Am I the only one who wakes up lately wondering what day it is, what month or some days, what planet we’re on?
Like a surreal time warp lately.
Therefore, it kinda caught me off guard when hubby mentioned a week or two back,” hey you’ve got a birthday coming, what do you want?”
( My birthday was on Saturday)
Ah! Christmas in July 😁
Like wow, where did the year go?
If you will, allow me to wax poetic in this post on some reflections of another year around the sun .
Age is definitely a number
I giggle when my young friends lament that they are on the door step of 30, like it’s the end of life.
Although 30 is a ways back in my rearview mirror now, I love where I am in life. I want to tell them that getting older isn’t awful and it’s something many will never know. That getting older means wisdom gained, compassion deepened, love expanded, and a broader understanding of things you didn’t really grasp years before.
Getting older means knowing yourself, really. The good and bad and knowing how to manage both of those areas. It means knowing how to use to your voice and being comfortable doing so.
It means gained confidence in ways you have not have known in your younger self.
It can be developing new skills or talents you find along the way you didn’t know you had earlier in life.
Age also challenges you to press into hard things you may never have dealt with. It can either forge strength in you, or leave you weak or fearful.
You also learn to be true to yourself and who you are….or you don’t. Being true to yourself might not always float everyone’s boat but that is really their issue, not yours.
Be authentically you, there is no one who can fill your shoes.
Getting older doesn’t need to define life as “less”.
That’s how it’s often observed right? Getting older means you can’t or shouldn’t do certain things cause ya know, age right?
Don’t do this, don’t do that.
I jokingly tell my kids I will forever be the mom/grandmother/aunt in little shorts at the family picnic 🤣
I will be on the dance floor if there’s music and not observing life on the side.
I will continue to push my limits and challenge myself to new things.
I want to learn and grow and be better with each year marked.
Age is no excuse
Honestly, I do not even let myself allow that idea into my head. I refuse to be guided by a thought that would cripple me from living a life of more .
As I reflect back on this year, it is not without looking at some hard times I’ve walked through that have strengthened me in ways I had never previously known. Walking paths of illness with loved ones builds unknown strengths in you that you don’t know you possess until you go through fire.
Getting older is often looked at as getting weak with the thought older people should step aside so the stronger young ones can handle it.
Physically, my body is stronger and more capable than it has ever been.
I love that! I love that my sons call on me at times to help move something because they know I can deliver.
Pushing myself to lift heavier or ride farther on my bike, whatever, it may be is empowering! And training my body prepares it for those daily life tasks we can be called on to do.
I guess really, if anything, I don’t ever put limits on myself. That has allowed me to grow and tackle such big goals that if I had put mental limits on myself I would spend my life wondering if I could do it, instead of getting it done.
A friend tagged me in this post yesterday telling me it reminded her of me, of how I am and the fact she felt I’d say the same thing to my followers, and she’s right.
No matter where we are in life, choices are to be made. What we do determines who we will continue to grow into.
I will, no matter my age always be pressing into where I want to continue to be, and that is driven by what I do.
How I think, the goals I set and how I challenge myself.
Chronologically, age happens to all of us. We have no control over that.
How we approach aging, the choices we make, our behaviors and attitudes, our mental thinking, well we have a ton of control over that.
And with those ideas firmly in mind my mantra will forever be, age is no excuse.
And just like that, it’s time to celebrate another birthday.
Is it me, or does time really ( seem) to move faster as you get older?
Gone are the days where the only concern was how much play time you had or which friends were available to hang out. Lazy summers and no cares in the world.
Those times in our lives seem rather fleeting don’t they?
But wait. Hang with me.
This isn’t a sappy post, but one I more enjoy doing as a way of reflection on the year gone by.
It gives me opportunity to see areas of growth and areas I need to shape up more.
I’m smack in the mid 50s now.
I get Aarp fliers in the mail and am close to qualifying for discounts in some places.
Yes I will shamelessly work my age to save a few bucks 🤣
I go for my yearly doctor visits and the little 20 something girl checking me in acts surprised I don’t have a bag of meds with me.
Ah well. Whatever.
Age is merely a number that I’ve never allowed to define me.
Have you ever noticed though, how people do? And boy, do some people get bent out of shape when you don’t stay in the box and play by all the same old and tired “rules”.
**yawn** what’s a box?
Like at certain ages there are expected normal behaviors because you’re “that age.”
Listen, I have no problem diving onto a swing and flying through the air when I’m with the grand babies at the park or any other unadultish shenanigans.
The expectation of society is as you get older you should lay things aside, and uh, “act your age”.
Whatever that means.
Just be quiet and fade away…not likely.
So here I am grateful for another year to live, move, and breathe in this beautiful gift we have called life.
I have to laugh as I hear so many of my young friends bemoaning the fact that they are only a couple years from….30.
It does amuse me ’cause I’m well to the other side of that and I know that life is still good, better even, and really it’s ok.
I enjoyed all the decades behind me but I long for none of them. Each one was a season in my life. A season to learn and grow. To gain wisdom and a wee bit of maturity 😉
It is now, sitting in the middle of another decade, that I can reflect how each one was a working out of the woman I am.
Good times, bad times, hard and easy, frustrations and joys, light and dark, every single season was shaping me.
Wisdom is a gift I greatly appreciate and I can see it more clearly now that ever.
Comfortable in the skin I live in
I have always been comfortable in my existence. But getting older has only solidified that.
I’m good with myself.
I don’t say that in an egotistical way, just a fact. To be comfortable with who you are, the very essence of who you are, is freedom.
It means being ok with your good stuff and not so good stuff. It’s knowing I’m not perfect but strive to be the best I can be. I try to remain open and teachable.
It’s also accepting every part of my physical self and never, ever comparing myself to someone else. To do so only would breed dissatisfaction and be an affront to my Maker.
There is only one of me. I will appreciate the gift of that.
No approval needed.
I don’t need approval to be me….and same goes for you. By that I mean at this stage of my life, I know who I am.
I know what I like and what I don’t like. I know what makes my heart sing and what weighs it down. I know how to speak up when I need to in being able to express myself, how I think or feel,or to nicely say no thank you to something.
I know how to stand up and own who I am ( and I don’t mean in a rude or disrespectful way) I know who I am.
It’s not worrying about others or their personal opinions. It’s not being concerned if someone approves or disapproves based on what they would or wouldn’t do.
This past year I’ve…….
Experienced alot of things. Lots of ordinary life stuff, but also bigger events that have challenged me.
I started my fifth year with this blog. It’s been an outlet in writing but my main goal is to keep offering sensible, sane, realistic lifestyle and fitness encouragement and help. I’m blessed by all of you who take the time to read, comment, and offer words of encouragement back to me. I’ve slowly built my own brand as Sassyfitnesschick and plan to keep offering my own flavor of health and fitness tips, all with a side dish of sass 😉
I trained for, and finished my second duathlon. I also again, took first in my age group. I cannot tell you what a challenging yet fulfilling event this was for me. The training as much as the cold,rainy, miserable race day all shaped me in a different way.
