One More Trip Around The Sun ~

Well it’s happened again, somehow I’ve managed to complete one more trip around the sun.  My 65th to be exact.

Sixty-five turned out to be a damn fine year if I do say so myself.  I am grateful for each and every moment, for adventures shared with friends and family, and way too many laughs to count.  Life is truly filled with magic moments.  And these days I take every opportunity to look back, reflect and savor my days on this planet.

So… I made a little movie.  It’s how I entertain myself when hubs is watching Mash reruns on ME TV.  Thanks to each and every one of you who made this movie possible by sharing your light, your laughter and your wine with me.  I am truly blessed.

And here’s my birthday gift to you… I gathered a few fun thoughts on being “older”.  Here’s the good, the bad and the what-the-what?

First the good ~

•There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

•No one expects you to run anywhere. (Except for Gil Peters – we expect him to run everywhere)

•In a hostage situation, you are likely to be released first.

•Things you buy now won’t wear out before you do.

•You can live without sex but not your glasses.

•You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

•Your eyes won’t get much worse.

•Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

•Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

•Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.

•Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

And the not so good…

•Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

•In dog years – I’m dead.

•You sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.

•You can live without sex but not your glasses.

•The twinkle in your eye is the sun reflecting off your bi-focals.

•Your wild oats have turned to mush.

•At 66 you find yourself at that awkward age – somewhere between desirability and complete senility.

•Everything that doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.

The silver lining…

•Age is only important if you are cheese or wine.

•The older you get the better you were.

•Old age and treachery trump youth and skill every time.

•It still beats the alternative.

So as I prepare to celebrate my own “sweet 66” (all weekend long – thank goodness Monday is a holiday), I raise my glass to each of you.  Enjoy every magic moment on your own trip around the sun this year – whatever number it is.  Because…Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

Cheers!

Nancy

iStock_000003481925XSmall

 

 

 

 

When should you hand over the keys?

My step-dad Bill’s last car was a 1965 Mustang. It was a beauty – sporty looking and fun to drive. He was always a car guy and had a new car every few years, but that Mustang sure held a special place in his heart. I have great memories of my dad and mom, very active members of the local Mustang Owners Club, participating in road rallies, Mustang caravans to Vegas and other fun social outings. That car was not just reliable transportation.  It was his alter ego.

1965_mustang

My dad was the proud owner of a license to drive for over 60 years.  Like most of us, driving was part of his identity.  It gave him freedom. And as he aged, it helped him hold on to his vitality and his “youth” – well past anything that resembled actual youth .

I don’t remember for sure, but I think he was about 80 when he gave up driving and the Mustang.  He sold it to two women friends who loved it almost as much as he did.  He was happy to see it go to a good home.  I’m sure it was bittersweet.

Giving up the keys was not an easy decision, but as I look back, I realize it was one he made with grace and much wisdom.  We didn’t have to worry about him on the road, we didn’t have to have “the talk” or to wrestle the keys from his hand.  He knew it was time.  And he rose to the occasion.  Thank you Bill!

After he’d given up his car, Bill used to visit me in Oregon and talk wistfully about driving.  I would offer him my keys but he never took me up on the offer.  I didn’t think much about any of this at the time.  Now that I am older and wiser, and growing closer to the time when I will have to make that decision myself, I am grateful.  Especially when I see my friends struggling with their parents who are well into their 80’s or 90’s and still behind the wheel.

How do you know when it’s time? There’s no magic number. It’s different for each of us and it is a life changing moment – relinquishing of your personal freedom, your independence and along with that some of your dignity.  Not a decision any one of us takes lightly.

Most of my peers are in their 60’s or early 70’s and giving up the keys seems like something in the very distant future. Hell, we’re still young. We’re healthy. We’re world travelers or marathon runners. We’re not the problem.

Until we are.

I’m not saying anyone I know should give up the keys…yet.  But it should be on the table for discussion.  I want to follow my step-dad’s lead and know when it’s the right time and have a plan.   He gave up the keys and took up walking.  I think the walking is what kept him fit and healthy into his late 80’s.

