We went to dinner at a younger friends’ house the other night (twenty years younger), and we started a conversation about aging (my favorite). He asked in the middle of our conversation, “Is 82 Old?” What a great question, I thought! I gave him an answer right off the top of my head and afterwards when I thought about it, I realized, I didn’t like it.
I should have said, “I’ll think about it and call you back tomorrow.” I told him I thought 82 was old but that didn’t have to be a bad thing. You do have to slow down but you can still do almost everything and the things you can’t do you can go around them and do something else instead. But, it’s not such an easy question to answer. I thought about it all the next day.
82 is old to some and not to others, and only some moments of the day, and some days of the week. There are still some very young times amongst all the aches and pains one gets.
82 could be old on your hip joins and knees, but young in your head. Sometimes I get more excited about the prospect of doing something at this age than I ever did at 50. I know why that is. I realize how very special it is that I am able to do something that thrills me at this stage of my life.
My granddaughter called me from college late one night last week and we talked at least for an hour. She just missed telling me things, she said, but not half as much as I missed hearing them. I don’t know if I would have appreciated that conversation, even 10 years ago as much as I did that night. I know now, how priceless our conversation really was!
When I did my TEDx talk, I realized how special it was that I was still able to fly across the country, memorize my speech and give it in front of all those people! I got it! 82 can feel old at night after a long day, but never in your young life would a bed feel so delicious!
The trick is to remain in the game no matter how old you are. 52 or 82. You can be old and jaded at 40, 50, or 60. Or not! Your decision!
What I should have told him is that 82 is just an extension of who you are your whole life. Nothing more. You remain the same inside.
The only thing we have to lose as we age, is the fear of aging.
What a great day! Bob had made me a beautiful Mother’s Day breakfast early in the morning of scrambled eggs with goat cheese and a toast with lots of cards from him and Sophia (our dog), my son Jim, daughter-in-law Leslie, grandsons Alex and Gideon (15 1/2) and their two adorable Westies, Luna and Aspen , and last but not least daughter Terry. Jim’s sons are so sweet and tall now too.
I love any excuse to be with them. They all came up at about 12:00 p.m. It was a first time experiment with the dogs and they were perfect. Our Sophia greeted them with elegance, a little disdain and finally broke down and enjoyed herself. I had their favorite egg salad and guacamole snack waiting for them while we opened MD gifts and cards and then off we went to Tydes Restaurant for lunch. It was a gorgeous day, just the right temperature - - a little breezy with bright sun. Everyone walked to the restaurant, except Bob and me, with injuries we drove.
I felt lucky, happy, and yes, I have to admit I felt a little sad and a little old. Here I was the baby of my original family and now I was celebrating my Mother’s Day, as the grandmother with my children in their middle age with their children.
What a rapid, wonderful ride life is! We can’t afford to not pay attention for a minute because too many wonderful moments will slip by. One of the most fun things we did was face time with our granddaughter, Tess, (Terry’s daughter, a freshman at Northwestern), so she could be with us for the party. She told us she was going to her sorority’s prom next week and tried on a few outfits so we could help her decide which dress and shoes. It was so great being in her dorm room with her, and yet being here in SB with us at the same time. We then took our dogs for a walk to the beach, which when through we said goodbye with kisses and hugs as they all piled in their cars.
Well, what was sad you ask? Not really sad, but more nostalgic, thinking of Mother’s Days with my mother, wishing she could know my kids all grown up and my grandchildren. She would have loved them, and they her. My kids were 6 and 8 when she left this world for the next, but they still remember that great powdery smell she had. So do I.
I think of her often. She would have loved this Mother’s day.
It was her kind of party!
Our newest aid in growing older, better!
The new discovery of Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD (Nobel prize winner), and Elissa Epel, PhD about the telomere in our cells is the most exciting thing I’ve read in years and is life changing for me.
I‘ve been speaking all about this (without really knowing what it was) for years. To me, it just made sense. I was interviewing people that were still young at 91 or older. I had no scientific facts to back me up, but I knew at 82 I felt young and interested and curious as did these people I was interviewing. I wanted to know what was keeping us that way!
As researchers, these two women doctors, found that the telemeres in our cells shrink as we grow older and the ends fray a bit. (picture shoelaces, they say) but in their studies they have found that people who have a continuing passion and who exercise and eat well as well as those who have less stress or handle their stress in a different way are able to continue life in a strong functioning manor. The good news is that our cells are listening to us. We can be in control of our telomeres. Studies show that those who have joy and can express it, those who handle stress in a combative form instead of a fearful form can control their telomeres. They can stay in a healthspan longer.
They interviewed women who were caretakers of sick children to see what that constant stress did to their telomeres. Of course it showed that their telomeres were all frayed and shorter. The good and startling news is that we can change that.
They have found that resilient thinking can help enormously. Activiities that create better thought awareness include meditation and most mind body exercises says Dr. Epel. Any type of positive activity keeps you less focused on negativity. The more you are with other people and look and appreciate your surroundings, the better it is for your cells and therefore you. It goes round and round. The more mindfulness in your life, the more feelings of a life purpose will emerge. The more we engage in a life purpose the more we can believe we are invested in something bigger than our own lives and that brings us closer to tranquility while reducing our negative thoughts.
With all this, our telomeres elongate themselves. Our cells hear us. How exciting is that?
Telomeres shrink with age but with all our positive thinking, and exercise they can be helped. Consider exercise a safe bet for keeping our immune systems biologically young. That is why some people at 91 are young and vibrant and some are old. That is the data I have been looking for! The other surprising news is that to be fit means that you can walk vigorously 3x a week (or jog). That’s not a lot to ask of us.
Fitness and exercise are two different things. So even if we are naturally fit we need to be involved in a exercise program and get enough sleep to maintain our telomeres. Sleep is an important part of our fitness regime. The doctors write about a famous Whitehall study of British civil servants who slept seven hours a night, had longer telomeres than those who slept five hours. Good sleep quality is the goal, especially as we age.
Dr. Blackburn also discovered a biological indicator called Telomeres that is the enzyme that replaces telomeres. More studies are being done on this. One needs to be careful as it can create growth in cells we don’t necessarily want grown.
All in all, this is an incredible discovery. It validates and brings our hopes and dreams into the world of science.
It’s comforting to know there are facts backing up why and how we can live out a long and interesting life in a healthspan, if we take good care of ourselves.
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