I learned more about resilience,tenacity and a whole lotta stubbornness in me.
Ok…well.. the stubbornness is nothing new 😉
I recently was talking to hubby about something and I said ” I don’t quit” to which from behind his glasses and iPad I get a snort followed by “realllyy??”
And then…”Well that’s not a bad thing”
And I don’t. I jump into the deep end with anything I do and I give it my all.
This month marks my one year anniversary since I started my little vintage business last year. When I jumped in I thought I’d try a few months and see how it went. Before I knew it I had hit the 6 month mark. Spring time I moved into a bigger space ( and bigger rent) yet somehow each month it seemed I was to keep going.
Last month when I was notified the lease on building wasnt being renewed and I’d have to either uproot and move elsewhere or just fold it all up and…quit…well that just wasn’t an option. And then there was a perfect space just waiting for me…and now I’m in and settled and can hardly wait to see how this year unfolds.
As a writer, who has a blog, it’s hard for me to not observe people. As a very social creature it’s quite easy for me to interact with just about anyone. This year I’ve met some interesting people, and not always people who look “normal”. By that I mean they are colorful in their clothing choices,word choices,art work on their bodies or offbeat fashion style, not to mention colorful personalities. I find that refreshing. I love how they are good at pushing back against the norm. Long ago, when my oldest was in a rock band, I learned not to judge books by their covers.
My home could often be filled with big men in all black, wearing tons of makeup, plenty of piercings and other non- main stream looks. Yet under it all were sweet guys who loved raiding my cookie jar. Being reminded of those truths makes it quite easy for me to appreciate those who march to the beat of their own drum.
That’s how life works right?
Day by day it unfolds full of the daily norm, the unexpected, the high’s and low’s and if we look for it, plenty of joys too.
The unfolding of this last year has shown me ( more than ever) that I really can do anything. I’ve learned so much more about mental discipline. It’s the strength and unwillingness to quit which spills out into everything I do.
New challenges can be hard and I strive too let them to do the work of making me stronger. I’m facing some now and am trying to remind myself of this.
Getting older isn’t some horrible thing.
Some will never have the chance to experience it.
What’s horrible is remaining unchanged, unyielding, holding onto grudges, judging, poor behaviors, or personal slights, refusing to see different view points or being unwilling to listen to how another person sees something. It’s horrible to age and still hold onto things that should’ve been let go of a long time ago. In my opinion those things are far worse than getting older.
I think age really, is a huge state of mind. I believe how we view it impacts how out loud we live all our days.
My goal is to do it gracefully, to love well, to continue to be open and teachable, to learn and grow from this ride called life, and most of all, never, ever quit.
So today is my birthday, the day I came crashing into history. Another chance to spin around the sun once more. The older I get the less I view that as something I’m entitled to. It’s a gift pure and simple and one worthy of celebrating, appreciating, and giving thanks for.
Before I get going on this I do wanna give a shout out to Chunky Tribe Creations for working with me on creating this fun birthday tank using one of my signature hash tags. She was super sweet and went out of her way to be helpful with my…uh… unusual request. Find them on Facebook and check out their page. Black is one of my favorite colors and I love how the pink and white compliment it and pull it all together.
I “technically” won’t roll to my new age until the evening of my birthday, according to my mothers meticulous record of my birth day.
I love how vintage, old and cool my baby book looks now.
I’m vintage. Nifty.
You can see I came into this world longer and bigger than most of my petite 6 or 7 lb counterparts.
I kinda never slowed down and grew into all of my 6’0 height by middle school… awkward at best and not knowing what to do with all of me.
Fast forward a very good number of years and I am more than comfortable in my skin and taking up all my space on this planet.
I don’t shrink back, try to be small, or less than anything I am.
I guess that’s one thing about getting older, right? Getting to where you know who you are and owning it. Making no apologies for anything or to anyone for being yourself.
It’s a matter of simply being comfortable in your skin and embracing and loving yourself.
And yeah, it’s really ok to love yourself. If you don’t, how do you expect others to?
Age brings wisdom… or so they say….but there won’t be grey hair to prove it
I guess you don’t get to this point in life where you haven’t learned a thing or two… or at least you should have. I have a lot of younger friends and I enjoy their enthusiasm, energy and zest for life. It sometimes doesn’t take long though for me to realize in chatting with them that I do have words of wisdom and advice that I can offer. Sometimes I relate to situations, other times it’s a matter of just being able to see things in a more clear, objective way.
Hey, I guess age does have it’s benefits, right?
My daughter in laws often tell me the same thing, that they appreciate my wisdom. I love that they come to me when they need advice, counsel, or to just talk.
I think being older often lets you see things in a more objective manner, to discern them differently or a little more rationally.
I’m not afraid to use my voice
I think when you’re younger, you may hold back or not feel comfortable speaking your thoughts, ideas, objections or view points.
Being older I’m not afraid to let go, or to hold back. I’ve learned silence can be powerful but I’m not afraid to speak my mind and call it like I see it either.
I can see black and white, but I also know there is a grey ground too when it comes to topics or thoughts and ideas.
Having a blog and being active on social media has certainly given me a broader platform to use my voice and to speak out loud, to live out loud, and that feels powerful.
Speaking of power….
getting older means you know yourself better, what you can do and accomplish and you’ve learned what you’re made of by now and that’s pretty empowering. The more struggles, trials, life learning events and other fun stuff you go through only builds and strengthens you in a deeper way.
My first tattoo ( ha and supposedly, “only” tattoo) was a wrist bracelet that says “strength”. It is one of my life words. When I see it, it’s a constant reminder of what I’m made of, what I’ve been forged by, and that I have strength for all things I deal with in life.
I have earned this in these years of my life, this deep strength.
Don’t sweat the small stuff….
If there’s one thing I quietly observe in the world around me is how often people waste time on things that don’t matter. They waste time on unnecessary drama with people they love when they could be loving them or enjoying that time together instead of camping on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
Through social media I often observe people throwing dirty laundry and drama out for the world to view. It’s rather sad, but more sad is that they are wasting time that could be spent loving, laughing, and appreciating the lives they have together.
Remember, none of us are entitled to anything. Don’t squander it over the small stuff that doesn’t matter.
I’m older and I’m really ok with that….really.
I had to laugh the other day when my daughter asked my age and came in a number of years behind where I am.
She said” I’m sorry Mom, I just forget, I don’t think about your age!”
And I don’t either. It’s rather irrelevant to me. I do what I want and do what makes me feel good, alive and what’s fun.
I don’t ever plan to be hindered by some age card or held back in any way.
I have to roll my eyes when I see some copy and paste post going around about older women and how they look at 20 something aged women wishing they were still there or looked like them or whatever… hahaha… no.
Don’t get me wrong. My 20’s were great. I was happy, I was happy with life and all that stuff. I was starting my family and tending babies and running a household. Life was good.
