Positive Aging Might Just Catch On!

How great is that?!

Positive and powerful word vector illustration on pink backgroundHave you ever heard the saying “Change your thinking, change your life? Well, Brian Tracy wrote a whole book about that undeniable concept. It applies to so many parts of our lives, including how we think about aging. Let’s face it; aging has a negative connotation. Can we change how we think about aging? Absolutely!

If you take a quick moment (or more!) to Google positive aging, you’ll find a plethora of articles. A 2015 article entitled Positive Aging Movement Takes Off in the HuffPost begins with, “I’m happy to say that seniors are finally getting some respect!” Glad to hear that!

In my Google search I came upon 10 Tips for Positive Aging in the New Year. This February 2019 blog post is written by Crystal Jo, a registered nurse and freelance writer who “enjoys educating and inspiring seniors, and those who love them, to choose a healthy life.”  Here are some of Crystal Jo’s tips:

Change How You Think. Sound familiar??
Choose Gratitude. Sometimes we forget to do that. How about thanking someone today?
Look Out for Others.Maintain an attitude of altruism, a concern for the well-being of others.”
Cultivate an Attitude of Purpose. Motivating goals are a good idea at any age!
Keep Learning. This might just be my personal favorite!
Plan Your Legacy. Think about how you want to be remembered. You don’t need to be “old” to consider that!

I hope you’ll take the time to read Crystal Jo’s entire post, and maybe some other articles on positive aging.  It will likely “do your heart good” to be reminded of how we can – absolutely – change how we both think about and experience aging.

We woke up this morning! We have been given this priceless gift of life. Creating a positive approach to our journey will benefit us and our fellow travelers.

Can I hear an Amen???

What the heck is Transient Global Amnesia?

Maybe I just don’t remember…

Lovely Puppy PortraitPicture this. Waking up in a room in the ER. Only you haven’t actually been sleeping. You’ve been awake the whole time.  Talking, answering questions, and who knows what else. You just don’t know that…

On April 11th of this year I lost several hours of my memory. At about 7:30 PM that day – without even being aware of it – I called my daughter and said, “Can you please come over. I’m confused.”  She asked if I wanted her to call an ambulance.  I said no. I don’t remember my daughter and my son-in-law rushing into my home and taking me to the emergency room. I don’t remember talking to doctors and nurses; I don’t remember getting a CT scan. And I didn’t know who our president is. (I won’t tell you what my daughter said about that!) All of this time I had no sense of fear or concern because I was totally unaware of what was going on.

I “woke up” about 9:00 PM that evening, still in the ER and still confused.  I didn’t remember that earlier I had gone to teach my evening class at the local community college. I didn’t remember cancelling the class because I didn’t feel well. I don’t remember driving home.

I was admitted to the hospital at about midnight that evening.  It wasn’t until about 1:00 AM that my mind started to really clear. I remembered that I did, in fact, start my class and then cancelled it.  My memory of parts of the evening grew by bits and pieces. However, there were and still are several “lost hours” of which I have absolutely no memory.  In the morning I felt pretty much like my “old self.” After having a normal MRI, I was sent home.

In retrospect the whole experience was and is very scary.  While it was happening I was oblivious, in “conscious unawareness” (my term, not a medical term!) so I was not scared or disconcerted. However, I know that my daughter and my other loved ones were very frightened.  No, I didn’t have a stroke. No, I didn’t have a TIA (transient ischemic attack). I did have transient global amnesia.

Here is how the Mayo Clinic describes transient global amnesia (sometimes referred to as TGA):

Transient global amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.

During an episode of transient global amnesia, your recall of recent events simply vanishes, so you can’t remember where you are or how you got there. In addition, you may not remember anything about what’s happening in the here and now. Consequently, you may keep repeating the same questions because you don’t remember the answers you’ve just been given. (I did that…over and over and over!)

