Aging Well

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“Oh, I’m too old for that “.

Spoken by someone 80?

Spoken by a young man. He was too old to learn to snowboard.

So often aging fosters an ageism attitude against living life in crescendo.

It creates the perspective that there is a ‘proper’ age for pursuing a life pleasure.

Even a simple life pleasure.

Like pierced ears.

Unlike babies today who get theirs pierced at six months, I had gotten mine done at the age of twelve. As so often happens (apparently), the holes kept closing up, as I stopped wearing them while caring for my young sons. Glittering gold in a mother’s ears tempts babies to touch and to pull.

When I occasionally attempted to wear pierced earrings, each time I painfully re-pierced them. Finally, I gave up, boxing my mostly gifted, pierced earrings.

I reasoned that I was too old to bother having my ears re-pierced.

Yet, if a child of ten said ,”My earholes are closing up, but, I won’t bother, I’m too old to get my ears re-pierced“, we’d laugh.

Too old?

Surely a ridiculous concept for a ten year old.

Yet, when a man or woman of 60+ says this, people typically nod in agreement.

Getting ears re-pierced is not a big deal nor is it expensive.

Yet, ageism held me back.

Where do we get the concept that we are too old?

Exactly what age is too old for challenges?

Exactly what age is too old for learning?

Exactly what age is too old for adventure?

Aging may effect both body and mind.

It need not affect aging well in spirit.

 

Live Life Aging WellAn eighty year old I know bought season tickets for this upcoming fall theatre, which commences in six months.

Therein lies the spirit of aging well.

Living life in crescendo means aging without ageism.

For me, aging well commenced with re-pierced ears.

Invisible Chronic Illness Week

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Being healthy requires a state of mind that focuses on joie de vivre. But Being physically healthy often comes and goes.

Being full of life’s joys must Not.


As someone confronted with chronically painful days, I appreciate the effort to highlight Invisible Illnesses during the week of September 26rd. The challenges of chronic illness are difficult to explain. Christine Miserandino does so admirably with her  spoon metaphor.  

Below I offer one day, a day that offers a glimpse into balancing health issues with living well goals, especially  as illness threatens to overwhelms my will and my zeal to live my personal life motto- live life in crescendo:

Slowly awaking, I realize that my blue sky with clouds ceiling is only half in focus. One eye refuses to open and with that dismaying realization the knifing pains hits.

No, please no.

I wanted to write today.

Turning over, cringing, I struggle to remain calm. The pain is a heavy boot stomping on my head, pressing me into the mattress, daring me to move.  Vice clamps squeeze on both sides of the face, and it is all I can do to begin the now well-known technique- just breathe, in and out. Just breathe.

Panic threatens to engulf me as my body fails to adequately respond to that command. Oh so carefully, I sit up. Waiting.

As an enduring survivor of crushing chronic pain, there is no where to go, nowhere to escape. Standing still, I wobble, gripping the bed rest. Moving towards the swimming walls, I reach the bathroom. Think. Gripping the bathtub tap, I sip cold water, then, stream hot water on a cloth. Both will do nothing to ease the slicing pain, the increasing pressure on top of my head or the tightening face vise.  I must keep hydrated.  I sink down beside the bathtub, filling now with running hot water. Lifting the washcloth, I consider lowering myself into the bathtub, to keep the chills at bay that invade my body. Unwise move. One time, my head slid underwater.

Instead, I crawl to the couch, grabbing a blanket always left there, and with no ability to get on, cover myself.  Breathe. In. Out. Sitting there with half-glazed eyes, I am remotely aware of the escalating pain and pressure. Despite the summer day’s heat, I shiver. And wait. The automatic process of breathing has shut down, as it always does. I must concentrate on the simple chore of life-giving breath.

Danil Dante

Each moment passes in a daze as the pressure swells my face and body as clamps clutch my head ever tighter. My body is totally engaged with this pain, surging now as if in a musical crescendo. Waves of fear overwhelm, crushing and suffocating me.  Dimly, I wonder if this is finally that moment – this is it.  This time is last time the pressure will break within, and my ultimate release will occur. Closing my eyes with grief, I quickly breathe out a goodbye of love to all my sons, and my husband.

I live only moment by excruciating moment.

Later, with some wonderment, the room comes into a blurred focus. Breathing becomes the automatic response it is meant to be. The pain and swelling dam bursts, cascading pressure flooding and pounding my whole body. Often for days after, I will wander without energy or thought, unable to read, to laugh, to truly live.

Awakening each morning always begins with one thought:

Will this be a day of wandering in wonderment, living an actively lived life;

Or will this be a day of wandering in pain, living a wasteland of a half-seen, half-felt, half-lived life?

When a new morning’s sunshine illuminates my focus on my bedroom’s blue-sky ceiling, the calm rhythmic breathing of my husband and my own fills the room.

Turning over, I smile.

Today will be a good day to write.

 

 

 

Related: Brain Less Blogger

Invisible Awareness Week FB 

(Photos Spoon Shortage Sue FB )

International Literacy Day

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254623_354554164643065_231857164_nI admit I am a bibliophile .

I  thrive on being a life-long learner.

For me, there is a thrill in deciding to learn something totally new.

Whatever I determine to learn, I learn by immersion.

