deep depression for years, and we’ve both only begun to heal the last few years of our near ten year relationship. He could have easily left me, saying I was bringing him further down, but neither of us thought like that. We know we love each other and wanted to grow together and get better.

I do actually believe that we attract the people in our lives. Sometimes though, we attract them so we can help or they can help us. So we can learn. So we can grow ourselves and help others grow in return.

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With my amazing Tim!

Apply this attitude of only surrounding yourself with positive people to the way we think of money. Money is energy too so it’s a good analogy. Only associating with rich people and helping those who are rich means the rich get richer and this is how people get pushed further and further downwards.

We need to surround the people you think of as “low vibe” people with love and support even more so, not decide they are bringing us down and abandon them! Yes of course, protect your health and only each of us truly knows our individual situation so there is no blame being thrown here on those who do choose to separate from others. Do what you feel is right and the best for yours and the other persons’ good.

I know this blog is a bit of ramble sorry, it all came pouring out quickly! I’ll probably edit it soon to make more sense haha!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

Get Turned Off: How I learnt to switch off the TV!

One of the great things about the Mind on Music travelling is that it has left me with a lot less time for idly watching random TV. My mind is much clearer and happier for it!

As a nation, we watch too much television. There’s no arguing with the statistics that tell us the average person watches five to eight hours per day in front of the TV. That’s almost a third of our lives! Before the 1930s though, television wasn’t even available to the public and during the Second World War, broadcasts were suspended. Afterwards, the schedule only contained three hours of broadcasting per day and obviously no catch up TV! Even during the 1950s when television started to become more widely used by the general public, it was upheld as special occasion. We can look to these past ways of living in order to enhance our present!

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Break the TV Cycle!!

Here are some simple ways from the past to break the TV cycle;

  1. Visit friends and family! This has the added bonus of helping others watch less TV too. The evenings are still light and even in Winter instead of spending your Sunday on the sofa, go for a walk with the family in Nature.  Decades ago, visiting others was a more regular occurrence as there was no Facebook to keep in touch with people!
  2. Cook. If you cook a meal with several ingredients, by the time you’ve made and eaten it, a few hours may have passed. The key is to enjoy the process of cooking for itself, not to rush through it and then hurry through the meal.This has the added bonus that you’ll know exactly what’s in your food, just as our grandparents did.
  3. Craft. Learn a new craft skill or re-engage with an old pastime you used to enjoy such as crochet, or playing an instrument. Hours used to be spent darning and mending old clothes but this is something we don’t have to do as much now. However this is a useful skill which has largely been lost and helped keep waste down so re-learning it will save you some pennies!
  4. Read.  There are also whole realms of imagination and information ready for you to dive into. You don’t need to read classics, pick up whatever you’re drawn to and get lost in another world.
  5. Rest Finally, know that it’s ok to sit in silence with your own thoughts! We feel we must be constantly entertained but this isn’t true. Some of our best ideas come to us when we’re resting quietly. Keep a notebook handy for these times so you can quickly jot ideas down. Years ago, people often daydreamed for hours, just wistfully sitting at a river bank, but in our ‘notification generation’ we feel a constant need to check our emails, social media, what’s on TV later…always doing instead of just being! Stop and remind yourself of this once in a while.

 

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Get Outside!!

Sometimes we get stuck in cycles, especially in the darkest months of the year but Summer hasn’t left us yet so we can get outside and switch the TV off, just as we used to do in years gone by!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

How to Keep Smiling!

With everything we’re surrounded with in our modern world, it can be a challenge sometimes to keep smiling through it all. I love to laugh and smile (often to people’s annoyance but who cares!) and this leads people to assume I never get sad or I’ve never had anything bad happen in my life or seen anything bad.

Of course this isn’t true, just like for most of us! On my travels and in daily life I’ve seen animal abuse, been treated horribly by a few people with closed hearts, had loved ones die, family dramas and had years of past personal depression- things a lot of us go through- but I always see that the good always outweighs the bad. And that’s what I really do believe- that the goodness here is always stronger than any badness.

 

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Singing always makes me smile!

Here are a few ways I keep smiling…

 

  1. Avoid the News. This isn’t saying be ignorant to current events, just choose how much you are surrounded with images of death and hopelessness which is the mood those who script the News programmes and publish papers seek to create. Avoiding biased, fear-based programming is the first step to clearing your head of the fog that keeps us from being happy.
  2. Nature! It’ll be a running joke soon that I suggest nature as the answer to most challenges, but it is true that immersing yourself in a natural setting gives a perspective that is hard to find otherwise. Using the calm of nature to still your own anxieties and running commentary really helps if you find it difficult to switch off at home. With practice, you’ll be able to bring this peace with you anywhere. Take deep breaths and focus on the birdsong, letting your own thoughts drift away as you listen to the music of nature.
  3. Connect with others. My recent blog post on this shows ways to become involved in your community to help others which in turn will help yourself. Volunteer, see family, support local shows and music and art scenes and a beautiful community spirit will grow, one you’ll be very much a part of.
  4. Travel. See the truth in the world before believing everything the media tells us. Meet people from different cultures and decide for yourself where you think people’s hearts lie and who they truly are. This again will connect you to the truth in the world, that we are not so different from each other at our core.
  5.  Create! Feeling you’re making a contribution to the world will increase feelings of happiness. This is closely related to the connecting with others idea, that by creating something others find useful or beautiful, you’ll be helping to make the world better and. Music, crafts, art, poetry- anything that you feel drawn to. It’s probably something you enjoyed doing as a child and once you pick it back up, it’ll be like you never stopped and you were meant to do it! This is how music was to me after a long break which left me very down, but once I came back to it I realised how much I love using music to make others (and myself!) happy.
  6. Get off the Internet!! I do realise the irony of saying this whilst writing a blog, that I’d like people to read- on the internet. Too much though is soul destructive as it drags us down into a world of frantic notifications and comparisons to people we barely know or people we think we know but don’t really because everything is edited beyond any meaningful reality! So spending time away, doing the above can be so beneficial. A lot of us use social media for work now so I know it’s not always easy to cut ties completely but limiting use is a great start!

 

There’s a reason smiling is also called “beaming” and that’s because it’s like a ray of sunshine beaming across all those who encounter it! Smiling really is infectious and if you share your smile with others, it’ll spread across all those you connect with and beyond so share your beautiful smile today!

Best Wishes,

Bexi