From the side of your eyes, nothing changed. For others looking at you, the changes are pretty remarkable.
Often, we’re the last ones to understand the impact of change on ourselves because we usually can’t see it.
As your body migrates south, the ultimate destiny being 30-inch ankles, we hope wisdom migrates north, accepting both the losses and the gains.
But in each landmark, our pace slows down a little bit of knowledge and experience and insight make us much more sure and creative.
For a long time, lifetime change is a whole world of trade-offs between the physical and the intellectual and if we celebrate what is going well and what is doing better, each of life’s seasons becomes enjoyable.
Twenty years ago, we could visit a medieval city and one day feel we’ve given it a review. Today, we’re lucky if we can get out of the main square in a day. We’d not really see more, but everything we see has much more meaning, kickstarts more thoughts and ideas, and reaches sideways to hold hands with many memories.
What we’re looking at hasn’t changed, but what we bring to the viewing has changed remarkably. Thoughtfulness replaced speed, and variety has changed, linking up memory chains.
So as we look at lifestyle change, the focus is not on deterioration and loss. Its expansion of capacities and gain new layers of experience in everything we see and do.
The fun quotient is either stable or goes up if we understand that sprinting is not the only way of moving through life. So, in personal appearance, we’ve come to move a little further up the index. In food, clarity of taste and presentation moves up the ladder past bulk and portability. In opinions, balance becomes more evident. In travel, comfort takes precedence over ticking boxes.
Research becomes as essential as a surprise—the search for meaning moves ahead of the need for new jolts of experience.
Life becomes much more satisfying and engaging as the constant need for fireworks abates. Marriage, the first children, college, their marriage, jobs, and grandchildren cause massive lifestyle changes. The anticipation of these events must always outweigh any sense of loss if we want to grow with the years.
Well, what says you? I have been retired for some years now and so are my friends. Not only that, many in my circle have now passed on—a staggering reality for many Seniors.
My husband passed away three years ago, and only today, another in our high school class more than 50 years ago also died.
Death is so much a part of life. More so in our senior years. The earlier we accept this reality, the better will be our appreciation when it takes place in our lives.
We all dread it, I understand. But, at one time or another, someone who is so much a part of our life passes on. The pain and the loss are something you don’t want to wish on, even your worst enemy.
How do you go through this? How do you manage? When, even amid fun, the memory of the loved one who passed on occupies your thoughts? How do you forget?
How do you hold the tears that, at any moment, pour out? How can you enjoy anything when your thoughts often return to not being there?
Loss can be debilitating. It can ground you in misery, fear, and loneliness. Even with supportive family and friends, it is not like having your loved one there.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned:
I realized how valuable companionship is, to have someone to laugh with, express your fears, foresee your reaction and smile at it understandably, hold your hand when the movie scares you, or discuss the often perplexing events in today’s world.
I have to learn to do many things on my own. Eating out alone in a restaurant gives me a bit of discomfort. Or going to a movie or a show on my own. There’s no one to whisper some comments to or share your delight over a dish or a performance.
I don’t enjoy long drives alone. When my husband was around, our long drives were moments of getting to know things in our past, childhood, or thoughts about many things. The sharing somehow becomes more intimate and genuine. Listening to the radio now doesn’t cut it.
I don’t enjoy socializing on my own. It’s like half is missing. My husband was very gregarious and never wanting for words and stories. I, on the other hand, would prefer only to listen. Now, I have to talk more. Maybe, this is not so bad after all.
It’s always fun to have someone around you to harass, laugh with, cry on, love, and be loved. No matter how much you search for a replacement, it is not the same. Mourn your loss. It is important to do this. However, you have to move on and look for ways to live life after your loss. It is not the end. It is the beginning of something different, fascinating and satisfying when you allow yourself to experience it.
A friend told me that those who died are still with us, and I like this. I talk to my husband all the time. When driving, I ask him to help me navigate the traffic, make it easy to merge on the highway, and don’t forget to close the gas cover or leave my credit card or wallet on the pump.
I see friends in other countries. At least I have company in seeing places and enjoying restaurants in those cities. I see friends where I live.
I have learned to be close to family, travel with them once in a while, visit them, and hang out with them. As was the case before, I have come to appreciate them more as I relate with them directly and not through my husband.
I have worked on my fears and my tendency to depend on someone. I learn to do things like driving long distances, fixing things, taking care of things on my own, and dealing with loneliness.
Each one of us deals with loss in a different way.
But I have many friends who have lived alone because they have not married, divorced, or widowed. I’ve learned how to take things in stride from them and not let matters overwhelm me. They kept telling me that they’d done it for many years. Why am I complaining? Somehow, this pushes me to do the things I dread doing.
After three years, I feel I’m getting into the rhythm of living alone. As much as the first day it happened, I am still my husband, but I can cope with life alone.
I found how valuable a good relationship with our families and friends is. It’s strong support as I deal with my loss. I don’t think I would have managed if not for these relationships.
