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.

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The ‘R’ Word

The ‘R’ Word

An excerpt from Embracing 60, releasing Fall 2018

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We were about four hours into our long-overdue lunch get-together when I noticed an odd occurrence. “Oh my goodness! Do you realize that in our thirty-plus year’s friendship, this is the first time ‘retirement’ has entered our conversation?”

To be fair, between two retail work schedules and family commitments, Bev and I don’t get together very often. It’s not uncommon for two years to pass before we can find all the stars aligned to give us a free afternoon to spend together and catch up.

Actually, it’s a miracle that we can even meet up for lunch as seldom as we do, considering the thousands of miles that could be between us. Bev’s an old friend from California. Okay – she’s not an ‘old’ friend. Two years younger than me, she’s technically a ‘younger’ friend. But since I’ve known her for over half of my life, let’s call her a ‘long-time’ friend, then.

I met Bev back in my much younger days, at the young whipper-snapper age of about twenty-four. I attended a small neighborhood church and Bev was the pastor’s daughter-in-law. She and Nick had a little girl first, Lynette. When I followed a year or so later with a little boy, Christopher, Bev filled me in on all the parenting snafus I’d run up against.

I still remember as we chatted one Sunday morning and I bemoaned the terrible-two’s that Christopher was just starting. “Just wait,” she warned me. “The three’s are even worse.”

She was right.

She and Nick added another little girl to their family, Danielle, and I added another little boy, Justin. After Justin was born, I went back to college two days a week. Chris went to preschool, but Justin was too young for day care so Bev watched him those two days. We couldn’t count how the number of times that Bev and I got together in southern California to commiserate with each other.

And now…our grandchildren are older than our kids were when we’d get together for some ‘Mommy friend time’ and let the four kids play together.

In 1993, Bev and Nick changed up the equation and added another little boy to their family. When Curtis was about six months old, they departed from The Golden State and moved to the Lone Star State. For many years, between working and raising families, occasional Christmas cards and birthday cards were our only communication.

Then in 2008, a new relationship moved me to Texas also. Now I don’t live very far from Fort Worth. I’m far enough away that it’s not that easy to get together, but its close enough that it’s not impossible.

Now, when we do manage to fit in an afternoon of lunch and wandering the shops, we don’t discuss potty training, or breaking up sibling disagreements. We don’t talk about fighting with children about getting homework done or cleaning their rooms. Now our children are in the midst of those struggles. Bev and I share stories about the grandkids. (And maybe chuckle a little at the paybacks our children are getting now.) We wander the shops and slather our arms with various scented lotions. We find goodies to drop in our basket – usually more things for our grandkids, sisters, or mothers than for ourselves. We chatter mile-a-minute, stepping right back into our friendship as if we’d never had any lapses.

But today was the first time that retirement entered our conversation. More than once. Not that we’re quite there yet. But we’re close enough that’s we see it approaching on the horizon. And, we’re both realizing that we’re not prepared for it yet. (Can we have another 20 years, please, pretty please?) We talk of insurance and whether Medicare will still be around when we reach that point in the next five to seven years. We touch on arthritis and how diet affects it, and my friend Connie who had bilateral knee replacements this past year. And this subtle, yet there, shift in our topics seems a little odd.

Would I step back in time thirty years to when we were getting to know each other and muddling through the years of young motherhood? Those years when we felt like we’d set adrift with our only compass being the friends we had that were in the same place in life? Not a chance.

It’s the cycle of life. We slowly slide into the next spot, the one our mothers before us filled, and our grandmothers before them. Although we’re further along the road on this journey than we were thirty years ago, we still have moments of joy and elation, and find there are still a few potholes that threaten to momentarily derail us. But I determined that as long as I can traipse through this journey wearing a necklace composed of the jewels of good and treasured friends, all is good. Even on those days when the unexpected ‘R’ word enters our conversations and catches us by surprise.

 

 

Banishing the Curmudgeon

Banishing the Curmudgeon

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A small boy that lives down the street did something tonight that vats of lotion and vials of extra-potency vitamins haven’t been able to do. He banished a curmudgeon. One minute it was there, residing inside my body. The next…*POOF*…vanished!

