Archive | September 2014

Good Vibrations

Sarah

We all know that sound is a form of energy. When we think of sound, we often think of music. We are now able to measure the effects rhythms and tones have on our heart rate, our breathing, our brain waves, our immune cells and even our DNA. Wow! What am I listening to?

Music has the ability to evoke memories of youth, special occasions and a shared past. My high school boy friend, who is very happily married, recently sent me a recording of Ray Charles singing I Can’t Stop Loving You. ( You know now, if you didn’t already, that I date to the early sixties.) My husband loved big band music. We played In the Mood at his funeral! Johnny Paycheck’s recording of Please Don’t Play A11, reminds me of a funny incident that I shared with someone very special. Any C&W twang makes me think of him.

Music can set a mood. What would you choose for a festive evening? Mariachi music at a wedding reception? What tunes are relaxing or soothing? Which are inspiring or uplifting? Music is an integral part of our holidays. Could we have Christmas without Silent Night? Can you attend a football game at your alma mater without singing the school fight song? Beethoven’s 5th symphony became known as the victory symphony during World War II. The BBC played the familiar first four notes of the symphony before every broadcast to Europe.

According to Brenda Stockdale, author of You Can Beat the Odds, numerous investigations have demonstrated music’s ability to enhance our well-being on multiple levels. She advises us to become aware of the sounds in our environment—background noise included—and the effect they have on our moods or heart rates. Of course, there are things that we can’t control; but there are plenty of opportunities to make a choice: The morning news might be minimized. Perhaps talk radio could be eliminated during your commute. While cooking dinner wouldn’t you rather listen to one of your favorite musical artists than a TV sitcom or police drama? Those that study these sorts of things recommend avoiding rap, heavy metal or techno recordings—unless you want to increase your arterial pressure. So, how about a Brahms lullaby as you drift off to sleep or the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun instead of your alarm? Sounds good to me!

A Few of My Favorite Things

Sarah

Here’s a challenging exercise: write down at least five things that you love to do (whether or not you actually do them) and five things that you do not enjoy doing.  The poser of this task suggests that one of the best ways of determining what you love is to notice what makes you lose track of time.

In her book You Can Beat the Odds Brenda Stockdale reports that in a study at the University of Texas over two thousand people were polled in a national survey that assessed general health, physical function and how they spent time.  They were asked about work, volunteer projects and whether they had an opportunity to learn new things or do something they really enjoyed.  Not surprisingly, the overwhelming finding was that creative activity—defined as non-routine, enjoyable, with built-in learning and problem solving possibilities—helped people stay healthier and live longer.  And this creative work can cause the body to appear nearly seven years younger than chronological age! Now that’s a motivating statistic!

So, what do you love to do?  I’ve been thinking about my list.  Like my sister, Susan, I love to entertain.  I love the preparation:  planning the menu, the cooking, setting the table, arranging flowers, lighting the candles.  I like to have everything done ahead of time so that my attention is on the guests. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it takes a little thought.

I also like to exercise.  I am my mother’s daughter!  She frequently extolled the virtues of exercise.  I have found yoga to be very challenging but beneficial, and I hate to see water aerobics classes come to end when the pool closes for the winter.

Music is another interest.  Regrettably I have no musical gifts, but I can appreciate those of others.  I particularly like familiar opera and classical pieces.  A glass of wine or two and great music make for a wonderful evening.

I must also acknowledge that I like writing.  This blogging experience has been so much fun for me.  I like writing, but I also like reading what Susan and Martha have written. Your comments are great too! I guess that means I enjoy reading which is true. I participate in two book clubs.  I often feel like there are so many literary treasures and so little time!

I think I’m already up to five things, but I can’t forget gardening. Admittedly, at this time of year in Texas the plants and I are ready for a dormant period. Where is that first cold snap?– But I’m also looking at fall bedding plants.

We all know that there are some activities that are unpleasant but unavoidable.  I guess the antidote is to spend as much time as possible doing the things that you love.  Have you started your list yet?

