My knees were sore from crawling on a hard tile floor under the table, around corners, racing across the room with my toddler grandson. Entering into his toddler world and leaving my age range created an unforgettable bonding experience. My bony knees reminded me when to stop crawling. I respected that limitation after 20 minutes and equally respected my willingness to be free exploring a toddler’s floor view of life.

I’m often asked about my energy level. My response: “There’s a high school girl in there that just won’t quit!” What that means is a feeling of energetic adventure, excited about life, wanting to plow into what’s ahead with gusto, not sadness, fear or depression even though dips into those territories do occur. I named my car (who I do talk to a lot) “GUNG-HO” because it reminds me how I want to feel in my aging process as my timeline grows shorter. I readily admit slipping from that internal frame of reference with dips in life’s challenges but my bootstraps get yanked pretty darn fast and up-and-away I go again. I can just see my Dad smiling down upon me every time I give a good yank to those bootstraps!

Someone once told me angrily that I am missing out on my aging process by not acting my age and wearing a wig. Funny, she didn’t realize that wearing a wig, fun clothes, glitter and having fun don’t erase the reminders in my bionic body (replaced hip, rod in left leg from knee to ankle, screws in both feet, root canals and tooth implants, varicose veins, sun spots….the list go on). Fortunately, compassion says when someone is judgmental they generally have an internal need or lack relating to their own life journey.

“You bark good like a real dog!” The kindergarten girl was very impressed with my barking. I was teaching a class about the difference between being tense and calm, then how to switch gears from tense TO calm for self regulation, one of my areas of pioneering expertise for 45 years. We became tense dogs, barking and growling with loud sounds. The children could SEE, HEAR and FEEL the tension. Then we took two slow deep belly button breaths, calmed ourselves and became calm dogs. We made calm dog sounds and moved our bodies accordingly. The children had great fun learning about themselves with me on the floor being doggy with them. We connected! They did not have to memorize a rule. They discovered the lesson FOR themselves INSIDE themselves…. and I got to be at kindergarten level.

“FEELING younger than your age may actually help prolong life.” Of course, our cells are listening to the messages we give them for fueling us.

How do we reduce ageism? Who determines how we are supposed to act at 30, 45, 68, 80? More than once I’ve heard, “Stop being silly and act your age!” It’s like a dare (I’m from Kansas) encouraging me to be really alive keeping all of my ages in-tact. Bottom line….if it doesn’t hurt me, doesn’t hurt anyone else, is fun and inspiring, then why not! What age is it when pretending to be winged birds along the shore like my son and I have done? Or hootin’ ‘n hollerin’ riding waves? Playing, being Ageless and Timeless are GIFTS!

It is true freedom to weave into different life ages. My playful inner child brings happiness. When I jump for joy, the joy and I are both ageless!

A research study on Mortality rates over eight years found those who felt younger had a mortality rate of 14.3%, while those who felt older had mortality rates up to 24.6%. Creativity provides ways to think/feel/act younger.

Authors discuss how people categorize others automatically according to their age: So what happens if we free ourselves from that limiting framework and FEEL the inner child/teen/young adult/etc.? Freedom! Of course, there’s a time and place. Find those times and places!

Personally, I feel that keeping all my age-parts intact helps me in connecting with all ages so nicely, while also being older when younger needs assistance. Mobility. Flexibility. Spontaneity. Creativity.

Troubles can plague us into the ground. Finding upliftment is the challenge, in addition to finding our way through the jungle in life’s workshop. Commercial breaks of NOT acting our age could bring some FUNtastic benefits in the movie of our lives.

Janai ‘Grandma Boom’ Mestrovich