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NelsonMandelaI’m glad to have been alive at a time when an icon such as the great Nelson Mandela made his contribution to mankind.

Many of the other heroes I learned of were before my time and I could only read and learn about them while growing up.

Madiba stood up in the face of adversity, did what he felt he had to do, served his time, became President of his country, stepped down after the first term for quiet retirement, then passed away peacefully.

He never held a grudge nor showed animosity to those who hurt him; instead he befriended and worked alongside them.

Who does that?

I’ll tell you who...

NELSON MANDELA!

Thank you Madiba.  Thank you for your contribution and what a great contribution you made to mankind.

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“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”  ~Samuel Ullman

Did you feel different when you turned 50?  Take a moment to think about what emotions you experienced when you reached the half-century age.

Were you happily celebrating that “50 is the new 30” feeling?

Did you celebrate with near-reckless abandon?

Did you put up your “Life Begins At 50” banner?  Or -- Were you sad--feeling as though time had passed you by?

Did you feel like you were officially heading to the “back-end” of your life cycle?  DID YOU START TO FEEL OLD?

Comment below and let me know, but first, have a gander at my experience.

Let’s back up a couple of decades, for starters…

WHEN I TURNED 30, I slumped into depression.  I don’t know how or why, but all of a sudden, I felt as if life was rapidly passing me by. I questioned myself incessantly:

- What have I accomplished?

- Why are the birthdays coming behind one another so fast?

- What was the point of coming to a new country again?

I had no concrete answers, but as the time went by and the numbers continued to climb, my outlook on life started to improve. By the time I hit my 40s, I was in let-me-get-this-done-before-I-get-older mode with all the things I never had a chance to complete. This included things in my personal and professional life. I went to WORK!

- I started paying attention to my eating habits

- I stopped taking crap from men (hello!)

- I started to view myself as beautiful

- I approached (and later embraced) the idea that I would never again settle.  My forties were the times that I truly explored ME.

WHEN I TURNED 50, that’s when the party really got started.

At age 50, my youngest child turned 18, leaving me free to take some pretty bold steps.

- I went back to school to complete a Bachelor’s degree I’d started years ago

- I signed up with a gym for regular workouts

- I started taking dance classes (something I’d loved since my youth)

- I threw myself an all-white birthday party (Oh, the speeches that were given by the various family members and friends were unforgettable).

I embraced my beauty, inside and out, and it showed up in the way I looked, but more importantly, in the way I felt.

So, my answer to the question “Did you feel different when you turned 50?” …

Emphatically, yes! I felt better than I ever did. And today, at 54, I’m still feeling great!

I want the same for you, so perhaps you can start by asking yourself these questions:

- What can you start doing today that you didn’t have the time and resources to do when you were younger?

- Is there something I’ve wanted to do (a new class, trying a new food, visiting a new city, etc.) that I can absolutely do this year?

- How have I grown wiser over the years?

- What’s one thing I really love about myself right now?

Start with those questions, and build from there. But whatever you do, my fellow 50-plusers, remember that age is simply a number—we get to decide how we feel if we take care of our spirits, our bodies, our selves.

“I am happy to report that my inner child is still ageless.” ~James Broughton

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Pessimism.

Boredom.

Disillusionment.

Are you spending time wallowing in any aspect of that “PBD Zone”?

It’s okay—you can tell me.

Better yet, just say Yes or No to these questions:

Do you tend to see the worst in every situation?

Are you forever the pessimist?

Is “never” your favorite word?

Are you constantly bored?

Complaining that there’s nothing to do, nothing to watch on TV, have no place exciting to go?

Don’t have friends or acquaintances?
Are you disillusioned?

Life didn’t go the way you wanted it to go?

Didn’t land that dream job?
Didn’t marry the ideal mate?

Didn’t drive the dream car or bought the dream home?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you’re not alone!  I understand how life can sometimes cause us to question the existence of the famed “Silver Lining”, but I do have one straight-no-chaser statement for you to consider”

If you’re hanging out in the PBD Zone, you are wasting your life away—quite literally!

I’m a firm believer in the saying “life is what you make it.”  You are the sole determining factor of your own life’s path, and though you can’t necessarily change what roadblocks come up as you walk your path, you CAN CHANGE what you do when they appear.

If you’re always expecting the worst, then the worst will make itself available to you.  Consider your formal invitation for drama and negative outcomes.  If on the other hand, you look at things rationally, understanding full well that life isn’t always rainbows and pixie dust—you can see that things have just as much of an opportunity to go wonderfully well as they do to go horribly wrong.

Think about it, won’t you?  Most things you desire, particularly your basic needs, aren’t more likely to unobtainable.  You start out with at least a 50/50 change, and that percentage changes based on your outlook on life.  Why? Because your outlook affects the energy you put into your daily actions, and your daily actions are steered by what you give your attention to.

Focused on negative people, thoughts, and outcomes?  Voila! Ask and ye shall receive.