Friends

A setting for friends.

A setting for friends.

Susan

I am continuing with this idea of the importance of things in addition to our health. I really do love to entertain. I think part of why I like to do that is because I am not a perfectionist, so I am fairly comfortable having people over when the house, etc. are not exactly perfect. The whole point is the camaraderie: the delight that being with friends provides. The cookbook author, Ina Garten, has lots of great, useful ideas: don’t serve spinach because it sticks to teeth, purchase some items to make preparation easier, serve dishes that can be prepared ahead of time.  Remember that the goal is to enjoy the company of your friends. We have 2 groups that we get together with quite often & we often share the menus: everyone bringing some part of the meal. It usually works great & no one is overwhelmed. I encourage everyone to take pleasure in eating with friends. That is a wonderful way to enjoy others.  This is one of my favorite menues for a party:

beef fajitas with  extras:  guacamole, queso, sour cream, tomatoes, onions

Pinto beans

guacamole & queso with chips for appetizers

chocolate cake, for dessert

beer, marguerites & tea

A good hobby

Feeder                  Hummer

Susan

Well, I think the most recent post had much merit. Maybe we were emphasizing the wrong things: our appearance. I think that is because it seems it is something we might have a bit of control over. We really can’t control our health but we certainly can do those things that improve our sense of well being. So I am suggesting a wonderful hobby. Is that a bad word? Anyway, bird watching is a passion of mine. It was a real interest for our parents and after they moved to the Golden Triangle in 1960 it was a wonderful activity. The Texas coast is a flyway for lots of migratory birds. If you are interested in birds at all, you will see lots of variety. My friend who lives in the country has invited me out to lunch or dinner several times and one of the charms of their home is the birds. She has several feeders & gets lots of different birds. She has finches, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, jays, doves of course, and sometimes she has painted buntings!!! Wow! Have you ever seen one? That inspired me to pay more attention to the birds in my own yard. I have put up a couple of new feeders with different seed. I may even put out dried mealy worms to attract bluebirds. I encourage you all to watch the birds in your yards. There is something about birds: their colors, their movement, their bright eyes, their presence in our lives that makes them worthy of our interest. I hope someday to go to south Texas to see some of the birds migrating south to Mexico & beyond: hawks, hummingbirds, cranes… What a glorious sight.

Something More

Flowers

Sarah

As women approaching the age of 70, we have written about the anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, supplements, fashion and make-up. We may have overlooked one important element.  Drinking!  (Just kidding.)  Let’s call it the mental/spiritual aspect of our lives and what we can do to enhance that area:

  •  Buy fresh flowers for your home. I love this one!
  • Visit a park or some other place where you can experience nature. Maybe you have the luxury of being able to  walk everyday in a beautiful place.
  • Take a break from the news.  Being uninformed can be a blessing!
  • Read an inspirational book.
  • Make a list of friends and acquaintances who make you feel happier, more alive, more optimistic. Spend time with those individuals. Does this mean avoiding those who evoke the opposite feelings?
  •  Try your hand at growing herbs, fruit or vegetables. My rosemary is still alive! I also have an orange and a lemon tree in pots. No fruit. Maybe next year.
  •  Take a moment to express gratitude for your food before meals.
  • Think of a piece of music that you find uplifting and listen to it: C&W, classic rock, opera, jazz? I have a new     Texas Tenors CD.
  • View a work of art, sculpture or architecture that you find beautiful.
  • Reconnect with someone with whom you’ve lost touch or from whom you are estranged.
  • Forgive someone who has hurt you or made you angry. Do this for yourself. The person you are forgiving my     have completely forgotten the offense.
  • Do something for someone else without expecting something in return.
  • If you don’t have a pet, consider getting one—from your local animal shelter.
  • Volunteer.
  • And finally, have an occasional glass of wine.

Exercise and diet are important, but these habits really make for a well lived life.