You may have noticed that some arguments are a waste of time. Things will not change, no matter what is said and, therefore, it’s useless energy expended. You get all worked up and your blood pressure rises. It’s not good for the health, so decide to let it go. But, you may want to put up a fight over certain principles, such as feeling mistreated by someone. You might fight back, up to a point, and then decide to back off, knowing you have at least expressed yourself.
Fighting with a loved one can be wearying when you are on opposite ends of a discussion. Round and round you go, with no one budging. In situations like this it is good to remember that old adage, “Do you want to be right, or do you want peace?” It is also helpful to consider if it is more important to the other person, or to you, to “win.” If you find you are not all that invested, it may be a good idea, for the sake of peace, to let them have their way, even if you both know you disagree. They will be happy with your generosity and may return the favor later.
PICK YOUR POISONS
We are confronted with choices of what to put into our bodies.
Some say meat is a poison. One of the latest foods to be thought detrimental to our health is our dearly desired sugar. We are asked now to eliminate all sugar found in processed foods, desserts, candy ... it is in just about everything. Chocolate is now in favor, but only if you have a tiny bit and it is dark and loaded with cacao.
Alcohol, especially when done in excess, will age us quicker. For one thing it is loaded with sugar. As aging boomers, our bodies and minds simply can no longer tolerate the same amount of alcohol as we once did. But a glass or two of red wine with dinner is said keep our hearts strong.
Wheat is thought to be bad for us by the latest scientific evidence, especially gluten. A book you can read to learn more about eliminating wheat from your diet is “Wheat Belly.” If we want to lose that bulging, bloated belly, we are advised to give up wheat. Try it and see the difference!
Seven foods one should not eat, especially those who have sensitivities leading to allergic reactions are: eggs, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, peanuts and, as mentioned, gluten.
So what is left if we are to be purists? Most experts agree we need to be eating a diet of nuts, legumes or beans, vegetables and fruits. Others believe we can include a little meat (but not red meat), chicken and fish. We can choose to change our diets completely, giving up all the possibly inflammatory foods, but that usually doesn’t happen unless we have had a severe health scare.
When we make up our mind to improve our diet, we can do so a little at a time starting with the really bad stuff — processed foods, soda, ice cream, etc. It is our decision to make as to how we nurture ourselves.
PICK YOUR CHARITY
At the end of each year, in particular, we often receive many solicitations from nonprofits asking us to share our wealth. Some of us may be immune to these requests, while others give a little or a lot. Some think of the tax write-off and are even more motivated to give.
Whenever our state and federal governments need to cut back on spending, it is often those who most in need of help who no longer receive adequate support. Donations from individuals or groups can often make the difference. If we have some sense of the feeling that “we are our brother’s keeper,” and we are all related in our basic desire to live as best we can then we have to reach out and help those less fortunate.
We can choose who to assist and how to give that help, whether its a financial donation or with our time and energy. When deciding who could use your help, consider the following, to name just a few:
- Our veterans and their families
- Special needs children and their parents
- Victims of domestic violence
- Homeless families
- Elders living in isolation
Generosity can be thought of as “paying ahead,” for we never do know when we might need some extra help ourselves. May we stay aware of our conscious choices, for that is the best foundation to ensure all of our New Year’s resolutions will manifest in 2013.
Angelena Craig of Newburyport is the director of The New Aging Movement and a professional-level yoga instructor. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or e-mail email@example.com.
by Angelena Craig
“What was the name of that movie, you know, the one that I liked with that older guy? What’s his name?”
The names you seek are right on the tip of your tongue, but you simply cannot remember, and when you go to copy a phone number down, you transpose one or more numbers. You now cannot ignore that you have had some short-term memory loss. This recognition can be really upsetting at first, but then you may decide to just let it go, stop beating yourself up and sweating the small stuff. No big deal, and anyway, your friends are just like you; they can’t remember things either.
But eventually the loss of recall becomes more problematic when you can’t remember where you put the cellphone, or the credit card or the keys, with so much time and effort wasted trying to find lost possessions. This problem is really obvious when you cannot find your car in a large parking lot. You wander around the aisles while pushing your cart and pressing the beeper over and over, hoping no one notices you and your car are lost.
