H: How Old am I?

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

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?

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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.

Indoors or Outdoors?

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Wellness Wednesday

Indoor or Outdoor?

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Today we’re joining Wellness Wednesday, hosted by Natalie the Explorer, which takes place the first Wednesday of each month. The prompt for March is ‘Indoor or Outdoor Fitness?’

I confess to feeling a bit of a confusion in answering this question that seems so simple. My initial response is hollering out “Outdoors”, fist raised in the air in support of my favorite place to be. But yet, I truly don’t exercise outdoors all that much.

I love to putter in the garden, take hikes and be out in nature. But to exercise out when it’s (shudder) cold – or too hot – it’s not going to happen. I think I’ll save the cardio workouts for indoor facilities.

Besides, as I learned from my younger sister a year or two back, those gentle walks around the block, the hikes in nature where I stop frequently to bask in the glorious sights and scenery aren’t giving me the cardio work out I need. I argued that point with her when she first informed me that I needed a workout that gave me cardio benefits. But I’m on my feet all day at work, back and forth from the stockroom out to aisles, in constant motion. “I put on miles a day in the stores. I’m getting cardio,” I reiterated. “No, you’re not,” she argued back.

All it took was one 30 minute workout at a kickboxing facility. I had to concede that I’d lost that debate. I had to eat crow and admit that my little sister was right.

After I discovered that now in my (ahem) older years, I’m battling with blood pressure that switched from too low to now too high, I know that the cardio benefits are necessary for me. I am not a fan of strenuous exercise, but you’d be amazed what I will do to avoid taking medications. So, at least for this point of my life journey – indoors it is.

However…the question was about indoor or outdoor fitness. And, at least to my mind, fitness implies more than just physical health and wellbeing. To my thinking, fitness also includes the mind and soul components. And for those – a healthy and well balanced disposition and attitude, and a strong, personal spiritual practice – then outdoors is definitely my ‘drug of choice.’

Hmmm…so, 400 words later and I haven’t really answered the question. I guess my final answer would have to be:

It depends.

Celebrating Early Spring

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The groundhog was right! I’m celebrating our early spring. Yesterday I spent an hour outside pulling weeds and enjoying some sunshine on my face. While pulling the weeds, which seem to be more delighted with this bout of early warm weather, I also found scads of sunflowers already sprouting and a three inch high sprig of lemon balm already growing underneath our porch steps. Don’t be a hater. I can’t usually be out doing yard work the last week of February. Usually I’m scraping ice off the windshield to go to work this week. I’m always happy to be able to start yard work by mid-March.

This year, I’m enjoying this early bit of sunshine after a week or two of early spring rains. It’s cool enough that we’re turning on little heaters once the sun goes down and I still need a jacket in the morning hours. But, I’m still doing a happy dance for being able to get my fingers dirty this early in the season. I love that little groundhog. (At least the years he predicts an early spring – and the year’s that he’s right about it.)

To celebrate early spring, I’m extending the February Memory Gardens sale through March. Regularly $9.99, it’s on sale through the end of March for only $4.99!

(This sale is only good through my author page, not through Amazon.)

Following is a snippet from Memory Gardens.

Happy Spring!

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Why Plant a Memory Garden?

To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.

Thomas Campbell

Planting a Memory Garden is a very special tribute to honor the memories of a loved one, or loved ones. It is a way to have a living reminder, where seeing the plant, tending to it and enjoying the beauty of flowers or fragrance brings your loved ones to mind.

Your Memory Garden can be anything you want it to be. It can be as simple as one plant or a single stepping stone to honor someone’s memory. It may be a small corner with a few plants and possibly a piece of statuary. It can also be a more elaborate, full-blown garden with many plants, possibly a winding path and perhaps a small bench or seating area to sit and reflect. Your garden can be any size you wish it to be, according to the space and land you have available, and the number of plants you wish to maintain.

A Memory Garden can be a place of solace, a place to remember and heal. It is a gift you give yourself, a living legacy of memories and love.

A memory garden is just that, a place to recognize and honor memories – those of our loved ones.

A garden is a living memorial for us, the living. It does not bring them back. It does not remove our pain or grief, although for many it does help soothe and soften the grieving.

The planning, the gardening, the caring for living plants nurtures our souls; it is a way for us to say — Here. I place this plant, or this stepping stone, or this statuary, in your honor and memory. It is a symbol. It is a symbol of my love for you. I cherished you in my life. I miss you. I will remember you.

I believe they see our tributes. I am a firm believer in the afterlife, and that our loved ones still know what is happening in our lives. I have too many unexplained coincidences in my own life and experiences that confirms it for me. Does it help to believe my brother is here, that he is sending a message, that he is still involved in my life, yet I can’t see him? Some days, yes. It is comforting. Some days, absolutely not. I want to see him. I want to give him a hug. I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. But, I can’t do that. And sometimes I still get angry about that.

Grief is not a static emotion. It is not a one-way path. We do not walk the pathway of grief, one step at a time, to the end, where we reach ‘non-grief’. We waver. We’re back and forth. Some days are good. Sometimes we drift along towards healing. We go on and live our lives. (We have to. We have no choice.) And other days, there will be one memory, one song, one fragrance, one thought – and we are suddenly back to a painful place that we thought we’d left behind.

Just remember this, on the path of grieving no one’s path is the same. None of our journeys are exactly like another’s. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s ‘normal’, or what’s ‘not normal’. Follow your own heart. Follow your own healing.

Yes, go on living. Definitely do so, as we are still alive. We can do that while keeping the memories sacred and honored.

I take comfort in the actions of caring for zinnias, believing that my brother knows that when I tend to them, I’m thinking of him. When I tend to the red roses, I remember Grandma Jones. When I clip the carnations, I think of Grandpa Jones.

For many years, families were the caretakers of loved one’s gravesites. The whole day was spent there, often with picnics. A celebration was created around the loving care of the final resting places. Nowadays, some people still do this, but not many. I loved to take flowers to the graves of loved ones at Christmas. Now, I’m too far from any of them to be able to do that. So tending the plants in my backyard is a way of making that connection. That is something I can do every day, not just on holidays and honoring special dates.

Why plant a memory garden? For our own healing. For our own souls. For a tribute to the ones we loved that no longer walk this earthly planet with us.

Remembrance is a golden chain

Death tries to break, but all in vain.

To have, to love, and then to part

Is the greatest sorrow of one’s heart.

The years may wipe out many things

But some they wipe out never.

Like memories of those happy times

When we were all together.

Author Unknown

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