Five or six mornings a week, I walk 4 to 6 miles in Central Park. I get great joy from meandering. It’s something I do for my head more than for my body. In the past few years I’ve started feeding the birds and now the Cardinals come directly to me when they hear me shake the bag of bird seed. The other morning, as I was feeding the birds, a guy with a dog came by. I nodded but he started screaming at me about how dare I spend money feeding birds when there are homeless and starving children in the world. I was very surprised and then started to laugh and pointed out that as a woman, I can take care of both the beauty of nature and the homeless, hungry children. He, on the other hand, unimpressed by my dexterity, continued to scream as he stomped off.

As I continued my walk, I alternated between being amused and annoyed. Then I realized that he sort of reminded me of me during the last few years of my mother’s life and how the stress had caused me to take everything way too seriously. During that time, I felt that I always had to be the strong one. I never let my hair down or shared with others what I was going through – or just had fun.

Fortunately, before I started screaming at people, I realized I didn’t always have to be strong. I realized that it’s good to let other people be there for you. It makes them feel good and if you really let go, it can make you feel good, too. I also realized is that it is absolutely necessary to look for ways to keep your sanity. For me, it’s the time I spend with the birds and the beauty of nature in Central Park. I hope the man in the park finds his way soon.

And when all else fails, it’s also good sometimes to allow yourself to give in to your feelings. For example: A couple of days ago I went to the dentist and got some very bad, very expensive news. When I got home at mid-afternoon, I took to my bed and, for the rest of the day, I just lay there and wallowed in self pity!

You don’t have to be strong every day. Sometimes it’s really good to just wallow!

© Copyright AgeWiseLiving™ 2010 You can find information about how to talk with your aging loved ones in “The Ultimate Caregiver’s Success System by going to www.AgeWiseLiving.com. While there, sign up for Barbara’s free monthly newsletter. You can also contact Barbara by calling toll-free (877) AGE-WISE. Barbara E. Friesner is the country’s leading Generational Coach and expert on issues affecting seniors and their families. She is an adjunct professor at Cornell University.