With each passing year, the clarity of our thinking may have diminished, but still it is important to maintain some control over careless behaviors that create frustration and stress. Staying aware (mindful) is called for, so as to better avoid losing things. Paying attention is the first step, and then speaking out loud to yourself is one helpful way to remember. “I am putting my cellphone on the night table.” “I am parking the car four rows to the left of the front door.”
In these boomer years, and beyond, it is equally crucial to be more aware of the body and how it feels. You can’t heal what you can’t feel, and you can’t feel unless you are in your body. We all know people who mostly “live in their heads” while ignoring their body. Perhaps they sit slouched over a desk all day and then ... no surprise ... develop ongoing pain in their back or shoulders or neck or legs. They may resign themselves to these aches and pains by saying, “Oh well, I must be getting older.” However, when their body is feeling so unhappy, if caught in time, there could be some simple remedies, beginning with improving their posture every time they sit in the chair. They could also commit to getting out of the chair and moving away from the desk each hour or two, walking around a bit, doing some stretching. These simple changes could improve their life and prevent further deterioration in their joints.
When we were younger, we could get away with a lot more, but sooner or later, the body will insist we pay better attention to it. Ignoring symptoms usually does not make them go away. Paying attention to your body while moving in space is equally called for, especially when you notice that with advancing age, your balance is compromised, like on a slippery surface or while shoveling snow.
I had my wake-up call one day while walking down the steps from my second floor. Besides being steep, the stairs also were a bit slippery in my stockinged feet. I carried a tray full of plates and a glass, and when I got to the fifth-from-the-bottom step, I found myself suddenly airborne. The plates and glasses smashed all around me while I plunged forward, headed (literally) for the glass door. It must have been divine intervention that kept me from serious injury, just a little shock and some bruising on the arm that broke the fall. I revisit that scene from time to time, reminding myself to stay present and watchful when using the steps, to concentrate on one thing at a time.
You, too, probably can think of an instance, or several, when you were distracted, not watching where you were going, and had a serious incident or a “near miss.” In those scary times, we may decide it’s best to learn from past mistakes, taking better care and to replace multitasking with focusing on one thing at a time.
Beyond awareness of our bodies, we can benefit by carrying mindfulness into our thoughts, our emotions, our words, our motives, our actions and our spiritual lives.
The practice of mindfulness has three prerequisites:
- the courage to feel and experience each moment as it comes up
- kindness and compassion for what you may discover within yourself
- a willingness to regularly apply this practice
- Here and now may be the perfect time for you to begin this practice.
Angelena Craig of Newburyport teaches Wellness Workshops, Kripalu Slow Flow Yoga, and “Sit Down and Move” classes to boomers and beyond. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Angelena Craig
ACCEPTANCE...it is what it is
One of Yoga’s guiding principles is “santosha” or contentment. Reaching for this goal may be challenging for those of us who may want things to be different than they really are. However, it is a worthwhile aspiration, learning to accept what is happening, right now, rather than wishing for what it could be. It is easy to think ,
“I will be happy when my true love comes along; when I have more money and things; when I’m thin again; when springtime comes again.”
Boomers, and those beyond, might eventually come to understand life doesn’t work like that. We are required to be content no matter what, if we want peace of mind.
Acceptance of yourself and your circumstances is especially valuable when you move toward the elder years. You see... and can feel... there are some definite losses and you recognize the changes that come along with aging, But to ruminate and dwell upon what has come to pass is unwise and leads to unhappiness.
Instead, we can look to the gains of aging, perhaps at last coming to terms with who we are and how life shows up for us. Accepting our true and individual nature is one sign of the mature person. I am who I am. Choosing to keep learning, to continue growing no matter what the age, is another sure sign of maturity.
Let us consider acceptance and contentment in relationships. We can learn to let go of our grievances with another, forgiving their foibles because we really love the person. and at the same time recognizing we too have our own little, and not so little, faults. We can yield to the fact that no one person can fill all our needs and therefore come to respect what it is we have with another that is sustaining.
