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Joy–How to Achieve It

Sarah

The Book of Joy is a conversation between the Dalai Lama (Buddhist) who is exiled in India but continues to be the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people  and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Christian) who lives in South Africa and was a crusader against apartheid and worked for justice and reconciliation in that country.  Both men are over 80.

Among other things the book enumerates eight pillars of joy.  Four are of the mind:  perspective, humility, humor and acceptance, and four are of the heart:  forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.  At the end of the book are a list of joy practices.  A couple of practices that I find helpful are (1) stating my intention for the day and (2) recalling three things for which I’m grateful every day.

Stating my intention for the day does’t mean listing my chores, errands and appointments for that day.  It could be something like, “Today is will I will be listen and engage  with every person I encounter.” Or “Today I will treat everyone with kindness and genuine interest”.  “Today I will be less judgmental and critical”.–You can see what I need help with!

At the end of the day it’s helpful to think of at least three things for which you’re thankful.  Those things could include a conversation you had, a meal you enjoyed, a sunset you witnessed, a book you read.  The list is endless.

Both the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop agree that the joy killer is “self regard”.  Focus on self, self interest, selfishness, self promotion,  me,me,me attitude is counterproductive.  Attaining, achieving, acquiring as a means of finding joy is pointless and ultimately leaves us feeling empty.

A quote from the book at the end of their time together tells us, “the more we turn away from our self-regard to wipe away the tears from the eyes of another, the more–incredibly–we are able to bear, to heal and to transcend our own suffering.  This was their true secret to joy.”

 

Almost a Full Time Job

Sarah

This blog is titled Women Approaching the Age of 70.  You may have surmised that by now I have attained that age.  Now that I’m over 70 I find that a large part of my time is spent trying to maintain my physical well being.  I walk two or three miles six days a week.  I participate in a yoga class twice a week and plan to join water aerobics again this summer.  I take calcium and vitamin D twice a day along with a multi-vitamin and ester-C.  To support a strong immune system I have a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) every morning in a glass of tomato juice.   I drink five cups of coffee every day to ward off dementia. To avoid macular degeneration I take something called Macuguard and wear sunglasses.  I garden quite a bit but work only in the shade.  I haven’t eaten beef in several years.  White potatoes, flour and sugar have been virtually eliminated from my diet.  Carbonated drinks are off limits.  I avoid all fried foods.

Of course I color my hair.  I’m also having a series of three Skin Pen treatments to encourage collagen production in my face.  I just had the second treatment.  I look like a lobster!  I use retin-A religiously and just bought a new tube of sun screen.  I’m blessed with good teeth, but flossing and teeth whitener are mandatory.

I’m very careful about leaving an object in my path since a friend tripped over something in the dark and broke her elbow.  I still clean out my gutters but exercise caution on the ladder.   I have four pairs of readers stashed in my car, home and office.   I should have taken a pair into the nursery.  I thought I was buying a red bell pepper plant.  I later discovered (when I read the small tag) that it’s a mild jalapeno.  At that same time I accidentally (because I couldn’t see) took home a beef steak tomato when I wanted a cherry tomato.  Oh, boy!

As I said, this maintenance routine is almost a full time job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freelance Writing

Sarah

I have recently met a young woman (40?) who is a freelance writer.  I think that’s sort of intriguing.  I began to think about trying my hand at freelancing.  It seems that non-fiction is much more likely to be published.  I immediately found a magazine that solicits articles from amateur gardeners.  Hmmm, I really enjoy gardening, and I could certainly write about what not to do in the garden, but I don’t know that I’m really knowledgeable enough to write a “profile of a single plant species or cultivar, including a personal perspective on why it’s a favored plant.”  (600 words).

The other two subjects that I know about are cooking and cats;  however, it seems that most women don’t cook, and those who do, turn to the internet for recipes and culinary advice.   That leaves cats.

I don’t know if dog lovers or cat lovers dominate in pet preference, but there are a lot of cat people out there.  I have three:  Isabella, Oliver and Stella.  Oliver and Stella team up to capture all sorts of creatures.  Today they brought a long, green-striped snake into the dining room through their cat door.  It may be the same snake they’ve caught twice before.  If so, he’s survived and seems to have grown longer.  I managed to sweep him into a bucket before he slithered under the low (and heavy) hutch where they were taunting him.  I then released him in the neighbor’s flower bed and sternly warned him to stay there.  He could easily be snared again if he returns.

