The Gift of Self-Giving

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One of my kids asked me what I was doing for Mother’s Day? I said, I didn’t even know it was coming up. I never thought much about my own Mother’s Day celebration. I was always focused on what I could do for my own mother and mother-in-law. It is after all a day set aside to celebrate the mother who raised you. It’s not supposed to be about celebrating yourself as a mother. They’ve both been gone a long time now. But we still think about them on this day remembering who they were and the things they did for us. Most of all how we wish we could still put our arms around them and wish them a happy Mother’s Day. There’s no one else to celebrate and thinking of myself feels selfish. But then I started thinking about it. Why shouldn’t I? I mean, if anyone were to ask me what the greatest accomplishment of my life has been I’d say without hesitation…raising my kids and being their mother. Maybe it’s part of embracing the many years of our life and the things we’ve accomplished. Maybe this is what my Dad meant when I turned 50 and he said, “this is your time now.”

So, as I’m contemplating the question of what I’m going to do for Mother’s Day. I’m also looking out the window at my gardens feeling overwhelmed by all the work I have to do yet. Then it came to me. There isn’t anything I want or need, but I sure could use some help this year getting my gardens weeded, mulched and planted while I’m still nursing my tennis elbow. Why not ask for the best gift of all…the helping hands of my own kids. It won’t even cost them anything, except their time. Doing what Mom’s do I even made sure to plan it on Saturday so my girls could enjoy their own Mother’s Day with their kids on Sunday.

Us Moms are known for being good party planners. But being the caregivers we’ve been has taught us best how to find ways to problem solve too. Leave it to a Mom to find a way to make everyone happy, but maybe part of learning to embrace our age means it’s time to include ourselves in the equation.

Happy Mother’s Day”

 

 

“Do What You Gotta Do!”

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It’s not as easy as it sounds to do what Dr. Roizen teaches in his book “This Is Your Do-Over.” Creating a do-over in your life is literally what you have to do. Most importantly for it to work you have to be committed to the changes you need to do.

I start off with all the best intentions but it never fails that something happens to sabotage my efforts. Something like an injury, surgery, sickness or even a vacation. You’d think it would be easy enough to get back on the train to good health once you’ve learned all the tricks, but it isn’t. When you don’t feel good you sit, and when you sit too much that sedentary life begins to feel comfortable. Soon your back to feeling lousy and let’s face it…old again.

When I get like this it’s not long before I hear the words of my mother echoing in my head, “Well, you know, I am in my 60’s now, what do you expect.”

Okay, Mom, I can understand to a point what you were talking about now, but I also understand that I could have another good 20 or 30 years to live. I’m not ready to give up yet. As I keep reminding myself, aging is not for those who don’t have the fight in them to live. The bottom line is, if you want to live, you have to keep moving. That’s where living exists in the things we do, and you can’t create your do-over without doing the work it takes to do. “So, Just do it!” is what I tell myself, doooooo it!

 

“Summertime Senior Safety”

Summertime and the living are easy!

Man, listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing that song makes me want to go outside, sit in the warmth of the sun with my gin & tonic, and a good book. The truth is I can’t lay in the sun anymore. I never should have all those years back when I lathered up with baby lotion to get a tan. I’ve been lucky so far that I haven’t had skin cancer, but I’ve had a few big scares. I’ve read that the older we get the longer we’ve been exposed to the sunlight which is one of the many reasons we’re at higher risk for skin cancer.

I don’t know about you but I want to live, and a lot of that living has to do with being outside. I like to garden, walk on the beach, play in the pool with my grandchildren, watch them play sports, and walk my dog. So, how can I do that and be safe too?

6 steps for senior skin care

I did my research, and while many of the things I learned I was already doing. The things I read made me sit up and take those things a little more seriously. I would encourage you to read them if you’re serious about taking care of yourself. I’ll have the site information at the end of this post. For now, I made up a reminder list of the important things we can do.