Life is still good.
But the reality is I’m in better physical shape now then I was then. I’m also way more confident, stronger, smarter and in touch with myself than I was then. I know what I’m about, what I want, what I don’t want.
I don’t wish to be something I used to be, to do so only takes away from what I am now.
Reflecting back on this past year….
As I write this, I’m thinking back over this past year, ways I’ve grown, things I’ve accomplished and learned.
In the ways of my family, they’ve grown and some have married, started new households and new jobs. I’ve graduated my final one from high school last year and watched her start her second semester of college. I celebrated another year with a man I’ve been with most of my life now.
I not only went out and trained for my first multi-sport event last year, the duathlon, I took first in my age group. Never would I have seen myself doing that, yet I did, and I’m going after it again this year.
I also stumbled into a new hobby/new business at the beginning of the year as I started flipping old antique furniture. I had zero experience with it but it turns out I’m pretty good at it and people like it so I’m gonna see where it continues to grow to.
Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks??
I guess on the topic of getting old I can just say that I’m unapologetically me. I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, yet there are others who love every weird, funny, smart, quirky, sassy vibe about me.
And that’s cool in both directions.
I’ve learned other peoples problems or hang ups they may have are their own, not mine. It’s irrelevant to me and my life.
I will never march to the beat of someone else’s drummer. I will always go against the flow and I will never intentionally conform to someone else’s standards or thoughts.
Now on with the celebrations….
Ok so I’ve kinda been working the birthday thing all week, even though as I write this, the 11th is the “official” day.
I think birthdays are worth celebrating no matter how old you get.
Cake… heck yes. My daughter made me an amazing German Chocolate one that we all devoured. Toss some ice cream on it too.
I love presents and all those unexpected treats. No, I’m not to big for gifts.
Speaking of gifts… my daughter knows of my Converse love and gifted me with these lovelies to sport around. How pretty are they ??
Of course I shared with you in my Monday Musings post this week, hubby totally surprised me with a Go Pro, to which I’m in the process of assembling and getting all put together.
Then it will be off for some adventures with it. 😉
Being older has some other advantages…..
Like… I have no idea what the most popular mini van, “sport” van, or SUV is no days… I traded mine in for a Charger R/T Max almost 2 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I know more about it’s 0-60 abilities than I do features on new vans 😉 #nomoremomcars
I skim into the grocery store peacefully getting what I need while I pass Moms with kids hanging off baskets or crying babies. Bless them but I’ve been there, done that, free now.
I can come in a total mess from a workout and get ready in record time. Although my mane of hair definitely takes the longest, I learned a long time ago less is more with makeup. All the things young women go through now days with makeup, I’ve got no time for that. You’ll just have to look at my awkward “un contoured, un bronzed, un highlighted” face 😉
I’ve got more “me” time. All my kids are grown, self sufficient, get themselves up and off for work, tend to their own needs, or better yet they live in their own homes. I can do things during the day I want to do.
I can stop for a coffee and read on the patio at my local coffee hangout…one of my fav leisure activities. Coffee, reading, and people watching.
Also, another birthday puts me closer to getting a Senior citizen discount on my breakfast… so there’s that 😉
In the year ahead….
I’m not gonna get all deep and introspective on you. My approach to my new year is simple….
Take no prisoners.
Take challenges, take risks, work hard, don’t be afraid to fail when attempting new things, seize new opportunities, live fearlessly, believe strongly in myself in what I can do, love with abandon, let go of what is useless, embrace the things that matter, be kind, accept some things are what they are, work hard, and never let age be an excuse to not accomplish something new.
I think that’s a crazy fine way to head into another year of being #50ish.
Botox. Creams. Anti-aging serums. Plastic surgery. Lotions and creams that promise to restore youth or keep you young looking are all over the market and you don’t have to look further than magazines or the tv to find numerous products being offered to help you look younger.
The question that begs to be asked is this…. “is there such a thing as the fountain of youth?”
Is there some secret, magical potion that will keep us looking young and vibrant ? Is it to be found in bottles or jars? Is that secret lurking in our medicine cabinet for us to discover?
The skin care industry is a booming business and lots of it comes from products promising a youthful appearance.
But… what if it isn’t found in a jar? What if it’s something that’s free and you always have it available to you? Would you want to use it?
My childhood friend accuses me of voodoo or some kind of witchcraft telling me I’m not aging and in fact appear to have gotten younger. She proclaims to not love me for that but I think she’s lying 😉
Where that is a flattering compliment, the reality is, of course I’m aging like anyone else. However, it’s what I do and how I live that might be actually slowing that progression down.
So what is this secret formula? How do you get your hands on it ?
It’s already in you waiting to be used, every single day, and it’s exercise.
Now wait! Don’t check out on me here. Not yet since I’m fixing to share some scientific(y) stuff with you about exercise, our bodies, and the whole aging process. I’ll try to keep it basic and to the point but of course I’d encourage you to do your own research if you want to learn more.
Exercise cannot change our chronological age as that is set in stone. We were born on a certain day and year, our “age” hinges on that. It’s immovable.
Our biological age boys and girls, is a whole new game, and exercise fights against aging by protecting cells from the ticking clock.
Our biological age, can be changed.
Say what ?
Exercise can fight against a cellular level and staying healthy means you can keep your cells young.
Keeping cells young allows tissues to function properly.
Exercise boosts muscle levels of a compound called NRF1 which impacts telomeres at the ends of each of our chromosomes.
Yikes! What is NRF1 and how does that work for me?
As simple as possible, it stimulates the production of proteins that are needed for cellular energy production and proteins involved in the making of new healthy mitochondria. If you don’t remember from biology class ( cause I didn’t ) mitochondria are the powerhouse of our cells and are responsible for creating more that 90% of energy needed by the body to sustain life and support organ function. Their function typically declines with age but with vigorous exercise mitochondria function improves ( and you can grow a lot more)
Exercise boosts muscle levels of the compound called NRF1 which impacts our telomeres at the ends of each of our chromosomes.
Hang on with me here ok?
Maybe you forgot what telomeres are. They are basically like little biological clocks on the ends of our DNA. When in good shape, our DNA (cells) stay young. When they get damaged the cells get old. Telomeres are protective caps at the end of our chromosomes that keep them stable- think like plastic at the end of shoe laces. Every time a cell divides telomeres get shorter. Eventually they become to small to protect chromosomes and cells get old and die resulting in aging .
Unfortunately, telomeres get eroded with time.
Pay attention now boys and girls…….
the speed of erosion is not fully fixed which explains why you can impact biological age! This is where producing NRF1 is helpful. when activated by exercise it can produce protective molecules for telomeres, like varnish on nails. This all works on an anti-aging level, biologically.
Not all exercise is created equal for these benefits…
where as all types of exercise is good for our bodies, relieves stress, keeps our health balanced and leads to overall fitness, the type of exercise to reap the biggest anti-aging results is HIIT or cardio exercises done for at least 30 minutes or more 5 times a week.
