H: How Old am I?

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I’m not interested in age. People who tell me their age are silly. You’re as old as you feel.

Henri Frederic Amiel

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As old as I feel? There’s quite an age range in that answer. Although my chronological age is now sixty, if I answered the question ‘How old are you?’ with an age that I felt – some days I’d be twenty, some days I’d be eighty.

I’m laughing to myself as I think that from now on, I’ll answer the question with an age that I’m feeling. However, the problem exists in that not many people ask my age any more. Is it something about how the older we get, other people want to be polite and not go there? I’m not sure. But those are musings for another day. Today I’m reflecting on the words above and how they relate to my life.

Since other people rarely ask me my age anymore, maybe I’ll just start asking myself every day. The catch is that I have to answer honestly – and if I get an answer I don’t like, I have to resolve to do something about it – either in a physical manner or in giving myself an attitude adjustment.

How old are you feeling today?

G : Good Attitudes

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I don’t want to sound like a Hallmark card, but to be able to wake up each day with food and shelter, that alone is good. Forget aging and the fact that my butt is becoming a little more familiar with my knees than my tailbone. If you are six feet above ground it’s a good day. So, give me more!

Faith Hill

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Thinking back about the laughter that we looked at on our ‘D’ day, for Dyeing Laughing, I caught myself chuckling as I read this with the part about her butt becoming more familiar with her knees than her tailbone. I thought of how many cards and jokes my friend, Connie, and I have shared that relate to the same aspect, except…ahem…another part of the female anatomy. (Another body part that is also becoming more familiar with our knees than we’re always comfortable with.)

But all humor aside, the attitude Faith shows here is pertinent to embracing any age – not just the numbers in the decade that begins with a ‘6’. Whether the first digit in our age begins with a ‘3’, a ‘5’, a ‘6’ or even higher – any day that we wake up and we’re alive is a good day. Whether the ‘girls’ or the butt are perky or droopy doesn’t matter in the least. Food, shelter, and life (and I’ll add the love of family and friends) – that’s the often unappreciated blessings that are important.

F: Fountain of Youth

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

This year as the A to Z Blog Challenge celebrates its 10th anniversary, and I’m working on my book (and attitude) about Embracing 60, I’m sharing some A – Z posts about ageing – some of them humorous, some of them serious.

 

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.

Sophia Loren

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So many of us are looking for the elixir of life, hoping for a magic pill, or a mysterious and undiscovered fountain of youth to make us young again. And here all along the mystical fountain of youth lives inside of each of us. Our mind. Our talents. Our creativity.

Everyone has the ability to tap into this inner source. Unfortunately, many won’t. Some refuse to look inside. Some refuse to acknowledge that this ability is even possible. But others will. I don’t know if doing so truly means we have defeated age, or that we simply get to a point where age doesn’t matter. The life we live each day and our attitude becomes the important issues, not what date is on the calendar.

E: Enjoying Life

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

This year as the A to Z Blog Challenge celebrates its 10th anniversary, and I’m working on my book (and attitude) about Embracing 60, I’m sharing some A – Z posts about ageing – some of them humorous, some of them serious.

If you want to enjoy your life at any stage,
pretend yourself to be a 7 years old child.

– Author unknown

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Now, I don’t really want to be a 7-year old child again. Having someone make all the rules. Homework. Eight o’clock bedtimes. (Wait a minute – early bedtimes? Maybe I can go with this after all.)

But it doesn’t say to be a 7-year old, it says ‘pretend’. And with that comes looking at life with a childlike enthusiasm. No jaded attitudes allowed. Everything is possible. Life is full of miracles and delight. If we hear the tinkle of the ice cream man on a summer’s day and get to stop him and purchase one of the treasures contained in his truck – why, life is magnificent. Getting a new box of crayons, or chalk can be the highlight of the week. Is it any wonder than the ‘adult’ coloring books are so popular?

I remember when the most glorious afternoon was one spent rolling down a grassy hill with my brother and sister, and making mud pie hamburgers to serve my dad who’d sit at our outdoor ‘table’ and pretend to eat our scrumptious creations. Climbing the orange tree in the neighbor’s yard and catching bees in my terrarium – why those were the days.

You know, just thinking about these memories and reliving these 7-year old memories has already brought a smile to my face and lightened my heart.

I’m out of here. It’s the middle of the afternoon, but I have an ice cream cone to go buy.

