Archive for March, 2014


How to Grow Old the Right Way Up
Saturday 29th March 2014
13. The Limitations of the Unlimited

I confess I hate limitations. I hate to be told that I can’t. And yet, I have to accept that we are shackled by Limitation even in our affluent, prosperous society, where those limitations are generally self-inflicted through our own excessive desires and expectations.
I fall painfully into this last category. My unlimited mind, a mind like yours or anyone’s, can imagine worlds, situations and possibilities that are beyond my physical capabilities and the limitations of time… I was going to call it my worst enemy, but I think I better befriend it!
At 8.00 am, a day extends ahead of me with a promise of a million small and large projects that I am sure I will be able complete:
• Today, I’ll edit my book for 6 hours: around 4000 words at the current speed, if no more scenes and dialogues decide to sprout on the way! (14 years on the go! I don’t dare to plan anymore a publication date! It is an embarrassment, but being my first novel, it has to be the best I can achieve at this stage.)
• Today, I will do 2 hours of piano practice: I will finally master that little Scarlatti sonata (at it, on and off for 10 years). I might even improve the Mozart sonata (2 years on the go.)
• Today, I’ll write my blog and I will do it in 20 minutes instead of the usual 2 hours.
• Today I will finish at least my sewing project No 7 (at least 6 more on the go, all unfinished; all piling up in my basket.)
• Today, I will give the kitchen a proper clean.
• Today, I’ll go out for a two hours walk…
• Today I will watch that David Attenborough’s Documentary.
• Today I will do a bit of gardening… after all, it is sunny…
However:
• Today, after 20 minutes at the piano I have to stop to do yoga because my back aches. My fault as I did too much writing and sewing yesterday. For once, the three 10 to 20 minutes yoga sessions, and the 3 hours cleaning, baking and stewing the last of the autumn apples, weren’t enough to compensate for the stillness. (Arthritis is being wo-man-handled, but not yet defeated. Flares up if I sit or don’t move for more than a couple of hours.)
• Today, I sit to write this blog, planning to continue editing… but my carpal tunnel syndrome is making its appearance again, numbing my right thumb and making it difficult to write…
What shall I do?
• I shall be gracious, and not complain about having an active mind;
• I shall be grateful for my health being as good as it is. After all, I rather have problems sitting too long instead of not being able to move.
• I will re-read/check extracts of my novel and I’ll use my thumb as little as possible.
• I will do some gardening… hands and back permitting.
• I will go for a walk indeed, and enjoy this beautiful sunshine.
I might be exercised enough later on, to afford some writing, sewing and playing the piano!
Tomorrow at 8 am, the day will seem limitless… again…
If anyone out there would like to be my Executive Secretary/Editor/Personal Assistant, let me know. I am considering winning a lottery or becoming a Best Selling author in order to pay one! Of course I need to finish the book first, don’t I?

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS

1. I am not a health practitioner of any description. The tips I will be giving are directly related to my personal experience and my experiences with family and friends who seem to have benefited from those tips. Please if in doubt, always consult a qualified practitioner.
2. With their permission I will be mentioning in these pages the names and expertise of many people who have contributed to my current state of health. See also the Links page. Whenever possible and relevant, I will be leading you to their websites or giving you a direct contact if you ask me. Nobody is or will be paying me or rewarding me in any way for doing so. I will be doing it because they are wonderful practitioners, to whom I owe much and to whom I am very happy to direct people to, for the benefit of all. I don’t and won’t recommend anyone whose help and expertise I haven’t experienced and benefited from directly.

 

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How to Grow Old the Right Way Up

Saturday 22nd March 2014

 

My blog today, is a bit longer than usual. It is an article that was published in the Banbury Magazine in 2007 and that I consider very relevant to these series. It also relates to an idea I brushed upon last week: Are we making a living? Making a dying? Or much better in my view, is our life in the making, as all of our lives are until the last second of our existence?

It is also a true story. Only a few details have been altered, simply because I didn’t remember them exactly. I hope you enjoy it.

Making a Living or a Life in the Making?

 

It was April, spring, bright and hopeful. So was my dancing partner.

We were jumping to the manic rhythms of a fast Milonga – one of the many derivations, declinations and inclinations of Tango.

My dancing partner’s spirited feet didn’t quite match his white hair or his many wrinkles, but they matched, indeed, the glint in his sparkling blue eyes and the joyful mood he was in, despite being a beginner as he confessed.

As the workshop ended and we stopped to have tea, my husband and I happened to sit opposite my cheerful dancing partner, and another white haired fellow attending the same weekend of workshops.

After a couple of minutes, it was pretty obvious to us that there were a striking number of similarities and differences between the two older men: they were both white haired, blue eyed, rather handsome, slender, with good posture, and they both looked healthy.