Bits of Widsom

Sarah

Martha and I made a quick visit to Susan’s in Austin last week.  While there I bought a pair of yoga pants at Lululemon.  It’s a store that sells fitness wear.  All of the sales personnel are young and very fit!  (Probably a requirement to work there.)

My purchase was put in a very nice bag which I’m sure is covered in the price of the garments.  I didn’t pay much attention to the messages on the bag until I got home but found there’s some pretty good advice given:

  • A daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins gives you the power to make better decisions, help you be at peace with yourself and offsets stress.
  • Friends are more important than money.
  • Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.
  • Drink fresh water and as much water as you can.  Fresh water flushes toxins from your body and keeps your brain sharp
  • Write down two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years.  Do this four times a year.  Goal setting triggers your subconscious computer.
  • Practice yoga so you can remain active in physical sports as you age.
  • Creativity is maximized when you’re living in the moment.

and finally

  • Don’t trust that an old age pension will be sufficient!

You just never know where you may discover a pearl of wisdom.  I think I’ll go get a glass of water and write down a few goals!–Then I’ll call a friend.

Good Posture

One of the rules which we listed in the very first post was the importance of good posture. For some reason, that is not easy for me, and if you look around at John Q. Public, it is very quickly apparent that poor posture makes for a generally poor presentation. I have been doing a little research about how to develop and maintain good posture. First of all, what is it? The consensus seems to be a straight back, squared shoulders, chin up, chest out and stomach in. From the side, the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should align.  Oh my gosh!!  I just looked at my posture from the side:  my head thrusts forward like a turtle.  I even sorta have that turtle neck.  OK, what can be done?   I found several websites which had some very good excercises and suggestions for sitting or standing straight and tall.  The best one seemed to be www.wikihow.com/Improve-your-posture. There are also several braces which can be worn, the goal of which is to train your body to maintain correct posture. They are not meant to be worn all the time. Actually, the author of the wikihow article suggests using tape on your back for a few weeks so that you would feel yourself slumping over. Both of my sisters have good posture as did our mother. I don’t know how I slipped up. Certainly our mother often chided us to sit or stand up straight. Remember that? I shall try the excercises and suggestions first before purchasing the brace and will report back on the results. The June, 2014, issue of Oprah Winfrey’s magazine “O” featured 9 women, ages 16 to 100. They all look great and have very good posture.

Smart Phones

Susan

Do you know anyone these days that does not own a cell phone?  It is actually hard to imagine how we got along without them for so long. How many of us have cell phones which are “smart phones?”  That means your phone works as a computer enabling the user to do web browsing and run software applications, called “apps.” The 3 sisters all have I-phones, which are smart phones. They come with a lot of apps and you can certainly add more, free or otherwise. You can check the weather, the stock market; there is a calendar, place to keep notes, your contact list which can contain phone, email, street address, etc. And of course the camera is very good and you can quickly and easily send pictures via text or email. If you are one of the readers of this blog that is approaching 70, from before or behind, communication has changed so dramatically. When I was in college we went to the computer lab and had to use punch cards to communicate with the computer. Boy, does that date me!! I do think that it is important to try to stay somewhat current with all the changes that are taking place in the world. I recently had lunch with one of my sons, age 34. He had attended a conference at the University of Texas which was presented by a professor of robotics. He told the audience that a lot of things would be run by robots in the not too distant future and that driverless cars are only 15-20 years away!! I find that a smartphone is a pretty easy way to use current technology without having to take a class. My sisters and I really appreciate the ease of communicating via text messages, and with my two sons, sometimes that is the only way that they will communicate. So we go, onward through the fog!!

Family vacation

Martha

I just returned from a week long vacation spent at a beach house with my family. There were 11 of us, and  we ranged in age from 13 months to sixty- something.  It was great fun!  I highly recommend sharing a house, cottage or cabin with your family if logistics allow.  It seems to be the best way to experience the grandchildren and my own children again.  There were tears, spills, and searches for lost flip-flops or sunglasses at times, but that’s family life.  We all shared kitchen duty and child care and after the youngsters were in bed the adults sat on the deck and enjoyed the sea breeze, good conversation and “adult beverages”.

