A Silver Lining

I am writing from a place of frustration at the moment. By this evening when I have gone through my day and found joy and hit the reset button, I will possibly regret writing from this mindset. But I stated from the beginning that I want to be transparent in this endeavor. If we cannot write from a place of authenticity, what is the point?

I am 60 years old, five days away from being 61. I seemingly cannot consistently carve out one hour a week to go a local yoga class. It is offered twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but geez…let’s not get too crazy. I wouldn’t want to ask for the moon.

This morning I awakened early at Mama’s house. I browned a nice beef roast in olive oil and salt and pepper. I peeled potatoes then cut them into hearty little chunks and placed them in the bottom of a crock pot. I then put the nicely seared roast over the potatoes and sprinkled onion soup mix over the top. I set it to low so that it could cook for a solid eight to nine hours and be ready for Mama’s dinner. I told her she could smell it all day long and give her something to look forward to. She didn’t quite understand.

After that, I attempted to help Mama comprehend what the day would be like; the comings and goings. She shook her head (negatively) and asked why we were doing this to her. 

We found agreeable clothes to put on and headed to the kitchen for coffee. She sipped her morning brew, sweetened with French vanilla creamer and stared at me. “Were you here with me last night?” She asked. “Yes”, I said. “We made a good dinner and talked and even laughed a bit. Later we ate ice-cream on your balcony then came back inside to sing songs from the church hymnal until our voices gave out. Do you remember?” Her reply “Not really.” Sigh. 

Sometimes I wonder if it would make a difference if we sat and did nothing all evening. All efforts to fill her time and bring her joy seem to evaporate by morning. Although in my serene mindset I know that it is indeed worth it, if not for her, then for me.

Knowing I would need to leave her by 9:10 to make it to yoga, I quickly got myself dressed in yoga-appropriate clothing, side-braided my hair and packed up my overnight bag. 

As life goes, things happen. A bit of extended time comforting Mama. A washing of the searing skillet and cleanup. A conversation that was needed. And I’m not out the door till 9:20. I thought I could still make it, while maintaining road safety. About two miles from my destination was a lane closure with lined up traffic while two large cement trucks took their sweet time backing into a new housing development. That pushed the possibilities over the edge. 

I circled back around and headed for home, defeated. I walked into the house, finding Noah working on his school schedule and lamented to him about my morning. He understood, as much as he was able.

There are those pouting, toned-down temper tantrums we occasionally throw in an adult form. I tossed one right then and there. 

As the old adage goes when a young couple has a fight about who should take out the trash, it’s not really about the trash. And this morning, it wasn’t totally about yoga. It was more about being in a place where ‘things’ prevented a small staking of a claim for oneself. 

As stated in my first paragraph, by evening I will be fine. I will be smiling and grateful. 

I will realize that this extra hour in my morning allowed me to spend time at my desk, which perhaps was even more therapeutic.

Healthy Thursday

Is anyone else grossed out by cooking chicken? Here is a lovely organic chicken that I washed inside and out with cold water, salted and peppered, and about to stick into the oven to cook. In two hours, it will be beautifully browned and the skin will be crispy. The juices will run clear and the meat thermometer will register right at 185 degrees. Perfect. 

We will enjoy tender, warm pieces of this chicken along with a medley of cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus roasted in olive oil and sparingly sprinkled with seasoned salt and pepper. 

Mike and I are trying to stick to a ketogenic diet plan and this meal should fit the bill. 

Honestly, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy would have been delicious with this chicken. Or perhaps a nice dish of hot egg noodles. Also, a crusty, toasty loaf of French bread would round things off nicely. 

No, those things are not on the list. We will stick with meat and the vegetables grown above the ground. We will eat chunks of cheese and olives stuffed with garlic and avocado melted into scrambled eggs and walnuts and pumpkin seeds. 

That raw chicken sitting here on my counter looks a little bit disgusting but it was so very good. It also provided plenty of leftovers, enough to make a nice stir-fry this weekend using a bag of frozen riced cauliflower. 

If you can get past the initial unpleasantness of something, you may find that given the right temperature, the right timing, and the right accompaniment, delicious and lasting changes can be made. I’m counting on it. 

Healthy Thursday

In January, I wrote a blog called Reality Yoga, lamenting that the pleasant, but factual, 35ish year old instructor, kindly pointed out (aloud but with yoga voice) that I should take it at my own pace. “Yoga is not about winning. We do not want injury to show that you are able to do exactly the same moves as everyone else in the room.” 

I wanted to yell out: “I am not new to this world. I worked as a certified personal trainer. I know how this works. I used to say the same things to my ‘older’ clients.”

But that would have only made me look (and sound) my age. One of many life lessons that 60 year-olds learn.

So I smiled and nodded and pushed myself harder than she recommended. 

And I kept going, week after week. 

One would think that at age 60, it would not be a monumental task to get to an hour long yoga class once a week. The class is offered twice a week but let’s not get crazy.