But what about someone living with neglect and abuse? Can we agree that this is simply not acceptable? It is a fact that too many stay in abusive and sometimes dangerous relationships, accepting the other person’s occasional or even ongoing hurtful treatment. Abuse may be verbal, economic, physical or sexual. but none of it is acceptable. Acceptance of bad behavior is unhealthy and unwise.
If you are in an abusive situation, It is so easy to make excuses for someone you love....
“ Well, they’re not always
bad to me and they apologize later.”
“ I think they are changing, or at least they say they want to change.”
“I can tolerate anything as long as I’m not left alone.”
And then there are those marriages that can not be saved, even after trying, and then trying some more, to make it right. It is then we may be forced to accept final separation is called for.
Letting go is so difficult for some. Coming to terms with the end of what was once a love relationship may call for more clarity and great fortitude. Staying out of “blame” helps to accept the situation as it is and move on. It is a process and sometimes takes awhile.
“Progress, not Perfection” is a worthy short term goal and in the long run, moving with Santosha, contentment can lead to Peace of Mind... the one thing each of us wants and needs for health and longevity. http://www.newburyportnews.com/lifestyle/x257823342/Acceptance-it-is-what-it-is
Boomer Talk with Angelena Craig
When you were younger, perhaps a teen or in your 20s, someone may have reminded you to “act your age.” But now this suggestion takes on a whole new meaning.
Once we move into our late 50s and 60s (and beyond), it is true we are moving forward toward the elder years, but we don’t necessarily have to act (or look) like we are “old.”
I have noticed in myself and others certain traits or characteristics that we may have always displayed, changing with age. These same personality and temperament inclinations are beginning to be greatly exaggerated and are indicators we are, in fact, feeling and acting “old.”
You may recognize some of these qualities in yourself or others, starting with the less attractive to the more appealing.
Losing patience and complaining
You may have become much more impatient, getting easily annoyed or irritated with bad service, with having to wait in traffic or in line or for late appointments. Your toleration has decreased.
You find yourself complaining a lot. The weather is a big topic. It is too hot or too cold (a move to Florida may be considered). Or, the climate may be too dry or too rainy, the bed too hard or soft, the restaurant too noisy or the service too slow. Do you make unfavorable comparisons of today with how it use to be? The price of everything has risen ... on and on.
You may find yourself more careful about taking physical risks (probably a good idea) or that you are much more unwilling to take emotional risks or to try something new. Do you tend to come from an automatic “no” when something new and different is suggested?
Along with this we may become less creative and spontaneous, doing the same things over and over and over again. We become creatures of habit and afraid to shake things up. After all, there is comfort in familiarity and, as we age, we mostly do like to be comfortable.
Talking too much about nothing
Much of the conversation is about the weather, the planning of the next meal, the aches and pains and general health, the good old days. Do you find you are repeating yourself or not remembering if you had already told someone something?
Do you notice the long, involved and detailed stories soon lose the listener who can’t follow or gets bored?
Losing things and people
We have to hunt for the keys, the cellphone or the parked car. We lose what might have been perfect eyesight. There are hearing losses. Losing our income and financial stability is but one more challenge.
We lose more people we love and have begun to read the obituaries, recognizing our peers.
We lose our shape. Once the age-related spreading begins, we may just feel like letting it all go. Why bother? The good and not so good news is: It is not too late to recover much of what has been lost, but it will take some commitment and work. Still, it is worthwhile and rewarding to reclaim a more youthful, attractive body while, at the same time, being realistic and acknowledging that you will never look 20 years old again. But even more than how we look, by taking the extra weight off through a regular program of exercise and eating well, we will help to ensure that we feel good with a renewed vitality and a zest for life.
Recognizing the gains of getting older
On the other hand, as we act our age, we may notice some positive aspects. We have more time and more freedom with a less scheduled life and fewer responsibilities. We are slowing down or ending our work life; our parenting duties are mostly gone. We are liking the idea of simplifying and of having more fun.
We are, if fortunate, grateful for our body and take better care of it, better than ever before. We could get away with far more when we were younger.
We have more peacefulness, are more accepting and compassionate with ourselves and others. Our spiritual life has grown.