  • Be committed to the consistency it takes to be the best you.
  • Check your skin on a regular basis
  • Stay out of tanning beds
  • Apply SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed to make sure you don’t miss a spot.
  • Pay special attention to the ears, bald spots, hands and feet, and reapply exposed areas throughout the day.
  • Always use a lip balm of at least 30 SPF and apply several times throughout the day.
  • Sit in shade
  • As my friends would say moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/protecting-senior-skin-from-the-summer-sun-147114.htm

https://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/anti-aging/seniors

Ignoring the Pain

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In my last post, I talked about how much I enjoy playing in my gardens. I call it, play because it feels more like fun than work to me.  Life’s too short to do things any other way at this stage of the game. I want to be able to keep doing the things I love. So, I go the extra mile by doing my warm-up exercises. Setting time limits, wearing my hat, gloves, comfortable clothes and sunscreen. I’m ready to dive in.
 
Like a kid with all my toys, I head out to my garden. Taking my hoe in tow I begin to loosen the soil. Right away a nagging pain around my elbow reminds me that it’s still in recovery mode. I hurt it the other week putting some elbow grease into scrubbing my oven. So, I put the hoe away and got down in the dirt. The soil was soft enough to pull the tender weeds. It wasn’t long though before my tennis elbow started screaming stop. Determined to keep going I switched to my left hand and when that got tired I went back to my right. Going back and forth each time until the pain started screaming louder. It’s okay, I tell myself. There’s plenty of other things we can do. So, I head for my potting shed. I open the door and there are dirt-filled pots piled up everywhere. I don’t attempt to pick them up instead I go for the smaller empty ones that I can scrub out. I pile them outside the shed. Grab a scrub brush and start brushing the dirt out, but by now even the simplest of things are causing pain. So, I give up and go inside for a drink of water. Even pulling on the refrigerator door hurts. I reach for the water jug but this time my left-hand moves in before the right one pick it up. I sit with my water, and an ice pack around my elbow looking out at my gardens. There’s so much work to do before I can begin to plant my flowers. I’m not going to be able to do any of it until my elbow has time enough to heal now. I am frustrated but most of all disappointed. Now I’m going to have to do the one thing no senior wants to do. Ask for help.
 
Lessoned learned, to play responsible, you have to prepare yourself its true. But none of that matters if you don’t use your common sense too.

“Seniors In The Garden”

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“Though an old man, I am a young gardener.”-Thomas Jefferson 

I’ve been waiting patiently for winter to let go. I want to go out and play in my gardens. Yes, I said play. Because being in my garden makes me feel young again. I get so lost in what I’m doing that sometimes I don’t even realize how long I’ve been out there. My husband tells me that he loves to stand back and watch me when I’m gardening because I look so peaceful. Yet, at the end of the day, I can suffer for it if I don’t pace myself, use the right tools, and stretch before starting.

img_0394In the book “Gardening for Seniors” it covers all this and more. If there’s a will to garden in our senior years, then this book will help you find a way do it step by step.

Today it looks like we are going straight from winter into summer with a forecast of 80’s degrees. Before I run out the door with my garden hat and gloves my husband reminds to do my warm-up exercises.  He kindly demonstrated the ones from the book so I could share them with you.

Warm-up exercises:

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Head tilts

Tilt your head to the left with your ear pointing toward your shoulder hold for a count of 5.

Repeat on the other side  3 times each.

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Shoulder Shrugs

Stand with relaxed shoulders. Then elevate shoulders toward the neck. Hold for a count of 5, then repeat 5 times

 

 

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Body Twist

With hands on hips slowly turn your upper body and hold for a count of 5, return to center and repeat the turn to the opposite side and hold for a count of 5. Repeat exercise 5 times.

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Wrist Circles

With elbows held close to the body rotate your wrist gentle in a circular motion. Repeat in both directions 5 times each.

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Lower Back Stretches

Bring your knee as high as you can up to your chest and hold with hands for the count of 5.

Repeat on opposite side 5 times each.

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Arm Swings

With knees slightly bent stretch your arms out to the side, slowly reach behind you, gradually bring them around and hug yourself. Eventually swinging the arms easily in motion several times.

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Calf Stretches 

With hands against a wall, place one foot in front of the other with a bent knee. Strech the other leg out straight back for a good stretch. Hold for a count of 5 and repeat each leg 5 times each.

 

 

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Upper Leg Stretch

With a hand on a chair or wall pull your back leg up with hand or rest it on a chair for the count of 5. Repeat 5 times each leg.