However, my dancing partner looked as fresh as a fifteen year old on his first outings, all the world opened in front of him with so many attractive ladies offering themselves to dance with him like flowers on verandas. Actually there was an enormous difference between him and most fifteen year olds I know: he was genuinely full of life and happiness but more than anything he was full of that unselfconscious confidence that only age’s wisdom and a healthy ‘couldn’t care less about what other people think’ attitude brings sometimes to the deserving ones.

The other gentleman, once one got over the funereal wistfulness that pervaded all his countenance, was physically just as attractive as the first one, with a still supple body, and poise and elegance not born out of his own social background, but of a lifetime of good health and particularly, of good posture.

Dying to find out how they could be so similar and so different, I started with the obvious: their professions: they both had retired the year before. The coincidence created an interesting dialogue between the two men that kept my husband and me, fascinated during the course of the meal.

Both had worked from nine to five, for forty years of their lives.

The cheerful man had retired with a small pension. He had to top it up fixing computers and doing all sorts of odd jobs, in order to survive and to be able to do all the leisure activities he was interested in.

The sad man had enough income to do, pretty much, whatever he wanted.

For the cheerful man, in his own words, ‘life’ had ‘started when he retired’. He had found himself still full of energy, healthy enough to enjoy all the leisure and pleasure, and with enough time in his hands to develop his personal interests, which his work and family had prevented him from pursuing before. He was attending Spanish evening classes, he was teaching himself Geography and he had started a map collection. He was a very keen reader and, he was learning to dance Tango and Salsa. Days for him didn’t have enough hours to fit the innumerable things that attracted his attention. His only small regret was that he wished he had retired with a better pension, so he wouldn’t have to worry about making extra money to pay for the extra activities.

Our sad man felt, in his own words that ‘life’ had ‘ended when he stopped working’. He couldn’t work out what to do with his time. He had plenty of money to travel or to do nearly anything he wanted, but he couldn’t face doing any of it alone. The same as our cheerful man, he was divorced and lived on his own. He wasn’t very interested in reading. He had never had any hobbies, and he couldn’t even consider that he could start having one this late in life. He was –he sadly confessed- only waiting to die! He had been convinced by a friend to start Tango the year before, but he felt, being this old, he could never learn!

I found the experience very interesting and it made me realize that:

  •  Our perception of events is what dictates the choices we make.
  •  Retiring from making a living can sometimes mean the real start of making our own life as we would like it to be.
  • It is never too late to learn, to love, to enjoy and, let alone, to be happy.

Many examples come to mind; not least the recent best-selling writer who got his first novel published age 91! Or my old friend, Phillip, joyfully getting the best grades in his English Literature degree, age 67, well ahead of his fellow students, who were a few decades younger than him.

What are your own thoughts about retirement? Will it mean the start of a new life, a new career, new relationships, new hopes and prospects? I do hope so.

Happy retirement!

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS

 

0. This is a purely fictional story. Any similarity with any person, family or circumstances is mere coincidence.

1. I am not a health practitioner of any description. The tips I will be giving are directly related to my personal experience and my experiences with family and friends who seem to have benefited from those tips. Please if in doubt, always consult a qualified practitioner.
2. With their permission I will be mentioning in these pages the names and expertise of many people who have contributed to my current state of health. Whenever possible and relevant, I will be leading you to their websites or giving you a direct contact if you ask me. Nobody is or will be paying me or rewarding me in any way for doing so. I will be doing it because they are wonderful practitioners, to whom I owe much and to whom I am very happy to direct people to, for the benefit of all. I don’t and won’t recommend anyone whose help and expertise I haven’t experienced and benefited from directly.

How to Grow Old the Right Way Up

Saturday 15th March 2014

Sour Grapes and Generous Wine

 

 

I expect nobody needs a definition in order to understand what a sour grape tastes like. It is important to remember though that sour grapes can look just as tempting as sweet ones.

This is the online dictionary definition for:

Generous Wine: Having a rich bouquet and flavour.

As we all know, in order to acquire that rich bouquet and flavour, you need to be old in wine terms! But you also need to have grown in sweetness and depth.

Personally, I would like to grow old like a Generous Wine: ever up in virtue. As I have mentioned in former blogs, Faith, Hope and Love: in ourselves, and for ourselves; in others, and for others, are deep truths to live by. Today I would like to add other virtues, coming also from my Catholic upbringing that I consider would help me to become a more Generous Wine:

Prudence or Cautiousness, which simply keeps us from harm. I could have done with a bit more of it many times in my life, particularly in my youth!

Justice: How can we live with ourselves if we don’t, at least, attempt to be just and fair with ourselves and others?