Strength training is good for building muscle and overall body strength but it won’t have the same benefits for cell renewal as cardio or high intensity exercises.
In a study done by Newsweek in May 2017, it found of 5,000 adults in a research study that those who exercise regularly are younger on a cellular level than their sedentary or moderately active counterparts. The study also compared telomere length with levels of physical activity. The study showed significant differences between those who did vigorous exercise and those who did not. The adults who did strong, vigorous exercise were biologically 9-10 years younger. ( for the study a high physical level was considered to be 30-40 minutes of running at least 5 days a week)
Why exercise appears to preserve telomere length is not known but it could be linked with inflammation and oxidative stress over time.
To see a real difference in slowing your biological age it appears a little exercise won’t do the trick, you have to work out regularly and at high levels.
Of course other benefits that come with strong level of exercise is reduced inflammation in the body that comes with aging, which can also help decrease your risk of developing related diseases and conditions like heart disease, depression, muscle loss and decreased memory.
Why do some of the fittest 60-plus women look younger than their age? The answer lies in the question. A recent study from McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, found that women over 65 who worked out for a minimum of two hours a week for three months had the skin composition of women 20 to 30 years younger. It seems that sweating it out at the gym leads to pumping myokines, a group of proteins secreted by muscle cells and diffused throughout the body. (Best Health Magazine)
and it’s true…some of the fitness women I know don’t look their age. ( I’m not leaving the guys out… vigorous exercise can yield similar health benefits).
The Game Plan….
Don’t worry about fancy creams, instead, get on a consistent, regimented exercise plan and stick to it.
Don’t look for instant results but keep in mind all of the great health benefits your body will reap by being active and sweating a lot.
Don’t forget other factors that can help keep your age a secret too. Make sure you’re nutrition is focused on whole, healthy foods, skip the smoking and drinking, watch your sugar/processed food intake, hydrate well with plenty of water, get adequate rest, protect your skin, laugh a lot and get your exercise in at least 5-6 days a week.
And then… hey…go ahead and share your age… no one will believe you 😉
Has exercise helped you maintain more than just being fit? Have you noticed results in your health and appearance from consistent exercise?
New goals. New perspectives. New opportunities to love, laugh, play, and breathe life in.
I’m talking about another birthday to celebrate, specifically mine.
Humor me. I can do that since I’m the birthday girl today, right ? 😛
Birthdays get me a bit reflective some years. Not in a weird “OMG I’m getting OLD!!” way. I’ve never really had “issues” with hitting any certain age… I’m just happy to still be invited to the party, know what I mean?
Chronologically, I know what the calendar says and it technically puts me somewhere between “getting old but not as old as dirt” status. That chronological thing is set in stone for all of us.
However, how I live my life and the things I do with myself determine how young I feel and to a great extent, how I age.
My reflections on the past year have made me smile and tear up almost all at once.
In this last year I welcomed a beautiful new granddaughter into my life, and lost my dad to a battle with Alzheimers a few months later. Only two months after that I walked the path of grief with my daughter in law through the loss of her father.
In between those months of loss, my oldest son announced he would be getting married later this year.
There have been many “up’s and down’s” that also go along in a families life and a married life.
There have been those “normal” kinda days that you realllllyyy cherish and appreciate on days that are hard. And there were days that were very, very hard.
Life and death. Joy and tears. The past and the future. New goals and plans. Hope and anticipation. Excitement and disappointments.
And suffering. If I’m writing an honest reflection to you today, I will say there has been a lot of that in this year too.
Birthdays remind me that I’ve been privileged to experience it all…. the good, bad and everything in between. They aren’t a guarantee or a given to any of us.
This is my fourth one without my Mom and it still makes my heart ache to not have her with me for it, or have her make my cake ( although my daughter does a great job making me one 🙂 or receive the beautiful cards she used to give me.
I’ve embraced every new year I’m given. I don’t think about age as I find it irrelevant to whatever I want to do nor do I give much thought to it.
I have a fun group of young friends. They don’t see my age either. They like me, think I’m “cool” and give me a hard time about my athletic shenanigans ( as in, they tell me I’m crazy 😛 )
I find them refreshing and their enthusiasm and sometimes out right craziness makes me laugh.
We learn from each other.
They talk about their struggles and dreams, or family or whatever is on their mind. I’m old enough to offer life wisdom to which they sometimes ask for. Sometimes, we just talk about deeper things like… music. 😛
I have friends my own age because it’s only those who’ve walked similar paths with you who can truly relate to some of the struggles you may be currently in or offer advice that only a “older” person might offer.
I’ve found though that age is a number and that there is great maturity in many of my young friends, just as I’ve found great immaturity in people older than me.
Like a kaleidoscope it shows me different colors of life… beliefs, thoughts, opinions, and personal view points.
I believe you are richly blessed when you have a wide circle of people who care about you and who add a fullness to your life.
On the topic of learning…
I’ve made it a point over these past years to learn about the people who interact in my life.
The checker at the store, the baristas who happily serve me coffee, a random customer I engage in conversation ( ahhh maybe more than “a” person hahaha)
Why? People matter and my life seems richer when I do. Because I often walk away with a new perspective being around people from my “usual” circle. Different thoughts and views can be a good catalyst to make me really think about what I believe and why.
I’ve learned to freely give away a smile to a person I walk past, I have no problem dishing a compliment to a woman I think looks pretty or has something on I think looks like the bomb. I’ve had it done to me and I know what an unexpected “gift” it is to receive.
On social media I comment on something they’re doing, especially if it offers them encouragement or support, like working out or losing weight.
I mean, why not?
I’ve tried to practice the art of not “withholding”… compliments, smiles, encouragement, praise, etc. because people NEED that stuff.
It makes me feel good to offer that back to others.
The older I get the more I embrace more of what life is… all of us twined together in some form or another…
I’ve realized more than ever this past year that my tribe is the most valuable gift I possess in this wild ride of life. My husband is strong, fearless, and the most patient loving, giving, generous man on this planet. I’m so blessed to have him.
My kids who are now all adults have turned out rather amazing in spite of some worrisome years in the past. It’s crazy to me they are getting married and having babies and living in their own houses and all that other stuff… I can’t be that old… can I ???
Ah yes, indeed I am, and it’s perfectly ok.
I’ve never felt stronger, more energetic, fit, or fierce in my life. I have no wish to be any other age or place than where I am right now. I’ve earned these years and all that goes with them… smile lines and all… and I don’t try to hide it.
My only desire is to age gracefully, love wildly, not be afraid to take on new things, and truly appreciate all I’ve been blessed with.
So I stand on the threshold of another year. To take on harder challenges, to stretch myself, and hopefully to be able to grow more in my thinking and understanding, to learn, laugh and love more.
I’m surrounded by people who love me warts and all, who celebrate my achievements and challenge me to be all I can be, there is no greater blessing.
So cheers to another year, another pure gift of life, for which I am beyond grateful.
Exercise ~ activity requiring physical effort carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.