Growing older is not a piece of cake, but with the right ingredients, it may very well be the best time of our lives.
Angelena Craig of Newburyport is the director of The New Aging Movement and a professional-level yoga instructor. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or e-mail email@example.com.
“Once a parent, always a parent”, so the saying goes. But how do we parent our kids once they are adults? What do they need from us now, now that they are grown and probably out of the home? And, what can we expect from them?
There are many variations of the adult child/parent relationship, some of them satisfying and others not so.
Ideally, families remain as a unit and when the children leave the home, they are not really gone. They stay close in touch; the family is tight. There may be frequent phone calls or if they are near, weekly visits. Even if the children have moved far away, still they are often in contact and the family is very much involved in each other’s lives. When there are grandchildren, you play an important role in their lives, perhaps continuing to care give and be like a second set of parents to the children of your children. This situation is ideal, the big happy family so many of us have longed for.
But more often than not in our complex society, this may not be the case.
Perhaps the nest never emptied, the grown children have not left or they have come back to live at home. They still need you, more than you might have hoped for. The reasons for a returning child may be they have had a terribly disruptive divorce, or lost a job and their income, or they just have difficulty growing up. In this case you may not be happy about the situation and wish they would move on because you want your home to yourself, and besides you think it would be better for them as well.
In still other families there may be serious alienation, with bad feelings between you and your children. In extreme cases the breach is so strong that you are no longer talking. This situation may have come about from a long-standing, ongoing feud, or maybe a recent fall out. In some cases, it could be caused by a difficult son or daughter-in-law who has introduced a rift into your own relationship with your child. Sometimes the cause of the separation is the children simply do not approve of your choice in a new partner.
Whatever the reason for this estrangement, it most likely is up to you, as the more mature and experienced adult, to do everything possible to heal the relationship; sometimes family therapy can help.
In the fourth and perhaps most common case, your grown children are independent, busy with other demands and responsibilities. They have “a life” and sadly you are no longer a really big part of it. You have raised healthy children who know how to take care of themselves. They do not carry the same burden of guilt you yourself may have grown up with, and sometimes you might wish they had just a little, as a motivator in becoming closer to you!
If this is like your family now, you probably see the children occasionally, but it is almost always you who are the one making the call and initiating the effort. It is clear you are not really high up on their list of priorities. When you do get together, you love it, having a little piece of them, but you may feel sad and wistful when you have to separate. It seems it is never enough, and you want more. But, you will take whatever you can get of their time and energy. You understand this is how it has to be. You do know your children love you and would be there if there were a big need, like a crisis, but right now “they’re just not that into you.”
Whether there is closeness or distance between parents and children of any age, it’s good to keep in mind the wise words of Khalil Gabran.
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”
If you were able to look further down the road to a time when inevitably you become aged and probably less able to care for your self, you might see the roles reversing. Your children now are called upon to be your caregiver, to make the decisions for you and watch out for you.
What goes around does come around, in this cyclical nature of life.
Someone, somewhere may have given you the distinct impression when arriving at the retirement age, it meant coming into “The Golden Age”, a time when all the striving and stressing, the trying to get ahead and make your mark on this world, all this would be over. Then you could “retire”, languishing in luxury while on perennial vacation. This was to be the time in life when all the work, including the raising of the children, would be done and it would come back to you...the pay off for a life well-lived.
For boomers, it may not have worked out exactly like that. Instead there may be sudden job loss forcing early retirement or no pension to look forward to, or living on small savings, while hoping social security comes in, just in time to supply necessary additional income. What if we don’t outlive out savings? This is a worrisome thought crossing many minds.
Health issues might also get in the way of enjoying this time in life. Sometimes ill health is age-related, perhaps an unhealthy life style finally catching up, or for no reason at all you feel your health declining. Having pain or limitations from a once healthy body is a huge challenge. How can you get to a feeling of happiness with all your free time when you may not feel all that well?
But no matter what is dealt to us, attitude, how we think about things, can make a huge difference as we move along in age. It is best not to dwell on the losses (legitimate though they are) but rather focus on the gains. We have all heard the best thing about aging is wisdom gained through experience. Especially if we have paid attention, we may have learned some important life lessons. Certainly our coping skills increase and so we are probably better able to manage our challenges.