I sent this video to a friend who is struggling with “the key issue” with her parents.  It sheds an interesting light on the question “when is the right time?”  Listening to 97-year-old Evelyn puts a whole new spin on the current thinking. At least it did mine.

Perhaps the freeways of the future will be filled with centenarians swooping in and out of traffic in their mini convertibles.  And, although I can’t picture myself not being able to drive my own car, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that either.

What I know for sure is that we will all be there sooner than we think.

I’m throwing this out for discussion… talk amongst yourselves…or better yet, leave your thoughts, experiences and brilliant ideas in the Comments below.

Now, where did I put my keys?

Nancy

Old Dogs ~ the art of aging gracefully

I’m pretty much an old dog and I know it.  But I’m not too old to learn a new trick or two.  One of them is the art of graceful aging.

Professional photographer Nancy LeVine has been poignantly capturing beauty in the watery eyes, graying muzzles and wizened faces of elder canines for the past nine years.  Senior Dogs Across America is Nancy’s personal project and you can see her love of each subject that stands before her camera – often on slightly tottering legs.

Nancy has traveled to every region of the country to meet elderly dogs and the humans who love and care for them.   She says she’s learned a great deal about aging with dignity from her work.  Dogs live in the moment – right up until their very last moment.   They aren’t fretting about the past or planning for the future.  They are here now.  And that’s enough.   It’s a trick we human old dogs could all work on perfecting.

Nancy has a wonderful Senior Dogs Across America Facebook page and a book in the works.  Click here to see more photos in Nancy’s online gallery.

Cheers!

Nancy

Becoming a Backpack and Rollie Retiree ~ Spanish Lessons

¡Vamos a hablar en español!

Call me crazy but I’m not particularly fond of making a fool of myself in public.  I did it a lot in my twenties and thirties and yes, there was usually some amount of alcohol involved.  But, even so, it’s one thing to wear silly hats or put straws up your nose and another thing entirely to trot yourself out with four whole weeks of Spanish learning under your belt and walk into a room with a dozen fluent speakers so that you can engage in conversation.

That’s exactly what I did last night.  What the hell was I thinking?  And, no, there was no alcohol involved, but in this case it would probably have helped.  A lot!

We’re traveling to Spain next month.  We’ve spent time in Mexico and hope to spend lots more time in that lovely country.  And I’m exploring a whole bunch of South American cities for future travels and possible retirement living.  So it seems like at least one member of the Backpack and Rollie Team should attempt to learn the language. spanish now

Before our last San Miguel stay a few years ago, both hubs and I signed up for beginning Spanish at our local community college.  If you’ve never heard Spanish with a strong Boston accent, you’ve missed something quite special.  Hubs lasted a few weeks and quietly became too busy.  I hung in there a little longer but found it boring and not at all applicable to two adults trying to carry on normal life.  I didn’t need to learn my way around a classroom, I needed to be able to converse with the shopkeepers, the bus driver and the woman sitting next to me in the Starbucks (You know there was one and I found it.)

I quit the class, but held on to the dream.  I have a very clear vision of myself chatting away en español.  Time to give it another go.

Lecciones de español segunda ronda.  Enter the lovely and talented Clara Grabel who comes from Argentina and gives Spanish lessons to eager gringos like me.  Clara makes learning easy and fun.  I love that in a teacher.  So, in early July Clara and I had our first lesson.  It was great!   I was on my way.  Then came week two and it was like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  I was starting from square one all over again.  Week three, pretty much the same.  Oh, I have few words I can usually remember.  I’ve mastered some of the basic verb and grammar concepts, and I can get the general idea and answer questions when I’m reading, but let me just say that learning a new language with an aging brain feels a bit like I’m pouring flour through a sieve.  Not much seems to be sticking.

Of course, everyone knows that you will never learn to speak a language if you aren’t actually speaking it.  A lot!  I knew that, but I didn’t really want to do that.  The thought thoroughly terrified me.  I knew my brain would freeze and none of the 25 simple words I actually knew would pop up when I needed them.   And, as I said at the beginning – I am not fond of making a fool of myself in public.

