Coming To Terms With Getting Older
Dear Annie: My 30th birthday is just around the corner, and it’s bothering me more than I’d like to admit. I know that right about now, people older than I am are probably reading this and feeling insulted and/or rolling their eyes. I don’t mean any offense. I’ve just never wanted to grow up. Even when I was a kid, birthdays bummed me out. (OK, I liked the presents and cake.)
A few months ago, I noticed crow’s-feet starting at the corner of one eye. They don’t bother me for cosmetic reasons. It’s just that seeing wrinkles reminds me I’m getting older and time is passing more and more quickly. And that stresses me out!
Before I enter the mopey sad spiral, do you have any advice on coping with this whole aging thing? — Twenty-Something
Dear Twenty-Something: Treat every day like the gift it is and you’ll come to view growing older as a blessing. After all, some people don’t get the chance to do it.
Make time your ally rather than your enemy. The trick to this is taking up hobbies and pursuing goals you truly care about. That way, you’ll focus not on how much time is passing but on how much progress you’re making. I’d also recommend volunteering with a local nonprofit. Being of service to others helps us realize we’re part of something timeless and bigger than our individual selves.
Lastly, learn to love those crow’s-feet. As the forever-youthful Jimmy Buffett sang, wrinkles only go where smiles have been. Happy birthday. Keep smiling.
Dear Annie: I read a poignant letter in your column from “Ann in Illinois.” It was about some abandoned dogs. I wanted to share something that happened to me that sheds some light on how some strays become “abandoned.”
In 2011, I was traveling cross-country to a dream job. I packed up my old car with what I’d need to get started again and loaded up my elderly dog and two older cats, and off we went. At one point, when we were within a day’s drive of our new life, I stopped to let my dog out to stretch and do her business. But when I opened the door, one of my cats broke out of his kennel (the door wasn’t fully latched) and took off. Long story short, while trying to chase him, I slipped on wet grass and broke my ankle. I was taken away in an ambulance. It was a full week before I was released from the hospital. I checked in to the Super 8 that was close to where I’d lost my cat and used the last of my money to stay another week, hobbling out to the parking lot and calling for him. I was able to reach out to some local animal groups, which sent people to put out some traps in the area and put up posters. But he was never found.
I’m sure that anyone who might have picked him up from that parking area thought someone had dumped him. That was not the case. Sometimes bad things happen and pets get away.
If anyone reading this picked up a beautiful silver tabby with blue eyes and a crumpled ear in May 2011, that was my Mookie. I hope he found safety and love, because he was deeply loved by me. I miss him every day. — Marcia in Oregon
Dear Marcia: You’re right. One shouldn’t assume every stray animal was abandoned. I can tell Mookie still holds a big place in your heart. It sounds as though you were both better for having known each other. Animals bring so much love into this world.