Living Young At Heart

By Jaime Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications |

Take cheddar cheese, for example. The aging process is not simply cheese getting older. I’m no expert, but I do know it involves adding not only bacteria to milk but also adding curdled milk from the stomachs of un-weaned calves. There is also nearly endless folding and pressing and draining. This is work only qualified professionals should do because they know how to produce the right balance of microbes and enzymes. That’s what creates the flavor and texture.

Jaime Collins

Aging human beings is even stranger in many ways. The process never comes without delays and setbacks, but the result is most often far more delightful than even the very finest aged cheddar.

“It takes a long time to grow young,” said Pablo Picasso. At 55, I hope to have a lot of growing young to do yet. That’s why I am so thankful to have a big group of older friends to lead the way and help me age well. They’re people I am very grateful to see regularly, to get to know, and to learn from.

They’re my friends in our local Young At Heart club, a group I helped start nearly a decade ago with the help of a small team of dedicated people, including the fine folks at Park Place Senior Living. Our purpose was (and still is) to connect people 50 plus with healthy ideas and with their community. And that’s how in January of 2010, Young At Heart was born.

In the beginning, I understood managing this club would be a helpful project well worth my time. I had no idea, however, just how enriching the experience of leading this club would turn out to be! We were simply there, I believed, to provide a venue for social connections and offer education programs to help older folks live healthier. You see, healthy living is something I’ve always been passionate about, and helping others live well is always interesting to me.

Truth is, however, it is I who have learned from each one of these fine folks. Far more than I have given. Far more than I ever anticipated.

Let me share some things I’ve learned about life by hanging out with Young At Heart friends:

Indeed, each one of us is an utterly unique, priceless, and ageless work of art.

  1. Contrary to widely held beliefs, aging makes us faster and nimbler. How’s that, you ask? Over time, we develop a wonderfully deep well of real-life experiences, hard knocks, and proven life skills to continually and quite handily draw from.
  2. Curiosity is essential for being young at heart. It moves us forward, keeps our minds engaged, and continually refreshes the world around us. Plus, curiosity doesn’t take any special talent or expertise. Anyone can be curious.
  3. To be a better friend, listen more.
  4. To receive more, give more.
  5. To gain perspective, laugh more.
  6. To rise higher, celebrate others. All others.
  7. The older we get, the more experience we gain in getting back up again after being knocked down. That ultimately loosens up our rigid egos (which serve no one well), allowing us to draw more and more from our souls, the true source of our strength.
  8. Enjoy the little things in life. One day you’ll look back and see they were the big things.
  9. Doing what’s right, not just convenient, is where the real rewards are.
  10. Discipline and routine are good for your soul.
  11. You can be both exceptional and modest.
  12. Love and connection give us strength for when we need it most. Slow down and appreciate the people around you.
  13. It’s good to believe in something. What you believe in is up to you and no one else.
  14. It’s ok to fear growing older, though you also don’t need to.
  15. In every life, enormous things happen. Incredibly beautiful things. And tragic things. You never know what someone else is going through.
  16. Each one of us is an utterly unique, priceless, and ageless work of art.

Young At Heart is nearly 10 years old, and I, of course, am nearly 10 years older than when we started. Like sharp cheddar, I have aged. Yes, I have a lot of growing young to do yet, though I’m also growing wiser thanks to so many club members sharing their time and experiences with me. Young At Heart continues to be richly affirming and rewarding for me, and I look forward to many more wonderful times in their company.

For anyone interested in finding out more or in joining Young At Heart, click here. Or call me directly at Southwest Health at 608-342-4779. And may each of us continue to grow a little younger each day.

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