I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A week in the life of a busy Senior

At Squires Lake last Thursday
I asked Linda to take a picture of me in front of the lake on our hike last Thursday, and this is what she got. I'm wearing my hat, ear coverings, and my coat, because even though it was sunny, it wasn't all that warm when we stopped for lunch. The fog over the lake came and went, even at noon. Not that I'm complaining: it was a lovely sunny outing, once we got above the fog.

These Senior Trailblazer hikes every Thursday are the highlight of my week. During the summer we head into the High Country and enjoy some more difficult exertions, but in the winter we stay closer to home, with shorter drive times and easier hikes. I never miss these outings if I can avoid it. I'll miss one hike, the first in February, while I visit my sister Norma Jean in Florida. She will keep me on my toes, though, swimming first thing every morning at her local YMCA outdoor pool (a real treat for me), then going for a VERY fast walk around her retirement community with her. I actually must keep up a light jog in order to stay with her. She is a little taller than me, but it's her stride that makes the difference.

I had my annual doctor visit this past Friday, and he told me to keep doing whatever I'm doing, because everything looks good. My cholesterol numbers were a little higher than I was happy with, but he told me to concentrate on the ratio between the good and bad cholesterol, which was very much lower than average. My weight is stable from last year, but there is one thing that really disturbed me: I'm even shorter than I was last year at this time. Now I measure 5'2" and one-quarter inch, and last year that quarter inch was a half inch; the year before it was three-quarters. That means next year I'll be an even 5'2" -- a full inch shorter than I like to think of myself as being.

In the mid-1980s, I went to the Rolfing Institute in Boulder, where I lived, and received ten sessions of Rolfing. I wrote about my experience here, if you want to know more about what it actually is. Basically, though, Rolfing is a little like intense deep tissue massage. I gained height when I had it done back then, but I am not so sure I would gain any additional height now. In fact, on Tuesday of next week I will visit a Rolfer and ask her if she could maybe give me back any of that missing height. I'm not optimistic, but I remember that back then the effect was almost immediate. The session where the Rolfer worked on my spine released some barriers to correct posture. I didn't actually GROW any, but the connective tissue in my spine had been realigned to allow me to stand straighter.

I've been aware for a long time that I'm taller at the beginning of the day than I am at its end. That must be the spine reacting to gravity's effect over the course of the day. And there's the possibility that all those openings under my parachute over the years (more than four thousand of them) could have something to do with it. Going from freefall speed to being suspended under my canopy is rather an abrupt jolt to the spine. Usually it doesn't hurt because I've packed my parachute properly to lessen the impact, but sometimes things don't work as expected. I've experienced at least a dozen extremely hard openings over the years. They probably didn't do anything positive for my posture.

It's been three months since I last made a skydive, and it's funny how little I miss it. In the old days, when I was new in the sport, I wouldn't be able to go for such a long time without craving the experience of freefall. I know it's hard to imagine, but it's really addictive. Now that I've accumulated more than 67 hours of freefall time, it's no longer something I need to do every week. In fact, I can see the day coming when I will no longer jump out of airplanes for pleasure. I thought by the time I reached the age of 70, I'd stop, but circumstances have allowed me to continue, at least for awhile. I intend to get my gear in date and give it a try again this coming summer.

The main thing, for me, is to stay active for as long as I can, continuing to enjoy the social aspect of exercise with my friends, and continue the social aspect of belonging to that wonderful group of JOS (Jumpers Over Seventy) that I met last October when we tried to set a new record for the largest number of JOS in a formation. We didn't succeed, but I met some wonderful role models and had a wonderful time. I realized that I am not alone, and that's important for someone like me who needs to feel that sense of belonging.

Today I'm going to the movies again, this time to see "August: Osage County" with my friend Judy. Meryl Streep has been nominated for Best Actress for her role in this movie, along with Julia Roberts for Best Supporting Actress. We've got one more movie we need to see while it's here: "Inside Llewyn Davis," which is on many lists for Best Picture of the Year, although it was overlooked at the Oscars. I missed "12 Years a Slave" when it was here, but I'm hoping it will come back. I didn't go because I was afraid of all the violence, but people who have seen it have told me it's worth it. There are a lot of good movies this year, in my opinion.

And, of course, there's the do-or-die football game that will be played in Seattle today. I've got my fingers crossed for the Seahawks! I probably won't watch the game because I get too wound up in it, and what happens has nothing to do with whether or not my eyeballs are glued to the screen. I hope that you will have your own desires fulfilled this week, whatever they are. Until we meet again next week, I am sending you lots of good wishes from this part of the blogosphere to yours.


Keicha Christiansen said...

I'll be interested to hear how you liked August" Osage County. It's on my list of movies I want to see. Today I plan to see 12 Years a Slave. You're right. There are quite a few good movies out right now. It's Sundance time here in Utah and there are several movies playing in Ogden I'd like to see, but at $15 each I don't how many I'll make it to. One of these years I'll remember to buy a locals pass when they go on sale in the fall!

Enjoy your Sunday.

Linda Reeder said...