Exercise. I might have made some attempts to sell you on the idea 😉
Ok.. maybe I feel a bit passionate about it. Maybe I know once you get started, get over that “obstacle” that holds you back from committing to it and making it a new habit in your life, you will not be able to imagine not doing it in your day.
I don’t know what your “obstacle” is. But if you aren’t doing it and make excuses not to, you have an obstacle.
Exercise really isn’t something that we naturally and inherently flock to… like… “ohhhhh yes! Of course I want to feel uncomfortable and sweat and breathe hard and have my heart pounding out of my chest!”
No one does. This is the point we can see, feel and know … ugh… we are really out of shape. In turn, this makes us feel worse, feel inadequate and that we’ll never “get there”.
We quit before we start.
Exercise then, is something we must teach ourselves to do. We have to push through our own personal obstacles. We must do it until it begins to feel weird if we don’t do it.
We’ve got to turn it into a new habit.
Building new habits my friends, takes time and a healthy amount of determination.
I recently ran into an woman I had gone to school with. I don’t think I’ve seen her in person since then ( she’s only seen me via social media). We chatted about many things when the convo turned to exercise and she commented on my physique telling me how inspiring I was. When I mentioned I didn’t start exercising till I was 46 she was shocked. I told her it was a few years later that my athletic side really started to kick in… when I started getting more serious about running and ultimately training for marathons.
She asked how I did it and I told her I just kept at it and didn’t quit. The rest is history.
When you press on and exercise every day ( or almost every day) your body responds in wonderful ways and there are tons of health benefits that come with it.
Here’s a few:
controls your weight, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, lowers blood pressure, reduces risks of some cancers, strengthens bones and muscles, improves your mental health and mood, increases your chance of living longer, and improves your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult.
Let’s not forget things also like gaining new energy, confidence, and overall feeling good. If you’re looking for the fountain of youth more and more research suggests exercise is the key to it. In order to stay healthy you have to keep your cells young. Exercise forces new cell growth and turn over in our bodies causing an anti aging effect ( this is sooo simplified right now. Maybe I’ll do a blog on just this idea … stay tuned!)
Let’s just say this.. our “chronological” age is pretty well set and that’s something we have no control over. Our “biological” age… we have a huge amount of control over.
This is why two people the same chronological age can look years different.
Ok if all that isn’t enough let’s just focus on the part about being older and still being able to do daily activities and being strong and balanced so you don’t fall. Falls are one of the leading causes of death in older people and reasons as well why they are in care homes.
You don’t want to wait till you’re “old” to start exercising. You start now wherever you are. Being fit and strong is something that you will draw from as you get older. There is a huge misconception that getting old means you get weak and frail. That you lose strength because you are.
No. You get weak and frail because you’ve stopped using your body and the old saying is true “use it or lose it”. But at some point in your 30s, you start to lose muscle mass and function. The cause is age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. This is what contributes to weakness and not being able to do things as people get older.
You must counteract all of that to preserve and build muscle. Enter strength training and muscle building exercise.
You can’t wake up old and decide to pop some Geritol or some magic pills and hope they will carry you through. Ideally you work out and you work hard, most days of the week. Then as you age your body is used to labor and the things you’ve done help you maintain balance and strength ( hopefully protecting you or totally keeping you from falling) you then live a strong, energetic, and independent life doing the things you like and want.
But… you’ve got to start now. It’s like saving money. You don’t have any to draw on if you don’t save it.
Goes like that with exercise. If you want something to draw on years from now, you need to start now. You work your body every day and let it do things that will help you live strong and independent when you’re older.
If you don’t know where to start, start walking. Everyone can do it and it’s generally safe for most people. Be sure to walk briskly and move at a steady pace for at least 30 minutes. You will seriously want to incorporate some strength training in your week too.
Think of activities you like that you might want to try. Experimenting is one of the best ways to find your passion.
Focus on taking one day at a time. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses to not do it. Think of how you’ll feel when you are finished… strong, accomplished, clear headed and moving forward to a healthier more fit you now, and in the future 🙂
As a writer I often have multiple ideas bouncing through my head at any given time. I have random papers with ideas, thoughts, or titles scratched out on them. I do have a writing…uh “journal”. Journal might be the wrong word… it’s like my writing BRAIN.
It has research notes, future blog ideas, and tons of random, misplaced words all over pages that no one would get but me.
Uh…hey… sometimes I don’t even remember what they’re either 😛
The bad thing is when I’m out on the road…bike or running… which can be some of my most creative thinking times… and an idea comes to me. I have nothing to write it on so it kinda becomes my mantra till I finish so I don’t forget it.
If I’m fortunate enough to have a title come first, that gets written down to be saved for the body to come and fill it out.
Todays topic has been a slow work in process. I’ve read and scratched out research notes and tried to compare the best sensible ideas and now… hopefully… put it into a readable format.
Todays topic is one that still mystifies me as to why, in this day and age, with the “anything goes” attitude, why it’s still so “hush hush”.
Oh the topic for today? Menopause.
**Gasp** I know. I’m going there.
I am a pretty open straight forward person and am not put off by much. To me, it’s simply one more natural part of life.
Well, for women that is. Yet even in todays “whatever goes” world this is still treated in hushed silence with an overarching attitude that says this topic should only be quietly discussed behind closed doors… and certainly not around… men.
Guys, you can bow out now if you want. Or read. I’m pretty sure you have some woman in your life that will experience this. Maybe you’ll glean something useful.
How did I get started on this topic ? It’s certainly something I personally haven’t given much thought too. I mean, I know at some point it will happen. I’m just to busy living life to think much about it.
However, I’ve had a few women reach out to me asking for help/ideas… how did I deal with it etc. etc.
I’d also see posts or hear conversations with women who were quite a bit younger than me complaining of “the change” and complaining of symptoms ( peri menopause, the years preceeding menopause.)
The thing is I had nothing to offer. I haven’t gone through it and I seemingly haven’t struggled with horrible symptoms leading up TO the big event.
Based on some things I’d read, and things my doctor had said, I was curious if my lifestyle had an impact on this.
Did a healthy diet, an appropriate weight, and regular vigorous exercise contribute to not dealing with so many of these issues that bothered women?
Obviously, I was curious and began to read and explore this thought. Perhaps, if there was truth to this, women weren’t helpless victims to symptoms but would actually have some measure of possible control over them.
Ok but first.
There’s a lot out there on this topic. I’ve tried to wade through hocus pocus stuff, weird fixes, overall “off beat” ideas, and just bring something simple and easy to digest for the average woman reading.
This is about managing symptoms women deal with, not stopping or preventing menopause.
As stated earlier, this is a natural part of life. It’s largely genetic as to when it occurs in every woman. Other factors can come into play as well as to when it occurs. The median range in the U.S. for women to experience menopause is 51. Although there is also an age range of 48-55. A woman is considered menopausal when she has gone a full 12 months with no periods.