D: Dyeing Laughing

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

You know you’ve reached middle age when a doctor, not a policeman, tells you to slow down, all you exercise are your prerogatives and it takes you longer to rest than to get tired.
~Author Unknown

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Some of this humor hit too close to home. Especially the last part – taking longer to rest than to get tired. I was someone that used to fight naps with a passion. My mom always caught me reading under the covers and she reminds me often of how I would fight naps. Now I joke – I take it all back. I want my naps now!

And I’m also discovering that I need to exercise more than just my prerogatives if I want to maintain an energy level to keep me going throughout the day.

But even though some of this may be nearer to the truth than I’d like, I’m still enjoying reading this and laughing about it. After all, the old adage that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ seems to be validated.

Deepak Chopra, along with many others, says the healthiest response to life is laughter. Laughter brings many benefits to our lives, besides being more than just a light hearted chuckle about our ageing. The Chopra Center states that laughter can reduce stress, boost immunity, increase resilience, combat depression and relieve pain.

If a good laugh can do that, then I’m all for it – even if the laughs come from looking at ageing.

C: Concept of Time

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

Some people are old at 18, and some are young at 90.
Time is a concept that humans created.
– Unknown

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Reading this, I had to agree out loud. “Very true,” I spoke into the room empty except for myself. Maybe that’s one good part about getting older, because if anyone catches you talking out loud to yourself, they don’t look at you askance. They probably just think to themselves, “Ah-ha. Yep, there she goes, now that she’s older.”

One woman in particular came to mind when I read these words. Last fall I made a trip back ‘home’ for my mom’s 82nd birthday. As part of the weekend birthday celebration, I’d contacted the local historical museum about doing a short talk on writing our family stories while I was there. They agreed and we had a wonderful morning at the museum, meeting lots of old friends and some new ones too.

The lady that was facilitating the presentation offered to treat my mom and myself to breakfast before the presentation. We’d never met in person until we met at the restaurant. Oh my goodness! This woman is a dynamo! I don’t know her age, but I know she’s retired, so she’s at least slightly older than myself. She is vivacious and lively. She has a sharp, curious mind and I enjoyed our time together immensely. She’s active and involved in many activities, and also mentioned yoga and exercise classes. And it shows. She could run circles around both my mom and I put together. She truly is an ageless, timeless lady.

And then I think of others that I meet, who are years younger than myself, but are sliding into old age so fast it’s as if they’re already used to the notion of walkers and canes and a geriatric attitude.

I know that our bodies can betray us and succumb to the ‘out of warranty’ problems earlier than we’d like for them to. But this quote reminds me that our mind can be the greatest influence over our age. We may be riding through life in an older model vehicle, but it doesn’t mean we have to think or act like we have one foot in the grave.

I think I’ll twist this human concept of time and age and I’ll go with a ’60-going-on 40’ mode.

B: Best Part

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

This year as the A to Z Blog Challenge celebrates its 10th anniversary, and I’m working on my book (and attitude) about Embracing 60, I’m sharing some A – Z posts about ageing – some of them humorous, some of them serious.

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The best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully.

Eric Hoffer

Growing old gracefully – some days this concept seems to be a difficult one to master. I fear that this challenge is one of the ‘one day at a time’ ones for me. It’s reassuring to realize that today is all I have to worry about. How do I handle myself with this issue today?

When I wonder how I’m doing with this issue, all I do is look around and compare. I see how others are handling growing old. Are they grumbling about the aches and pains and bemoaning the not so pleasant effects of a life that’s getting older? Do they remain cheerful and optimist, moving forward with enthusiasm while embracing each new day they are given?

This seems a little contrary to most common advice about not comparing yourself to others. But in this instance, it works. It’s not that I’m comparing myself to other people to see where I’m lacking. I’m using others as measurements to see where I want to be. For the Negative Nellies, I don’t want to be in their camp, so I compare where I am myself and move away from that attitude and existence. When I see those older than me that are filled with zest for life and are living vital lives, I set that yardstick in the sand and move towards what I want my life to be.

Growing old gracefully – that is my ambition. And I will reach that goal, even though some days I may have to consciously aim in that direction.

A: Ageing Strudels

 

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This year as the A to Z Blog Challenge celebrates its 10th anniversary, and I’m working on my book (and attitude) about Embracing 60, I’m sharing some A – Z posts about ageing – some of them humorous, some of them serious.

Older women are like aging strudels – the crust may not be so lovely,
but the filling has come at last into its own.

