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, March 25, 2018

Waking up old

My red rain poncho
Melanie took this picture of me last Thursday, as we were getting ready to hike the Chanterelle trail on a wet, rainy day. You can see the others in the background, waiting for us before starting a rather short (not quite seven miles) hike. We didn't even stop for lunch, but turned around and made our way back to the trailhead and drove ourselves to the Senior Center so we could enjoy our lunch in a warm and dry place. It turned out that Thursday's rain total tied the record for the date, almost three-quarters of an inch.

Having made it to the grand old age of 75, I find myself rather amazed that I can still do all the activities that give me such pleasure, such as hiking with the Trailblazers every Thursday, rain or shine; yoga twice a week; enjoying the YMCA's classes every weekday; and the Saturday morning walks with the ladies. I manage to get more than 10,000 steps every day, and some days even twice that number. I'm proud to be such an active elder.

But make no mistake: I'm definitely old, and anybody who tells you that age is just a number and you're as young as you feel, isn't very aware of the process and is probably much younger than I am. So every day, every single day, must be enjoyed and lived to the fullest, because one day I will not be so fortunate. I may have a decade of active living ahead, or maybe only another year. Who knows? I don't take anything for granted any more.

Although I was a grown woman fifty years ago, the physical person I was then bears little resemblance to the woman I have become today. When I was young, I would notice how old people begin to lose their strong gender appearance and begin to look alike. That's happened to me now, and I am sometimes rather taken aback by the person who looks back at me in the mirror. I don't wear makeup, but sometimes I think about it, will purchase some and apply it as I once did every day. It doesn't look right to me any more, but I suppose if I did it every day, I'd get used to it again and wouldn't feel so self-conscious wearing foundation, rouge, and lipstick. Eye makeup is no longer an option; the folds around my eyes have become deep enough that a small amount just becomes invisible, and too much ends up under my eyes rather than where it belongs. My eyelashes are very sparse, too. So why bother? I've gotten out of the habit and cannot think why I would want to start up again.

I had my annual wellness visit last week and was very pleased with the numbers from my blood work. My cholesterol is acceptable, and for someone who has rampant heart disease in her family, I was very pleased to see that my ratio of good-to-bad cholesterol continues to go in the right direction. That's not just by chance, though: she (my doctor) told me that diet and exercise are the keys to a healthy cardiovascular system. I also take a statin, I have done so for decades now and don't seem to have any side effects. My triglycerides were well under 100 (74 to be exact) and my glucose (sugar) was 89, also nothing to worry about. One needs to keep the number under 100, she told me, and that number tends to increase with age. Another side effect of being active: it helps to keep those numbers low.

I walked out of her office feeling pretty good about myself, but when I went to the restroom before heading home, I caught a glimpse of myself under the harsh overhead lights and saw those wrinkles and sagging jowls that come with age. Yes, I know I earned them, but it was again a reminder that age is not just a number, things are wearing out, both externally and internally. I've lived three-quarters of a century, for heaven's sake; this linear process travels in one direction only. I will never be a young woman again in this life, no matter how much I exercise.

I was mesmerized by the looks of some of the older women I saw at the Oscars. Jane Fonda's face and neck would not look like they do without a whole lot of plastic surgery. Helen Mirren looks great, and I wondered if she has also gone under the knife, but she looks much more natural to me and probably hasn't. In a special program, she showed how she looked before and after makeup was applied by a professional. It was rather astounding, and I thought, hmmm. Maybe I could learn to do that, too, but... why?

I can't help but wonder how this last part of my life will play out. I've done pretty much everything I ever wanted to do, so I don't have a bucket list. All the travel, both international and domestic, is behind me and has no appeal any more. All those skydives and parachuting I did was great, but I don't miss it today. My career was satisfying, but it also seems like it happened to another person. How did I ever manage to fit a full-time job into a very busy life? I sure wouldn't want to go back to working.

Writing on my Sunday blog (which I am doing right now), and three times a week on my other blog keeps my mind active. That, and having become an avid reader, with at least one book going all the time. I just finished re-reading "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. Several times while reading it, I would get a "blast from the past" when I would remember little snippets of the story and where I was during the initial reading. Now I'm prepared to see the new movie of the story and see what Hollywood did with it. I do read books for both enlightenment and entertainment.