Today had been a long day. It was only an eight hour work day, but I had to drive to three different stores to get those hours – on a day that hit 104°. At home I discovered that I’d forgotten to take anything out of the freezer for dinner and I simply didn’t feel like messing with anything in the kitchen anyway. So my better half (probably in the interest of their own safety!) offered to have something delivered.

That was a wonderful solution. Except, we’ve been having internet connection problems since a storm had rolled through north Texas a week ago. It’s almost been like the old dial-up days, when and if we were graced with being able to get a connection. After almost 30 minutes of in-and-out service, trying to see different restaurant menu options that we could have delivered, we finally decided that I’d just drive to Taco Bell a mile away and get it.

I finally left the house, at almost 8 p.m. and on top of being tired and cranky – now I was hungry, too.

I got in the car and saw that a slew of neighborhood children were riding bicycles up and down the street. In a pack from side to side. The youngest, who looked to be about five-years old, was quite a bit on the wobbly side.

Grumbling to myself, I backed out slowly and very carefully. By now the little hoodlums were about two houses down. They’re really not hoodlums. They’re all too young for that. It’s just that I was feeling old and crotchety at the moment. I’ve only just turned sixty a month ago, but I felt like I was the old codger at the end of the block, out in the front yard waving their cane at all the boisterous neighborhood children.

Down the street I drove, about ten miles per hour, if that. I drove exceptionally slowly so that if any of them fell, or decided to dash across in front of me, I’d be able to stop.

Yep. I was feeling old right. And, did I mention the cranky part?

All the children were on bicycles except one. One little barefoot boy, probably six or seven years old, took off running along the side of the street, as if he was racing me. At the slow pace I drove, he just about beat me. It was neck and neck. He raced along and I poked along (still worried about him making a sudden jog in front of me).

He sped along as fast as his little legs could go for about the length of two houses. Then suddenly he stopped, looked up, threw me the sweetest grin, and waved.

Poof. The elderly, cranky old lady who had been inhabiting my body vanished in an instant. A grin and a wave from a sweet, innocent child that I don’t even know removed about fifty years from my life and I was suddenly a carefree ten-year-old racing a friend down the street.

All those creams and lotions that tote their claims about removing years? All those extra-strength, high potency vitamins that promise youth and vitality? They’re all worthless. I discovered that none of them work as well as one young grin.

I’m looking forward to another race tomorrow. You can tell by the grin on my own face, even if it’s lined with a few more wrinkles than my young friend’s face is.

C’Mon Guys…I’m a 60-year old Woman

C’Mon Guys…I’m a 60-year old Woman

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Huff and puff, huff and puff. Pant – pant – pant. Sweat. Wipe brow. Huff and puff some more.

In case you couldn’t tell – that’s me mowing the yard.

I haven’t been in charge of the lawns until last spring. I was the one in charge of flower bed, gardens, and the ‘pretty’ garden work. I didn’t mow. Until the mowing rider went out three years ago. Getting a way to get the mower in to the repair shop just wasn’t working, so two years ago we paid a lawn service to mow the front yard every other week when they were mowing our neighbor’s yard. The price was right. Since they were already here, they only charged us $20. Overall, since we only need to mow about six months of the year, it was just over $200. And they did a magnificent job. They flew in with their fancy equipment, mowed and weed edged and were done in about 15 minutes. If they lagged.

But, the back yard was a disaster with almost waist high grass all summer.

Last spring, I decided to change the yard maintenance process. I’d picked up a few extra store hours and was going to have a slightly larger check. So I decided to use the extra funds and buy an inexpensive push mower. For a little less than we’d paid the lawn mowing company the year before, I could mow all year – front and back.

And, I’d benefit from a little extra cardio-workout. All without having to pay for a gym membership.

Did I mention we have a half acre?

Adding in this extra task wasn’t bad. The first time out it took me two mornings and over four hours of mowing because the young spring grass had leaped almost overnight to calf high growth. But once it was cut down, it was easy to maintain. One morning I’ll cut the front, which usually takes a little over an hour. The next morning I’ll cut the back, which takes a bit longer, about an hour and a half. I get a good workout at least four days a month and am excited about feeling physically healthy and stronger from this new way to commune with nature.

