Total Pageviews

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wired for Sound

One thing about coming of age in the 60s is that it was all about music. Maybe it’s the way my brain is wired but I can remember almost anything musical. Consequently, my brain is chock full of songs from the 50s onward. In fact it is so full of songs that I have trouble fitting other stuff in.

And those songs don’t stay put. They tend to pop up at inopportune times. It’s like an iPod on automatic pilot. At times, when I’m doing something repetitive that doesn’t require a lot of mental involvement, my inner iPod thinks I need entertainment and switches on. Naturally, I have to hum or sing whatever song comes up, sometimes startling passersby.

To make matters worse, I seem to have no say in the programming. My inner iPod plays whatever it feels like, and sometimes it surprises me. It’s just as likely to be a popular song, a show tune, commercial jingle, or a hymn. I never know. After an indeterminate time, the roulette wheel spins again and it switches to another number.

In a way, having an inner iPod is a lot of company, but I’m probably strange enough to people as it is without the humming thing. I might as well just throw back by head and belt out a chorus or two. At least that would seem more intentional than befuddled. Maybe I’ll just make ear buds part of my permanent wardrobe.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Therein Lies the Rub

The problem with exercise is that you have to keep doing it. Now I’m a gal who likes to cross things off my To-Do list and be done with them.
1. Write the article due today – Check!
2. Take the roast out to thaw – Check!
3. Call my mother – Check!
4. Call my son – Check!
5. Exercise – Check!

While the other things on the list aren’t done every day, exercise pretty much has to, because at our age, if we don’t use it, we really DO lose it. So every day’s To-Do list should have some form of exercise on it. Unfortunately, I’m a health writer and I’m always interviewing doctors and health professionals who keep giving me this nagging message.

Not only that we have to exercise almost every day, but we have to do different exercises to ensure we keep moving. A brisk walk is always good, but it doesn’t do much for our flexibility, and forget about our upper body bone mass. That takes resistance training, like weights and things. Our bones like nearby muscles massaging them to keep their density. You can’t blame them. Who doesn’t like a good massage?

Flexibility requires gentle and consistent stretching. Otherwise we can forget about bending over to pick up our reading glasses off the floor when we drop them. I’m not saying you should aspire to doing the splits every so often. And stretching is so unglamorous and takes valuable time from doing crossword puzzles. But it can save us many a sore muscle and downtime that encourages inactivity. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, yadda, yadda.

My above-mentioned health professionals have some suggestions for us and I said I would pass them along:
• Mix it up. Doesn’t matter what our age is, if we always do the same thing, we get bored.
• Walk most days of the week.
• Drag a friend to an exercise class: zumba or spinning or something easy to follow. If a friend comes, we can’t very well bow out.
• Take yoga: it’s great for the flexibility part, soothing monkey brain, and just relaxing. I gotta tell ya, I still hate Down Dog and I can’t get my heels on the ground to save my life, but it does feel great to have done it.
• Treat yourself to at least one personal training session to help you work out a plan with what you have at home or at your health club so you don’t end up killing yourself and have to take a few weeks off. And a personal trainer is a great conscience.

Well, if we gotta, we gotta, so let’s keep moving so we can, and let’s have fun doing it. No one says we can’t combine exercise with a little retail therapy or a fabulous latte.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Few of My LEAST Favorite Things

When it comes to the things we love to hate, each of us has our own personal list. While some dreaded things will make most everyone’s list, like public speaking and okra, others are tied into our own personal history and associations they hold for us. Some, I know why I dislike them; others, well—I just do:

TV Political Ads: Obviously, there are no acceptable candidates for any race. They are either the mud slingers or the slingees. Liar, liar, pants on fire. Anyone who spends good money in this economy to trash an opponent will not get my vote. He/she can’t be trusted to govern in my best interest.

Cellphone Space Invaders: Why is it we never hear anything really interesting (like a hot stock tip or an impending holocaust) when someone decided to have his loud conversation right next to your ear? Do they really think we want to hear about how much they hate their mother-in-law, or the trouble they have finding shoes for the party? Zip it or go find a cave for your conversation.

