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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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Secrets of Growing Older

I have friends of all ages, ranging in age from 20-somethings to 80-somethings. I enjoy them all; time together is always time well spent.

When I'm with the younger ones, I feel like the wise old(er) woman, experienced enough to impart some of my hard-won wisdom upon them. Mind you, I never volunteer unless asked. I hate the thought of coming off as pushy or as a know-it-all. That makes me shudder. But asked for my opinion, I will gladly offer it, hoping that I can help. I'm also not too old to learn something from them, too. And being what I'd like to think of as a keen observer, I never fail to notice that younger or less experienced does not always equal naiveté or ignorance, leading to new revelations, realizations and realities.

When I'm with my older friends, I appreciate that there are always things I can learn from them. I invariably look to them as role models of sorts, kind of like I imagine my younger friends might look upon me. After enjoying our time together, there is ultimately something I walk away with that warms me and makes me grin and feel eternally grateful for the friendship.

So what have I learned about life, aging and feeling young?

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Take tap dancing lessons even though you were born with two left feet. Smile at the meanest-looking stranger you see even though you're intimidated beyond belief. Ask for a discount even though you're convinced you are the worst negotiator that ever lived.
  • Learn as much as you can. Take every opportunity to discover something new. There is something to be learned everywhere you look; you just have to be open to taking it in. You don't know what you don't know, so asking questions and being curious can open up a whole new world.
  • Take care of your body. It's what makes you breathe, move and feel. No one else is going to take care of it for you. Even if you think they will, they won't take care of it as well as YOU will.
  • Be resilient. Life certainly has its challenges, but it is possible to get through them. Knowing this can set you on a path to face what lies ahead. Face it, the longer we live, the more life throws our way.
  • Avoid and anticipate toxic people. You know those people who are manipulative, negative, needy and neurotic? (OK, we're all a little neurotic, but I mean neurotic to the point of focusing on nothing else and letting it dominate everything.) They sap your energy. They age you. They make you feel frustrated. Who needs that?

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