It turns out doing research, and weighing that against my own experiences, that there are things we can do to help with those annoying and sometimes, difficult symptoms.
First, a quick biology lesson. Menopause is when a woman’s body stops producing female hormones, estrogen and progesterone and monthly cycles cease.
Peri menopause refers to the years leading up to menopause. It is during this time that women can have symptoms or problems associated with declining hormones.
When you have low estrogen ( because it’s not adequately produced) it can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, rare periods, anxiety, bone loss, insulin resistance, and elevation of bad cholesterol. Moodiness, low sex drive, changes in skin and hair are also other things that are reported.
Women also complain of weight gain and a slowing metabolism but that can possibly be connected to a lifestyle of inactivity.
So are there ways to keep our super power longer? Estrogen IS our super power. Are there ways to help our bodies produce it longer? Ways to supplement it naturally?
There are definitely things that a woman can be proactive in doing that can possibly help her during this time. It just requires some adjustments to her lifestyle and choices she makes.
What have I learned ?
Exercise IS important!
in fact I believe hugely important. Aside from the obvious benefits of helping maintain weight or losing it there are a plethora of other things to consider.
Exercise helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can help with moods and aches and pains, all common complaints of post menopausal women.
Exercise also contributes to good blood flow through the body. Regular exercise keeps blood flowing and the immune system normal. Proper body function through exercise increases the bodies hormone production naturally. Estrogen production levels are kept normal for longer than usual.
This is important as imbalanced hormones are behind most symptoms.
Physically active women experience less stress, anxiety, and depression during this time.
Due to a decrease in estrogen women can also lose muscle mass, which can also mean a loss of strength.
Post menopausal women are also at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
This is believed to be due to the loss of estradiol during perimenopause and at the onset of menopause. Estradiol may have antioxidant properties, and the loss of this can be why oxidative stress levels rise in postmenopausal women and can ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease.
Women who are more active experience a decrease in oxidative stress due to increase in enzymatic antioxidant levels. While this might be true, it is still important to remember that problems with heart health could also be tied to the stress that many women experience around menopause due to lack of sleep, lack of understanding, and a lack of a solid support system. Regardless, training for a healthy heart is so important.
The recommended amount of cardio exercise each week is at least 150 minutes.
If you don’t currently exercise consider what you might enjoy doing and begin to pursue it. If anything, start getting out for daily vigorous walks. And I don’t mean walking like you’re with grandma on a Sunday afternoon. Move quickly. Move your arms. You should really be putting some effort into it.
Add some type of strength training/weight bearing exercise to strengthen and build bones and prevent muscle loss. Women post menopause can expect to lose 2-3% of bone density in a year and physically inactive people can expect to lose 3-5% of their muscle mass after 30. A healthy diet and exercise can help the slowing of bone mineral density. Running, walking, jumping rope, lifting weights etc are all good examples to strengthen bones and muscles.
Engage a friend to get on board with you for accountability and encouragement.
Strive for 5-6 days a week of at least 30 minutes. This would easily meet the recommended 150 minutes. Ideally, in time, you will want to increase your activity level.
Maintain a healthy weight.
All of us have a weight range that is healthy for us. Know what yours is. Being overweight or obese can not only lead to irregular ovulation but it also greatly contributes to hot flashes, the main complaint for many women.
And of course the obvious. Being over weight can lead to a host of health problems you’d rather not deal with.
take a critical look at how you eat and what you eat. Be aware of what your portions are. Most people greatly over estimate portion sizes of food. Aim for healthy foods as the maintain stay of your diet. Don’t be overly restrictive or it could lead to binging.
It might be helpful to record every single thing you eat for a week to see what your daily nutrition looks like. Be honest. This isn’t to beat yourself up over, rather to have as an honest tool to help you. Use that as a guide to make improvements.
A weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week is reasonable and sustainable. Just approach it in a slow and steady manner. It’s not a track and field event to knock weight off fast.
A before picture will give you a good visual months down the road to compare your efforts to as well as taking your measurements.
Don’t smoke or drink.
ok well in general it’s just my thought that you shouldn’t do these things. I view neither as a positive or healthy thing for the body.
However, we’re all different.
If you do drink be aware that alcohol can be a major trigger for hot flashes and can increase symptoms as the body is less tolerant to it. Not only that, alcohol is often high in sugar and calorie content contributing to weight gain.
Smoking. Not only is it horrible for your heart and lungs and contributes to aging, consider these other things:
Women who smoke have signifigantly higher levels of infertility, difficult cycles, and early menopause.
Smoking can also increase natural menopause by 1-2 years regardless of genetics or race.
Heavy or habitual smokers may hit menopause before they are 50.
Smokers may also have more hot flashes as they transition.
Smoking and drinking can not only cause adverse health effects, but it can also wreak havoc on you during peri and menopause years. Consider reducing or limiting your intake of both, or quitting all together.
I could camp for awhile on this topic and just tell you how important I think it is. Not only to your health overall but in these years of transition for your body.
A good daily “diet” not only makes you feel better, it helps with how you look, helps you to lose or maintain weight, and can help with symptoms of peri menopause.
Do you know there are foods called photo estrogens? Photo estrogen foods can stimulate natural hormone production.
Phytoestrogens are created by plants. They are not the same estrogen created by humans. Rather they are a form of xenoestrogens, which means even though they are different, they do have the ability to imitate some effects of human estrogen when in our body.
During peri-menopause some doctors recommend an increase in photo estrogen foods to counteract hormonal imbalances women begin to experience.
Antioxidant foods prevent premature aging . Since menopause is a sign of overall aging consuming antioxidant foods can delay menopause too.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and photo estrogens can contribute to overall better health and help stimulate natural hormone production.
Soy can also help with the reduction of bone loss during peri menopause.
Vitamin D (sunlight exposure) mimics properties of estrogen. Also, make sure you get plenty of calcium as well to help your bones 🙂
Antioxidant foods to consider are:
Red, purple and blue grapes, blueberries, red berries, nuts, dark green veggies, sweet potatoes and orange vegetables, tea, whole grains and fish.
Adequate protein is also extremely important to build and repair muscles. Make sure each meal contains at least 30% to combat hunger, prevent blood sugar spikes, and contribute to muscle growth.
Eating a healthy diet, and eating minimal junk/sugar/high fat/sugar drinks/fast foods can go a long way to helping you feel and look good and contribute to your overall health.
Finally, it is important that you have open communication with your doctor to discuss issues or difficulties you may be having. Some women with severe symptoms will do HRT ( Hormone Replacement Therapy) there has been much said about this in recent years so do your homework and decide if you can ride through some things or if it’s something critical to your living well that you do HRT.
Be proactive :
Lose weight. Make exercise a daily part of your life. Reduce or quit smoking. Reduce or quit drinking alcohol. Make an effort to eat healthy, nutritionally balanced foods, incorporating plenty of antioxidants and photo estrogen foods in what you eat.