With age, we may see that the materialistic goals, once thought to be so important, are no longer leading us around, and instead we may choose to downsize and simplify our lives.
We become better at relationships, having learned the value of good communication skills and how to compromise and most importantly, forgiveness.
In the retirement years before us we have much more time for recreation, maybe learning or relearning a skill or pursuing the arts and crafts we have put off, or tending to the garden. There is more time for visiting distant family and friends or going on those long held dreams of vacationing in a leisurely way.
One of the best payoffs of getting older is we are now able to follow our own rhythm and answer only to our selves. No alarm clocks to deal with, disturbing our sleep then rushing to get dressed, put something in the belly, deal with traffic, report into the job and spend eight or more hours doing work which may or may not please us. Freedom from all that makes getting older palpable, at least, and leads to true happiness for some.
Our generation is forging new aging territory, very different than those who came before. Our economic base may not be as strong as it was for our parents, but we have more options when we consider how to live out the last third of our lives. By the time we reach the elder years (so much more revered and appreciated in many other cultures) we may arrive at a place of acceptance that getting “old” is just one more life transition so why not sit back and enjoy the way it is, just as it is.
by Angelena Craig
Have you seen the bumper sticker that advises us to “Question Authority”?
I think it is good thing to ask questions of our leaders, but I doubt it will help much bringing clarity as to why our nation is in trouble, on so many fronts. For starters, we live in a country politically divided, perhaps as never before. The constant friction within our government keeps forward motion and progress impeded.
Most people I know are feeling totally powerless to bring about change, or unification, or having any way to influence the course of our own future.
I do recall the outrage and passion so many felt in the 60’s and early 70’s. People left the comfort of their homes and gathered in public places. There were sit-ins and marches. Changes to the system came about because we organized and spoke out about such things as the intolerable injustices toward people of color and toward women. Young people burnt their draft cards or ran away to Canada making a loud statement. Finally the unpopular and costly war in Vietnam came to an end. We, the people, spoke and thereby made a huge difference in the course of history.
But that was another era.
Now, 2011, we just gripe to one another. We can see the results of global warming, the natural disasters coming like never before, the energy crisis, job losses, the real estate market, rising costs for health care, food and gas, unfair tax divisions, our involvement in wars we can never win, and more. So we complain. That is all it seems we can do.
There is some comic relief from all of this as we find amusement each time another of our celebrity/heroes falls from grace. Having abused their power and their need for sexual gratification, they inevitably get caught and bring disgrace upon themselves. It makes for great gossip, but no surprise.
I recently heard the progressive radio talk show host, Thom Hartmann, interview a man who gives seminars about getting involved in local government. This activist was proud to be the second generation in a family who were taking responsibility and stepping up as leaders of their hometown.
Hartmann asked why he thought too few had any interest in local politics. His answer gave me pause as he pointed out most of us are only too happy to anesthetize ourselves with distractions. He mentioned the technology, the instant messaging keeping us busy. He also pointed out most people stay at home as much as possible, becoming addicted to the soaps, reality tv, and the talent shows.
I could relate to what he was saying for I too am guilty of using distractions to better ignore or forget what is going on, in the real world. I confess to numbing myself by playing computer scrabble or occasionally watching a reality show. If one does not put up strong resistance, it is easy to become totally involved in someone else’s life. Whether the story line is they are trying to loose weight or find their one and only mate, it feels so real.
I also admit to lately being a bit caught up in “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol”. Surprisingly I found I cared about who had to leave the show, who moved forward and who won the contest, week after week of watching. Although I did not go so far as to caste my vote, amazingly the figure was a record-breaking 122.4 million votes counted for the final Idol show. That is a lot of folks sitting in front of their television and caring enough to take some action in picking the winner.
What if there was a call-in show and we could vote for the issues that determine the quality of our lives? What if we really were a government for and by the people? What if, just as the majority of viewers spoke in choosing seventeen year old Scotty to be designated our “America’s Idol”, what if our voice through our vote could be caste for something that mattered? And what if after the votes were counted, we could see timely action on the part of our leaders to give us what the majority wants?