And now I'm getting ready to wind up this post and look forward to the rest of the day. I'll go off to the coffee shop to visit with my friends, and this afternoon see a movie with my friend Judy. Don't forget to take the time to appreciate your wonderful life and the dear friends and family who love you. I am doing just that myself, as I gaze over at my dear partner who slumbers next to me. And with that, I'll leave you with a quote from Madeleine L'Engle:
The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. 
Be well until we meet again next week.


Linda Reeder said...

Oh, I do love that quote! I might want to re-read that book too.
I am definitely aware of my age lately. I wake up old every morning, struggling to get everything moving. Doing the shuffle step for much of the march on Saturday had me weary and out of balance way too fast. People just glanced at me and thought to offer to give up their seat on a crowded bus. Must be my white hair, I thought. Self-denial?
But the young person I once was is still there too. I am all the ages I used to be.
I'm a little sad this morning. We have to march because children are being killed, and the leadership of this country........I won't go there now. I just don't know how to fix it. I hope the kids can.
Peace be with you. I'll work to find some too.

Rian said...

"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been." This is true... unless you have Alzheimer's... but let's not go there. I too remember all the ages that I've been and although I may not be the same person I was 50 years ago, I'm not that different (inside). Outside I'm very different (white hair, wrinkles, etc.) and I still use foundation (and a little blush) when going out... but no eye makeup, no lipstick. As you mentioned, it just doesn't look or feel right anymore. I exercise (though not even half as much as you, DJan). And IMO the Actresses have more incentive to do face and body work... their jobs (or possibly the younger parts they want) in some ways depend on their looks.
But appreciating each day as it comes... and making sure that family and friends know what joy they bring by just being a part of our lives is important at this stage.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the coffee and the movie and above all, your friends and husband. I too am looking old, but won't use make up because who am I trying to impress?

Tabor said...

Great quote. My friends are aging and it surprises me until I realize I am probably aging before their eyes as well!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I like your take on makeup. Sometimes I wear a little eyeliner and shadow but mostly it makes my old eyes itch. All those hollywood types must have gone under the knife a few times. I hope you have a wonderful week doing what ever you enjoy! :)

Elephant's Child said...

Love your attitude.
And each day I remind myself that I will never be younger than I am today. And am ok with that, despite the rapidly aging body/face that appears in mirrors.
Makeup? There are better things to do with my time.
I am pretty sure that you will continue to revel in life - and am very happy for you.

Gigi said...

Another wonderful post, DJan. I always take away something from these posts to think about.

Congratulations on your blood work numbers - yes, all that exercise is doing it's job.

Have a fabulous week!

Marie Smith said...

I was never one for eye shadow or mascara, just moisturizer, foundation, sometime rouge, which I never use now. It must be terrible to feel the pressure to look perfect regardless of one’s age. Surgery to achieve it boggles my mind.

I love your attitude. Keep as active as you can, for as long as you can and enjoy every minute! Life owes us nothing, but we owe ourselves to make every day matter.

Have a wonderful week!

Arkansas Patti said...

Congrats on the great numbers. Your being active will keep you active. Keep moving, you inspire me. The only makeup I indulge in is lipstick. I feel I look unwell without it.

Red said...

Congratulation on your good health report. You've worked on it and you deserve good health. You're right. We take what is given us. When our end comes we are ready to take our leave.

Hilary said...

Getting older is certainly a new experience..........no question.

Rita said...

I quit wearing makeup about 15 years ago now. I'd probably look better if I did wear it but I feel very uncomfortable with it now and rarely leave my apartment anyways--LOL!

I think the quote is great! All those "other lives" over all our decades are all ours to keep forever. Or as long as we can remember them. ;)

I hope it was a good movie! :)

Madeline Kasian said...

Your blog this morning is an inspiration to me.I am almost 65--all those Medicare notices are making me feel very old this year! I didn't feel all that much different in my 50's, but my 60's have brought a few extra aches and pains I don't care for; I work around them. I used to hike more, and your blog has inspired me to up my game with physical activity. I strapped on a fit bit and I am now determined to get much more physically active, as I do believe it is the key to health and longevity! I have gotten a wee bit lazy! Your schedule of hiking walking and yoga are inspiring!!