How many years ago was that? I’ll try if I remember anything as I can hardly remember where I placed my glasses a minute ago.
Friends had been sharing the moments they enjoyed so much when they were children. Mind you, that was a different environment from where we are today.
Then, we felt safe in our neighborhood. We played in the streets. We walked to school unaccompanied, and after school, we played with friends. Primarily, our parents had no clue where we were. Most parents then had only one rule: to be home before dark.
When we celebrated our golden jubilee in our old high school, which means 50 years after graduation, most of our friends remembered best our traversing the path home in the rain, carrying our slippers for fear that they might break we’ll get a good one from our mothers.
We slid in the mud, pushing one another in great delight. We couldn’t think of any bullies among us. If a hint comes out, we will get it from our parents. This fear was more than enough to keep us within the line.
We had close friends, but we played with almost anyone. Even the older kids never bullied us. They taught us many things, or some ignored us. As the bell rings, signaling the end of classes, the streets stream with kids in uniforms as classrooms empty in various directions.
After school is the best time of the day for most of us. There was still time to play before we had to go home to do our chores.
We hardly had toys at home, so we stayed in the streets with our friends. We thought of games to play, stories to tell, fruit trees to climb, and infrequently go home with a friend to eat simple left-overs at their house, which often meant cold rice and dried fish. But thinking about it now, we salivate as if we were in front of a hugely delicious feast.
The games we played consisted mainly of using stones, old cans, or bottles. Whatever we can find around. We marked the perimeters on the ground with sticks. Oh, we played with sticks, too. We had plenty of fun. But when we showed how we played these games to our children and grandchildren, they smirked at us with their bored faces.
On weekends, we often went for exploration. This activity was best immediately aftermath a storm. We all head to the river. The river in our tiny town became a beehive of activity. We gathered firewood, built temporary wells showing these off to each other, swam, floated in the water, and helped our family with washing clothes.
Some of our friends were excellent climbers. A few had many relatives whose trees we could peruse with ripe fruits. I remember always going out with a friend to climb star apple trees. I have to confess that I could not climb. It scared me stiff. So, I would spread my skirt around my waist and catch the ripe fruits I could not capture well. My friends never for an instant laughed at this or belittled me. They worked around my handicap and found things I could do. Yes, those were the days when bullying was not a trend yet.
After more than fifty years after our high school graduation, this memory is often the most remembered and shared. We must have enjoyed so much our simple lives then. We never blamed our parents that they deprived us or that they never had time for us. We were content then and happy now about our life then.
I wish we had pictures of those days, but unhappily with the absence of cameras and cellphones, we could not document so much of our fun. It’s etched thoroughly in our minds, and though over 70, we could still talk about it as if it only happened yesterday.
We accept that times have changed now, and kids live in a different context with its challenges. We understand that. Yet, we sometimes wish life was still as simple as our childhood.
Our grandkids live in a different context. They have to deal with other challenges, and only if we enter into their world will we be able to help them. Like us, they will cherish their memories just as much as we do ours.
I hope I have awakened a cherished childhood memory you had. Do share it.
Nothing urgent is out there calling you to get out of bed. Is there? The perk of being a senior.
So, in the morning, I look forward to having my cup of coffee. I have had my coffee in bed these days, and I realized how enjoyable it is. I used to get up, get ready for work and drive to the office, waiting to get a coffee there. It perks me up for work.
However, now that there is no work to hurry to, I can enjoy my cup of coffee leisurely, every sip a delight.
It makes me feel I have nothing else to do, only enjoy being with myself, essential.
I had no idea of its joyous potential until recently, when the lockdown made me live with myself and no one else. I talk to myself. I only see myself, so I began to see myself consciously. I started to know it, explore its inner realities, and what a surprise it is.
The self has a tremendous inner world waiting to be known. I started exploring, and I delved into its dark side. I felt its fears, insecurities, deficiencies, sorrows, anxieties, and secrets. It astounded me that I connected to it, got to know it, and brought it to light.
As I dug deeper, I found my inner self beneath these, a self full of light, beauty, and capable of creating. I started connecting to this self, and my life changed. Could this be real?
My life fills with magic as I welcome the new unfolding, the unknown getting known each day. A different pattern unfolds before me, something I create not with the usual effort of the previous self but with the ease of connecting to power beyond oneself.
Now, I love these moments of being with myself and connecting its power to its depth to its unending capacity. I realize I am not seeking my mission in life which for years I agonize over. I strive for myself, the self that is my gift to the world. It’s myself as it continues in its creative unfolding. Here I am, universe. I am the gift, the mission, the calling. I am as I become and connect to the universe.
I had for years felt the longing for home, not the physical house, and for years I moved from country to country, and it kept nagging at me. I did not understand it, so I ignored it, but it stayed on.
