Category Archives: aging

Defrost for freedom

Standard

images

 

[Written a few months ago, but certainly still relevant…]

Let It Go; A phrase as misunderstood and as misused as Be In the Moment.

Its December 26th, we can now say that Christmas has passed (unless you have gatherings continuing for the next week) and the calendar woefully reminds us that yet another year is over. Gone. Kaput. Though am not much for resolutions – let’ s be honest, they are just one more way we get in our own way – it seems like the notion of ‘Let It Go’ might be something to think about.

Recently I found myself talking to a friend who struggles with anxiety, encouraging her to let it go. Yes, its hard to do, but it is such an important step in our mental and emotional health as human beings — and in particular, as women. Just the whole hormonal rollercoaster of adolescence alone seems to make us hold on to things people have said or done ‘to us’.

Its simple concept, that can seem impossible – it can take an hour/day/month/years to achieve. And even then, every once in awhile whatever it was that you let go tries to sneak back into your consciousness. Almost as if ‘it’ is challenging your mental toughness, your ability to stand strong.

My strategy is to continue to take a step back from those situations that make me want to react negatively, or are hurtful, and ask ‘what about this situation is within my control?’. The answer is always the same – the only things I can control are my actions & words. Therefore, the best i can do is to check myself ‘what am I responsible for in this situation?’ ‘what words/actions did I choose?’ ‘ Is there a way to correct my actions/words/role in this situation?’.

The beauty of this plan is that (I believe) it can apply to many areas of life. Struggling with past relationships/situations? “What about _______ is within my control?” If its in the past — none of it is currently within your control, is it? You can acknowledge the memory, talk about it if needed, but at the end of it all you cannot go back and change your actions or role.

“What about my childhood was within my control?”

(In my opinion) Well, as children we are generally not in control – we trust the adults around us to make appropriate decisions for us. And sometimes the adults don’t always make (what we feel) are the right choices – they are human after all. Do you control the choices your parents made when raising you? Most likely the choices made had less to do with how your parents felt about you – and more to do with how they were raised (what they know) and what was going on in their own lives at the time.

Advertisements

Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 2013

Standard

When this blog began I had signed up for my first one month hot yoga challenge. The experience of yoga on a regular basis in addition to the experience of the hot room proved to be a physical challenge and provided some inspiration for this blog as well.  In the end it also fostered some unnecessary injuries and issues with heat stroke — so I do continue to do yoga but in a slightly different setting.

What I feel like after I've completed a run.

What I feel like post-run.

MY 2013 CHALLENGE IS…..drumroll please….  

Running 2 (yes 2) 10k races (September and October).

Holy.

Crap.

Some have asked, “What/who are you running from?”

That answer is more complex than I initially thought.

I am running from heart disease and diabetes (both were my mom’s arch nemeses).

I am committing to run to change my commitment karma, if you will.  Out with the one-sided relationships with people who cannot commit to the basic concepts of a relationship: Communication, Friendship and Honesty.   Bring on the healthy commitment karma!

I am running to get through the grief.  Running in the hope of somehow recreating my mother’s strength and perseverance, and honouring her spirit.

And  I am running to flush out the disappointment and frustrations of past relationships for good, and forever.  Maybe I can somehow cultivate compassion through running.

Finally, and equally as important as the rest, I am running because the post-run high is pretty freakin’ fabulous.

Mom lived with Diabetes for 20+ years and persevered through those last 2 years of life with a multitude of issues  and challenges (as a result of long-term diabetes), so therefore there is no reason why I couldn’t  move my butt 3-4 times a week. And by all means I can get out there on race day and give it my best.  And for what its worth – mom had diabetes, heart disease and cancer (x2) and my dad has had cancer (x1)- the odds are stacked against me and I need to keep movin’!

There are no illusions of grandeur, as there is virtually no chance of my placing in the top ten of any age group – I just want to get out there and do my best.  With any luck I will not be the last person to straggle across the finish line.

Have I ever run anything in my life? Not since about grade 5. Though I was a decent runner at that time — it was more than a few decades ago.

I want to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.   To show everyone (and myself) who is afraid of being 45, divorced, with no children, that it is going to be ok.  In fact, its pretty damn liberating at the best of times!  That at 45 yrs of age one doesn’t need to give in to what society deems as  OLD, and that to feel young one doesn’t need to pretend they are in their 20’s either. Doing new things challenges us to do and think differently, we interact with different groups of people, and in this case, we do a bit of good as well.

There.

It’s official.

I’ve made this commitment ‘public’.

Oi. Vay.

“Is this a test?”

Standard

lilac-bushFor those who have followed this blog you have read various posts relating to many cherished family memories, as well as some challenging family moments.  On April 24, 2013, my mom passed away.  The writer in me has been struggling to find the words – and trying not to post my grief on Facebook (too much).   

They say that grief is a process.  It has stages.  I am sure that many have written books and journals on the process, analyzing it down to what may be believed to be a precise process.  What I know to be true is that grief does not form itself into a specific, set-in-stone pattern.  The loss of my mother has knocked me sideways, upside down, thrown me down, and  picked me back up, only to go through it all again.

For me, right now, the key is allowing the emotions to come to the surface.  Acknowledging the sadness, the loss, as well as the good memories that arise as you move through it all is an opportunity to let go of the pain.   Note:  ‘…to let go of the pain (not the person).’

So here we go…

Our childhood was steeped in the Lutheran community of our hometown in Minnesota.  We lived a half a block away from the church and both of our parents were involved in many aspects – from Sunday school to vacation bible school, pancake breakfasts to Lenten suppers, ushering at services to  bible studies and altar guild.  Like making a perfect pot of tea we were soaked in it like precious tea leaves.

