Having started this blog a year ago about living and loving life after 50, I realized we could all do with a summary to highlight the moral behind all the stories I have been sharing. As we get older, we tend to become set in our ways. How can we ensure that we don’t become the grumpy old woman (or man) and stay positive as we age?
1. Start new hobbies. For me, I discovered the joy of traveling and visiting new places. So, when I can, I get on a plane to go places. Since I un-jobbed, I have been to Spain (Barcelona), Argentina (Iguazu, Pantagonia, Bueno Aires), Brazil (Rio de Janerio), Uruguay, New Zealand (Auckland and the north islands), Taiwan, Malacca and Hong Kong. Next on my list is to catch the Northern Lights. I don’t know when I will get to go given mom’s health, but I know I will one day soon.
2. Keep in touch with friends. This is so easy now with What’s App, LinkedIn, Facebook and emails. There really is no excuse not to keep in touch. Texting is fun but also make it a point to ask your friends out for a meal sometime, especially friends who have also un-jobbed. Nothing beats seeing your friends face-to-face and talking about anything under the sun. It lifts your spirit and makes for a fun few hours.
3. Learn new things. Lifelong learning, that’s the way to go. We shouldn’t stop learning no matter how old we are. With the Skills Future credit, and the 90% government subsidy for Singaporeans above 40 years old (95% if you have Workfare Training Support), training courses have never been so affordable. And there are plenty to choose from – finding the time and energy would be your only problem.
4. Exercise. Regular exercise is important especially as we age. If running is your thing, go for it. For me, I hate running. I never did like exercising because I never felt good after a session. But because I love music and dancing to a good beat, I go for Zumba and cardio which are exercises done to the rhythm of music. I can’t jump around like the younger folks, so I vary my tempo with low impact moves. Overall, I work up a good sweat. And it is all free at the Sports Hub. So, no excuse not to exercise, unless you are ill.
5. Spend time with family. This is so important. When we were younger, we were busy pursuing our careers and earning money and traveling. Now that we have aging parents, all the more important to spend time with them and show them how much we care. We don’t know how much time they have left with us either, so don’t miss out on this opportunity now.
6. Become the artist or musician you have always wanted to be. It is never too late to start chasing your dream of becoming an artist or musician. I started drumming. A friend I know started on saxophone. You may never become a performing artiste but at least you get to fulfil your dream of painting, sculpturing, or becoming a pseudo-musician.
7. Take care of your appearance. Just because you are over 50 doesn’t mean you should let everything go. Keep up your beauty regime and if you don’t have one, it is time to start one. I have written a few posts about looking good, so check them out. I have recommended some inexpensive skincare products. You should also avoid frumpy clothes. Not asking you to shop at Forever20 but no harm putting fitting clothes, especially if you are slim and toned. Splash on some colors – wear a bright lipstick or a colorful scarf or belt or shoes, to complement the dark colors we tend to wear. Even a quaint handbag can spruce up your overall appearance. Having a good haircut is important, especially if you are planning to go naturally gray like me! Keep hair neat and healthy-looking, which means comb and condition regularly.
8. Go for regular medical checks. This is so important. I know it is not comfortable being poked and prodded, or collecting urine and stool samples, but we owe it to ourselves to watch over our health. Government subsidies are available, so you don’t really have to spend a bundle. I recently applied for a CHAS card and used it at a private clinic when I came down with a cold and cough. First visit cost me S$10! My second visit cost S$12! I remember my last visit to a polyclinic cost me S$25 and I had to wait for an hour. So not a bad deal. I found that with the CHAS card and being over 50, my next mammogram (every 2 years after 50) is free at the Singapore Cancer Society at Bishan. I have also just received a letter inviting me to go for a health screening under Screen for Life for S$2.
9. Develop a plan for a meaningful life. This shouldn’t just be a list of things to accomplish; you need to put a timeline to it as well. Remember, SMART objectives. I tried my hands as a barista at Coffee Beans and then went on to teach at primary and secondary schools. Now I am teaching senior citizens to go digital. I have also taught WeChat as a social marketing tool and dabbled in Chinese-to-English translation and participated in the production of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) project. I have been thinking about trying out as an Uber driver, but most felt that my skills could be better used somewhere else. Plus I worry about safety since you don’t really know what kinds of passengers you would pick up. Anyway, the main thing is, don’t be afraid to try new things.
10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep a youthful attitude. Stay energetic and work to maintain a positive attitude. Don’t get exasperated over the things you have no control. Instead of criticizing people, try to look for good qualities to encourage. Instead of thinking of the things you can’t do, try beginning new activities and initiatives. A positive attitude will also be easier, if we remain busy and dynamic. If we are idle, it is easier for the critical mind to come to the fore.