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  • Denise King-Miller

The Privilege of Aging

In June 2020, I trained for and successfully completed my first team Olympic triathlon at age 70! This past June, at age 72, I trained for 18 weeks to participate in my second triathlon which took place in Jamestown, Virginia. Eighteen weeks of triathlon training meant six days a week of running, biking, swimming, and weight training. I would rise every morning at 4:00 a.m., shower, dress, eat breakfast, and be at the Anthony Bowen YMCA in D.C. by 5:45 am. This triathlon would be different from the first one – this time it was not a team triathlon, but me competing each leg of the race.

As I crossed the finish line there were supporters cheering me on…Go 59! as they yelled out my bib number…Woo-hoo, go Denise, they all called out in unison! I was the last competitor to finish the race that day. Unbeknownst to me, the last person to finish a race is called “The Sweeper!” And so, at age 72, I had earned two new titles… “The Sweeper,” and FINISHER of my second triathlon!


I shared my race story in brief to make a point, that you are never too old to achieve your goals whatever they might be. Think back for a moment to the beginning of the new year. Did you kick it off with a list of goals you wanted to accomplish?


You don’t have to reveal whether those goals were ever met, but if you believe your goal is attainable and you have the motivation, commitment, and courage to go after it, do it. Give it your all to make it happen. Consider it your sacred opportunity, because this thing we call aging requires us to get outside of ourselves and to move beyond our comfort zone.


I hope you will explore and contemplate a healthy aging path that works for you. A path that deepens your level of understanding about what aging is and is not and how we can begin to redefine aging by understanding that the privilege of aging comes with the realization that to many this privilege is denied.


Writer and activist Ashton Applewhite said in her Ted Talk that Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured. Moreover, aging cannot be expressed as a life of progressive decline! In fact, aging is NOT about trying to prevent death; it’s about learning how to live life! Learning how to live a full and vibrant life with purpose means that we must focus on that which will enhance our chances of living longer by adopting certain key practices.


There is a lot of overwhelming information out there by medical doctors on the so-called anti-aging movement. While some of this information may possess merit, I have done my own research and I believe that our health and longevity are primarily based on a combination of our biological, emotional, and spiritual health, or what I like to refer to as the body, mind, and spirit. In addition to doing my own research on this topic while studying for my doctorate in religion at Howard University, I had the distinct honor of working in South Africa alongside a renowned traditional healer who offered his sage advice on how to live our best lives. As a result of my self-induced experimentation, I concur with what many scientists and traditional healers suggest: that synchronizing the body mind and spirit establishes the power within that brings us into alignment and allows us to choose to live a healthier life.


As I began to put my theory into practice, I learned that it was my workouts, the overhaul in my diet (becoming vegan), my commitment to hard work, and my daily yoga and meditation practices, all together, that yielded such positive results as I aged. That’s when I understood the powerful connection that the body, mind, and spirit must all work together in unison/alignment, to achieve whole-body health. In other words, one component does not work without the other, which means, if one of the three components is missing, the whole body is out of sync, out of alignment.


Allow me to put into context the idea behind the Body, Mind, and Spirit Connection and how it can complement your longevity journey.


First – The Body. The body means the physical body which needs to flourish and thrive. You must know your body’s required level of nourishment. In other words, what foods, water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, etc., your body may be deficient in. I recommend that you invest in meeting with a certified nutritionist or plant-based coach to determine these factors for your body and to receive guidance on finding a cost-effective, low-risk, intervention diet/lifestyle that works for you.


Second – The Mind. The mind is your consciousness. Your thoughts have energy. It takes only one thought to put transformation into motion. Thoughts are invisible but have a profound effect reaching beyond our bodies. Through each decision, we direct the course of our lives and decide our fate. The decision to eat healthy, the decision to routinely exercise, and the decision to honor a higher source and to live life on purpose, all direct the course of one’s life.


Third – The Spirit. The spirit is how we communicate with God and to each other. It is through the spirit that we pray, meditate, reflect, resolve, choose, and make decisions.


For me, these three elements are the basic keys to understanding the path to health and longevity. It begins with unlocking your authentic power and allowing your personality (your higher self), to serve the energy of your soul.


Now this all may sound simplistic – boiled down into three keys. But I know that any serious commitment to accomplishing your goals is incredibly challenging and it’s imperative to have a strong foundation as your starting point. My message to you is that you can do anything you put your mind to, even if it results in your becoming The Sweeper!


The singer David Bowie said, “Aging is an extraordinary privilege where you become the person you always should have been.”


For me, the privilege of Aging is about living my life with dignity and courage. It’s about unfolding and processing life to find balance within your authentic self. It’s about living a life that cannot be defined or confined by anything or anyone. The privilege of Aging is to redefine aging in terms of how we wish to be defined and demand to be seen! The privilege of aging is how we understand and practice the habits of longevity and share our wisdom in knowing that Life happens for us, not too us. The privilege of Aging is about aging gracefully and living a long and vibrant life on purpose.


I embrace aging because it represents the collective years that make me extraordinary. The privilege of aging has taught me to embrace my laugh lines, my frown lines, my wrinkles, and graying hair. The privilege of aging has taught me style, strength, a sense of belonging, courage, worthiness, gratitude, confidence, and to self-empower by taking control of my environment. The privilege of aging allows me to understand how true beauty is reflected in the soul and how the spirit rises with age as a thing of beauty, not something to fear, regret, or fight. The privilege of aging has helped me see that I belong and that I can create results that matter. The privilege of aging has taught me my value. It has taught me that we must believe that we are gifted at something and that our life goals, at whatever cost, must be obtained. The privilege of aging has taught me to no longer avoid the reality of aging, but to embrace it … and the more you honor your body, mind, and spirit the more that energy grows around you…. unapologetically, giving voice to the women and men who would otherwise be invisible. Aging is a privilege, because not everyone gets to age! Will today be your day to embrace the privilege of aging?


Denise King-Miller

Founder, Seventy Forever

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