But, this time I felt the fear and went anyway.  And I did make a fool of myself.  And I did have a moment of sheer terror when one of the young men from Mexico turned to me and asked me several questions and I had absolutely no idea what he said.  Not one word.  All eyes were on me.  It was a deer in the headlights moment.  I froze.  I turned 50 shades of red and then I mumbled “No comprendo.  Yo estudio español por quatro semanas solamente.”  I’m sure the grammar wasn’t correct, but he smiled and nodded and then another person came to my rescue asking me “¿Donde vive? (where do I live?) “Yo vive en Beaverton.”  “¿Tiene Familia?”  (do you have family?)  “Si, tengo un esposo y dos higos.”  “¿Tiene animales?”  “Tengo un gato.” (I have a cat) Como se llama?  “Se llama Mr. Ricardo y es gordo.” (his name is Mr. Ricky and he is fat).

Okay, this is not a conversation that is going to take me very far in Spain or Ecuador, but I did it.  I had a (very strange) conversation with a complete stranger that didn’t involve asking for a beer, the bathroom or the check.

And, everyone in the room agreed that I did quite well with only a month of lessons.  I’ll take it!  I was humbled but also rather proud of myself for going so far outside of my comfort zone.  And next week when I go back, I’ll see if I can’t come up with something a little more interesting to talk about.  I listened, I learned, I shared and I had a great time.

And it gets better.   I found another conversation group that includes margaritas and chips and salsa.  I think I’ll check that one out as well.

¡Con mucho gusto!

Nancy

Friday’s Food For Thought – Six people I want to be like when I grow old(er) ~

My granddaughter can’t wait for her 9th birthday.  Why?  Because it’s closer to the magic age of 13. That is apparently when life gets good.  Older is better.  Or so she thinks right now.

Her comment got me thinking.  Isn’t it true that at every age we look to those ahead of us for inspiration.  Maybe like my granddaughter, we think they’re cool.  We want what they’re having.  Perhaps we just want to know their secret to success.  I’ve become obsessed with people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who are still going strong, still grabbing the gusto and still sucking the joy out of every moment.  They are my inspiration and my role models for living juicy in my own golden years.  Hearing their stories makes me sit up a little straighter, eat a little better, try a little harder.   They’re everywhere, these models of aging with grace and gusto.  I’d just never noticed them until now.  Timing is everything.

Inspiration is close to home and its name is Don.  At 81, he is the human incarnation of the Energizer Bunny.  He owns a vineyard and works the land.  He’s a handsome devil, too.  Last month Don left his wife at home and flew to Africa to check one more adventure off his Bucket List.  Yes, he visited the wineries; but this trip was a three week camping photo-safari.  Sleeping in a tent.  On the ground.  In 100 degree heat.  He (mostly) loved every minute.   One of the highlights?  Bungee jumping in Zimbabwe!  Who wouldn’t get excited about jumping off a very high tower with your feet tied together?  Well…me for one.  And his wife.  But Don just stepped out into the unknown and soared!

Don flying high in Zimbabwe

Don flying high in Zimbabwe

Meet five more amazing role models ~ (click on their name to read more and see the video)

 Yoga instructor and ballroom dance champion Tao Porchon-Lynch is my hero!  She still teaches several yoga classes every week and can do poses I could never do.  This video was taken on her 92nd birthday.  She’s had a couple more since then and as far as I know, she’s still tearing up the dance floor.

Through rain and snow and sleet and hail, 91 year old  Morris Wilkinson has been delivering the mail for over 70 years.

Canadian Olga Kotelko – A 94 year old super-great grandmother and winner of 400 gold medals will step up to the plate in 2013 at the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy.

Here’s 81 year old triathlete Lew Hollander crossing the finish line at the 2012 Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.

Forrest and Rose Lunsway met at a senior dance and have been “dating” for thirty years.  They married on his 100th birthday and then danced the night away.

The only failure is to grow old and not to have tried what you really wanted to do.               ~ Beatrice Cohen

Have a fun and fabulous weekend.

Nancy

What are you planning for your Third Act?

I am a big fan of TED Talks.   What began as an annual get-together of the brightest minds in technology and entertainment to share their creative ideas and vision for the world, has grown into an amazing resource of information and inspiration for all of us.  From the comfort of my own home, on my own time, I too can be awed by brilliant minds, stories of courage and humorous insights that are inspiring change and lighting the dark in every corner of this planet.