In summary… menopause is a part of life. Women need to be prepared and not just wait for symptoms to occur. Taking care of yourself now will have long term benefits, before and after menopause, allowing you to live strong and healthy in the last third of your life.
Some of those adjectives describe me at any given time…. especially when it comes to doing fun, off the cuff pics. I recently had posted and shared this playful one after the AARP magazine had come in the afternoon mail.
AARP for my readers outside of the U.S. means American Association of Retired Persons.
I know I’m in that happy “ you’re getting all middle-aged and old, get settled down” zone but honestly, I relate on no level whatsoever to it.
I know there are probably one or two people who want me to get the memo about middle age and want me to talk about getting old and achy with my middle aged complaints and put up my Converse and torn jeans but I don’t foresee that happening any ‘ol time soon.
I have a wide age range of friends, but totally love my younger crowd. I love their energy, passion, plans for the future, and their outspoken openness on many things. I find conversations interesting and fun with them and in turn, they actually enjoy me too.
Age is pretty irrelevant to me.
That being said… after I took the pic and set the magazine down an article on the cover grabbed my attention…
“31 Proven Age-Erasing Secrets”
Most of the time I read these articles honestly not expecting to walk away with much. I look for things I find usable or that I can share with my followers.
The article first of all, was immediately engaging and witty. You can always pull me in with that.
Humor is the way to my heart 😛
The article went on to discuss how to remain healthy, strong, fit and active in what they refer to as your “third act”. Some people refer to it as your “golden years”, you know those years you are supposed to hang it all up, chill out, and watch the world go by.
It goes on to mention that an active healthy lifestyle can prevent many health issues and keep us moving and doing things that we love. ( something I firmly believe)
Then they used an interesting term I’ve never heard, but it really had me thinking for the rest of the day.
It was this….”most of what people call aging, and most of what we dread about getting older, is actually decay. We are stuck with real aging, but decay is optional.”
Yeah, just let that breathe over you for a minute or two.
Decay is optional. Those words hung out in my head the rest of the day. I’ve just never thought of it in such a way.
It’s true if you think about it. We begin aging the minute we are born into this world.
Aging, is a natural part of the life circle.
The article goes on to say that basically, we don’t have to decay, yet many will.
“In the absence of signals to grow, your body, including your brain, decays and you “age”. The keys to “overriding” the decay signals? Daily exercise, good nutrition, emotional commitment, and a real engagement with living.”
The article continues on with all the health benefits of daily, strong, vigorous exercise as the main way to prevent “decay”.
It should be noted that decay is listed as all the illnesses, aches, pains, and overall decline that people associate with, or believe is, a part of “getting old”.
It just doesn’t have to be.
Remember that “use it or lose it” term ? if you don’t actively use your body in time you will lose muscle and muscle strength. Walking to your bathroom will feel like you ran a marathon. Daily, easy tasks will feel harder. Basic things will take more effort.
The biggest contributors of decay is inactivity, an overall sedentary lifestyle, followed by poor nutrition.
On a personal level, I think there’s a lot to be said for strong, daily exercise and good nutrition. There are payoffs. No, they aren’t instantaneous. Yes, you have to invest time and energy but is it worth it to live a strong, energetic, healthy life?
I absolutely believe so.
So I was left pondering this question… how do I want to live out my life?
Do I want to age? … which is a natural part of life.
Or do I want to decay? …. be sedentary, eat poorly, be overweight, develop diseases associated with being overweight, live a sedentary lifestyle and have aches and pains from a body that isn’t used?
And I’ll leave this question with you.
Do you want to age, or decay?
Below are 7 rules to stop aging from the authors:
1.Exercise 6 days a week for the rest of your life.
2. Do serious aerobic (cardio peeps, cardio) exercise 4 days a week for the rest of your life.
3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
4. Spend less than you make.
5. Quit eating crap.
7. Connect and commit.
Pretty straightforward, right? The most important thing is to start. If you get two days in a week, great. Set your goals on three etc until you are working out most of the week. I know aerobic (cardio) hard breathing, sweating exercise a lot of people don’t like but that’s youth building stuff… do it.
Just start somewhere, where you can, and then build on more days as you’re able.
So it’s arrived. It showed up without a lot of fanfare or big announcements. My alarm glared me into foggy reality, a new day to open my eyes, and a calendar that tells me I’m now , officially, another year older.
I don’t have any weird hang ups about getting older. The cool thing is… I don’t feel older…
I will admit sometimes, having to stop and think about my exact age. I just don’t give it much thought anymore.
I’ve not dreaded another year as if that’s going to change something in me. For the love of chocolate, I’ve been allowed to LIVE another year, who cares what number is attached to it?
I’m loving where I am in life and most of all love what I’ve been able to accomplish to this point.
I’ve found age to be irrelevant in regards to taking on new adventures and challenges. On an athletic level and what I’ve accomplished, age has nothing to do with levels of fitness. I can out run and out do people half my age. My kids freely admit they wouldn’t even want to go up against me 😛
I had to laugh at my doctor recently as he suggested that I “have fun but take it easy as I’m older” I told him I’ve done more physically in the last 3 years than I’ve ever done and I really don’t have any intention of slowing down. Not to mention I’m in the best physical condition I’ve ever been in to take on new adventures.
Ok.. hear me.. I’m not implying acting foolishly. I listen to my body and I know the difference between training hard and if there’s something I need to let heal and get better. That’s a most important aspect of getting older… having a little wisdom 😛
It should be noted about the good doctor here… he… was the one who encouraged me to get back to some exercise 8 years ago. How could he have imagined the wild adventures his counsel would lead me to ??
So yes, I’ve embraced new challenges. I know that there’s nothing I can’t do if I set my mind to it. Age is not a factor in being a good athlete.
But there’s more too. More to this getting another year older thing.
It’s being comfortable in and with who I am. Finding my voice and using it. Daring to be different.
I realized one morning, flying down the road on my bike at a crazy speed, I will not be sitting back quietly, getting older, watching life go by. I will not be a woman society will box up and set aside…. as if…. my age somehow will dictate my worthiness or abilities in some way.
Nah… I don’t see that happening. I won’t be quiet. I won’t sit back and follow some random rules that society says I have to play along with. I will think for myself, make my own rules.
Well, oops, I already have.
I will be the older, talkative, energetic and out going free spirit wife, mom, sister, aunt, friend in the tank top and short shorts at the family picnics 😛
I will continue to find humor in random things and laugh freely because laughter is always good for the soul. I will have fun taking crazy selfies at the spur of the moment just for the pure sport and fun of it and chronicle my adventures because it pleases… me.
I for sure, won’t be boring.
Age has taught me a few, I believe, important things….
To appreciate more and grumble less.
To value all I have, it’s not something I’m “entitled” to.
To appreciate all kinds of people and not make split decisions based on the outer appearance.
To truly be comfortable in my own skin.
I’ve learned there are times in life when silence can be as powerful as a spoken word.
But then I’ve also learned to speak up and speak out if I believe in something , see something as wrong, or if it’s something I’m passionate about.