Focused on your emotional wellness, happy thoughts, and positive energy?  You will attract that far more often that the opposite.

Now you know I’m psychologist, or any other trained professional in this field, but I am a woman who has survived an incredible amount of adversity, and had plenty of opportunities to set up shop in the PBD Zone.  It’s with my own life experiences in mind that I can confidently tell you that …

If you change your outlook on life, you will definitely change the way you feel.

Do you want to transition out of the PBD Zone?

Here’s what I do:

The moment anything PBD-esque approaches my mind, I get right into a positive mode in an effort to dismiss these feelings from my psyche.  I remind myself of my reasons to embrace joy, and I refuse to allow joy’s opposite to linger around for any length of time.  Why should I?

This refusal is something I mastered as I got older, which is yet another great thing about aging!  You become wiser as you get older.  I spent so many years of my younger life worrying about trivial things and at times disillusioned, simply because things weren’t going the way I would have wanted them to.  Now, I’m wise enough to realize that JOY IS ALWAYS AN OPTION!

Let me know if that strategy works for you, okay?

Now go ahead—you have my permission to embrace JOYand ditch the PBD life for good!

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Regrets.  I’ve had a few. ~Frank Sinatra~Are you now living with regrets?
I should have done this…
I shouldn’t have done that…
If I had listened to my parents I wouldn’t have…
I should have followed that inner voice…
I should have done more with ____ before he/she died…How many times have you said any of these to yourself, or to someone else? How many times has it given you sleepless nights or chills down your spine?One of the decisions I made once I hit forty-five, was to avoid late-in-life remorse. So many of us have lived and are still living with regrets in our lives. I have a major one, and that is that I wish I had spent more time with my dad before he died. He was back home (Jamaica) and I did not visit with him often enough (in my estimation) so when he passed, that regret kept lashing at me like a whip in full motion. That was when I made a vow to never ever have any more regrets, if I can help it.

What about you? If you’re struggling with this, create a list of things you wish to do to prevent having any regrets, and start working on each one until your list is complete. Living with regrets can contribute tremendously to stress and we don’t want that. Do we?

Yes folks, it’s yet another year -- 2012. How was your 2011? I dare say mine was great -- a few bumps here and there -- but nothing to write home and tell mom about. I guess my optimistic outlook on life has a lot to do with this.

You see, once I turned 50 (and if I’m not mistaken, it might have been a bit before that) I made a decision to be happy, look and feel my best, and just simply…take care of me! Hence the birth of this blog and the name I gave it. I won’t say that nothing bothers me. I will say however, that I don’t let things throw me into depression, the way they used to. I used to be such a worry-monger and was often told by my children that I made mountains out of molehills, which of course I always flatly denied. I later saw that I truly did just that.Now, life is just great! I look forward to each year, each birthday - any milestone that comes my way - with great anxiety. At the end of each year, I reflect on what I accomplished in that year, then plan on what I want to accomplish in the new one.

I also look forward each year to the growth and development of my three grand daughters; just to simply watch them blossom into the adults they’ll one day become. They are astute, loving, funny and cute, really help to keep me feeling young and I just enjoy being around them.

As caregiver to my mother who will be 90 this year, that in itself is another thing to look forward to each year. She has hung on so well (my siblings and I had no idea she would, after the passing of my father back in 1998). The woman has no ailments, pains, nor medical issues whatsoever. Just the normal complaints that comes with being an almost 90 year old individual. Truly blessed.

My children are all adults and on their own paths in life currently, which gave me the freedom to go explore the entire world! The freedom of not having any “young uns” around is a great one. So each year I set goals, try as much as possible to accomplish each one, then start the ball a-rolling again in the upcoming new year.

Happy New Year everyone, and may joy, peace, and prosperity be yours in this 2012!

jamie-lee-curtisI had the distinct pleasure of watching Oprah's Lifeclass last night -- Lesson 7: Aging Beautifully.  I felt as if I were in heaven while watching the show.  My favorite subject -- Aging!  Every second of the show was filled with useful advice and information.   BeverlyJohnsonThe special guests on the show were awesome; Jamie Lee Curtis, Ali McGraw, Super model - Beverly Johnson and Cybill Shephard.  They each shared wonderful stories of their own lives and the aging process and all their stories were ones I'm pretty sure someone out there could easily relate to.I was never a woman who tried to hide her age.  I felt as if I had no reason to.  Oprah says that lying about your age is hazardous to yourself, and yes - I believe it is.  You're denying your very existence, she says.  Why would anyone want to do that?  Seriously!  I was always ready to tell mine before the question was even finished being asked.  Today at 54 years old, I'm ready to tell it at an even faster rate.

Can you tell that I'm loving the aging process?  Well, I really am.  I'm much wiser from my life experiences, I'm a happier person than I was years ago, I'm still as vibrant and energetic as I was as a younger woman, all with a brighter and more optimistic outlook on life.  Like Oprah says, aging is a blessing, and is easier once you've embraced the wisdom that can only come with getting older.
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