Through The Eyes of Babes

Have you ever wondered what it is about babies and toddlers that captures our attention?

Of course it’s because they’re so darn cute. But, more than that I’ve discovered that it’s because they remind us of the things we take for granted.

I remember how in awe I was when I watched my own babies discovering life. But I never appreciated it to the extent I could once I became grandparent. I wanted to carry them away to place where they would never lose it. Where the ugliness of life could never enter into the pure joy of life’s discoveries. Now out of 9 my youngest grandchild is 8 and my oldest 26. I wasn’t ready to be a great-grandparent yet. But in becoming one God had a deeper level of pure joy to show me through the eyes of our 14 month old great-grandson Ryder. As he stands in the rain for the first time in his life. With a smile looking up toward the heavens he lifts his arms as if praising God. Opens his mouth to let the rain in while trying to catch the raindrops with his hands at the same time. He jumps, dances, and giggles as he plays in the pouring rain. If I hadn’t been so awe struck I would have joined him myself. But, I am grateful for the reminder to open my own eyes to the things I take for granted. For those are the grace-filled moments when we get a glimpse of heaven on earth.

”On Death and Dying”

My mother-in-law used to say that you start off going to the happy events in life like weddings, baptisms, birthdays, graduations. As the years pass by you find yourself attending more funerals and fewer weddings.

Soon you’re opening the obituary pages before you read the rest of the newspaper wondering who you’ll know this time. She got to the point where her classmates where dropping like flys. You wonder…why are they so obsessed with death?

But one day you find yourself on the other side of it and you begin to understand what you couldn’t in your earlier year’s. How can you not think of it? Death begins to feel as if it’s in your face all the time as parents, siblings, classmates and friends are dying. There’s always the painful few that are too young and unexpected.

Now my kids don’t like hearing their dad and me talk about death and dying same as we were at their age. I was reading that Americans are a death denial culture. We avoid the topic and when we don’t allow ourselves to talk about things we don’t understand it creates more significant fear around it.

There’s not much we can do to change the fact that we’re all going to die someday. Maybe the most important thing about facing this reality comes from the wake-up call it gives us. Like my dad used to say, ”I looked in the obituaries today, and when I didn’t see myself I was reminded I’m still alive.” Once that reality sets in we can actually use what we read to help us reflect and reevaluate our own lives. Am I living my life the best I can, being kind to others, fulfilling my goals, living my purpose, filling my soul with the best experiences I can show it. As long as we’re still breathing we have the opportunity to become better and better at what God created us to be.

We owe it to the people we care about who pass away to live our life to the fullest. Because when we do, they continue to live on in us.

This is dedicated to Kathy McDowell my husbands cousin, Baby Lucas Dicely our great-nephew, Rob Finger and Peggy Anderson our life-long friends who all passed away within the past year.

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 then 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 loader. 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’s 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 picks it up. I sit with my water, and 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.