The condition most often affects people in middle or older age. With transient global amnesia, you do remember who you are, and you recognize the people you know well. Episodes of transient global amnesia always improve gradually over a few hours. During recovery, you may slowly begin to remember events and circumstances. Transient global amnesia isn’t serious, but it can still be frightening.

That last statement is so very true. However, more frightening to me than experiencing this amnesia is thinking about how scared my daughter must have been to see me in the throes of this episode. I was not “me.” She had no idea if I would ever be “me” again…

I am so thankful that it didn’t take long for me to “get over” my experience with TGA and return to a sense of well-being. While the cause of TGA is unknown, stress is very likely a factor. Since, generally speaking, life causes stress for all of us (!), I am doing my best to handle my life’s stressors in positive ways.

While it’s unlikely that I will ever experience transient global amnesia again in my lifetime, having one episode was certainly – to say the very least – a learning experience. Now, if you’ve kindly taken the time to read this rather lengthy post, you also are aware of this unusual, rare condition.

As travelers on our life journeys, learning experiences abound. Some are pleasant; some not-so-much. Here’s to welcoming all life experiences. Quite simply, those life experiences mean we’re still alive!

Yay life!

Lean on me, when you’re not strong…

I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.

CareIf you’re reading this post, you may just be old enough to remember Bill Withers’ soulful song from 1972. Lean on Me helps us remember that all of us can use a hand sometimes…and we can lend a hand sometimes as well.  The older we get, the more challenges we face. As “they” say, it is what it is. But guess what?  We have a choice about how we face those challenges!

Let’s see. On one hand, we can be proudly and doggedly independent and not reach out; that approach may work…or not. We can be dependent, accepting help when we best do things ourselves. We can be co-dependent, giving so much of ourselves to someone else that our own well-being suffers.

OR…we can embrace interdependence! How does interdependence work?  We build relationships in which we reach out for help when we need it and lend a hand to others when they need it. We can achieve a wonderful balance and we all benefit!

I first became aware of the concept of interdependence through Skip Downing’s wonderful book On Course.  This textbook is used to help new college students learn strategies for success. One success strategy is interdependence. In On Course Mr. Downing describes interdependence as building mutually supportive relationships that help students achieve their goals and dreams, while helping others do the same. That’s good advice for all of us! We – absolutely – will be most successful when we ask for help when we need it and give help when someone else needs it.

In his July 2011 article entitled Interdependence Day(s): How to Create a Balanced Relationship in Psychology Today, Dr. Barton Goldsmith has this to say about interdependence:

The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly interdependent. This is where two people, both strong individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values. What they have is a balanced relationship…Living in an interdependent relationship gives you both respect and nurturing. What a nice way to go through life.

Back in ’72, Bill Withers was onto something! While he might not have conjured up the word interdependent, he had a wonderful way of explaining the concept…

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
’til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Let’s all reach out to both lend a hand and accept a helping hand.

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Whether we call it interdependence or not, let’s get on board, my friends. We’ll all be better for it!

Kate

P.S. Here are a few variations of Lean on Me for your listening pleasure.

Michael Bolton – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpH7CXfDUUo
Audio only – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOZ-MySzAac
Audio with lyrics – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdlPVBvkr-s

Yes, many a fine tune IS played on an old fiddle!

Old fiddles, unite!

Violin and red rose on black background.Try as I might, I couldn’t find the indisputable origin of the proverb “Many a fine tune is played on an old fiddle.Celebrating70 is all about making the very most of growing older and this little “ditty” seems to support that mission! In a culture that values youth, it’s good to be reminded that as old fiddles we do still have value in this big old world. If we don’t truly believe that, who will, my friends??

Now, we could argue all day about just when we become a metaphorical old fiddle. Heck, I’m 71 and really – on most days anyway! – I don’t feel like an old fiddle. To define old fiddle, we first might have to answer this question: How old is elderly? Hmmm.  Is it 65? Is it 70?  It definitely depends on who you ask. When I Googled “elderly” I saw some references to “early elderly” and “late elderly.” Does that mean there might even be “pre-elderly” or “post elderly” as well? Aye yai yai.