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Upper Arm Stretch 

Raise your right elbow up toward ear and hold push back gently with the other arm for a good stretch holding for a count of 5, repeat each arm 5 times.

 

 

 

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If you’d like to check the book Gardening for Seniors click on this link to take a better look.

“The Dis-ease of Seniorities”

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I was working on my memoir and started a sentence off with the word senior. It was about reaching that final year in high school. I sat there looking at the word senior, thinking how surreal the moment felt. I mean, here I was a senior again going through some of the same feelings and emotions only this time it’s at the opposite end of life. But what could make two such different correlations of the word anything alike? It could only be that dreaded feeling that comes with the anticipation of the unknown. It creates a kind of dis-ease they call…senioritis.

So, I wondered, what are the symptoms of senioritis? Of course, it only applied to seniors in high school. But once again I couldn’t help seeing the correlation to those of us adjusting to our retirement and our senior years of life.

The symptoms:

Loss of interest in your appearance
Lack of motivation
Increased irritability
Difficulty reading things longer than a few paragraphs
A drastic increase in TV watching
Feeling rebellious
Feeling superior
Short-term memory loss
Sleep too much or too little

Oh, those years of youth when I had my whole life ahead of me to look forward to. Another symptom of senioritis comes with the wonder of what’s left to come. Barbara Hannah Grufferman’s in her book, “Love Your Age,” reminds us that, “We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it.” Understanding those words gives us our power back. It takes us out of that senioritis mindset. We realize life is no longer about looking ahead or back, but about making the most of the moments we have right now. I’m learning that you can live a lifetime in those moments because it actually feels as if time stops and all that matters is where you find yourself.

So, there we have it. Another way to embrace this stage of our life, take control and do it our way.

If you’re looking for more ways to find out how to make the best of this time in your life check out Gruffermans’s book. She has lots of great ideas and insight.

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“The Embrace”

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Turning 65 made me step back and take an undeniable reality check. I’ve reached the age of no return.

I tell my friend, “I want to embrace this time in my life, but I don’t know what that means.”

“Neither do I,” she says.

While I was on vacation recently I had an aha moment that put everything into perspective for me. I stopped to check out this big old tree that was over 237 years old. Standing beside it I looked so small in comparison. I was drawn to step within the fold of its draping branches. At first the clusters of Spanish-moss looked like ghost from the past swaying between the branches. Then it looked like beautiful long silver hair blowing in the wind. I’m in awe of the moment as if I’ve stepped within that place where the meaning of inner beauty lies. This big beautiful old tree with it’s wrinkles, cracks, and age spots still stands strong in a weathered region against all odds. Maybe it’s because she went with the flow of the winds, bending with a flexible heart to whatever God brought her way.

Nature teaching me how to embrace my age meant; to stand tall and proud for what and who I’ve become. That’s where our true beauty lies, and keep on moving so I can bend with the flow of life, with the gracefulness of Spanish-moss blowing in the wind.

“Come Dance With Me”

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.”-Alan W. Watts

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About

As I  search for answers to my own questions about getting older. I wondered why no one my age wanted to talk about it. Some would simple say, you’re only as old as you feel. Well it’s true, I mean when I hear an oldie but goody on the radio and I start to be-bopping around like nobody’s business. Next thing ya know my hip is out of whack, and I find myself having to take a time out for a few days till I can move around normal again. That is as normal as a 65 year old can. Oh I don’t want to say it like that. I sound like my mother who was always saying, “Well you know I am in my 60’s now.”

“That’s not old,” I’d tell her.

So now when I go away with my girls and they want me to go dancing with them they say come on Mom, live it up, and I have to bite my lip from saying the same thing my Mom did. Instead, I did go out with them, and I did live it up, and I did have a great time because I still can. All I want to do is embrace this stage of my life, but I don’t understand what that means. That got me thinking that maybe no one wants to talk about it because they don’t know what it means either. What I do know is that I want to live the best life I can with the years I have left to enjoy it. So, I thought I’d share with you the answers I find to my questions.

Maybe you’d like to come dance with me along the way. Maybe together we can figure out how to live the best life we can with what we got. As I said to a friend the other day, two heads are better then one, and who wants to dance alone, that’s no fun.