Do you take Medicare?

I never imagined that question coming out of my mouth.

When you turn 65 you learn the Medicare alphabet. Do you get part A, B, D and G? And what about Silver Sneakers? Isn’t that for old people?

Yep. I’m officially old. I turned 65 on May 31.

As I tell everyone, I “get” to grow old. Grey hair is no biggie when you’ve been bald at 41 from chemo.

But turning 65 does seem strange. Days before my birthday, this quote from my favorite Irish writer John O’Donohue popped up on Facebook:

“At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms and atmospheres.”

A frontier. That’s what old age is. A new frontier.

What am I leaving? When I turned 50, I wrote the top 50 lessons life taught me. Here are 15 lessons I’ve learned since then:

Keep your heart wide open. Nothing and no one is worth closing it over. Nothing. The great Jewish Buddhist author Michael Singer taught me that. Relax and stay open. No matter what.

Let go or be dragged. Pretty much everything I let go of has claw marks on it. God pries my fingers off one by one. Old age allows me to laugh at all the challenges that made me into who I am, but first shattered who I was.

Every experience is worth having when you share it to benefit others. Every mess, mistake or misfortune becomes a great gift when you share it to help another. It’s like your own personal lottery ticket you cash in to give away.

Declutter now so your kids won’t have to. They really don’t want your silver and all that china. Let it go. Don’t make them spend weeks of their life clearing out your basement and garage after you’re gone.

God is right where you are. In the emergency room. In the waiting room. In the recovery room. In the hospice bed. If you’re feeling lost, remember: God is never the one who moved.

The secret to true peace is to have no preferences. A great Zen master said, “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.” Practice having no preferences. Let life choose and surprise you.

Before saying yes, ask yourself what you’re giving up to say yes. Is it worth the exchange? This is your life you’re trading.

“No” is a complete sentence. Thanks, Anne Lamott. You don’t need to give excuses. No is enough.

All the love you will ever need is already inside of you. It’s not in the person you married or want to find. The source of all love flows within. The only one blocking it is you. It’s like you’re standing on a garden hose or twisting it with fears and resentments. Relax and that love will flow like a fountain.

Allow. Allow life to simply unfold. Allow others to be right. Allow others to be wrong. Allow yourself to cry. Allow life to be weird and wonky. Allow every precious experience to pass all the way through you and be done with it.

If it was supposed to be different, it would be. My dear friend, Ro Eugene, taught me that. My grandkids sum it up this way: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

Life can be hard, but you can do hard. You can do it for one day. For one hour. For 15 minutes. My friends in recovery taught me that one.

Sleep is a gift you give yourself. Get more sleep. Your personality degrades when you don’t get enough sleep. When you feel stressed out, take a nap and pray for a spiritual awakening.

The moment you’re in is the most important moment. You’re missing the present moment every time you’re on your cell phone taking a picture of it or escaping it because you’re bored. Savor here, savor now.

The highest life you can live is that every moment is better because it passed before you. Another Michael Singer gem. You want a big life mission? This is it.

The moments matter the most.

Don’t waste them.

Connect with Regina Brett on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. Listen to “Little Detours” with Regina Brett at or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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