I recently wrote about how being resilient in life helps us to Thrive. My next guest in the Over 50 & Thriving series has proven her resilience by facing up and conquering tough times in her life. Jennifer Jones, from Next Phase Fitness has certainly had her fair share of tough times. But as she writes in her contribution to the series, she believes that we have to work hard to thrive – it doesn’t just happen. Today, she shares her stories and tips on how we can Thrive.
I met Jen, just before the AtoZ Challenge and we have become firm friends. Another, Aussie, Jen and I both have a love of keeping fit and active in common and the desire to inspire other women to become healthier in their Midlife & Beyond. Don’t forget to connect with Jen, through her website and social mediate links which are at the end of the post.
How Experiencing Tough Times help us to Thrive
Thriving doesn’t just happen. Or it didn’t for me. I had to work hard at it, and found I had to set things in place, to ensure that my life was humming along exactly as I wanted. But I had to go through some tough times first, before even starting to think about whether I would ever thrive again. The saying is ‘before a breakthrough you need to have a breakdown’, and that was certainly the case for me. Thriving in my mind, means having fun and enjoying life. It means being eager to face the new day, with a life that excites and causes me to feel enthusiastic.Those things were definitely not happening in my life for a while there, until I made a few necessary changes.
The breakdown occurred after my divorce, which came as a shock to me. Before I knew it, I was a single person, living alone. I felt I had lost my identity, and my sense of who I was. I moved away to another city, for a new start and this increased my feeling of isolation. It seemed to me, that I had also lost my family. The next years were tough, but I soon realised that I would have to build up my resistance, adaptability and resilience. I saw that I would need to create a new identity and bring changes to my life, in order to thrive.
For a while, as I tried to create a life that I loved for myself, I really struggled. I was facing one challenge after another, until one day, I realised that I was laughing again and I was happy. Since then I can honestly say that, as I’ve built my new life, I have definitely thrived.
These days, I very selfishly choose what I want to do and toss out what I doesn’t interest me. I feel I have earned that right, as my younger and middle years were taken up with raising a family and running a very busy business. Now in the final third of my life, I am exerting my right to choose.
And as I do that, I am thriving!
Occasionally, problems might sneak in that drag me down but I’m now quick to notice them, and do what needs to be done, so I can start to thrive again. Thriving is much more enjoyable than the feeling of not thriving in life.
I plan to keep thriving as I age, by being healthy enough to keep up an active lifestyle. I hope to be doing all activities that I do now, until the day I die. If I wish to do them of course. When I retire I expect to be able to spend hours doing what I want to do when I want to do it.
In the past, there was an expectation that once a person, especially a female reached the age of 60, it was time to slow down, sit on the couch and watch TV or read a book. Thankfully this attitude has changed, as over 60s are spreading the word that it’s possible to stay active and be fit.
I am so thankful for this change in attitude. I intend to keep active and keep thriving towards my century! I have come to realise, that I need certain things in my life, that are important to me, to line up correctly, in order for me to thrive.
My home life now is very happy and harmonious. I have an awesome partner who always encourages fun and a positive outlook. We met when we worked together and firstly developed a relationship as work colleagues and friends. I’m sure this deep friendship we have is why our relationship is so successful. Love is different when you’re older. Of course, I’m not saying that there is no romance. But our relationship is not built on the mushy, lovey dovey stuff of teenagers. We are more about being great mates who are committed to each other, committed to having fun and who love each other’s company.
As much as I love where I live, and have no desire to ever move, the one disadvantage, is that I am about two hours away from family. At first, when I moved to this area, I found it difficult to settle, because I wanted to be closer to my parents, my children and particularly grandchildren.
My first grandchild was born just six months after I moved away, and that added to the difficulty of settling in this city. I never ever thought that I would be a long distance Nanna and it took me ages to come to term with that. I still don’t like it, but I can’t change it, so I refuse to let it drag me down.
I’d prefer to concentrate on the positives of being a long distance grandparent. When I’m retired, I know that I will be able to see family more often and I look forward to that very much.
In 2015, when I sold my business, I gave up full time work. After not working for about eighteen months, I then began casual work in a supermarket. This is entirely different work to my career, but it’s been perfect for me. I love that I can be busy some weeks, and not so busy others weeks. It gives me the opportunity to try out being almost retired, some weeks, but knowing there will be extra hours to work in other weeks. At my stage of life, this is a much better alternative to being tied to an office desk for 38 hours every week. It’s my opinion that casual work is a great transition to retirement, which, I’m now thinking about, as I very quickly approach retiring age.
This is a non-negotiable for me. To thrive, I must have the opportunity to spend time outdoors. Whether it be walking the dog, bushwalking, cycling or gardening, I just need to spend time outside every day. Without that opportunity, I feel myself feeling flat. It’s not only the light that I need, but the activity. When I’m exercising, particularly outside, I know that I am thriving. There is no doubt.
One of the most important parts of my life keeping up with my fitness regime and also looking after my health. Hopefully, all that I have done for my health in the long term, will make retirement more enjoyable. My sense of well being is very high, when I’m feeling healthy and when I’m following a rigid exercise regime.
I love to set goals, both short and long term, and tend to get very enthusiastic when I have a challenge or goal to work towards. Goal setting helps me to work towards being the best I can be, and therefore is a huge contributor to my thriving as I age. Exercise also brings fun into my life. No matter the age, we all need a bit of fun in our lives. I’m sure that it would be impossible to thrive without having fun.
My attitude to confidence has also changed.
As a young person, I had very little confidence. Somehow, as I have aged, I have developed a self confidence in myself, without even thinking about it. I’m aware that I’m not a perfect being, and never will be a perfect being. Once, that thought would have really stabbed at my confidence. Now I can appreciate that it is just a fact of my life, and I am who I am. Having confidence definitely helps me thrive, as I tell myself, that yes, I may be old, but I am still a work in progress, and I can feel happy about that.
Recently, as I have reflected on my life, I have realised how important acceptance is to me – acceptance of who I am and acceptance that certain things that happened in my life, were beyond my control. Now I have that acceptance, I don’t carry those concerns on my shoulders, as I once would have done.
With acceptance, I can thrive and even soar, making it possible to enjoy today without worrying about yesterday’s problems or what might happen tomorrow. I very much look forward to the next phase of life in retirement. I have no doubt that I will thrive and life will be very fulfilling and amazing.