So, at my house, there are library books-

 

 

Here

There

Everywhere

All on the same topic.

Now, you might ask: how can I have all these books, all on the same topic?

Don’t they say the same thing?

Isn’t it boring reading them all?

Hardly!

Every single author takes an ever so slightly different perspective on the same idea.

As I immerse my mind and emotions into them all, a synergy of understanding takes place.The authors embed their lifetime of living into enhancing and expanding a subject with their unique connection, but not only to the topic at hand.

For, as I immerse myself into the minds and lives of these authors, I am learning far more than they could ever imagine. I am learning vicariously all they have lived and read and experienced.

Books. I could never imagine my life without them.

 

Literacy Day

Room to Read 

Letter Writing Day and Snail Mail

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The tongue is prone to lose the way. No so the pen. For in a letter we have not better things to say, but surely say them better. “Life”, 1847 Ralph Waldo Emerson 

 

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“Here comes the mailman.”

Boys rush to open the door. Looking quickly through bills and advertisements, one boy catches the beginning of his name, and turns, raising his hand triumphantly.

“I got mail.” Quickly opening it, he proclaims, “ It’s from grandma! I got stickers.”

Such was often the scene at my house.

 

My children not only received mail from my mother on birthday celebrations and Christmas but also interspersed throughout the year. They always sat down to draw a picture to mail back to her. All this mail traveling back and forth occurred even though my mom lived only 30 km away, and we visited frequently. Yet, an envelope pushed through the mail slot with a boy’s name on it remained a thrill.

When email entered our culture, it seemed everyone was more thrilled to see the “you’ve got mail” popup appear on their computer. However, the overall resulting decline in popularity of snail mail did not effect the continuous stamped mail outpouring from my mother’s house nor mine.

There is a deep need in our lives to have someone witness our commemorative celebrations. Those times, my sons received not only one, but two store bought cards, one silly and one serious. With all the time she spent reading every single card on the rack, it would have been quicker to make one. Plus, within each card, she always added a few extra thoughts, or an added a sticker beside an underlined sentence.  Not only did my mother create a tangible witness to these events, but she recorded her love in those cards. 196309_354299498010521_402835107_nShe maintained close family relationships even with those whose lives spanned across the country by frequently mailing them “I am thinking of you” cards.

 

Each and every family member treasures a keepsake box of cards from my mother. My sons still have their box of grandma-handwritten notes, many still affixed with the 25cent coin sent for them to buy some gum. I witnessed the transition of heritage of my mother’s modeling of care when one six year old son sent her a card, complete with a Loonie taped inside so she could buy herself an ice cream cone.

One might think that with the ease of email communication, card stores would be missing from malls today, and no longer taking space in the average grocery story. And for a time, it did seem people resorted to e-cards.

But, e-cards cannot be placed on a table, admired on a piano or cover a nightstand.

E-cards do not bear handwritten add-ons, a signature of the sender or bear enclosed stickers . The visual expressiveness of a handwritten note, yes, even written in non-cursive, is distinct to an individual.

Today, not only are there sizeable card stores with racks of stickers that my mother would love to spend hours in, but the cards cover every imaginable situation. The surging popularity of stationary stores attests to a longing to create a stationary wardrobe, one that matches a unique personality and a style of communication. Just like the handwritten notes from my mother, that carries both her mood when she wrote it and historical context, today’s stationary expresses the unique reflection of a sender.

It is not emailed e-cards but these handwritten notes on specialized stationary and hard print snail mail cards that are now celebrated.

The popularity of Garth Callaghan’s book Napkin Notes took this celebration to a new level. His mission is to inspire parents to adopt the tradition he began with his daughter when she started kindergarten. Each day, he slips short simple notes, written on a napkin, into her school lunchbox.

None of this revival of handwritten notes surprises me.

All my life, I looked forward to receiving letters and cards. My mother instilled in me the value of a gifting a love note.

154622_499571606730242_1012477313_nWhen my mother died mid-March twelve years ago, I was delighted to find a box filled with cards that people had mailed to her.

Apparently, she’d kept every single one. Reading each card, I learned details previously unknown to me about my mother and the sender.

Reading them was like viewing a visual recording of years of love extending across generations and through cities. Sorting them into piles, I carefully packaged and mailed to each sender all the cards they’d given to her. I trusted each person would be grateful to receive the package. They’d be able to reminiscence on the history of their relationship through the details in those cards. Surely, each card in her box would match up in time with a card they’d received from her.

I was even more delighted by what I found on her bedroom side table- two unsigned cards, one silly and one serious, ready to mail for my upcoming wedding anniversary. Like a perennial flower, these cards bloom with my mother’s love every year in April. When I hold them in my hand, as I read the wedding anniversary message, I hear her voice. And I feel the weighted impact all her mailed cards made in the lives of those she loved.

September 1st is letter writing day. This timeless art will continue as my mother’s 426603_341022179319830_1880399874_nlegacy. My adult sons tell me that they read every single card on the rack before choosing one, even if it entails frequenting multiple card stores. When they too add a personal message inside, the transition of my mother’s heritage of love is complete.

She would be so pleased.

 

 

Books:

Margaret Shepherd’s The Art of the Personal Letter, The Art of the Handwritten Note 

Garth Callaghan’s Napkin Notes

Sandra E. Lamb Personal Notes