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Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Does Age Mean Anyways?

As my 36th birthday approaches in September, I can't help but think about the fact that I am now closer to 40 than I am to 30. Does it bother me? I guess a little. It's so ironic that when you are a kid, all you want to do is grow up, but once you do, all you want to do is halt the aging process. Do we ever really appreciate where we are?

When I was a kid, being in your 30s was "middle-aged". Now, of course, my perspective is different. Being in your 20s is still being a kid and being in your 30s is the beginning of adulthood. Middle-aged now seems closer to 50 or so. And truthfully, I am a lot happier and fitter now than when I was in my 20s. A lot of this has to do with maturity and the fact that I take much better care of myself (less cardio, more strength training and yoga/less refined carbs and alcohol and more protein, fibre and good fats). I also have more things in my life that give it meaning, such as a husband and children and a purpose (becoming a counsellor to assist women who have experienced infertility and pregnancy loss). In my 20s I was plagued with self-doubt and a lack of direction. I guess this is why I appreciate Jung's perspective on individuation. In my case, at least, having a sense of purpose and giving my life meaning is integral to my mental health.

Big A is just starting to master her big girl bicycle with training wheels, yet she is already asking when she can get rid of her training wheels. So I told her that it would happen in time but that she should learn to appreciate the things that you only get when you are a kid (naps, training wheels, stroller rides, someone to take care of you), because you never get those privileges again once you grow up. I'm not sure, but I actually think she kind of got what I was saying.

At 15 months, Little A already wants to do whatever Big A is doing. It is so important for her to feel included. If Big A goes into her room to play and closes the door to keep Little A out, Little A howls and cries outside the door. And nothing seems to make Little A happier than when we all do something together as a family. She is really growing up. Her comprehension is astonishing, you can give her fairly complex directions and she'll follow them...all she has to do now is learn how to say more than "Hi" and "Ah-oh".

My thoughts about aging lately have focused on my role of fitness instructor. I have agreed to sub some extra classes at the TAC and Goodlife in August and I feel myself dreading it. I also am not sure how much longer I want to teach my BBL class at the TAC. At the JCC, where I teach spinning, it's different. I love teaching there, not just for the act of teaching, but because of the personal connection I have with the people. Adam and I met there, after all, and some of the members have known me well since I started teaching there in 1997. At other gyms where I don't feel a connection to my participants, I don't get the same joy from the experience. It's so different from during my 20s when I would teach upwards of 15 classes weekly and I adored every minute, no matter what or where the classes were. When will I quit? I'm not sure. Do people want a 50 year old fitness instructor? Maybe at the JCC where a good proportion of members are over 50, but I am not certain about that at other clubs. I used to look with disdain at the 50+ "mom" instructors who would show up at fitness conferences, but I will eventually be one of them. I guess I don't have to decide now. I am still on probation at the TAC, so no guarantees I'll have this class for much longer anyways and it's a mat leave fill-in until January, so I only have to stick it out until then if I make it past my probationary period.

Either way, I actually feel pretty good these days. I think I am much wiser than I was during my 20s and I'm much closer (still a long way to go) to some degree of self-acceptance. Research studies have shown that happiness does increase among women during their 30s and 40s and I believe it. I feel like as I age I am improving (like a fine wine) and "self-actualizing" in psycho-babble terms, and I will continue to do so. So bring on 36! I plan to get even wiser, stronger and fitter than I am now.

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