N: Not Your Age

N: Not Your Age

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You are not your age. We are not our age. I am not my age.

No, we are all much more than that. Our age is simply a tick mark on the calendar. It is nothing that defines us.

At which point I’m going to stop reflecting on this so that Erin’s words can ring true in our hearts.

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M: Maturity

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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M: Maturity

A man’s age is something impressive, it sums up his life: maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves. A man’s age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings 1939-1944,
translated from French by Norah Purcell

A man’s age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories. What a beautiful thought. Somehow I tend to look at the obstacles, griefs, and despairs in life and see them as a negative – things to muddle through and ‘survive’. Yes, I’ve become more mature through these experiences, but I’ve never given them the credit for adding this depth to my life. When I look at the past through this lens, I realize that all the events and happenings that I’ve labeled as negative can truly be counted as blessings.

This slow ageing through the years, like a fine wine mellowing in its oak cask is a fine cargo I can boast of – it’s not something to bemoan and whine about.

I’ll claim the maturity that is mine, which I’ve earned through these past sixty years, while acknowledging that life is not yet over and there is still much to learn, enjoy, and embrace.

E: Enjoying Life

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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.

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.

Running on 100,000 Miles

Running on 100,000 Miles

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I began dreading turning 60, oh, about 11 months and 29 days – give or take a few hours – before my odometer actually turned to the big 6-0. When I noticed that I was fretting about this upcoming milestone birthday, I actively began looking for ways that I could turn my attitude around and begin to embrace this golden marker.

It was a few months after I turned 60 when I was so proud of myself for how well I was accepting – if not totally embracing – this age, that I realized I needed a complete overhaul on my thinking. I not only had to learn to embrace the number – but the whole aging process. I wasn’t quite prepared for that.

Granted, it’s not like this was a total revelation to me. For many years I’d already begun the joking and mild complaining about aging. Wrinkles appearing. Skin starting to sag. Energy levels beginning to wane. Hair turning silver instead of a golden hue. But an unexpected diagnosis really brought this unacknowledged part of the equation to my attention.

For several months I’d started noticing some circulation problems in my feet. Rather than improving with time, it worsened. I passed it off to a secondary effect from high blood sugar or high cholesterol. About fifteen years earlier, the doctor wanted to prescribe medications for elevated glucose levels and high cholesterol. I countered with the suggestion to give me three months to see what changing my diet and adding exercise would do. It took me a little longer than that, but six months later a healthier diet and riding my bicycle twice a week brought my test results into the normal ranges.

But, the years passed. I moved to Texas – the nation’s BBQ capital – and I found myself eating more beef than normal, and not being quite as good with my diet as before. It had been several years since I’d been tested, so I presumed that one, if not both, of these, were probably running high again.

When our local Walmart promoted a free health screening one Saturday morning, I was there, bright and early.

Much to my amazement, my blood sugar and my cholesterol were well within the normal ranges – better than they had been for years.

However…the lady doing the screening took my blood pressure three times. It was high enough that she wouldn’t let me go until I signed that I would see a doctor about it.

WHAT?

I was stupefied.

My brain repeated the incredulous question. WHAT?

Where did this come from?

I’ve never had high blood pressure. In fact, it’s usually run low most of my life.

And it hit me. This was more than just a wrinkle, or a jiggly underarm, or wanting a short cat nap in the middle of the day.

This was ageing.

My body was changing.

My body was wearing out.

I was getting old.

Yikes!

This was more than just a number that kept getting bigger.

I had to learn to embrace more than just the number 6-0. I had to learn to embrace ageing in its entirety, which meant a body that could easily betray me at any moment.

I contemplated how this compared to my car that has over 100,000 miles on it. No, it’s not a brand new vehicle. It’s now considered a high-mileage vehicle and as such requires more care.

I make sure and get my regular oil changes done as scheduled. I’ve upgraded the oil to a higher grade, one meant for cars with over 100,000 miles. When I start it up, I let it run for a few minutes to make sure the oil is circulated throughout before I put it in gear and pull out of the driveway. I don’t stomp on the gas or accelerate at high levels of speed. I baby it more than I used to and make sure to soothe it with large doses of TLC.

Using my typical M.O. of ‘what can I do about it to avoid taking a prescription?’ I set about making a few changes.

