Changing Traditions for Senior Women

Nov 17th, 2010 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: For Senior Women

I’ve just made a major decision to change a long-standing tradition in my life: I’m not going to cook Thanksgiving Dinner next week.  Cooking is traditionally ‘woman’s work’, and I bought in to that tradition many years ago.  I don’t care to stop and count the number of turkeys I’ve roasted over the years, the yams I’ve baked in my favorite recipe, the green bean casseroles I’ve concocted, fruit salads and breads and pies and other dishes I’ve put together.  This year it is going to be different.

I believe that the ‘why’ of changing this tradition is less important than the permission to change.  We seniors get locked in to habits and traditions, and have the notion that changing them somehow is un-Holy.  We just keep on doing what we have always done.  And we don’t seem to question very much.  Our families have come to expect the tradition, and we can’t let them down, so we don’t suggest doing it differently.  We’re caretakers, and we take care of absolutely everyone… except ourselves.

Well, my dear friends, this time I’m suggesting we all consider taking care of ourselves.  I’m not suggesting you all have to stop doing Thanksgiving Dinner just because that’s what I have chosen; I am saying now may be a good time to review habits and traditions, and seriously think about those you want to change.  The worst reason to continue a habit or tradition is because you have always done it that way.  I’m the wife of a clergyman, and I’ve seen churches die on the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ deathbed.  I’m a retired therapist, and I’ve seen my clients become frozen in negative behaviors because they think they cannot change.  Habits and traditions are good only to the extent they result in positive and healthy outcomes; when stress, dis-ease and illness result, the habits and traditions need to be thrown out. 

What do you want to change?  What habits are taking their toll on your life? What change would make your senior years more lighthearted, happier, more carefree?  What changed traditions would contribute positively to your health and happiness?

Give it some thought.  Give yourself permission to change what you need to change, to make your life better, to take better care of yourself.  You’re worth it.



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