“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” —T.D. Jakes
Did September just creep into our lives? Christmas carols will soon play while everyone is online shopping instead of “malling.” Oh, the weather outside is frightful! Clearly not because of the climate, this newest variant of COVID-19 is creating more havoc than its older brother.
Earlier this year, I thought my birthday celebration in September would be more enjoyable and outrageous as I celebrate life with a sense of freedom and liberation from the pandemic. Unfortunately, one can never really plan the future and predict how things will unfold.
How do we make good and sound decisions when truth and honesty are compromised? Yes, we can plan for the future, but we need to learn to adapt to change and be willing to let go of things that compromise our value and integrity.
Aging must be a matter of acceptance rather than one of denial. We have to live with the highest regard for our well-being in order to live gracefully. To live with grace, we have to act with grace.
In the words of Mark Twain, “Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” I want the marks of my age to tell the tales of my happy memories. It’s human nature to view aging as being based on appearance. But we can defy that.
When it comes to aging gracefully, confidence plays a vital role. The most attractive accessory a person can have is self-confidence. As we accept that change is inevitable, we could prepare to keep a healthy mindset of being happy and authentic. Having a sense of humor is important, too, as life tends to be so stressful and depressing.
Since age is just a number, we could keep our focus on the core purpose of our life and live healthy. Daily meditations and prayers help discover our fundamental reason for being. This purpose becomes more valid if we also improve the lives of others and make them feel good and special.
Forgiveness is an important aspect that helps everyone live better. It doesn’t mean that we deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting us, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which we undergo a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, thus we let go of our own negative emotions. And we all know how detrimental negativity can be. Being able to forgive allows us to heal.
In aging gracefully, we need to always surround ourselves with love that we give and receive. Most women have no problem giving love but when it comes to receiving, we often feel selfish and undeserving. When we learn to receive and accept love, we become more satisfied and complete.
We need to live while we are living, and be filled with joy, laughter and forgiveness. The goal is to love and be loved and to make a difference to someone.
The longest-living people in the world know that eating well, staying alive and sleeping enough are keys to living a fruitful life. Studies show that maintaining strong relationships is also a pillar of life, such as in Okinawa, Japan, and Sardinia, Italy, where people enjoy longer, healthier lives than anywhere else in the world.
Holding friends and family close can impact not only our happiness, but also our health span, or the number of disease-free years. Being social beings, many conditions, like hypertension, obesity, diabetes and possibly even cancer, could be lessened by being around people support groups.
Whether it’s through a religious group, a book club, or a yoga studio, keeping relationships alive help impact our longevity and happiness. Falling in love can unleash intense emotions that naturally help keep our reason of being.
I share my birthday with my soul sister Vina Francisco. She is a kindred friend who is on the same journey of a traveling and shopping life. We are somehow headed to the same hill of sharing fun times and good laughs.
Twenty years ago, Vina was working for American Express in New York City when the World Trade Center towers were attacked on Sept. 11. She was among the thousands of New Yorkers who experienced this tragedy firsthand, not just as a spectator but as a survivor.
As Vina retells her story, her memories of that day and the many trying months and years that followed are as vivid as if they happened yesterday. If there is anything we have learned through the current pandemic, we know that with tragedy comes trauma, and through Vina I also know now that it may also bring about life-altering personal and spiritual growth.
In 2010, Vina relocated to Manila to join Asian Development Bank (ADB) as a human resources (HR) professional. Thus was born our friendship and the start of our soul sisters journeys as we share the same natal day, Sept. 6.
Vina considers Sept. 11 a sacred day. For her it is a day of solitude and silence as she creates a 9/11 memorial in her home. She reconnects in various ways with her fellow survivors from all over the world to remember and pay tribute to all who were lost on that day.
Since 2018, Vina has been the HR business partner for ADB in Pakistan and Afghanistan, two countries tied to Sept. 11. From being a 9/11 survivor, she is now also a development professional contributing in an HR capacity to alleviate poverty and hardship in these two countries.
Suddenly, in her life there are new stories and perspectives. She’s moving forward. Her stories about Pakistan are fascinating, a world so remote and so removed from us that I can only visit vicariously through her travels. She often talked about future travels to the ADB office in Kabul, Afghanistan, but those trips never came to be.
Because she has journeyed with me these past months on my own journey to self which brought us to America, Vina will, unintentionally, be in New York City on Sept. 11—the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and four weeks since Afghanistan once again fell to the Taliban. The past and present colliding. She had one wish for her birthday, and that was the safety of her ADB colleagues in Kabul. Because God is good all the time, that wish has, in fact, been granted. Full circle.