Saturday, April 20, 2013
Growing up in suburban Cleveland in the early 1950s - what could have been more idyllic. Our neighborhood of small bungalows had been forested at one time, and a large tree, mostly maples, sat on the southwest corner of the lots on our side of the street - and on the northwest corner of the ones across the street. These mature trees formed a magical canopy up and down the whole block. I played house with a neighbor girl in our driveway, dragging out miniature sized chairs and tables and kitchen appliances. Mothers were home all day and all the dads worked all week, then mowed the lush green yards. And as children we all knew we would live this same kind of life and never grow old.
The calendar has turned and we are well into the 21st century. A substantial number of women (most??) now work outside the home. Daycare is a thriving industry. I have children in their 30s and grandchildren ranging from 6-16. I live over a thousand miles away in Colorado's semi-arid desert where we have drought conditions along with gorgeous blue skies. I have been happily married to husband number 3 for more than 20 years now; as a child I certainly never suspected what adventures would bring me through 2 divorces. I am still working full time outside the home, which I did while raising my children and then for a short while some of my grandchildren.
And in a few more days I will turn 67 years old.
In some ways, times have really changed. Computers - cell phones - space travel - we now live in a world that was only science fiction fantasy.
But some things have not changed - and the most important one is ME! Oh yes, weight was never an issue until I grew up, got married, and had kids. But I was always active, jumping rope and riding my bike in the summer, walking to and from school instead of riding in a car. Throughout the years I worked out at home: Richard Simmons and Jack LaLanne on TV in the 50s and 60s, the first Jazzercise workouts on vinyl records with printed instructions and diagrams for the moves. And as the demands of working and child-rearing increased the workout time diminished, and the weight piled on.
So now here I am, past the age when most people traditionally retired. And I'm finding that some things do not change. My love of music and dance, which directed my workout choices. My love for my family. My craving to learn more about non-traditional subjects which has led to the piles of books all over my house.
Most important has been my ongoing desire for good health. So here I am at nearly 67, still working out with musical routines. I have about 20-25 Richard Simmons programs, some on old VCR tapes, some on new DVD discs, as well as miscellaneous workout programs by others. I can still keep up with most of them. I'm watching what I eat and have lost 19-20 pounds so far and consider myself at the halfway point. It's never too late to work on yourself. Don't let anybody try to tell you differently. My 78 year old husband has joined me on these journeys, both the road to health and the mental explorations.
Some people grow old and regret what they consider "lost years" of their lives. How sad for them. I know many people have physical ailments that slow down their activities, and some peoples' brains betray them too. But for the most part we are still the soul we always were. Even with gray hair we remember being children playing games, teenagers falling in and out of love, young adults raising families, and older adults dealing with the changing times. The person inside of us is continuous. We have to adjust to our circumstances.
Still, I dream of going dancing like one 98 year old aunt of mine did, and working out with tapes and discs until I wear them out, and going to the park to toss a ball at the basketball hoop with my grandson, all for many years to come.
I urge any young person reading this to start to think about the older person they want to become, to create the memories they want to carry in their minds later in life, and to live in ways they will not regret. That includes having adventures they would never tell their mother and lovers they wish they had not lost - or never had! Cherish every moment of life, knowing you will carry it in your mind.
Getting healthy and staying that way will enhance your life now and in the future! Don't wait to create that reality! For my part, I subscribe to the Billy Joel philosophy that only the good die young, and if that's true I imagine I'll be around 200-250 years or so. I certainly want it to be in a healthy body, still creating more of those memories.