This spring, going into the second year of use from the new push mower, the front yard portion of my mowing changed a little bit. We now have two new renters on each side of us. And even though two men, younger than myself, are mowing, they seem to have a difficult time telling where the property line is between our properties.

I first noticed it on the property to the west of us. He’d mowed first, but left a swath about a foot and a half wide on his side of the grass unmowed. No big deal. I just made two or three extra passes with the mower and got his portion of the unmowed grass done with ours.

Two weeks later – the same thing.

Next time too. This gentleman really doesn’t seem to pay very close attention to where our two back fences divide the property.

Then the summer heat hit.

On these days where the Texas heat is easily into the 90’s and often hits the 100-degree mark, I definitely don’t mow in the afternoon. I save it for a morning I’m home during the week, or for the weekend. And now it takes a little longer, because I have to break the task into two. I’ll mow half and by then I’m huffing and puffing so hard – yes, the cardio part of the activity is definitely working – so for my own health and safety, I stop and take a break. I’ll down some water, sit in the shade and let the heart rate calm down a tad. As much as I enjoy it, I don’t intend on stroking out in the process either.

A week after my 60th birthday, I went out to mow the front. The house on the west mowed about two feet short of the property line — again. And now the house on the east had joined in. They were easily three feet – if not four – short of coming up to where the property line was.

It’s hot. Even in the morning. I’m barely going to be able to get my own portion of the yard done. And these two younger men – both with riding mowers to boot – are expecting me to mow wider and catch what they didn’t?

I stood out in the front ranting to myself. C’Mon guys! What in the world are you thinking? You’re both younger. You both have riding mowers. And you’re expecting me – a SIXTY-YEAR OLD woman to cut some of your grass too? Really?

And then I burst into laughter myself. Because I realized that as much as I have been dreading turning this un-magical number 60, as soon as I needed to pull out the ‘60-years old card’ for my benefit, I sure did!

So you know what I did?

I mowed our portion of lawn. I left the unmowed patches on their portion of lawns uncut.

And you know what?

It worked.

The next time they cut their grass up to the property lines. I don’t know if it was because they’d realized they’d been slacking, or if they’d caught a glimpse of a slightly hysterical slightly older woman out front laughing uncontrollably.

Maybe this getting older isn’t so bad after all.

I’m learning to find more humor in my own actions and reactions. I’m learning to see benefits in the inevitable ageing process. And I’m also learning that sometimes we need to set boundaries with others – which is beneficial in itself – no matter the age.

Zen of Ageing

To wrap up the final day of the A to Z Blog Challenge, here is a thought about the joy and the zen of ageing.

The Zen of Ageing

“I love getting older. My understanding deepens. I can see what connects. I can weave stories of experience and apply them. I can integrate the lessons. Things simply become more and more fascinating. Beauty reveals itself in thousands of forms.”

— Victoria Erickson

You Know You’re Getting Older When…

Just a few laughs for our ‘Y’ day in the A to Z Blog Challenge.

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Xtraordinary Grandma

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Xtraordinary Grandma

At age 76, many people are starting to slow down and start relaxing in the later, older years of life. This grandma started something new, something that would bring her national acclaim and a lasting legacy. Her new pastime would lead to her being featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1953, and Life magazine on September 19, 1960 honoring her 100th birthday. A US postage stamp was created in her honor in 1969.

Anna Mary Robertson Moses, born September 7, 1860 is more commonly known as her painter name, Grandma Moses. Known for her American folk art style, her work has been featured on greeting cards and other merchandise, in addition to the actual paintings.

Grandma Moses began painting late in life, at the age of 76 when her arthritis made her give up her current creative outlet, embroidery. She was a successful painter for more than 25 years and produced over 1,500 works. Initially she charged $3 to $5 per painting. As her popularity increased, her pieces sold for $8,000 to $10,000. In 2006, over forty years after her death, one painting, The Sugaring Off, sold for $1.2 million.

I doubt during her lifetime she could even imagine how popular her works would become or the staggering amounts of money some would sell for so many years after her death. She was simply a woman who loved life and lived it to her fullest, even if it meant taking up a new pastime in her 70’s.

