The Authentic People

By Patricia Allwood Hindman

There is no doubt that going gray has allowed me to be who I really am.
There is no room for incongruity when you bare all.

Authenticity, being the real you, is when you are aligned in social setting with your beliefs and values. It comes from a real place inside us, and when we operate authentically, we find that illusive thing called peace.

I think being authentic is almost impossible in youth because we don’t know who we are. It becomes easier as we “go gray,” but there are still times when I question if my actions have aligned with who I really am. Most of those times come after I have already acted in a way that is not the real me. Then I have to reflect on why I didn’t stay true to myself.

At the center of you

How does a person become more authentic? Please, don’t take me as the expert. I’m just now feeling I am really me. I’m centered, that is until the next bump in the road. Reflecting, I think these things helped.

  • I have learned my core beliefs and learned to listen to them. Although I find opinions valuable, I basically stick to what I believe is right and wrong for me. I evaluate my lifestyle and see if my life reflects my beliefs.
  • I have eliminated most crutches from my life. Most of my crutches came in the form of addictions and people. I’m easily addicted to drugs and food, but I fought another addiction for years. I held onto a high level of approval addiction. I sought approval from people I loved, liked. Even worse, when I admired someone, I’d try to be them, not me.
  • I have simplified. Simplifying was a process I started a few years ago. Now I’m down to the basics. This has given me time for reflection, for examination, and for doing the things I love.
  • More and more, I tend to live in the moment. It is easier when you realize you don’t have that many more moments left, but this concept applies to everyone. We live, as I heard a friend say, on a precipitous perch.
  • I judge less and try to love more. Honestly, so many things I thought were “wrong” or “taboo” in my lifetime has turned out to be simply my fault-finding mentality. I’ve had to ask forgiveness for my judgmental attitude so many times, I’ve decided to let God take care of his universe. My judgments have turned out far more shallow than his, and I never had control in the first place.

Maybe you are not gray yet, but if you live long enough, you will be. The “getting there” is a fun, but sometimes tedious process. Yet never stop growing, reflecting, examining, questioning, and sorting. Then, finally, you toss all that for a few simple life truths and go your merry way.

I love my readers and welcome your comments!

IT IS ALL ABOUT CHANGE AS WE GROW GRAY

By Patricia Allwood Hindman

“If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?”

W. Somerset Maugham

Little Max flying his kite sees everyone as a good person, every statement as true, and every excursion as an adventure.
Soon he will start shaping his beliefs. Is that good news?

By now we probably have some non-negotiable credence of faith. Beliefs, however, can always change. They should less we judge before we comprehend.

When I was young, I believed, according to my religion at that time, dancing was a sin. The fact that this had nothing to do with a basic faith in God didn’t occur to me because I didn’t question. I was taught that. Therefore, when I was a queen candidate in high school, the school eliminated the queen’s dance for that event . It was honorable on the part of the school, but since then my belief, not my faith, has changed. And I dance! So did David in the Bible, but I guess that was explained away somehow.

I was also raised WASP, but, fortunately, my family never taught me to discriminate among people (as much as possible in an all-white community in the fifties and sixties.) My belief that all people have inalienable rights has not change. I suspect it won’t now.

Now, as a “going gray” person, life seems much simpler than when I had to gather my many beliefs, touch them, turn them over, and examine them like a crystal quartz to see if I truly could accept them. I had to decide what portion spoke truth to me and what didn’t. Often, I’d have to pick up that same crystal quartz of truth and re-examine. I’d change my mind. I still do on some matters. I hope to do so to the day I die.

Nonetheless, the picking up and turning over the “truth” has lessened. I hold to a few basics and watch as my children and grandchildren do the hard work of determining their standards of societal and personal right and wrong. Geez. It’s easiest when you’re down to a couple of basic beliefs. I believe I’ll stick with love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

To little Max flying the kite…you can be a police officer like you want to be now, but the real question for your future will be “Can you keep an open mind?” Will you see all the good in the world? Will you determine what is good and what is evil? Will you let people be who they need to be even if they don’t fit in your set of beliefs? Will you continue to pick up that crystal quartz of truth and turn it over, seeing the changes with each turn?

