Finally Learning My Parents’ Lesson

Sometimes you don’t see the lessons and gifts you are given until it’s too late to say thank you. That’s the case with me about the lessons on living my parents gave me.

My parents were active people and my mom was a fireball. They were involved in so many different activities and services. They took dance lessons, played bridge, water skied; Dad golfed, and Mom played tennis.

They made sure we kids learned a foreign language, learned to play the piano, had us involved in sports, and took us on vacations every summer. Their service work involved the needy, the infirm, and their church. They taught us when people need help, be there for them. Mom made sure we had balanced meals and a balanced life.

Yet We Fit It All in Somehow!

Part of leading a balanced life was exploring new frontiers of knowledge and activity, of thought and beliefs. I learned that diversity made for a good life. Diverse friends, hobbies, reading, music, and spirituality kept me on my toes, well rounded, and growing. For me, the diversity also helped me have courage and a willingness to try new and different things. Maybe that’s where/how I learned to march to a different drummer.

In my early 30s, I had an upstairs neighbor who struck me as an old woman. I was startled to learn she was 60, a bit younger than my folks! They were vibrant and active, she was inactive and complained about how hard it was to do anything. That observation of the differences caught my attention. I pondered that difference. My conclusion helped shape the rest of my adult life.

My parents decided to live their lives, to be engaged in their lives, not to watch life go by. They didn’t have a plan, they just embraced what came their way. And in hindsight, that lack of plan was their downfall. They didn’t know how to face the hard things in life when they inevitably arose — and work through them. They would put a smile on their faces and act as if they didn’t have problems. When you don’t get in touch with the feelings that arise with challenges and then resolve the situations, your life force is slowly drained. That’s what happened to my parents. Would a plan have helped them overcome and to continue to be engaged in their lives? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect so.

Eventually, their issues got to be too much for them, so when they turned 80, they decided to quit traveling. And then they slowly started dropping out of their various activities, shrinking their world. As their world shrank they became cranky and bitter. They severed connections with their friends. It was shocking for me to watch this change! Some had been “best friends” for decades!

Some of their gang didn’t follow that path. They stayed active and involved, engaged in their lives. They traveled and explored their worlds. What a delight! Observing those differences provided more lessons for my life.

My parents, despite their unplugging from their lives, still lived into their 90s. They outlived their parents, who had outlived their parents. They outlived their siblings and cousins. That gave me the indication I would outlive them. But, I don’t want to live like they did their last 10-ish years. I want to continue to be vibrant, curious, active, and engaged. And since I plan and believe I’ll outlive them, that last 10-ish years could stretch to 20, 30, or more.

Absorbing the Good Lessons

Like my parents, I’m a high-energy person. When I started my business Live In Focused Energy, my intention was to teach people how to live energized lives, how to build and maintain their energy. I just couldn’t explain why I thought my clients would want that. “Because” wasn’t a compelling reason or good marketing plan. My efforts to find the words to express why an energized life was valuable took me through many versions of my business focus. The intent was always the same, though to the casual observer each rendition looked different. For several years I explored different aspects of what it means to live an energized life.

Several years ago, I realized that knowing your Why helped give you an understanding of your purpose, your meaning. Too many people don’t know their Why and it seems to me don’t live as engaged a life as they might. My evolving coaching focus was to help people find that why, align their beliefs and values with their actions, and live healthier lives.

But, I was still missing something. It keeps coming back to that question of why would my clients want that? Then serendipity stepped in. The arc of my search to explain my beliefs and business intention was completed with the keystone piece of longevity. Two articles came to me the same morning about longevity. Eureka! That’s what I had been missing.

People are living longer. With the advances of science and medicine, our longevity is going to continue to increase. There are more centenarians now than 21 years ago, and that population will continue to increase.

The big question, though, is are you prepared to live that long? What’s your plan? What actions are you taking today to help you reach your 90s and 100s vibrantly and comfortably? How will you make your life meaningful?

It’s never too early (or too late) to make a plan and to change your life. The sooner you do it the easier it will be, and the more satisfying your life will be. Work to match your lifespan and healthspan so you can enjoy your life and be more productive longer. What a wonderful lesson on living that is! And that is what I help my L.I.F.E. clients achieve.

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