Still Here After All These Years
By Kathlyn (Katie) Hendricks
Shoulda been my name.
'Cause you can look right through me,
Walk right by me,
And never know I'm there...
The image of John C. Reilly crooning this song in the film Chicago came to me when starting to write about resilience and renewal in later life. If you’ve felt you gradually or suddenly became invisible and your impact and inclusion in community life got ghosted, you’ve experienced some of what our addiction to youth and newness currently creates for older people. You’ve without your consent stepped on the conveyor belt of our throw-away culture. When Gay and I published Conscious Loving Ever After, which is about thriving in love and creativity throughout life, we couldn’t get a single spark of interest in foreign rights because, our agent said, nobody will buy it — nobody’s interested in elder love.
We dispute that characterization of accumulating years. Our experience has been of continuous renewal, based on the commitments and choices we’ve practiced over the last 40 years. We’re healthier, happy, sexier and more productive now in our seventies than ever. Our books and video programs can guide you through practices you can integrate in your life to expand your own joy in life and contribution to your world. Two major principles can guide you starting right now.
Continuous renewal contrasts with the fold-up-and-disappear formula that most people think is inevitable. Starting at midlife, you choose daily to either expand in discovery and learning or to shrink into established patterns, less flexibility and less juiciness. We consciously choose to expand our ability to give and receive more love every day. We make our relationship with each other a priority by giving attention and full presence to each other throughout the day as easily as we breathe. Relationship researchers call these moves bids for attention. We call them filling the reservoir. If you know that choices to nurture your loving relationships are THE most important actions of the day, you’ll find that your emotional reservoir gets plumped out and resilient, with reserves to draw on in times of stress, like now.
Creativity is the major fuel source for continuous renewal and the only state that can supersede the adrenaline/fear-more/more-faster/faster trance that most people think marks success in life. When you keep the current of creativity flowing, the act of giving attention to what is emerging and what is being expressed through you alive and streaming, you plug into the major current of a vibrant life. Sometimes the flow may feel more like a rivulet than a river, and if you commit to feeding the flow, you can expand and focus by choice throughout life. Conscious Loving Ever After contains a whole chapter on the actual felt experience of creating and how you can harness that flow in your life. You can start by partnering with your inner creative voice and doing something you love to do for ten minutes a day. Recommitting to that practice will begin to generalize to other aspects of your life and grow a new nervous system that thrives on discovery.
The second principle that supports continuous renewal arises from living in completion. What does that mean? It’s not about being tidy, as creativity can be messy by its very nature. Living in completion comes from a core understanding that this is it. This moment, this day will not return. You are not immortal. Rather than trying to outrun, deny or distract ourselves from death, we experience letting go by completing every day. Specifically, there is nothing left unsaid, unfelt, unexplored if we can possibly complete the interaction or choice that will finish the outbreath. If you watch most dramas closely, they are fueled by incompletions, especially those feelings left unshared, those actions abandoned mid-stream. Imagine the amount of energy you could experience if you were free of the cobwebs of abandoned actions and halfway choices. You literally fuel your continuous renewal with all that completion. You are free to be here fully in each moment, to respond to the creative breeze that unfolds your wings to soar in the current of your unique expression. And witnessing, sharing, the co-creative tosses, play and deep connection that arise from full presence—well, that’s just about the best experience humans can have. Don’t take my word for it, do your own practical research and enjoy the expanding vitality.
Oh, by the way, you may have heard or read that sexual fulfillment and juicy partnership have an expiration date. Don’t believe it. If you commit and recommit to continuous renewal and living in completion, you can continue expanding aliveness, enjoying deep connection, and rekindling romance throughout life.
Kathlyn (Katie) Hendricks, PhD, BC-DMT*, is an evolutionary catalyst and freelance mentor who has been a pioneer in the field of body intelligence and conscious loving for 50 years. She describes her purpose thusly: “I feel through to the heart with laser-love and evoke essence through deep play.” Katie is the co-author of 12 books, including the bestselling Conscious Loving... At The Speed of Life... and Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationship at Midlife and Beyond.
Passionate about the power of embodied integrity and full-spectrum presence, her work explores the how of consciousness and the structures and practices that befriend and transform fear into presence, relational authenticity, and resonate collaboration. She specializes in translating concepts such as commitment into directly felt experiences that lead to new choices and creative engagement. Her unique coaching and leadership programs have generated hundreds of body intelligence and relationship coaches in the U.S. and Europe.
She has developed and led the Leadership and Transformation Training for the past 30 years, and is currently joining with her community through the Foundation for Conscious Living to create the Big Leap Online Programs. These online videos are designed to support people in coming home to presence, restoring resourcefulness, and create caring communities. Katie, who earned a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology, has been a Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist of the American Dance Therapy Association since 1975.
Click here to visit the website of Katie and her husband, Gay Hendricks.
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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 14: Resilience & Renewal in Your Third Act Summit