And will you love, grandson? That is paramount.

My “Going Gray” Legacy to My Family

By Patricia Allwood Hindman

Our electronics will be our most important heirlooms for our children as we grow gray.

Think about it. Our lives growing gray is a little like the story of the small boy who decided to run away. As he walked down his street and neighbors questioned him, he was given food, a blanket, something to drink, a toy….By the time he reached the end of the block, his luggage was too heavy to carry and he had to return home.

This is much like our lives today. As we grow gray, we begin to give away. Our home is too large. Our extra bedrooms are not needed. Our excess is too much.

We move to a smaller home. Extra furniture has to go. Often, we move again to an even smaller place. At least, that’s been my story. I’m not complaining. It’s necessary. It’s even been a wonderful, freeing experience.

But when I die, what will my children fight over? If they really want an heirloom from me, they will try for my electronics. My cellphone has all their pictures, videos, and family events like births of their children and Christmas memories. It has contacts for those distant relatives they never see anymore.

My computer has all my writing…the poems about them, the times we laughed and cried together. There are treasures in the cloud if they have my password!

Finally, there is my Kindle. It contains books that were so important to my life. A whole virtual library, free for the taking. I will definitely leave my password for that.

We are a different generation from our parents, we people of gray, 2019. Our lives and those of our children are recorded somewhere in space. Our electronics are us.

This is not a bad thing. It simply is. So be certain to leave your passwords that unlock the key to your treasures. And just think! No squabbling over the china. Who wants it anyway!

Being Intentional

Patricia Allwood Hindman

We see all kinds of memes about forgetting as we grow older in body and younger in spirit, but at any age we can be intentional in what we do in order to increase our productivity. And more importantly, become joyfully fruitful in life.

“I’m not sure if I have free time or am just forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing.”

As we age, we literally have more time, yet, paradoxically, we seem to accomplish less. That’s life. Funny memes about forgetfulness or our inability to accomplish something are funny to us because they are true. Forgetfulness simply seems to be part of the aging process. Lounging around suddenly is important. It’s all fine and good until we discover we feel purposeless.

Being purposeful, however, can keep us productive and dynamic no matter our age.

Writing it down

I’m the first to admit I despise lists. Lists seem confining. Lists constrict my spirit. As I grow silver, however, I find that lists are necessary. A list at the beginning of the day or week keeps me focused on what I need to accomplish. It keeps me centered.

Calendar

I use my iPhone calendar, and I find I rely on it more and more. It keeps me from showing up where I’m not supposed to be or showing up a day late. Or missing important events like birthdays and parties. I also know when I am overbooking.

Even more important

I am trying hard to be merciless with my time. As we age, we realize the importance of time. Why waste it on events we don’t care to attend, people we don’t really like, or things that is unnecessary in our day?

Go back over your calendar from the last month. Is there a social engagement that took up an evening? A whole evening that could have been spent doing something you enjoy or accomplishing something that you want to do.

Is there a commitment you have made that is now overwhelming you? Is “no” absent from your vocabulary? With time pressing us as we age, we cannot afford to squander precious moments.

Neither can we afford to misuse our time through useless events, unnecessary demands or laziness. Taking control of our time allows us to make the most of the days we have. We are older, not dead. There is much we can accomplish. But we must stay intentional.

Mulling it over

How do you stay intentional?

Have you learned ways to be productive that have worked for you in this season?

Are you a goal-oriented person? Why or why not?

What do you enjoy doing and feel you need to make more time to do?

Silver wisdom

“Knowledge is knowing what to say; wisdom is knowing when to say it.”

Anonymous

Our silver hairs and forceful faces are outward signs of inner wisdom, but silver is only valuable to society when the precious commodity is used wisely.

