Identity Recalibration

“I don’t know who I am right now. But I know who I’m not. And I like that.”
— Amber Smith (The Way I Used to Be)

When I had my lower teeth pulled, I spent a lot of time gazing into the mirror to see who was there. Sometimes the reflection resembled me. At other times, I stared at a face that seemed similar, but was hardened by creases and dotted with age spots. But, the laugh wrinkles fanning my eyes were always there. That was comforting and pulled me back to reality.

A metamorphosis of my face took place when we left Nicaragua. The mutation was slow, but noticeable. I became a younger old adult. no longer could I fool myself into thinking I was young and vibrant, although inwardly I felt that way. The stress lines were deeper, my skin was saggier, and I could no longer identify as an expat.

Who was I and how could I redefine myself?

It took a year of grieving for a life I no longer owned to shake myself into a different…and better…reality. I am almost there. And it dawned on me that my passions were responsible for my mindset. Once I reminded myself that I create my life, the world opened up! I was becoming and transforming into me again…along with all the warts, imperfections, and sagging body parts.

I have rediscovered the beauty in the world. When I am not planning our travels, I am painting mandala designs on rocks. I have created over one hundred painted rocks that line my walkways and my windowsills. It gives me joy. What more can I say?

I am taking an online iPhone photography course because I cannot lug my big expensive camera with all the lenses around the world. Not only is it cumbersome and heavy, but I am lightening my load and trying to travel simply and efficiently.

taken with my iPhone 6s

Why is this experience called a “crisis” rather than something like “identity recalibration?” Because it’s a disruptive process—not a single event, but an ongoing process of self-assessment, trial and error and re-assessment. I had to get in touch with my passions again and try things to see if they felt right and brought me joy.  If they make me feel alive, they are right for me.  It’s a time of life that is exciting and full of potential, but not necessarily fun all the time.

We are spending the winter in Mexico. I have lots of posts to write about travel tips for travelers beyond 60, so stay tuned.

How do you recalibrate your identity as you get older? 

11 thoughts on “Identity Recalibration

  1. I like “identity recalibration.” 😉. I think we have to keep reinventing ourselves in at least small Waze all the time and always with in the far limits of what we can comfortably do. Keep our brains busy, find joy in the world around us because it’s their everywhere, and always keep exploring.
    I think we have to keep reinventing ourselves in at least small ways all the time and always with in the far limits of what we can comfortably do. Keep our brains busy, find joy in the world around us because it’s there everywhere, and always keep exploring
    My dad always says that getting old isn’t for sissies, and I think that’s true. LOL.

  2. I had this lovely idea that retirement would be all margaritas on the beach, ladies’ luncheons, lovely music and theater, and somehow some friendship, creativity and giving, somewhere in there. Well, the music and theater have been happening quite a bit lately, to my delight, but a good deal of my time is spent trying to recover from injuries and surgeries following a bad fall almost 2 years ago, and working with various practitioners to fight back against symptoms of aging that limit my mobility, and represent threats to my longer-term health. All terribly mundane–and the only beach I’ve been on lately was when I went to visit a friend earlier this week, though I live a mere three blocks from a perfectly good one!! Adjusting to the realities of aging, even while living in paradise, seems to be a common theme–I guess we somehow didn’t imagine it would happen to us, as though, if we do youthful things, like travel, they would keep those realities at bay! Well, I hope to see you and Ron sometime this winter, if you’re headed anywhere near Vallarta!

    • I just found your comment in spam…and it is definitely not spam. When I was trying to find a theme for my new blog, your thoughts are exactly what I wanted to put into words. Most people our age can identify with the traveling challenges that accompany aging bodies.
      I want to write about those experiences we have with thoughtfulness, gentleness, and of course humor…because some days all we can do is laugh! Thanks Cedelune, for your comments and understanding and…always knowing what to say. Sending love and healthy thoughts. ❤️

  3. (Love those hand-painted rocks, btw!)

    You are so wonderful and so honest and you allow us to step into your psyche and peer into the mirror with you. What a gift! By peering with you, we also peer into our own inner worlds and check to see if we’re comfortable there!

    That old dengue/chikV continues to challenge my energy reserves, and presently I’ve altered my diet for chasing away lingering effects of different viruses. Did you know that Brussel Sprouts are high in arginine and are considered ‘no’ foods, as well as corn and onions? yikes! Chocholate is also on the ‘not smart to consume’ list for purging the viruses…. My biggest problem is extreme fatigue, and it goes back to Dengue/Chik days.

    A friend’s grand-daughter asked me a few months ago, ‘Lisa, |How did you get old\?” I laughed and said, ‘One day at a time,’ but later thought she deserved a better answer so expanded on the long-term effects of too much sun, too much sugar, stress, etc. She’s five, btw, and we remain baffled b/c she acts as if she knew me when I was young!

    Feliz Navidad, dear Debbit y Ron!

    • Lisa, I am so appreciative of your comments. Thank you so much. In my humble opinion, the way to reach others is to express my vulnerabilities. That way, others feel comfortable cracking the door to express their fears, joys, etc.
      Chikungunya has long lasting side effects. I can empathize with you. 😢 The best we can do is live with joy that involves modifying and changing our behavior…but stop eating chocolate??? NOOOO! Everything in moderation mi amiga! Lol
      Love and miss you. Feliz navidad.

  4. Oh Debbie – I could so identify with your question, “Who was I and how could I redefine myself?” as my past year has mirrored yours in some ways and we’ve both dealt with anxiety and the grief that accompany any great loss whether it be a way of life or a death. I am so happy for you and that you’ve managed to land on your feet, find the silver lining in challenging circumstances and discover a whole new path. Wishing you and Ron a very festive holiday season and a happy 2020. Anita

    • Awww..Anita. I know you understand. Life is such a fragile thing, isn’t it? We have to appreciate every moment we are given. It is difficult, but so worth the rewards. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. I cherish your blogging friendship. Feliz navidad.

  5. Changes occur… but it sometimes takes me time to recognize them. Its like I’m catching up with my own reality. I have always been a restless and creative spirit, yet these days I am a peace. I want for nothing, and want nothing more than I have. Wonder how long that will last? 🤣

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