I've been thinking a lot lately about mortality, and just issues of getting older. Can't avoid either, it seems.
My mother gives me pause, to think about the way we age, what we accept without question, and what we allow by our inattention.
God knows, I have been hard on my body.
When my children were little, their father and I cleared land, poured cement, built a house, had horses, hauled stone and hay and grain.......basically worked hard. I had little, or maybe no, regard for the abuse my body took. One time, I lifted a flat rock, so big, that it snapped one of my ribs.
Stupid, you say?
YOUNG, I say. THICK HEADED. OBLIVIOUS.
In later years, I had occasion (actually I had many) to go to the chiropractor. He looked at my xrays, and said, "You haven't been very nice to your back, have you?"
Understatement. He didn't really expect an answer, it wasn't really a question.
Then when I hit 40, I started running, and finished my poor knees off. Though most people wouldn't listen, including my own daughters. Running ruins knees. Simple. I wish now that I had power walked all those years.......I think it would have accomplished the same thing without the trauma.
But that's my opinion, which my aching knees can attest to.
This whole subject has been on my mind, watching my mother....
She had a coronary artery bypass at 68, 19 years ago. She didn't exercise before that, other than gardening, and she hasn't exercised a day since. We have tried to get her to walk around the block, or just up and down the street. She isn't interested, never has been.
The problem with that, other than the fact that she is glued to, and mesmerized by, the incessant drone of daytime TV, is that now she can barely walk from the car to a restaurant, or a store. Her legs are stiff, her muscles cramp up, and she threatens to fall down. She is bent over like she has a dowager hump, but if you ask her to straighten herself up, she does. It hurts, she says. But she can. She chooses not to.
Otherwise, she is in incredible shape, considering that she eats a minimum of ONE little tub of butter, and a grocery bag of bacon, ham, sweets, ice cream and other junk, every week.
I wonder, if she had walked .......even for 15 minutes a day, how mobile would she be now?
It plagues me.
The bottom line is that my mother is depressed and has been for years. She took an antidepressant for a short time, and the change was marvelous. But she wouldn't continue, and no amount of discussion or persuasion would change her stance.
We don't like it. But the truth is, you can only change yourself.
The upshot is this.
I hope to learn how to age from watching what my mother does, and wanting something different.
Here is my list:
1. If you find that the TV is on for more than an hour in the middle of the day, it is time to reevaluate.
2. Get up and walk out the door every single day. Give your walk 10 minutes, and if you want to cut it short, that's ok. Likely, you will find that after you have loosened your body up, you will want to walk more.
When I walk, it's a chance to soak up the quiet......I hear the birds, the jingle of Roy's collar, the sound of our feet on the path. It's time to reflect, to process, to exhale.
3. Stay current, even if you don't agree with what is going on in the world. Stay interested, inquisitive, keep reading, and listening, and questioning. Go to the library, volunteer, work at something, no matter how small. Google.
4. If your children, or your friends, tell you that you are depressed, talk to someone. If talking to someone doesn't help you to 'snap out of it', take drugs. Try a few to find the one that works best, but don't waste your life feeling bad. You don't have to. Being happy IS a choice.
5. Dessert is lovely. Have some. But try to feed your body what you know it deserves, at least most of the time.
6. Try to enjoy the ride. It doesn't last forever.