Robert Farrar Capon

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Goodness, I don’t know how well I like being compared to an aging strudel. But then, I look down and scan my body. I see my arms and the skin that would no longer be termed as taunt. More wrinkles. Age spots starting to pop up like the freckles I used to be covered with in younger days. Hair that glistens more silver than gold anymore. Okay, I may have to concede on this issue – the ‘crust’ may not be so lovely anymore.

But the part about the filling that has come into its own – that one I’ll claim! Maybe it’s taken me sixty years to finally settle into my own true, authentic self. To know what I really want out of life. And, more importantly, what I don’t want. To finally learn that I can say no. That I don’t have to comply with all requests for my time or energy. To recognize that I’m an encourager – and that I can be that encourager while also setting boundaries so that I remain strong in myself. To finally learn how to let go of pieces of the past that are detrimental to me – while hanging on to the pieces that are precious and valued.

If that’s what it takes to be a filling that has come into its own, I’ll live with the not so lovely crust. It’s well worth the trade-off.

Slip & Slide Means Something Different Now

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Slip & Slide Means
Something Different Now

That fall was a warning, Nance thought. You are old. You have only yourself to rely upon. Since then she had minded her body with tenderness. Steady steps on grass slippery with weather. No more reckless journeys to cut heather on the mountains when the wind growled. An eye to the fire and its crush of embers. A careful hand with the knife.

From The Good People, by Hannah Kent

 

“Come over and play after school. I got a new Slip and Slide!”

What glorious words those were to hear in my ten-year-old ears.

Fifty years later – not so much.

I was in the shower one morning, a few months after I’d turned sixty. You know – the same shower I’d stepped into for how many years? Doing the same sole showering activity I’ve done for goodness knows how long? It’s been more years than I can remember since I graduated from the bathtub to the shower. I couldn’t begin to count how many thousands and thousands of times I’d performed this same activity.

Yet, in an instant, in one split-second swoosh, there I was laying on my back in the bottom of the bathtub. One slippery step. It all happened so fast that I didn’t even know it was happening. One minute I was shampooing my hair, and in a flash I was looking up at the showerhead, seeing it in a viewpoint I never had before.

Fortunately, nothing was injured. Nothing was broken. Only my pride came out of the incident battered and limping. As I lay there and flexed all my fingers and joints, assessing the damage, I realized how blessed I was. I knew that the end result could have been much, much different.

Showerbay.com reports:

NewsUSA confirmed similar results found by a National Institute on Aging (NIA) study. Also citing slippery surfaces as a culprit, researchers determined that more than a third of seniors over the age of 65 slip and fall each year – 80 percent of those falls occur in the bathroom. “Knowing how to get in and out of tubs and showers properly and equipping homes with necessary safety precautions can reduce senior falls, keep them out of the emergency room and possibly extend their lives,” they remark on their website.

NewsUSA also cites research from the CDC that reveals that “1.6 million older adults seek emergency care each year for fall-related injuries, fractures or head trauma. In addition to potentially losing their independence, seniors 65 years old and up have a 25 percent chance of dying within six months to a year if they fall and break a hip.” …”

I knew that shower ‘grab bars’ are recommended to help the elderly get in and out of showers and tubs. But…I wasn’t elderly yet. Hey, I hit the sixty-year-old mark, and I’m still fluctuating back and forth between bemoaning the fact and embracing the milestone. But that doesn’t mean I’m old or elderly or a senior yet.

Does it?

However, even though I’m not ‘old’ yet, I still find myself gingerly stepping in the shower now. Once the suds are flowing, I stand still and don’t move those feet. A non-slip mat helps, but I still find a slight fear lingering in the back recesses of my mind.

When I was reading The Good People, I came across a paragraph where Nance, the elderly woman in the story is thinking about this being more cautious in the years where the body starts betraying us in ways we thought we’d be exempt from.

Her words perfectly conveyed the emotions I found in myself. Now I find myself wrestling between the worlds of caution and fear. Yes, it seems safe to be more aware of areas of potential injury. ‘Better safe than sorry’ seems one of those adages that apply to this train of thought. But I find myself also wondering – when does prudent, wise, and cautious veer too closely to the realm of fear?

As in with most issues in life – it’s all about balance, walking the tightrope between two extremes. I don’t want to become so overly vigilant that I extinguish the joy and spontaneity out of life. I also don’t want to swing to the other extreme where fear smothers any action or sparks of vitality.