Bucket List: I keep feeling like I have not been adventurous enough, --and that time is running out! But then,I find hanging out in my own swimming pool and having friends over for lunch to be an adventure! I have never had as much wanderlust as most of my friends. But I decided to DO a certain bucket list item this year: I rented a condo in Coronado Island for a WHOLE MONTH. I want to be a beach bum for a whole month,wake up ON THAT OCEAN for a WHOLE MONTH. And my husband and I do take lots of small 3 day trips to interesting places within driving distance..being in Az. means lots of cool little towns to explore.We do some larger road trips on occasion,Oregon was GORGEOUS..and Colorado is next. Did NOT enjoy our European cruise as much as I had hoped.. golden palaces,churches, and a very busy schedule-- just not as much fun as hiking, and visiting towns in USA.. . I still haven't seen Monticello or Savannah... or Charleston.... or Yellowstone...

I no longer wear eye makeup for the reasons you mention, but I do like my other makeup some days. I color my hair,not ready to be white all over yet.

I spend one day a week with an Art Play group, a day volunteering, 2 days a month with Canasta card group, and a daily walk with the husband.

Overall, your thoughtful blog post is just a good reminder to appreciate,to savor, and to keep being as active as possible..as long as we can. A gratitude journal, kept daily,also keeps me in appreciation and awe of this verrrrrry interesting journey of life on Earth!

Thanks for sharing!

Mage said...

Lovely post. Thank you for the clear view you have of yourself. I'm a year older with alligator skin, many surgery scars, and spine damage. I was totally gleeful to discover that I could walk for an hour in water. I would miss working with color if I couldn't do it.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for sharing that quote from Madeline L'Engle. I'd never thought about the fact that within today's age I still hold all the ages of my past. Like you, I wear no make-up and haven't since I became a freelancer at the age of 48. But unlike you, I am not faithful to a routine of exercise. I keep hoping that will happen but I don't do enough to make it happen. This year I do so hope that I'll develop a schedule that will contain yoga 3x a week and walking 6 days a week. If I do that, I shall be so please with myself! Peace.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Oh my, I sure like this post. It seems like every day that goes by I have a little more time to focus on this business of getting older. You have done a great job of putting it all in perspective. I have grown to treasure the wisdom you share in these posts. And, an added bonus can be found in the comments from several of your regular followers. It is so curious to me how I feel like I know some of these people just from reading their comments although I have never commented on their blog or spoken to them directly. I guess there is just a lot of wisdom to be found right here on Eye on the Edge and we all owe you a great deal of thanks for being the one who puts it all together. Thank you, as always, and I hope you have a fine week ahead! John

JFM said...

Hello DJan, my name is Jan also. At least this is what everyone calls me. My first name is Janice. I was thumbing through some blogs here on blogspot and somehow I found myself on your doorstep! I am so happy that I did!
My hair is all gray now, because at my age seventy one, I don't and haven't dyed my hair in about thirteen years. I also let my hair grow. Kind of my small way of rebelling and saying "if I want long hair at my age... that's what I will have :)

Your post was excellent and I am looking forward to reading your next one and some of your earlier posts.

Congratulations on a good physical! You had great numbers. Take care and I am already looking forward to stopping by againšŸ’®


Laurie Larson-Doornbos said...

Oh, your words spoke directly to me. I'm just getting used to this 'getting old' thing--I'm retiring from teaching this year and just turned 60. But I feel and think and dream like my twenty-year-old self! She's still in there ... the world just doesn't see her. Wonderful post, Djan :)

ain't for city gals said...

Hi, I read your other blog and I had no idea you were 75!...thinking more like my age 65. I am reading Younger Next Year for Women by Crowley & Lodge. The number one thing they stress is at least 1 hour of hard exercise a day which you do....plus movement movement movement! I recommend the book...nothing is easy but we really do have to do the best we can...until we can't.

Sally Wessely said...

That quote is wonderful. I just wrote it down so I don’t forget it. Your numbers are great, and at this age, numbers are important.

Love your red poncho. Love your outlook. You, my friend, are amazing. Hugs.

Glenda Beall said...

I missed reading your blog last Sunday as I was sick in bed and stayed that way for almost all week. I feel much better today, but your post says it all. At our age, we can expect all the problems of our bodies wearing out and wrinkles and all the other things I have had to accept. My problem is that I want to do so much, my mind says I can, but my body is failing much faster than I had expected. Having been ill and unable to do much of anything, I realized that I could come to like just piddling around not having any deadlines or responsibility for others. I liked sleeping as late as I want and eating breakfast when I should be eating lunch. Here I am at this time of night, so tired and needing to sleep, but not giving in. I don't know why I am that way. You are a great example of keeping on and not giving up. Happy Easter.