I am still working part-time as a writer for a magazine. I help care for my dear mama. Married to a busy physician, I am in charge of the care and feeding of our home, literally and figuratively. I also have one son living at home, finishing up college, and another one, who has been back home for about a month as he transitions to another job in possibly another city. It’s all good, but busy. 

This morning when I walked into the yoga room there was a sign on the door stating “Yoga is pool-side this morning.”

I grabbed a rolled-up mat from the large cubby and headed out, hoping very much that we were not in the sun since I had failed to apply sunscreen. At last minute, though, I did grab my summer-white, large framed sunglasses.

As I walked toward the pool, I was glad to see a striped canvas-covering where women were gathering. My instructor said: “Oh, it’s you, Rebecca. When I saw you walking over here, I thought there was a celebrity taking my class this morning.” Ding-ding-ding!!! Yes.

I am feeling so much better about yoga. I am learning the names and the movements and am now often able to anticipate the next step. 

And a small victory, in class today, my instructor (aloud but with yoga voice) said to one of the ‘newbies’, “See what Rebecca is doing, that is the correct form”. Again, yes!

I’m certainly not able to perform the full-thrust of what some of the thirty-somethings are able to do. I cannot ‘flip my dog’ and may never get there, which is so very okay.

As are most new paths that we choose, yoga has been a lesson in persistence and discipline. And as Nicole (yoginī girl) said back in January, the first time I attended, “Go at your own pace. This is about your own journey.” 

As the hour closes in, following shavasana, I am not bothered by the statement that ends every class as we put our thumb knuckles to our ‘third eye’ and together say ‘Namaste’, simply meaning ‘I bow to you’. This insinuates that learning and wisdom are exchanged among everyone in the room. It is a reverential and honoring salutation.

Namaste indeed. 

Pump a little Iron

It is not new news that strength training is good for us. We hear it on TV, we read it on the covers of magazines while in line at the grocery store, we even know it intuitively.

If the promise of more strength alone is not motivating enough, here are four science-proven benefits:

Strength training helps you age well
Muscle mass peaks around age 25. Twenty-five! A 2015 study published in International Journal of Nursing Sciences reported that a high percentage of healthcare costs for seniors arise from the negative outcomes of lean muscle mass loss. Another study found that just 15 minutes of strength training twice a week is enough to stimulate significant strength gains, which helps people avoid falls and fractures.

Strength training balances your hormones
Strength training stimulates the release of human growth hormone, which helps build muscle and burn fat. Strength training also has been shown to help regulate sex hormones – testosterone and estrogen. Women commonly produce less estrogen as they grow older, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

Strength training is good for your brain
Numerous studies suggest that strength training can help prevent, slow, or even reverse the progress of many common mental and cognitive issues. Older women develop fewer memory-impairing lesions on their brain when they perform basic, twice-weekly strength training workouts, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Strength training can be inspiring
Obviously, there are many physical rewards of exercise. There is yet another gem. For some people, exercise is a spiritual experience. Jolie Kobrinsky, owner of Primer Personal Training in Monterey, California, states this: “People explore the limits of their abilities and have an opportunity to express intensity when they strength train. That makes some sessions personal triumphs.” Kobrinsky has seen these daily struggles in the gym add up to significant personal transformations.

Who doesn’t want to age well, balance your hormones, keep your brain healthy, and experience personal triumphs? Each and every one of us wants that.

I am certainly not 25 but I am certainly not 95, so I am off to strength train!

Walking for a Reason

Ah…the park at 6:15 PM. Still light. Still chilly. But able to get in my 30 minute walk/run. Felt great to be out in the park again and off of the indoor treadmill, watching Dr. Phil. I’m not saying I am a huge fan of Dr. Phil’s, though I believe he does good work. I just need SOMETHING to focus on while I walk and yet go nowhere.

Sometimes when I am walking/running I wonder why I am doing this. It is certainly not fun. I would always prefer to be sitting on my sofa wrapped in a blanket, sipping hot green tea and reading or at my desk writing.

Though, being back at the park has its upsides. It is peaceful and beautiful and I see fat frogs hop into the pond, from sunning themselves on the edge. I watch ducks splashing in puddles left from too much rain. One of the paths takes me past an alpaca farm. They are interesting creatures. And I often see breathtaking sunsets.

I also often see 20 year-olds and 30 year-olds and 40 year-olds walking/running, which takes me back to the above wondering…why I do this.

At 60 shouldn’t I be surrendering? Shouldn’t I be giving in to what I want to do and say forget this?

Maybe. But the question that begs to be asked is, what do I want to do?

I want to stay as healthy and vibrant, and okay, fit, as possible for as long as possible.

Yes, at the moment I have to push myself to lace up my Asics and drive to the park. The next push is getting out of the car at the park. The (extremely) temporary satisfaction is staying put.

The (extremely) longer-term satisfaction is just doing it. At 60, I should have learned that temporary doesn’t cut it.