Whether I’m an old fiddle…or elderly…or any of the other what-could-be-considered misnomers, from the inside out I’m no different than I was when I was younger.

I’m smart.
I’m an honest person.
I’m kind-hearted.
I’m a loyal friend.
I learn new things.
I’m a good writer.
I have a great sense of humor. (At least I think so!)
I love pink and purple.
I read murder mystery novels.
I love to dance. (Old fiddles dance party, anyone??)
I make really great cookies!

Yes, I still play those same tunes! Maybe this old fiddle doesn’t look the same as I did “back in the day”…but I am the same. I’m me and I always will be. Call me what you will!

Something else comes to mind when a think of an old fiddle. My precious Grandpa, Pap, actually did play an old fiddle. Bless his heart up in heaven! Pap was a humble man who started working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania as just a kid. He went on to create a great life…and he always loved music. He could sing. He played the piano. He played the trumpet. And he played his old fiddle. Pap went to heaven at the age of 72. I do admit that seemed old to me at the time…

Pap played an old fiddle. Pap was an old fiddle I guess. Now I’m a proverbial old fiddle. And guess what. It’s not so bad!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, many a fine tune is played on an old fiddle. Those who are young may not appreciate that. The old fiddles among us must stand tall and proud and be sure to remind this world of our true value…who we really are.

Old fiddles, unite!

“I’ll give that song a 73. It’s hard to dance to.”

Oh, does that bring back memories!

RockabillyDick Clark’s American Bandstand! Wow! It was soooo much fun to watch those teens dancing and listen to all the wonderful music. I was a shy country girl and couldn’t even imagine what it might be like to dance on national television!

Dick Clark started hosting Bandstand in 1956. I was only eight years old!! The fact that the doctrine in my little church frowned on dancing – I never did really understand why – likely made Bandstand even more fascinating. And it wasn’t just me! According to Groovy History, “Young people everywhere thought they had died and gone to heaven when Dick Clark introduced the American Bandstand television music show.”

On Bandstand Dick Clark provided an opportunity for audience members to give their opinions of songs, on a scale of 35 to 98. As Groovy History tells us, “A song usually got a better rating if it had a beat that was easy to dance to…If a song makes you feel like dancing, it has to be great!” I would definitely agree!

With Bandstand Boogie by Les Elgart as its theme song, American Bandstand over time introduced us to the likes of Roy Orbison, the Beach Boys, Chubby Checker, The Silhouettes, Fabian, Little Richard, and even a very young Michael Jackson.

If you’re a septuagenarian like me – or even if you’re not! – take a look at a few of these videos. They might just bring a smile to your face! (Who couldn’t use more smiles, y’all?)

Little Richard – Long Tall Sally and Tutti Frutti – 1957
Dion & the Belmonts – I Wonder Why – 1958
The Chordettes – Lollipop and Mr. Sandman – 1958
Chuck Berry – Sweet Little Sixteen – 1958
Danny and the Juniors – At the Hop – 1958
Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops – 1959
Bobby Rydell – Wild One – 1960 (vocal only)
Chubby Checker – The Twist – 1960
Little Eva – The Locomotion – 1962   This is MY personal favorite!
Peggy March – I Will Follow Him – 1963
Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman – 1966
The Diamonds – The Stroll – 1968
The Jackson Five – I Want You Back – 1970
The Silhouettes – Get a Job – 1973

The list could go on and on! Now that we’re thinking about great old music, how about a couple more songs from 1956. While these tunes are not from Bandstand, I know you’ll enjoy them. They’re by a singer who needs no introduction!

Hound Dog
Blue Suede Shoes

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey down memory lane, my friends. Anybody out there want to do The Locomotion with me??? Just sayin’!!!

 

 

 

“Someday we’ll laugh about this.” Why wait??

Rediscovering our “funny bone” is actually good for our health!