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Words from Holly

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In Memory of Holly Butcher

Words from Holly

This message popped up on my Yahoo page  as I went to check emails. I was intrigued and wanted to read this mysterious, moving message from a dying lady. The link took me to Holly Butcher’s Facebook page, where this post had been posted four days earlier. When I read the post –in a mere four days – it had already been shared 36,435 times. (As of today, this shared number has jumped to 161,583 shares with over 239,000 likes.)

Holly’s words touched my heart and really made me stop and search deep inside. At this time I’ve been working on Embracing 60 for several months, off and on. As you’ve read by now, I started writing this in an effort to change the way I thought about my approaching milestone birthday. I wanted to begin embracing the new age on the horizon, instead of shrinking in fear and dread.

And here are beautiful words from a 27-year old lady on the eve of her death. She writes about how she longs for just one more Christmas, one more birthday. And I’m whining because I’m about to turn 60! Really? I’m already had 33 years of life that Holly never got the chance to enjoy, plus whatever years are waiting for me on the backside of 60.

I’m ashamed at myself. I’m ashamed that I even have the gall to bemoan this upcoming birthday. And I resolve to take Holly’s words to heart, to bring them with me into the approaching days as I instead embrace this gift, this beautiful extraordinary gift of life that I have ahead of me. And instead of cringing about the numbers ahead that end in ‘0’, be they 60, 70, 80 or higher…instead I vow to live each day with the fervor, appreciation and grace like the young woman Holly, who penned the following words did.

You can read her full post here.

Here are a few words from Holly:

A bit of life advice from Hol:

It’s a strange thing to realise and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; until the unexpected happens. I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey- most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.

That’s the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.

I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.

I haven’t started this ‘note before I die’ so that death is feared – I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to its inevitability. Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a ‘taboo’ topic that will never happen to any of us. That’s been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.

I have dropped lots of my thoughts below as I have had a lot of time to ponder life these last few months. Of course it’s the middle of the night when these random things pop in my head most!

Those times you are whining about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively effect other people’s days.

Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are. It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that – breathe.

 

Victory Dance

Things are not always what they seem. Jenny Darren, a 68-year old woman from Cotswold, proves that. She appeared on stage for Britain’s Got Talent dressed in dowdy attire, complete with hair up and wearing a pink cardigan over typical English granny clothing. And then…well, that’s all I’ll say here. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. She may be 68, but she’s anything but an old woman!

 

Unstoppable – Mary Houbolt

Unstoppable – Mary Houbolt

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Mary Houbolt celebrated her 60th birthday in a most unusual way. No birthday cake complete with black candles and black crepe paper streamers for her. She competed in her first Ironman triathlon.

If you’re not familiar with the Ironman, it’s the granddaddy of triathlons. It’s one of the most grueling and one that can intimidate even the fittest athlete. It’s a race that combines a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

No, I can guarantee you that competing in one of these is not on my Turning-60-Agenda! But that didn’t slow Mary down. In 1989, when she was 32, tests revealed that a lump in her breast was malignant and the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. Her two daughters were ages 4 and 6 at that time. Despite the dismal diagnosis with a slim chance of survival, aggressive treatment sent Mary’s breast cancer into full remission.

And here was now, looking 60 dead in her sights. So, she went for it.

She began exercising and training seven days a week, and after 14 months of training was ready. She didn’t expect to win. Her only goal was simply to complete it. (Ha! I write ‘simply’ as if just completing the Ironman is a simple thing. No it is not!)

She not only finished the event, she won in her age group!

As Stephanie Booth writes in her article about Mary:

One triathlon’s enough for most people. Mary had a different take. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll keep trying,’” she says.

Mary kept going. She was unstoppable. Booth reports that in the past seven years Mary competed in 9 Ironman competitions and over 20 other triathlons. She also competed in Race Across America, where a four-woman team cycled 3,000 miles across 12 states. She and her team “finished in 7 days and 11 hours, setting a record for women between the ages of 60-69.”

Booth writes:

Mary just turned 67, but she won’t be slowing down anytime soon. “I will not grow old gracefully. I don’t want to just sit on the couch.” Each time she competes, “I feel lucky to be alive,” she says. “I think, ‘Life is great. I’m really glad I was able to keep mine.’”

Cancer didn’t stop Mary 29 years ago. And age isn’t stopping her now. This unstoppable icon is an inspiration to me. If she can do all that…what can I do?

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