— 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.
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?