LAUGHING.jpgWhat makes us feel better than a good hardy laugh? Not much I’d say! A couple of weeks ago I went for the very first time to hear a few stand-up comics at a wonderful local venue. Oh my goodness, did I laugh!! I had been stressed all day and nearly cancelled on my daughter and her fiancé. I’m so glad I didn’t!  Those big old belly laughs were exactly what I needed.

I think Norman Cousins would have agreed! Doing research while he was critically ill, Cousins discovered that humor and healing go hand in hand. In his best-selling book Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient, Cousins wrote about the “triumph of the human spirit” in contributing to our healing.  Yes, ladies and gentleman, the healing power of laughter is very real!

I’ve thought a lot about humor over the years. A couple of decades ago I was one of only a very few people in the Fortune 500 company where I worked who thought that humor actually had a place in a corporate environment. I will never forget once at a big quarterly meeting when a kind-hearted human resources person stood to announce that there would be a lunch–time session on stress management that everyone was invited to attend. Well, now. The serious-faced, buttoned up, three-piece-suited vice president who was running that meeting immediately challenged loudly: “Raise your hand if you have time to go to a session on stress!”  Wow. Nary a hand went up. The message was crystal clear: No time for that frivolous pursuit.  So sad. All I can say is…Yay! I’m not in that environment anymore! Smiles galore now!

Now let’s get back to the healing power of laughter. Think about this: What makes you smile? For example, what movies always bring a smile to your face? For me one would be My Cousin Vinny!! I’ve watched that movie so many times and I still laugh!  Does a particular friend’s sense of humor always lighten your mood? Give him or her a call! Remember that laughter is not always about jokes. Smiles come for many reasons!

Go ahead now. Make a list!! Consider funny photos, jokes, quotations, songs, animals, people, television shows, memes, comics, etc., etc., etc. Everyone’s list will be different.

I believe it may have been Liz Curtis Higgs who said, “Someday we’ll laugh about this. Why wait?” Liz was right. There is truly never a bad time for a smile or laughter. Perhaps in the darkest of times is when a little smile or a bit of laughter will do the most good.

My advice to you today? Do whatever it takes to put a smile on your face! You’ll be glad you did!

Thank you, hands! Thank you, arms!

I couldn’t have done it without you!

Grandmother and grandchild kneading doughI’ll get right to the point today, everyone. Our body parts don’t look like they used to! Pick a body part, any body part. All together now….Waaaahhhh!!! Boo hoo!!! Sniff sniff!! (Onomatopoeia anyone?) It is what it is, and we’re not particularly happy about it.

I’m not here to sell you a magic potion, lotion, cream or device that will bring back the easy outward beauty of youth. We all know that can’t happen. I’m here today to help us all not simply accept ourselves as we are but, more importantly, actually love ourselves as we are…all body parts included!

Here’s an example. As we age women often have “a problem” with their hands and arms (think age spots and bat wings!). Not long ago as I pondered my old hands and old arms I suddenly realized how very, very thankful I am for them.

These hands once touched so many people I love who have gone on to heaven before me…my Mom, my Dad, Munner (my grandma), Pap (my grandpa), my big brother Tim. These hands once touched the silky newborn faces of my now-grown daughters and nearly-grown grandsons…and my arms encircled them and lifted them up when they cried. With my old hands I have made pies and cookies and cakes and other goodies for my family and friends to enjoy. These hands have felt the smoothness of a handsome horse’s back, the prickly stem of a beautiful rose, and the sweet softness of a beloved dog’s floppy ears. And so much more…

Yes, I am so lucky to have these arms and hands…and all the other parts of my no-longer-young body. I’m grateful that my old heart still beats, allowing me to be a part of this good life for however long that will be. That truly is a gift.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Well, this beholder is feeling new appreciation and seeing beauty where I didn’t see it before.

Thank you, arms! Thank you, hands! I love you, my old friends. Oh, the memories. I simply couldn’t have done it without you!