Despite all of that – once I left home (and even before) religion seemed like a lot of pomp and circumstance and not much substance.   Admittedly, I leaned quite far away from my faith for many, many years.  Heck, I even married (& divorced) a ‘self-professed Atheist’ for heaven’s sake!

And then, after all mom had been through since the cardiac arrest – she was diagnosed with Stage IV Liver Cancer with approximately 4 months to live.  She received the news on Good Friday of all days.  Shortly thereafter mom began receiving a drug treatment to extend her life a bit longer, then Dad called to tell us she was in the hospital again.  Without asking, his voice was enough to urge us home.

Doctor G. told us that he didn’t recommend another treatment.

Pastors prayed with us.

And mom asked, “Is this a test?  Is God testing me?”

As I heard her ask the question I realized that this truly was not a test of her deep and abiding faith.  What I saw in action was that God was with her as she moved through this painful ending.

Life unfolds according to our choices, and God walks through all of it with us – if we let him.

In hindsight, it came together quite logically. Family and her dear friends gathered by her side.  The Nurses listened and worked to ease her pain.  The pastors from the church visited, prayed and offered support.   Her grandson arranged a Skype chat with her son who was overseas.   The son (J) who visited rarely called to say he was on the way.  We were all certain Mom’s eternal Hope would prevail.

And as much as mom always wrapped her children in absolute, unconditional love –  God did the same for her.

Mom and Dad had a great visit with J. when he arrived.  All of her children had visited in person or by Skype.  That evening God wrapped her in his love and took her home.

At the funeral  Pastor D quoted John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.  That whomever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’  It was the one scripture I memorized as a child, only now does its true meaning reveal itself.  I feel that if my parents had not instilled their Faith in us when we were children, that today my heart would be eternally broken.

Through this faith I know, and believe, that mom lives on enjoying gardens that she had never imagined would ever exist, and that the skies have one more bright, shining star watching over us.  Perhaps most importantly, I know that she is with me (& our family) everyday.

Grateful for my amazing mom.  Grateful for this life lesson.

Tuesday’s Quote

Standard

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Age is a state of mind, do things that you love and that bring you joy throughout life regardless of whether it is considered to be appropriate for your age.   Whoo hooo!

Photo:  Google Images

Exactly when did I start to sound like my mom?

Standard

[This post is rated RC – reality check – if you are under the age of say, 30, read this post with caution.  It may burst your idea of the future!]

Aging, we cringe at the thought; shudder at the realization that it is happening, and purchase products wanting to believe what some actress or actor on a commercial said it ‘took years off their appearance’ (let’s all fess up… we’ve all fallen for it once or twice).  At 20 we cannot even imagine what life will be like at 40 ‘That’s so old!’     The look of complete and utter shock on the face of any teenager when you tell them that you are 30 or 40 or 50 is absolutely frightening!  And there are those little things that you’ve secretly dreaded about getting older, beyond the appearance things – like the moment you realize that you do that thing or say that thing that your mom does (you know that day is coming…).   It is as if your mom’s history must repeat itself, and it does so through you.

Any rational human being knows that our age is really only a number that indicates how many years we have been on this earth – not our state of mind or state of being.    As it turns out, age can be perceived in many ways – chronological age – how old you are according to the calendar, functional age –  how you are able to function in your daily activities, biological age – the health of your body systems, relative age – your age in relation to others your own age, psychological age – your mental health, and social age – your age regarding your social activity level.   Essentially, there are many areas of our health that determine our age – not just the calendar (thank god!).

My mom, on the cusp of 75, manages diabetes and cardiovascular disease daily.  There have been days when she has had difficulty breathing and when she could hardly walk down the front walk of the house, she has had been in the hospital for cardiac issues more times that I can count.   With all of that going on in her life, she somehow finds a way to teach a fitness class to a (very) senior group of women at the local nursing home, volunteer at the hospital gift store, and design flowers for a few weddings here and there (almost forgot, she also started selling Mary Kay two years ago).   Heck she’s even been to Jamaica to work in an orphanage!   As much as we give her heck for not slowing down, it all gives her a purpose and keeps her active – mentally young, and honestly, more active than many others her age.  Are there days when she doesn’t feel so young? You bet.  But she has this amazing perseverance, and today she is able to walk to her fitness class and her quality of life has improved – yay mom!   She is getting younger and younger every day.

At 42, I am sticking with the concept that we are only as old as we feel.  There are days when I feel like I am most definitely in my 40’s, but most days I am not sure what 40 is supposed to feel like!   Personal health seems to be a running theme so far on this blog overall– and here again- when I take the time to take care of myself, eat well, sleep enough, and play a bit, I don’t feel so old.  When I do not do these things?  Oi, I become grumpy, creaky, cheeky, and t-i-r-e-d.

Here’s a little secret for those not quite into their 40’s yet…. There is this revolutionary transformation that occurs when you turn 40; you stop caring about what anyone else thinks about you and what you do.  Liberation!   If it feels right to keep colouring out your grey hair,  do it.  If it feels right to stay in your pyjamas all morning, do it.   If it feels right to work part-time and go to school, do it.  For me, gradually, so very gradually, as I let go of the need to be concerned with what I believed others thought, I have found clarity and see what is important to me.  My passion has become more focused and my courage is heightened, maybe even bolstered!

So today, when I hear my mother’s voice [and creativity] coming from my mouth, I smile and am thankful for the gift of her perseverance [and creativity].    Then, I colour my hair and buy a new anti-aging moisturizer.

Have a good one, and thanks for taking the time!

Sooner or later we all quote our mothers.

— Bern Williams