I'm sure you've heard this before:
"Every one of us completely regenerates our own skin every 7 days and every single cell in our skeleton is replaced every 7 years." This statement is from the Stanford School of Medicine online. It's actually more of a myth than fact. What's true is that "red blood cells live for about four months, while white blood cells live on average more than a year. Skin cells live about two or three weeks. Colon cells have it rough: They die off after about four days. Sperm cells have a life span of only about three days, while brain cells typically last an entire lifetime (neurons in the cerebral cortex, for example, are not replaced when they die).
There's nothing special or significant about a seven-year cycle, since cells are dying and being replaced all the time. It's not clear where this myth began; perhaps some well-meaning but innumerate person simply added up the all the lifespans of the body's various types of cells and (mistakenly) assumed that all the cells are renewed after seven years." [source]
But people love myths and they love numbers and time frames. So the 7 year cycle has many spin offs. Tony Crisp writes, ".... recent investigation has uncovered facts concerning the emotional, physical and mental changes that seem to occur in approximate seven-year intervals. Of course, there are no fixed boundaries and so one may achieve these levels of maturity at any period of our life. so what follows are simply the general changes you may find."
I looked up what Mr. Crisp had to say about the years between 49 and 56. I'd just compiled a photo of my self at 49, the year I spent 5 months solo traveling through Asia, and put it alongside a photo I took today at age 56. Before researching the 7 year myth, I was focused on the physical changes that are so apparent in seeing myself at 49 (pre-menopause) and today's image (post-menopause) 7+ years later. I've aged a lot since 49. My skin has little bounce back. It's full of age spots. I get those little skin tags. But so what? When you learn to focus on life and not so much on the superficial stuff, life becomes more fulfilling and less worrisome. What I would have given to have felt like this in my 30's and 40's!
I've not only been giving a lot of thought to life in my 50's; thinking about the many changes and challenges over the past 7 years, but also how much I love this period in my life. I'm more at peace than any other time. I know who I am. I don't dwell on figuring out my place in the world. I no longer wonder what I want to be when I grow up. I don't feel weighed down by past baggage. I have few fears. I'm not caught up in episodes of personal drama in relationships. I don't worry that I'm looking older nor do I strive to look 35 or 40. It's weird to age. But it's the natural cycle of life and I'm not stressing about it. I have more energy to put toward experiencing more of life on a day to day level because I'm not caught up in buying the latest fashions and trying to look a certain way nor to circulate 'out there' in a competitive way or a come hither kind of way! I don't have relationship stuff going on. I LOVE being single. Most people can't relate to that, or don't believe that. But I'm happy being single. I'm not lonely. I have so many passions in life and not merging with another person leaves me much time to devote to peacefully pursuing the things I love doing. Life is much simpler these days. It's very grounded. Less confusing. Even as my body slows down, and the little aches and pains are felt from aging, I'm also happier. I'm happier with less. I'm happier just being. Bottom line: I really like my 50's.
Here's what Tony Crisp wrote about the 7 years between age 49 and 56, which I'm currently at:
"In this, and the next cycle from forty-nine to fifty-six, and the periods that follow, the physical changes bring about a mental or spiritual climax. The decline of physical prowess and vitality, forces the person to direct their attention inwards more frequently. Any problems of our personality, such as maladjustment and our repressions, will undoubtedly become more urgent in these years. This reacts upon one’s marriage and professional life alike. The problem is that we have to learn to live with ourselves in a new way. We slowly have to adapt to our new-old body, and habits of long-standing do not die easily.
This is when we take an inventory of our life. It’s a time of spiritual questioning and review of our life purpose. If we haven’t successfully understood who we are by this stage and achieved our goals, then depression, moodiness and turmoil will plague both our waking life and our dreams." [source]
If you want to find your 7 year spread to see what Tony says about it click here. He covers from 0-7 years to 77 - 84 and onward.
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