As a sixty-something woman who is still searching for meaning and purpose in my life, I love Jane Fonda’s concept that today’s 60 year old’s have about 30 years of extended life.  Not long ago, that was an entire lifetime.  In her talk at TEDx Women, Jane speaks about this additional life span as Life’s Third Act.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately researching and planning for my own Third Act so finding this talk the other day was perfect timing.  Jane had some really interesting insights and good food for thought and I was ready to listen and learn.

Plus, at 74, that woman looks hot!

Thanks Jane for sharing your voice and your wisdom on the art of aging.

 

 

Baby it’s Cold Outside ~

Excuse me, but “What the hell happened here in the Pacific Northwest?”  Two weekends ago it was practically balmy.  So warm and sunny that I actually got a bit of a sunburn on one of our weekend treks.  I guess I was hoping I lived in San Diego and our glorious weather would last forever.  Apparently not the case as the cruel hand of winter swept in last week and now here I sit – warm woolie socks, slippers, my favorite cords, not one but two sweaters and a scarf.  This morning when I went off to Starbucks, it was still dark and I had on my winter coat and my GLOVES.   I didn’t want to risk hat hair all day, so I let my ears fend for themselves.   Pretty soon we’ll have to actually turn on the heat.  I’m cheap…so we’re holding off until we can actually see our breath when we’re sitting in our recliners watching TV.  I think that day is coming – maybe Friday.

No, it’s NOT snowing yet in Oregon.

Really, I’m not sure I can take change that comes so fast.  Is it advancing years?  I’m wondering if a few people didn’t actually get whiplash it all changed so fast.  And, I feel the cold.  In my bones.  In my arthritic fingers actually.  That’s new and I’m not totally thrilled about it either.  I used to look forward to winter – at least for a while.  Snowy days.  Driving up the mountain to take the kids skiing and snowboarding.  Putting on the chains.  Not being able to get the chains off. It was all part of the FUN.  I’m a Canadian.  I know cold and snow.   Apparently I lost my cold tolerance when I finally lost my accent.  Just thinking about being cold makes me a wee bit cranky.  I finally understand why old people move to Florida or Arizona for the winter.  Old bones need heat.  I won’t be going south for the winter this year so I guess it’s time to do some serious attitude adjusting.  Is that covered under Obamacare?  I think cranky qualifies as a pre-existing condition.  Better yet, maybe I’ll start with hot chocolate + a shot of something warm and sunny in it.  I feel better already.   Now this is my idea of a great winter day.  Sleigh ride with my girls on Mt. Charleston near Las Vegas.

I’m 64 and I’m Just Glad to Be Here ~

Yep, one more time with the birthday musings.

I don’t know why, but today I feel OLD.  I felt old yesterday too, and I was only 63 then, so I’m not sure what the heck is going on.   Up until now, I have not been one to think about age.  I passed 30, 50 and even 60 without any visible (or invisible) angst.  Age?  “It’s only a number.  It’s not how old you are, but how old you feel.”  And I feel good – much younger than my calendar years.   But somehow, turning 64 feels different.  I feel different.  My body feels different and my face looks different dammit.  I do not like any of this and I no longer want to play the aging game.  I didn’t even wear my birthday tiara to Starbucks this morning.  Not like me at all.  I’ll slip that purple sparkly crown on my head at every opportunity.   Maybe this year I just need a little time before I’m ready to party.  Time to think about where I’ve been.  Who I’ve been. Who I’ve become, and how I got to right here.  Strange as it sounds, I think I need to mourn just a wee bit.  And then get over it.   I know all the struggles and victories and lessons learned in the past have led me to this particular place at this particular moment in my life.   And it is a very good place to be.   It has been a life worthy of celebration.  It’s just all passing a little too fast.  And I can’t control that.  I like to be in control.  I’m not happy.

So, my gift to myself will be a little self-indulgence.  Spending time.  Looking back.  Taking stock.  Being grateful.  Wondering what the future holds.  But really, just getting back to being glad to be here ~ however damn old I am.