I’ve learned to challenge myself more and not doubt my abilities to do something ( I will admit this one has been hard as I hate the idea of failing at something)
I’ve learned to accept from others the wisdom they can offer me.
I freely and openly engage with new people, believing and understanding, I can always learn something new from others who have different experiences and knowledge.
To love every moment of a “normal” day because when life throws things at you, you long for “normal” days.
Friendships come on all age levels. I love my mature friends who have walked roads before me and can offer sage advice and wisdom, but I also draw so much energy from my young friends who have this passionate nature for life. We encourage each other.
Diversity makes life way more interesting than surrounding yourself with only people “like you.”
I’ve learned to be less concerned over a perceived need for approval. Mainly because I don’t live my life with a focus on how someone else might do things, or if they approve how I do them.
I don’t take myself to seriously but I’ve also learned how to think deeply.
Being older isn’t a hindrance to pursuing new adventures and challenges.
Ah…. there are so many other things… I could go on….
Let’s just say, as I am waking up to a another year being older, I don’t dread it.
I am a woman who is grateful to have been given life. Who views the years she has lived as opportunities to have gained wisdom, maturity, confidence and an awareness of exactly who she is, what she wants, and where she’s going.
I want to continue to live in a fierce, bold way.
So here’s to life and another year of living out loud. Cheers to 50ish!
Heads up. This is a “life” post. Don’t worry… we’ll return to healthy eating, fitness, my current cycling adventures, food, and other interesting topics soon….
This past Sunday we celebrated Fathers Day in the U.S. It’s a day celebrated each year on the third Sunday in June to honor the men in our lives.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by some pretty awesome men in my life, from my inner circle, to those I interact with out in the world.
The man in the picture is my dad. It’s obviously, not, a current photo of me. My mom dated it ’98 on the back. I found it digging through some old photos that she had. Honestly, I have no memory of that picture being taken.
I was a young mom and according to the year my boys would’ve been between 4-10 years old.
No laughing at my mom jeans and bangs.
Christmas has always been a fun, celebratory event in our family. My parents delighted in it and loved giving way more than anything they’d receive. Not only did they always bless us with a fun Christmas, they’d also find a needy family or two to help out. My mom always wanted those families to experience Christmas like she gave to her family.
My dad was the handwriting for “Santa” for way longer than my kids probably bought into it. He loved doing that, it was his job he knew he was expected to do each year. He’d get the name tags ( ask again how to spell everyone’s name haha) and get to work on his project.
Maybe I should pause here to mention… he’s technically… my “step” dad.
I never use that term unless, for some reason I have to clarify something in my life and using the “step” part helps to do that.
My feelings…on referring to anyone as “step” something? I don’t like it.
To me it says… keep your distance, I don’t want you to close, you aren’t worthy enough to not have the “step” attached to it, you aren’t as good as the original etc etc
Now don’t crucify me if you don’t agree. I know all situations are different for people but for the sake of (me) in my family, I have always tried to just include everyone as a part without making them feel separated out.
So, he’s technically my “step” dad. He came into my life when I was 19, almost 20, and about to be married.
I had passed the point of needing a dad. I had two men in my life who had that job and both had walked out on me and my family.
My birth dad left my family when I was 8 for another woman.
My mom later remarried and this man “adopted” us. When I was 17 he walked out.
When this new guy ( step dad #2 ) came around, I was a bit jaded to male figures in my life at that point as “dad”.
Hear me out on this… I’ve made my peace a long time ago with it all. I’ve not allowed it to define me or make me bitter or angry. I’ve not carried it along with me as baggage. I’ve not held onto hurts that I can take out and pet when I’m feeling sorry for myself. Like all things in life, I believe it has strengthened and defined me as a woman. It is what it is, I can be bitter or I can deal with it and move on and that’s what I’ve done.
Oh of course, years ago, I did ask all the questions. I did ponder the “whys” of it. I did wonder why two men didn’t wanna stick around in my life.
I asked all the hard questions. I got answers for some things, some I didn’t.
And I let it go. Nothing would change what was.
My “step” dad.
He married my mom the year after I was married.
He never tried to set himself up as my dad. As an adult, I called him by his first name from day one.
His personality was a bit gruff, rough and stoic. He didn’t often reveal a lot about himself. He had his own quirky things that we all came to jokingly love and tease about.
Rough and not sometimes “polished”, he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He would help you if you had any need.
As the years went by and he was still around, he just did those things dads would do.
If I had car problems, I called and he’d come rescue me. If I needed help with anything, he was willing to do what he could.
When my husband was in school and things were tight I can remember him and my mom dragging bags of groceries in telling us “they had been at the store and just thought we might need a couple things”
When we started having babies, he always wanted us to have what we needed. He loved picking things out for them.
He bragged on me to anyone who would listen. Even now, with his memory slipping away, one of his caretakers told me one day when I stopped…. “Oh, you’re the runner. I’ve heard all about you”
Life just settled into routine and the years went by…
He was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimers a few years before my mom passed away.
They celebrated 30 years of marriage shortly before her death ( 2 years ago) then the mantle of “Caretaker” fell on my shoulders.
It has not been easy watching this disease take a horrible toll on him. It is heartbreaking when he asks if it’s ok to use things in his house… or if it’s REALLY his house.
I have to remind him to eat, tell him he needs to take off his shirt before he puts on another one otherwise he will have “layers”, and try and convince him it’s not winter, but summer and he doesn’t need to wear heavy coats.
Looking at photos this passed weekend, he saw some of my mom, and when asked who she was he said… “your mother”…. yet… was unable to come up with her name.
He has days when he’s almost like himself and those are nice. I’ve just gone through “hell week” as this past week was awful with him being angry, temperamental and very uncooperative.
Those days are draining. They make me feel helpless. Tired. Overwhelmed.
I sometimes don’t know which way to go and what to do. I feel a heavy level of responsibility to make sure his needs are met in the best way possible.
He doesn’t always know it, but I’m what he’s got. I’m his advocate.. standing in the gap and fighting for him….Some days I feel so inadequate.
That’s often what you feel like as a parent isn’t it?
Somehow, our roles have been reversed. I try and give him the freedom and dignity as the grown man he is, while remembering mentally, I’m dealing with someone more childlike and have to guide and protect for his best interests.
So, we celebrated Fathers Day yesterday.
He may or may not have totally gotten what the entire day was about.
He may or may not have read and understood the cards or the writing on them. He may not be able to retrieve the memories in the photos that were shared with him or the names of people. They could be lurking in his mind like ghosts of yesterday or play out like stories from another life in his mind.
32 years have gone by since he entered my life. Those years have contained all the things that make up our lives…. from the normal mundane, to the fun and exciting, the sorrows, and joys, laughter and tears… he’s been there.
So yeah, I dropped the “step” thing a very long time ago. At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, it’s simply about being family, isn’t it?
And family is anyone, I believe, who we bring into our lives to embrace and accept as such.