Texas beaches are heavily impacted by seaweed this year.  The variety is Sargassum, and a Texas A&M scientist wrote that the cause of the large amount this summer is due to late season cold fronts that kept it offshore where it grew.  We learned that the seaweed cannot be removed because of environmental restrictions, as it helps rebuild the dunes.  We have all experienced seaweed before from past vacations, but the abundance of it this year was daunting when we first arrived, but everyone dealt with it.  The life lesson that I was reminded of is that if the adults in charge of a situation  behave as if things are manageable then the children follow along.  We are already talking about next year’s beach vacation!

 

Needles & pills

Sarah

With water aerobics, walking and yoga I may have been trying to halt the aging process too aggressively.  I developed a pain that started in my right hip and ran down my right leg.  Susan’s diagnosis:  sciatic nerve pain.  It sort of comes and goes, and sometimes it’s worse than others.  Fortunately my sleep hasn’t been disturbed, and I’m planning to attend yoga class this evening.  I really believe that yoga will eventually help with any low back problems.  Yesterday after Mon. evening yoga, walking and aerobics the following morning, I decided to visit an acupuncturist.  I’m a great candidate for this sort of thing because I’ve always believed in a strong mind/body connection.  I believed it was going to work before the first needle was inserted.

It’s really not unpleasant at all.  Since it was my first visit, I had to answer a lot of questions.  The needles must be very fine because I really didn’t feel a prick.  The acupuncturist attaches something that provides a little electrical current and turns on heat lamps along the sites of the needles.  The most uncomfortable part of the whole thing is putting your face in that padded doughnut when you’re lying on your stomach.   After the treatment I noticed an immediate improvement.

Unfortunately the improvement didn’t last.  After working in my yard (mainly pulling weeds), my right leg was hurting again.  My brother in law, a renowned endodontist, prescribed some over the counter pain medications that have made a remarkable difference.   I’m pain free!

Perhaps acupuncture would have accomplished the same result in time, but when dealing with pain, the quickest fix is my option.

 

Yoga

Sarah

I’ve been looking for a yoga class.  I visited the Y and the city Recreation Center.  The Y offers a class that meets three days a week at noon (weird time), and the Rec Center has a class that meets Mon. evenings.  Somehow the Y wasn’t appealing to me.  Too busy?  Too many people?  The Rec Center’s schedule is too limited for me.  I decided to check online for an area yoga class  and was pleasantly surprised to find one!   The instructor teaches hatha yoga in her home studio.  Hatha yoga teaches yoga postures.  The participant should leave the session feeling longer, looser and relaxed.–Sounds good!

More good news:  I just read in O, The Oprah Magazine, “A Harvard study found that among a group of adults between ages 25 and 55, those who meditated and practiced yoga for about three hours per week over the course of eight weeks showed significant increases in gray matter of the left hippocampus, which helps facilitate our ability to store information and recall it later.”  Wow!  Yoga may compensate for my replacing coffee with green tea!

My first session is Mon. at 5:30.  Looking forward to it!

 

Travel

 

                             tomatoes

Others will enjoy my garden while we’re gone.

Susan

I am running around today getting ready for a trip my husband and I are taking. We leave soon for Normandy to visit the site of the D-Day invasion.
WW II history is my husband’s passion and we are finally going on a trip that he has talked about doing for a very long time. We are not big travelers, my husband works a lot and has never been willing to take long vacations . For some reason I am kind of a homebody. I do like to go places but I fret about my pets and my yard and so have not complained too much about the absence of big trips. Our children have had some wonderful trips and I guess I have been content to hear about their adventures and say, “Oh, we will do that some day.”
Well that day is here. I know that many of you have traveled a great deal, and I honestly believe that travel is broadening. The opportunity to see how other cultures do things, eat the foods and see the sights must cause an individual to view the world differently, with a greater appreciation for the peculiarities and
charms that are encountered. I have been studying my French for how to say,
“Where is the bathroom?”…..”Ou sont les toilettes? ” or ” Je me suis perdu.”….
I’m lost. Mostly though, I am learning to ask for food and wine. Hopefully, we will have many more trips together if I can ever convince him to retire.
Au revoir!!