I know there are still many lessons that I’m learning in life. Despite the fact that somehow I thought that once I’d reached some magical point in life, I’d be older and wiser, and there wouldn’t be any more lessons to learn. I just never expected that one of the lessons I’d be learning would involve the skill of tightrope walking – although, after my little slip and slide in the shower incident, I think I’ll keep my tightrope walking to the metaphorical territory and not in the actual physical sense.

Just Call Me Goldilocks

Just Call Me Goldilocks

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Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Goldilocks wanders into the bear’s cottage. One chair is too soft. One is too hard. And one is just right. One bowl of porridge is too hot. One bowl is too cold. And one bowl is just right.

I was driving to work a few weeks ago, and caught myself feeling like Goldilocks.

There I was, cruising along in the slow lane, safely driving the speed limit. Cars in the fast lane (it’s only a two lane highway) were zipping along at a speed much higher than the speed limit. It was slightly drizzly, and some of those cars barely had a car length between them. There I sat in my car (oh, so self-righteous) berating the speeding drivers. Imagine, driving in such a reckless manner. So dangerous.

And then, I ended up behind a driver that was poking along, going much slower than the allowable speed limit. Can’t they find the gas pedal?

The speed I was going was just the right speed.

Thinking about how anyone that drove either faster or slower than I did was out of line, and my driving was just right, had me laughing out loud, alone in the car. Another instance in my life came to mind, where my way is the right way too.

That’s with the tidiness/messiness issue. In prior relationships, I’ve always been ‘the messy one.’ Oh, the house wasn’t horrid. It was usually fairly clean, and most often company ready. As long as they could ignore the not-quite-squeaky clean floor or the piles littering my desk. But my exes – two of them – that liked things neater and tidier were the ones in the wrong. They were ‘anal’ and ‘obsessive.’ They couldn’t just go with the flow, like I could.

But now, the tables have turned. After fifty years of being ‘the messy one’, I’m now ‘the neatnik.’ Now I’m the one wanting to have a living space that’s cleaner, tidier, and more sparkling than what I moved into. Now my better half, who has different cleanliness standards than I do, is ‘the slob.’

Just like my driving. Anything more or less than what I do is wrong. The way I do things is the right way. See – am I not Goldilocks?

By now I was only half laughing. Some of it was still humorous, but I realized that there was a lesson here I needed to learn. That part wasn’t so hilarious.

Then I got to thinking about age. How is it that with driving or cleaning, my way is the right way? Yet, with age, it isn’t so. With age, I am not content with my age. I find myself yearning for the energy, agility, and non-wrinkly skin from years past. Why can’t I take this attitude and apply it to my age – where the age I am is just the right age?

Yikes. More lessons to learn.

Here I am, 60-years old, and I’m still discovering how much I have to discover about myself, life, and living an authentic life of joy and fulfillment, leaving others to learn and grow in their own time and space.

 

I was reading a book and discovered that I’m not alone in this ‘just right’ dilemma.

In Poser: my life in twenty-three yoga poses, Claire Dederer has much the same attitude, although she mentions it in relation to parenting.

“I judged Lisa and any other mother who came within my range. The next-door neighbors put their kids to bed too early; the people down the street put their kinds to bed too late. The friend who lived near Green Lake was overly fussy about organic baby food; the friend on Queen Anne Hill was not fussy enough. Friend A dressed her baby in designer clothes, which was ridiculous. Friend B let her kids go around looking like slobs. I felt there must be a happy medium to parenting, and I felt that I was the very barometer of that happy medium. Anything that someone else did that I did not do was, to me, excessive and probably crazy…”

 

It always feels so good when I discover that I’m not the sole member of ‘The Just Right Club.’ It’s nice to know there are others.

The driver speeding along in the fast lane is probably griping about what a pokey, slow driver I am. Because their speed is just right. The one watching me approach in their rear-view mirror is probably calling me names, for being such a speedy, out of control driver. Because their speed is just right.

There’s so many place we can look at our lives and see where Claire Dederer’s “very barometer of that happy medium” comes into play. Saving money. Spending money. The foods we choose to eat – or not eat. The amount of fast food we eat – or don’t eat. The amount and way we exercise. Or don’t. The kinds of cars we drive. The kinds of houses we live in. The number of children we have – or don’t have. The way we treat our parents. The way we treat our friends. The way we treat our grandchildren. The animals we have – or don’t have. Oh, the list appears to be endless.

This is most likely a lesson I’m going to have to work on for a bit. After all, I have an attitude to correct that’s taken me 59-years to get set in place. But that’s alright. Because one thing is clear – tonight I’m going to bed knowing that I’m just the right age!

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