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Settle for Small… or Live Big

Note: I had a bunch of thoughts written out on this topic, and then the post got eaten mostly by WordPress. Gah! Anyway, I’ve decided to post what I could. Hopefully, you might see something that makes you think a bit more…or that just has you nodding in understanding. 😉

We’ve been thinking about aging a lot at my house lately. I just had a birthday in January–one where a woman hits the point where she’s past being able to call herself young. It didn’t bother me much, I don’t think. But my husband is at that age where you get horrible birthday parties thrown for you, complete with black balloons and lots of people teasing you that you’ll need a walker soon. He narrowly escaped a party like that last year. There are no bets that he will be so lucky this year. Muwuahahha.

And there’s another big life change coming for us that makes us think about age, time, and its passage. A  new baby is on the way in June, and we are older this time around (almost a decade will have passed after baby one once baby two shows up!), our situation is rather…interesting. Both of us feel like different people from the first time around as parents.

All this thinking about aging has made me develop a newish life philosophy. I have dozens of these (and they change every couple years), but this one has been at the fore lately. It is this: Live life with gusto; do as much as you can. Be as much as you can because if you live this way, you will make the world a better place.

The short version: Live big.

I don’t know if this motto deserves bold letters, but hey, it feels like a big revelation for me.

This philosophy is the secret of my not fearing age–at least this year. No promises on later.

When I feel antsy because I’m “old,” I simply get quiet and remind myself of what I’ve accomplished lately on the home front, writing front, spiritual front, and more. Every year is better than the last, and pain teaches me how to enjoy the good times even more. I made a conscious decision a few years ago to pursue my core competencies and passions without apologies. So far, so good. I plan to suck the marrow out of life, and I know others will be affected positively from my doing so. No one benefits from any of us living small, playing it safe, keeping to the corner until it’s our turn–and it never seems to be, does it? Living big is where it’s at. Go for everything you are dreaming of…with an eye to how what you do will make the world a better place.

I must say that living big has nothing to do with making tons of money and having lots of stuff (I’m not saying making a lot of money won’t happen. It could). I am not a materialist, and that’s part of this whole way of looking at life for me. I believe living big means seeing stuff for what it is–things. Trinkets don’t satisfy in the long run. Accomplishments, being able to say “I did that”, connecting with people, taking good risks, spending time with those you love–those are ways we live big and take up space. The world doesn’t promote living big. Instead, advertisers and even well meaning friends and family often tell us just to buy stuff and be happy with that shiny bobble or with that huge show house we can hardly afford or the nice, shiny cars we need to keep up with other people who are living small.

When I meet people who live big (or just have the pleasure of feeling I know them in the books and essays they write), I am always inspired. I can think of multiple people doing this: Seth Godin comes to mind (I just read The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?…what a book!) along with many women whom I admire for their gutsy moves to have it all (if not all at the same time). For me, many artists and writers embody living big. They reject consumerism quite often and strive for a real, authentic and full life. Many of the things society tells us we must be or do to measure up to some standard someone else has set that we later learn is bogus (only a mother, only a career woman, only a ______ whatever) are simply not true if we scratch the surface and get creative (also part of enlarging ourselves).

So, what’s your philosophy on life and aging? How are you living big, and where would you like to expand your life and soar? I’d love to hear in the comments!