I sometimes find myself, with all my “wise” experiences, wanting to tell others what they should or should not do. After all, I have been there. Done that. Sold the tee shirt at the yard sale. I know what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes.

Then I remember I never listened to “old people” myself. Had I been wiser in my youth, I should have listened to some, but it seems we each must write our own story. And I wonder if my own life might have been a bit more dull had I listened to my elders.

Yet I do believe with age comes opportunity. Not the opportunity to tell, but the opportunity to gently guide or, at the very least, to be “there” for those we love. I believe our responsibility goes further. We need to be there for society, for our culture, for the land in which we live. I hope we are not failing to grasp these opportunities because we feel “old,” “useless,” or simply worn out.

We have silver wisdom in us. Younger people have a great deal of brass. It has always been. Our responsibility, and possibly payback, for having been granted the opportunity to exist long enough to gain silver on and in our heads, is to hand some coins to others. But just how do we do so?

MULLING IT OVER

Lately, I’ve been intentional. I have been spending more time with my grandchildren, investing in their lives. When given the opportunity, I refer to something I’ve learned from my past or offer just a tidbit of advice about their future. I do those things only after I have invested a lot of “silver” coins into their emotional bank account. Most of my time with them revolves around loving them unconditionally, assuring them they will always be loved by me, and having fun with them.

Investing in society is a bit more difficult to me. I do it simply. I look a clerk in the eye, smile, and do my best to avoid acting like a “crotchety old lady.” I try to keep up with world events, and I vote. I know many of you do so much more.

What do you do to transfer some of your gained wisdom to others? I would really like to hear your viewpoints.

Most importantly, I would love for you to share some adages of what you have learned through this walk to the silver path? Sharing is a great way to give back!

Breaking free to be me

At some point in my life, I quit trying to be a cliche and became the me. Maybe it was after the kids were grown and I didn’t have to be a mom. Maybe it was after my divorce and I didn’t define myself as a wife. I don’t know. But at some point, I became emancipated from the stereotype and chose the “me” I was created to be. It was then I wrote this poem:

Breaking Free

There is no place for powder room visits

   in my life anymore.

For girls who giggle en mass to apply masks.

A half century and beyond teaches me

  the futility of puberty

   and much more.

Fleeting feelings and cheap wine and cold marbled rooms

   I don’t need.

Now I revel in tender touches, expressive voices, exposed eyes,

Warm blankets of wise thoughts and strings of music

   from the meadowlark.

No, I need no powder room visits

   to put on a face any longer.

For now is the time of baring face

   and breaking free.

Patricia Allwood Hindman (2006)

MULLING THINGS OVER

We don’t all feel free to be ourselves every moment. But we can come to the point where we are real most of the time.

Do you feel you sometimes keep your face in a jar beside of the door and put it on when you feel?

What are those occasions?

Have you come to the point you feel you are really you most of the time?

Attitude change

(Loved the wisdom of those who commented to last post! Don’t miss them!)

As I began to slowly let my hair go gray, I noticed some attitude changes from society. The first thing that surprised me was some people showed me more respect. The second thing that surprised me wassome people acted as if I were irrelevant.

For example, I was walking into a common variety store and a young man in dreadlocks wearing his pants under his butt was in front of me. He stepped aside with a flashing, beautiful smile and held the door open for me. I had the idea that if I had said, “Pull up those pants, young man,” he would have immediately complied, perhaps thinking of his own grandmother.

On the other hand, I have sensed that I can become insignificant in the eyes of clerks, waiters, and those charging forward to complete their lives. Also, as a fairly fast driver, some drivers can’t handle the fact that a gray granny in a Subaru has passed them by.

No matter. Going gray is a journey and I’m amused by the voyage.

MULLING IT OVER

Do you think women in certain professions feel going gray will affect their profession?

When does vanity or necessity no longer impact a woman’s decision to go gray?

Do you have a story to tell about going gray or deciding that only your hairdresser will be the one who knows for certain?