Tonight the kids are coming over to cook us a delicious vegan birthday feast and share the bounty from their garden.   By then, I’ll be ready to get my party on.  To toast a life pretty well lived and celebrate new adventures on the road ahead.

And in the words of Bessie Cooper who turned 116 two days ago, here’s the secret to longevity – Mind your own business and don’t eat junk food.

It was a very good year ~

And that year?  The year I arrived kicking and screaming into this world of, course.  August 29, 1948 to be exact.  So please bear with me because it seems I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to birthdays and aging and how quickly the days are passing.  Yikes!  Not to be morbid.  Just observing.  Perhaps I’m just savoring a little of what has been and wondering what the future holds for the little girl below.

So I thought it might be fun to take a stroll down memory lane.  Here’s what I dug up for 1948.   As you can see, it wasn’t exactly a banner year (well except for me).

  • 1948 was the Year of the Rat.
  • The Frisbee was created by Walter Morrison and Warren Franscioni.  The idea came from college kids who used to toss around empty metal pie plates for entertainment.  Plastic + pie plates = Frisbee.  Times were simpler then weren’t they?
  • Velcro was invented by George de Mestral.  George was a Swiss hiker and inventor.  His idea came from the burrs that stuck to his clothes while hiking. He didn’t exactly replace the zipper as he he hoped, but thanks to velcro my kids didn’t have to tie their tennis shoes until they were old enough to figure it out themselves.
  • Reddi Whip was developed by Bunny Lapin and was first sold door to door by St. Louis milkmen
  • A First Class Stamp cost 3 cents.
  • Ed Sullivan premiered on TV.  The show was Toast of the Town.
  • Bread rationing finally ended in England.  Chocolate was still rationed until 1949.
  • The Wurlitzer Juke Box was invented by Robert Hope Jones
  • Babe Ruth Died.
  • The 1948 summer Olympics were held in London.  The 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled due to the second world war.
  • The State of Israel was created.
  • The first McDonalds restaurant opened.  Ray Kroc bought it 12 years later and the rest is fast food history.
  • Whirlpool introduced the first automatic wringer-washer.  I remember the hand wringer washer in my grandmother’s basement.  It was dangerous – just ask my sister.
  • The biggest hit song of the year was The Woody Woodpecker Song.   The Oscar winning song was Buttons and Bows.  Catchy lyrics I’m sure.
  • The first Polaroid Land Camera went on sale.  It took 1 minute to develop a photo.
  • A gallon of gas was 16 cents, a loaf of bread was 14 cents, and coffee was 85 cents for a two pound bag.
  • You could buy a nice new tract house for around $7,500.

I share this birth year with a few notable (and notorious) folks like Alice Cooper, Kathy Bates, Richard Simmons, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Al and Tipper Gore, Prince Charles, Squeaky Fomme (remember her?) and Clarence Thomas.

What’s the point in looking backward?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it helps you put context to who you are when you understand where you came from.   I don’t think I realized this for a long time.  I was too busy looking forward.  Planning for the future.  These days I find myself in the most intriguing place.  I am still looking forward with interest and anticipation.  I’m excited to be planning a whole new chapter in retirement living,  but I am also spending more time looking at where I’ve already been and holding all those special moments up to the light so I can see them clearly again (or really maybe for the first time) now that I have the time and the benefit of distance.  Seeing that little girl on her horse somehow gives me a deeper understanding of the 64 year old woman I am about to become.  I think it’s time I went out and bought myself a new beret.   Yee Haw Cowgirl!

You’ve Gotta Have Hope ~

Wordless Wednesday

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who follow a practice called Wordless Wednesday.    One day a week they post only photos.  Sometimes a picture really is worth 1,000 words.  I was intrigued by the idea, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I had a wee bit of trouble with the “wordless” part, so here’s my version… almost wordless Wednesday.  Since my 64th birthday is sneaking up on me later this month, this one’s about Hope through the ages.

In my 40’s, Hope came in a jar…

In my 50’s, Hope merged with Wisdom… In my 60’s, I still have Hope, but I really need a Miracle… As for my 70’s and beyond, should I be lucky enough to get there?  I think I’ll throw Hope and caution to the wind and let it all hang out.  Something like this…