Waldorf salad: This concoction of apples, nuts, and mayonnaise is generally liked by most people. For me, it is one of the few foods I just won’t eat, and I’m not really sure why. I know it has something to do with my childhood.

Mosquitoes: Okay, who loves the little critters? But many people are more indifferent to them than openly hostile. Mine has to do with the fact that mosquitoes just love me—for dinner. When other people are not touched or just checked out, I always seem to be the main course, and they get me in places hard to scratch—like my toes.

Scree: You have to be a hiker or mountain climber to appreciate this one. Scree is loose rock debris that can extend down a whole hillside or just the steep parts. If you are going up it, it’s like two steps up and one sliding step back. If you are coming down, you’re likely to do it on your tush—at least if you want to survive the descent.

Cart Parkers: Why is it that it never occurs to some shoppers to anticipate someone wanting to get by them as they park their carts in the exact middle of the aisle and proceed to read every food label in a section? Hello! People!

Serial Complainers: One of my dear friends and I have been walking partners for years, and we have one rule: We can whine for the first mile and then we have to fergettaboutit! No one likes to be around people who moan all the time. One of the best ways to have a happy life is to have a lot of friends. To have a lot of friends, we have to be someone they want to be around, and that means upbeat and positive, fun! So now I’ve had my rant and I’m moving on to cheerier things. You should, too.

Mary Jo is a freelance health writer who finds humor an essential companion on this rollercoaster of life. She gives humorous cancer survivor speeches, teaches Aging with Pizzazz seminars to promote senior activism; and fervently believes if we can get enough Baby Boomers involved, we can get the law of gravity repealed!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Over the Hill and Picking up Speed

I have a rich life that may at different times involve climbing a mountain, trying to get a llama across a creek, having my granddaughter sign my cast, volunteering with the Red Cross, and writing about the latest health information. I stay active, eat right, and avoid mirrors.

To my dismay, one morning I woke up perilously close to Medicare. Yikes! How did this happen? Of course, aging itself didn’t happen suddenly. It’s been chipping away at me for some time now. Physical issues like two bouts of cancer, mornings that too frequently involve un-kinking some part of my body, worries and loss of loved ones; all that is just part of the package that comes with the passing of years.

What doesn’t have to be part of the package is hand-wringing and wallowing. It’s the challenges of life that let us make the most of life—by conscious choice. We can choose to focus on our bounty of joys. We can choose to be people other people want to hang with because we just don’t have time for hand-wringing and wallowing. Each time another challenge sideswipes us, we get to make a choice: keep moving and find the joy, or lie down and wallow in it.

If we choose to keep moving (okay, maybe a brief wallow), we will run into yet another challenge. Same choice—again. The great thing about choice is that no matter how old we get (I’m on a 104-year plan), we get to keep doing it. If there is one lovely thing age brings, it’s a realization of our mortality and the desire to make each day count. People who are fun to be around are people who get it, no matter what their age; people who get that we have this one brief time on earth and choose to live it to the fullest.

Besides choosing to focus on the heartwarming, the poignant, the quirky and sometimes hysterical, I’m convinced that the good life includes staying connected and creating community, making each daily encounter as positive as possible, fighting comfort-zone shrinkage, staying active, embarrassing our children/grandchildren, finding romance in the ordinary, wearing funky tee shirts, and, perhaps, a tattoo—on some part of the anatomy that doesn’t sag.

My job in this column will be to ferret out the upsides of the inevitable and invite you along for the celebration. These will be your stories, too. I invite you to share your laughs or lessons learned about aging and spread the joy. Send your funny experiences and I'll share them in later columns.

Mary Jo is a freelance health writer who finds humor an essential companion on this rollercoaster of life. She gives humorous cancer survivor speeches, teaches Aging with Pizzazz seminars to promote senior activism; and fervently believes if we can get enough people involved, we can get the law of gravity repealed!