Fortitude or strength: Well… we know life is a bit tough; therefore we need a degree of toughness to put up a fight for what we love and what we believe in.

Temperance or moderation, which keeps us from excess, not only in drinking and eating, but also, in respectable areas such as work and exercise. Remember, you are supposed to be working to make a living, rather than working to make a dying!

To those 4 Cardinal virtues, I would like to add Modesty, which keeps our relationships with others oiled and in running order.

This week, this blog is late again because I was visiting my partner’s mother; she won’t read this; yet, I want to raise my cup of tea to a woman who is like “generous wine”: growing older, ever cheerful, ever kind, and ever up, in spite of hardship and difficulties. I also want to raise my cup of tea, to my lovely friend Nancy, whom you will meet soon in this blog, for keeping growing sweeter, wiser, more beautiful and graceful every day.

Let’s keep growing up; let’s keep growing sweeter, more generous and kinder, more loving, more canning! (not cunning).

I just created a new word:

Canning: Willing, therefore able.

Have a “Generous Wine” week. You don’t need to drink it, but of course you can if you like (in moderation!). Most importantly, BE THAT GENEROUS WINE.

Will’s Muscles

How to Grow Old the Right Way Up

Saturday 8th March 2014

 

Will’s Muscles

 

 

Like all healthy babies of the animal kingdom, Will was born with a good set of muscles to complement his bone structure. Indeed, he grabbed the finger of the Doctor with great gusto and screamed his lungs out in the first few seconds of his life. He held his little head quite upright before the third month of his life.

As a young child, Will was active, bubbly, and full of life and muscle.

School happened; bullying happened; the comfort of home, TV, computer games happened; the care of parents who mistook loving and protecting with letting the will of their Will dominate their lives, happened.

Will started to spend more and more hours sitting down in front of a screen than running around. His sleep patterns became erratic, his diet, higher and higher in carbohydrates.

By the age of 15, Will was obese, his muscles were wasting away rapidly, he was at risk of developing diabetes, and he was suffering from depression.

Doctors, exams, psychologists, clinics happened; pills were taken; more TV and games were watched and played; more comfort eating happened. After all, he was a sweet tooth, and mother loved him.

Will was by now, a slumped mass lying on a bed all the time, too weak, sleepless, and depressed to move.  His bones and joints had become too weak to support his large body. His eating habits, added to drugs and inactivity had taken their toll.

An elderly wise Doctor was called as a last resource. He examined Will carefully with serious countenance.

“Am I going to die, Doctor?” panted Will with effort, watching anxiously his own laboured breathing, and the doctor’s stern face as he packed the stethoscope in its case. 

“Well… depends…” answered the Doctor.

“On what?”

 “On you, Will.”

“On me? What can I do?”

“You can give a step or two today, and a few more tomorrow?”

“What do you mean? I can’t move!”

“Can’t you, really?” Said the Doctor cryptically and left the room swiftly, leaving an indignant boy, half sitting on the bed.

Will’s mother was downstairs waiting with bated breath for the old practitioner’s diagnosis.

The Doctor looked at her with concern in his face. “It all depends on him exercising his muscles, but particularly HIS WILL’S MUSCLES.” He emphasized.

“But he can’t! He can’t move!” the woman sobbed.

“He could, if he has the will.”

“He is too weak!”

“If you really want to help him, put the remote control out of reach, but visible from his bed, every time he puts it in his bed. In a few days, move TV and computers out of his room. Then, move them downstairs. Change his diet to a highly nutritional, low calorie one.”

“He will hate me for it. He’s already very depressed. He will REALLY suffer.”

The old Doctor stared sternly at her from behind his glasses for a few seconds: “Either, you and Will develop your will muscles, or Will, will die.”

 

There is a healthy boy in my neighbourhood who, one grey day, not long ago, got up from his bed reached out for a TV  control, and regained control of his life.

 

PS. Is there any area of your life in which you could do with developing more “will’s muscles”?

PS. Don’t overdo it. Enjoy life!

 

 

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS

 

0. This is a purely fictional story. Any similarity with any person, family or circumstances is mere coincidence.

1. I am not a health practitioner of any description. The tips I will be giving are directly related to my personal experience and my experiences with family and friends who seem to have benefited from those tips. Please if in doubt, always consult a qualified practitioner.
2. With their permission I will be mentioning in these pages the names and expertise of many people who have contributed to my current state of health. Whenever possible and relevant, I will be leading you to their websites or giving you a direct contact if you ask me. Nobody is or will be paying me or rewarding me in any way for doing so. I will be doing it because they are wonderful practitioners, to whom I owe much and to whom I am very happy to direct people to, for the benefit of all. I don’t and won’t recommend anyone whose help and expertise I haven’t experienced and benefited from directly.