When one kickboxing session lessened the numbness in my feet, and three sessions almost totally got rid of the symptoms, I knew that some type of regular cardio exercise was necessary. I noticed an immediate correlation between increased exercise and lowered blood pressure. That sealed the deal. I don’t particularly like to exercise as in physical exertion, huffing and puffing, and sweating. I prefer walking, gardening, or gentle yoga. But, if it comes down to choosing between exercise or medication – it’s a no-brainer. Exercise wins.

I also returned to my previous healthier eating habits. Less sugar. Less fats. Less salt. Less fast food. Less processed foods. More real food. More fresh fruits and vegetables. More whole grains.

I may be running in a model that has over 100,000 miles on it, but I’m going to take care of this vehicle and get as many more miles on it as I can. I don’t want to trade in this model just yet. I also want to enjoy the journey that I’m making in this body while embracing every moment of life –even the parts about the numbers getting bigger and the body model getting older.

Kickboxing? At 60?

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“Kickboxing? Are you crazy?”

At least I didn’t ask – Are you out of your ever-loving mind? Those words are closer to the actual ones that bolted through my brain when Mary asked me if I wanted to try out a new exercise activity with her.

“I found a free ten-day pass for a place in Keller. Ten days, all the sessions you want…for free!” She dangled the free part in front of me, knowing that I enjoy a chance to save money when I can.

What Mary didn’t understand was that I’m not so much into the physical exercise part of the equation. She’s spent most of the past year or so that we’ve worked together participating in several different exercise regimes. 5K walks – I can’t count how many she and her husband have finished. The numbers a lot larger than the two that I’ve done in my entire life. Camp Gladiator is another one that she’s done for some time – exercising in different parking lots with groups of people, using weights and balls, and all sorts of nefarious torture devices.

Nope. Not for me. I’m more of a yoga gal. Quiet. Serene. Slow movements. Soft, mellow music drifting through the background. Sweet and spicy incense wafting through the air. Peace and zen. That’s me. That’s my kind of physical exercise.

Not punching, kicking, aggressive fighting movements. Hard hitting rock and roll reverberating throughout the room. Sweat pouring down my face. Heart pounding. The smacks of gloves hitting punching bags echoing about the room.

Never in a million years did that image even tempt me. You probably couldn’t have even paid me to give kickboxing a try.

But, Mary dangled ‘free’ in front of me, and I grabbed for the bait. Besides, it was spending time with a friend. I decided to humor her. After all, what did I have to lose, besides a few hours of my time? And it was only 30-minute workouts each visit. That made it easy to schedule into a full week. I’d try it out. I’d go with her a few times and after the ten days were up, if I didn’t like it, I never had to try it again.

Imagine my surprise when I fell in love with kickboxing. On the first visit even.

Now to be honest, I didn’t embrace this new activity while I was there. We met at 9Round Keller, where there’s nine stations set up and we all rotate between the stations – only three minutes at each one.

Piece of cake.

Ha!

Some of those three minute segments were the longest and hardest three minutes I’d endured since…well, since I don’t know when. My heart pounded so hard on some of the stations I thought it would burst through my chest. Jump roping? For three minutes? I discovered it wasn’t possible. I made it about a minute before I had to stop and gather my breath. I found out that jump roping isn’t as easy when you’re not a ten-year old girl with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Things had changed in the past fifty years.

By the time we left, I barely dragged myself through the door. I probably would have tried to strangle poor Mary. Except I couldn’t muster up the energy or the gumption to move my arms towards her throat. Getting my feet out the door and moving in the direction of the car was the sole goal in my mind.

Mary offered to buy me something to drink at Starbucks. I think it was a consolation prize for going through with the horrendous torment of the past thirty minutes. I followed her down the street and enjoyed sitting – just sitting, no activity required, while enjoying an icy concoction with green tea and fresh berries. An hour later as we went to leave, I learned that it was even harder to move my legs. That three minute session with the squats involved? I would relive that painful experience in so many ways over the next three days. I found out later that night that bending to clean cat boxes has never caused such agony. I almost joked with Mary about having her carry me out to my car. But, I was having trouble being humorous about this whole kickboxing thing.

