Are you a Perennial?
I have always been frustrated with the way we label people from different generations and make generalisations about people on the basis of their age.
Surely all Millennials don’t think and act the same way? Who even knows what Generation Alpha is?
Whenever I am referred to as a Baby Boomer I feel a little guilty for hanging around into my 50s. As if I have sex mad and irresponsible parents who have created this burdensome ‘ageing population’.
Being a Baby Boomer may describe how I came to be but not who I am.
So how refreshing to come across the term ‘Perennials’ – first introduced by Gina Pell in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Perennials, she says, are
“People of all ages who share an everblooming mindset. A mindset that is about being relevant, staying curious, reinvention, looking outside your own boundaries. People who resist categorization and being defined by generation.”
Here we have a real alternative to labelling people by age. A different perspective that sees ageing as renewal and change rather than decaying and death.
I love the metaphor of a Perennial. So many rich parallels to explore that can help us think differently about how we age.
My garden is full of perennial plants. Here is what I know about them and my 6 rules for how to live as a Perennial.
Perennial rule 1.
Perennials are hardy. Not tough but resilient. They survive through all the seasons and keep coming up year after year, doing what they do best. Plants have learned to adapt to what their environment throws at them in order to continue to grow and bloom. Perennials don’t slow down, shrink or fade.
- Value ageing as a process of learning and growing. Learn from our life experiences. See older people as wise, adaptable and just as vibrant as ever.
Perennial rule 2
Perennials come in all sorts of shapes, colours and fragrances. From flowering spring bulbs like the earliest snowdrops and bluebells to showy summer flowers like roses and hydrangeas. Some are evergreen, not seeking attention but creating a constant backdrop to the other flowers in my garden. Each perennial plays a part in the whole ecosystem in which they are planted. Living together in true diversity and harmony.
- Value yourself and others as individuals and take time to discover each person’s unique character and talents. Never judge or treat someone differently on the grounds of age or appearance.
Perennial rule 3
The true nature of a perennial is not altered by age. Some perennials can become a bit woody over time but their foliage and blooms are always fresh and remain visible. Their value is not diminished by the number of times they appear and bloom. A rose does not become a bramble when it reaches the age of 60!
- Know that your personality, characteristics and passions do not change as you age. Don’t accept age stereotypes or conform to expectations that you will fade away.
Perennial rule 4
Sometimes Perennials need a little TLC. Occasionally, it’s clear that a plant is struggling and not performing at its best. Time to move it to somewhere more suited to its needs – a little bit more sunshine, a less well-drained soil. To find a new environment where it can thrive again.
- Seek and accept change as you move through life. Learn to recognise when your environment is making it difficult for you to thrive. To know when it’s time to move on to a new job, different career, or new relationship. Look over the fence and seek a new garden to thrive in. See retirement as a new season of life rather than slowing down and becoming invisible.
Perennial rule 5
Perennials often surprise me. They lay dormant, quiet and almost invisible for long periods of time. Then suddenly emerge again, when the conditions are right.
One of my favorite flowers is the peony.
It completely disappears for the winter, then when it appears it grows quickly and vigorously before bursting out in full bloom. Each year a slightly different shape, hue or amount of flower. A period of restoration and re-energising each year.
- Take time out to reflect, restore your energy and plan for the future. So you can then be sure to reemerge stronger and just as beautifully in each chapter of your life.
Perennial rule 6
How do these amazing plants do this? At the beginning of their lives, Perennials invest their energy into developing firm roots and support structures. Plants know what they need to survive and seek this from the environment around them. They create deep roots and tubers to provide energy and nutrients. This is what enables them to age well.
- Invest in your roots. Develop the ability to learn, to know yourself and to care for yourself. Maintain a strong sense of purpose and identity. Invest in relationships and nurture connections with others.
They’re not wilting in the autumnal years of their life. They’re perennials. And, like their namesake in nature, they are hardy, with the ability to withstand changes to their environment; they adapt, evolve, and grow anew.
Ipsos Mori report – The Perennials
Live life like a Perennial. Challenge the way we think about ageing. Resist being defined by your age and nurture a forever blooming mindset!
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