Recently, I have come home with time for myself and alone with myself. To a world right there inside of me and yet connected to all. I have come home.
I now realize I have one call, one mission, to be. To be the fully developed being that I am. As I do this, I become more connected to the world because as I become one with myself, I become one with the world. Oneness. No more division. Wholeness.
So one more coffee in bed. One more time to be me.
Eat clean. We hear this all the time. We all know we should eat right, and today, that often means choosing organic foods instead of commercially grown, pesticide-laden options.
However, for those living on a fixed income, the high costs of organic foods can become an obstacle. Only though if you let high cost stop you. There are other ways you can enjoy organic food without making a dent in your budget. Try these:
1. Seasonal Shopping 2. The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” 3. Frozen Options 4. Understanding Eggs 5. Wild-Caught and Grass-Fed 6. Understanding GMOs 7. Organic Vegetable Garden
The best way, of course, is to plant your own vegetables. Even urban dwellers are now trying their best to do this.
There are balconies and rooftops for those who have no outside plots. Start small and build it. Window sills will do. When we stayed in serviced apartments working in Asia, I often filled our sills with pots laden with herbs which I can easily snip and add to smoothies and dishes.
Now, in our condo here in downtown Toronto, I still plant herbs and greens I can snip to add to smoothies or salads. If it is important, we do find ways of making it happen. 1. Seasonal Shopping Shopping according to the seasons is a great way to not only obtain organically grown produce at lower prices but to add a greater variety of produce to your diet.
Certain produce is locally available only at specific times during the year. However, thanks to commercial farming and preservation methods like canning and freezing, we have access to virtually any vegetable or fruit throughout the year. This is great for convenience, and there’s nothing wrong with quality canned or frozen produce.
Shopping according to the seasons, however, allows you to obtain the highest nutrient value for the least amount of money.
Often, this has to do with how far they are transported and how thin their skins are. Clean 15, on the other hand, is a list of foods which, although organic is always best, can usually be regarded as ‘safe’ in terms of pesticide levels.
Fresh produce is nearly always higher in vitamins, minerals and bio-nutrients than canned or frozen varieties. By purchasing these items – either from a farmers’ market or the organic section of your supermarket – you’ll be getting more nutritional bang for your buck. 2. The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” These easy-to-remember guidelines refer to specific foods. The Dirty Dozen consists of foods which, for a variety of reasons, are usually loaded with pesticides.
With a list in hand, you can make more informed decisions at the supermarket. Spend a bit more on the Dirty Dozen by purchasing organically while choosing traditional Clean 15 options.
3. Frozen Options As freezing methods improve, more produce options are available in the freezer case.
These options are superior to canned produce in terms of nutrient density, and many organic varieties are available.
Look for flash-frozen whenever possible; this method preserves the highest levels of nutrients.
4. Understanding Eggs Eggs are an excellent source of protein, but the type of eggs you buy is important.
Commercially raised eggs are typically loaded with antibiotics, due to the filthy, cramped living conditions of chickens. As a result, these eggs may contain things you don’t’ want in your own body.
The term ‘free-range’ is a step up, but, thanks to loopholes in the guidelines which regulate farming, these chickens are also living in dirty, cramped areas – the only difference is they have a small outdoor pen.
To obtain the most responsible, healthiest eggs, choose ‘pastured.’ This term indicates that the chickens which produced the eggs are allowed to roam freely and feed on a wide – and natural – variety of insects and grains. As a result, they require fewer (or no) antibiotics, and their eggs are believed to be higher in nutrients.
5. Wild-Caught and Grass-Fed You may have seen these labels on fish and meat selections. Although labelling regulations aren’t as strict as they might be, these are generally good indications that the product was caught or raised responsibly.
In general, wild-caught and grass-fed options are considered to be safer, due to their lower (or nonexistent) antibiotic levels. They are also typically higher in nutrients.
Remember to always look for labels which specifically state “USDA Organic,” “Antibiotic Free” and “Pesticide Free.” You may see all three on the same product, although “USDA Organic” indicates that no antibiotics or pesticides were used in production. This includes the grass and feed livestock are raised on, and even the soil in which that grass and feed were grown.
While these options typically cost more, switching to a diet with more vegetables and less protein can help to offset the costs.
6. Understanding GMOs You may have seen GMO-Free on food labels recently – this is due to a consumer backlash regarding the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). These hybrid plants are believed by many to present risks to humans, simply because they are not natural and may encourage a host of unhealthy side effects such as tumour growth and excess estrogen production.
Purchasing GMO-Free options, whenever possible, is a great way to safeguard against the largely unknown potential effects of consuming GMOs.
7. An Organic Vegetable Garden Nothing can beat your own organic vegetable garden. This will supply you the best produce to eat. The produce will also be very fresh so not only will they be delicious but also much more healthy.
Gardening will also make you more active contributing to your overall health. The joy you derive from watching your plants grow and giving you fruits make it all worthwhile. Start now.