And then, on the drive home, about half way between the Starbucks and my house, I realized that I felt good. Tired, yes. Sore, exquisitely so. But despite the painful parts of the afternoon – I felt marvelous.

By the time I got home, I’d already decided. I’m continuing this.

Three days later I joined Mary and two of her other friends for another morning at my new favorite place. Thank goodness they switch up the activities of each station every day. I still had to struggle with the jump roping part, but at least the dreaded squats weren’t on the itinerary for the day. Again, by the time I got home I was marveling about how good I felt. I felt better than I had for months. Usually, getting home after a long day I have to sit and close my eyes for about thirty minutes. That night I was rocking around the house. I was in motion and getting things done. By bedtime I was still zooming around.

Another session the next morning kept me fired up.

I remember a while back, my sister and I were talking about exercise. I told her that I didn’t need to exercise. I’m on my feet all day at work. My work days, depending on what season we’re in run from five to ten hour days. All on my feet. All moving. Never still. “That’s not cardio,” my sister replied. “That doesn’t get your heart rate up.”

Well, darn. Don’t you hate it when you have to admit that your younger sister was right about something? Obviously she was and I was lacking in the cardio department. Even more obviously, it was something my body needs.

The free ten day pass is over. Now I’m in the wait-three-more-days-before-payday mode so I can go join. We’re past the free point. Now a little cash is involved for me to continue with my unexpected new obsession. But this one I can easily justify. Seeing how much better I felt after only a few sessions, I know that this is best for my health. I figure that I can either shell out a few dollars now, for kickboxing…or I can pay it out later – in much larger amounts, to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies. The choice is mine and I’ll pick paying now rather than supplementing a doctor’s Porsche payment later on down the road.

And the best part? It’s not an either or. I don’t have to lose being a Yoga gal to participate with this more active routine. I can do both. Two sessions of kickboxing a week, with a day of the peace and zen of yoga. Then my heart, circulation, and body is happy, and my emotions and spirit are blissful too. It’s the best of both worlds. I’ll be the healthiest, most zenful 60-year old bopping around this town.

Now, just to remember which hand is jab and which hand is cross.

The Baby of the Geritol Group

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April is the A to Z Blog Challenge. We’ll be posting to a different letter as we work our way through the alphabet. I’m posting snippets from a Work in Progress, Embracing 60, scheduled for release this June. Thanks for joining us! Come back tomorrow for thoughts on the joys, delights, and sometimes aggravations about reaching milestone birthdays!

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The Baby of the Geritol Group

Last year, through my part-time job as a retail merchandiser, I was filling in for a co-worker that needed some time off. I’d been working in the large retailer for about four months, working six to ten hours a week, and had started getting to know some of the employees at this large chain.

One day, George, in Electronics, and I got in a conversation. As he had to get up from the floor, nursing a bum knee, he commented on his age and how getting older was starting to tell on his body. “But you wouldn’t know about that, being such a young lady yourself.”

I laughed. “I don’t know about the young part. I’ll be turning the big 6-0 in a little over a year. A year and a few months…but who’s counting?”

It turned out that George was a little younger. I was 58 and he was 56. And like me, staring in the eyes of the upcoming 60, he was not looking forward to it and had decided to celebrate this milestone birthday instead of dread it. He was saving for an Alaskan cruise and planned to commemorate this big year in a big way.

A few weeks later, my co-worker Paul came back. We ended up at the store on an overlap visit as I filled him in on what had transpired over the past few months. George wandered through the back stock room and stopped to chat, excited to see Paul back again.

And somehow, the conversation turned to age again. Paul commented about not being able to get up and down the ladders as easily any more.

“But you’re just a young pup,” I said.

“Young pup? I’m 54!”

I chuckled. “Fifty-four? George and I have already compared notes and we’re ahead of you. I turn 59 in two months.”

George piped in. “And I’m 56. I’ve got you beat.”

I turned to Paul and swatted at his arm. “Why, you’re just the baby of the group.”

Lines furrowed in Paul’s brow. “Yeah, maybe so, but being the baby of the Geritol Group certainly isn’t any consolation.”

Laughter bubbled up as I turned to leave. In my book, a good dose of laughter is just as good as a dose of any vitamin supplement any day.

 

August 2019
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