Personal Growth

Personal growth means different things to different people.

Being all you can be might mean pushing the physical limits to some, while to others it has more to do with spiritual pursuits. Still others find academia and intellectual muscle building the path to enlightenment. Emotional growth might be what some see as the ultimate, where others measure growth in business or professional prowess.

Each of us will find our satisfaction in our unique way.

What about elders?  What kinds of personal growth does the 80 plus crowd find rewarding? This, of course, is also as individual as the, well, individual.

My father-in-law, a retired PhD who taught mathematics at Clarkson University in NY for over 35 years, finds that, at 81, he enjoys the subjects he didn’t have as much time for earlier in his life.  He thinks of this a maintenance rather than growth.  His area of growth seems to be in personal relationships.  Having lost his wife two years ago, he has come to value people more than he ever allowed himself to before. He gets emotional, he feels deeply and shares it with his written words in the cards he sends to friends and family. This is big for him. It’s new, it’s intriguing and I have no doubt a little scary.

Some family members are a little baffled and tend towards either avoiding the emotions or poking fun. I’ve invited them, instead, to take on some growth of their own and accept and appreciate where dear old Dad has journeyed to. Besides, he hasn’t abandoned the nightly Sudoku sessions. ;-)

My mother, whose dementia often influences her GPS, finds growth in loving. People smile when they see her and she kisses hands and returns their smiles. She has more grace and love of life with each passing day. She sometimes gets scared, too, yet seems to trust the process of life. At 91, she continues to learn new things about people and teaches those who take the time to be in the presence of in her quiet, gentle strength.

We don’t stop growing as long as our heart is still beating.

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