Hi, DJan. I though I'd check in before I get my day under way. With cold fog hanging in here in the lowlands again this morning, I'll be getting going on the stationary bike in a few minutes. then the kids arrive and football begins, with Broncos and Patriots first. I wonder if Isaac will wear his Bronco shirt for that one. We'll be rooting for them along with the Colorado family.
I am getting shorter too, no longer the 5'6" I used to be. I blame gravity. Posture is important too, of course, and I have really worked on mine this year, especially when doing my exercise walking.
Tell us what you think of Osage County. We hope to get to see it too. I think next up for us is 12 Years a Slave.

Rian said...

Had to mention that Yoga can also give you back a little of the height you've lost... or at least it did me. I guess it has to do with stretching the spine and helping the posture. I'll have to check into that rolfing.

Haven't seen any of the movies you mentioned, but would like to see "August:Osage County". Meryl Streep is so good. As for the "12 years a slave"... I don't care for the violence either, so I usually avoid those... but I'm sure it's a good movie.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

That's a lovely picture of you, the lake, and the grasses. You do so much exercise that you hardly need more, but yoga and/or pilates might help stretch your spine a bit. I'm just starting to get back into it because the twisting is good for me. I'm making a list of movies I want to see; it's longer than ever before.

Anonymous said...

Even though it is a dangerous sport at any age, I am glad you have met skydivers who are older than you. They are role models, aren't they. Please be careful; I do worry about you.

Deb Shucka said...

It was so weird to read the title of this post and realize you were talking about yourself. Even though I know the number, it's so not how I think of you. Glad you had a good check-up, but not at all surprised.

I'll be curious to know what you think of August Osage County. We saw it last weekend. I'd been waiting for it eagerly. I was disappointed. Glad to hear what you said about 12 Years a Slave. I've avoided it for the same reason - the violence - but will give it a shot now.

Joyful said...

Sounds like you had a nice week. I dread getting shorter but one thing that will make it a little better is that I actually gained over an inch since I was a young adult! I don't know how it happened but am grateful for it ;-) You will be visiting your sister soon and I'm sure you will have a wonderful visit. I'm looking forward to seeing the same movie with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts when I get a chance so it is good to see you've mentioned it.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Wonderful, another movie for my list! I think there were a lot of good ones nominated this year, too.

Red said...

At our age we have a few things that cause us to lose some height. Whether we want to admit it or not we have some osteopersis( and I can't even spell osteoporosis) Oh yes , I can . I go it this time!) I know I've lost height.

SquirrelQueen said...

I agree with Deb's comment above, it's hard to think of you as a senior with all the different activities you do.

I've lost about a half an inch in height too. I'm fairly active but maybe I should check into rolfing too.

The Furry Gnome said...

You must feel good tonight!

Jackie said...

I love that photo of you.
Great job by the photographer; lovely shot of you, Jan.
I also love the fog that I see over the water behind you. Simply a lovely photo of you.
Regarding your high cholesterol: mine was high, too. My doctor told me to start taking fish oil. You can buy it over the counter.
I'm so pleased that your health is good...your outlook on life is outstanding.
Have a beautiful week, Jan.

Arkansas Patti said...

Congrats, the Seahawks are going to NJ. What an exciting game. I rooted for them for your and Linda's sake but come Groundhog day, I will be pulling for Peyton Manning. May the best team win.
I understand that shrinking thing.
Hope you like August Osage County. My sister HATED it.

Rita said...

I used to be 5' 1 3/4" and always thought of myself as 5'2". Now I am 5' 1". My folks have been shrinking for years.

I'll be very curious as to whether you like the movie since there seems to be such divided opinions on it.

You and your sister really do keep in shape and are to be admired! I know you will enjoy your visit so much! :)

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

It's good to keep an active lifestyle, I like treking within nature!

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Friko said...

I can’t believe how active you are.
How do you fit it all in?

No wonder you are shrinking, you are wearing yourself down. lol

At least you have to sit down in the movies.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, your posting always give me such a sense of peace, of living in the moment.

Like you, I'm shorter than I used to be and I'm aware that I don't hold myself as erect as I used to. I'm slumping. I try to correct that but then fall into the bad habit again.

As to exercise: it's been so cold here that I haven't walked since last Tuesday. So this is the 8th day without walking. Since I began my 50 minutes a day back in June 2013, I've done well in my resolution to walk at least five days a week. But this cold is a wet one that gets in the bones and the wind chill has just kept me inside.

So I'm looking forward to next week when, hopefully, the wind will die down and the temperatures will rise.

I agree with you about the movies. I haven't seen any of the ones that everyone talks about but I hope that I'll get them from the library in the months ahead.

Take care and thank you for all the energy you send us through your posting words and wishes. Peace.

Linda Myers said...

I'm in good company with the height loss, then. We're all in this together, aren't we?

Retired English Teacher said...

The last time I was measured, I had lost about 1/2 and inch from where I was my entire life. I didn't have inches to lose. I've fought neck pain for two days. I went for massage yesterday. That helped. Today, as I did on Monday, I went to aqua Pilates. That helps so much. It helps me put space in those tight places in my neck and keeps my hip moving. I also am doing restorative yoga. This really helps to with the re-alignment.