I don’t have the answers but I do care enough to question and wonder why we, the people, are not able to do more than ignore or just mutter about what is happening all around us and to us.
When is enough, enough?
When was the last time you took a real vacation, spent at least a week away from your normal reality to see and do something different? Or maybe you chose instead to use your paid vacation days to do nothing out of the ordinary, just chill with family and friends.
A vacation is generally thought of as a specific trip somewhere, usually for the purpose of recreation, or being a tourist. Many, but not all, consider periodic vacations as definite necessities, seeing how important and valuable it is to take the time...to recharge, relax and release all the worries, to take a break from fretting over the daily problems.
Happiness research indicates it is better to focus on our experiences, rather than the “stuff” we buy and live with. People who take vacations report higher levels of happiness than those who buy a bigger house or a more expensive car. It seems our memories keep an emotional photograph of the experience, whereas the material things don’t make as big an imprint in our brains.
Beyond getting to a happier place, an experience of a vacation might be life-altering, showing you something new about yourself and the world around you. Taking a vacation can sometimes be the trigger that moves your life in a whole new direction.
Expedia, the online travel company, did a world wide study on this topic of vacation deprivation. Whereas in Europe workers are offered up to 30 days vacation, Americans often have only ten days of paid time off per year. Expedia found often many of the possible days off went used. The primary reason for unused vacation time, the data showed, was affordability of course, but others reported they hadn’t schedule the time off far enough in advance, or if they did get away, they were never able to leave work far behind and therefore the vacation was not relaxing or very enjoyable.
When we do go on vacation, visiting other US cities or resort areas is a favorite choice for Americans. Taking a cruise, (until recently thought of as a safe and sure bet) is a popular all-inclusive selection, especially if you like to eat mounds of tasty food available all day and night, and see the sights or shop in the landing ports. The majority of Americans do not explore overseas travel as their vacation destination.
When beginning vacation planning, consider if you might need a romantic getaway, or a visit to a gambling mecca, maybe take the whole family away for fun and bonding. Or, if you are so inclined, you could spend the week at a naturalist camp for a sense of more freedom, or if you are wanting to improve body/mind/spirit, join a yoga retreat or week-long personal growth workshop offered in an enticing venue.
For some, there is the opportunity to take a longer break from the career, such as a sabbatical offered to tenured college teachers. If you have a profession that can be done anywhere, in any city or country, doing the work from a more desirable location, like somewhere hot and sunny in the winter, is an option as well.
As a yoga teacher and writer, I am one of the fortunate ones who can periodically change locales. When I review the many decades of my life, I see every ten years or so I “dropped out” from my usual way of living, and “tuned in” to a very different culture. For now, I am once again immersing myself in the culture of Jamaica, the West Indies land I have called my second home for thirty years. Living here can be a real test of adaptability, and sometimes courage. I see the expansiveness it brings, the stretching and strengthening that comes from moving off my comfort level, while I discover different partS of myself that have lain dormant. I am able to live with a lot less than when I am in my American lifestyle. I find it freeing to be without much of the clutter. No TV, living with a couple of dishes, a pot and a pan used on a two burner propane stove. Preparing meals takes more time and planning, but, really, I have all the time I want to become more creative in the kitchen and in my mind.
In the Caribbean you often hear “soon come”, which means “don’t hold your breath”. The slow, very slow, pace of life is in tune with following the Yogic Way. There is no choice but to be here now, in the moment, and stop pushing in the usual manner to get somewhere, fast. Hurry is simply not a part of the culture.
Having the time and the resources to live as I do, reminds me each day to count my blessings, one by one.
At the top of my daily list of gratitude is, for starters, being alive, having a healthy body, and, for now, living in what some call paradise.
Dancing has become prime time entertainment. ‘So You Think Can Dance”, Dancing with the Stars”, and the latest, “Live to Dance” offers thrilling competitions; they are a great spectator sport. But you may recall a time when you yourself once loved to dance.
Maybe as a child you turned the radio on and danced around the house, feeling joyful, graceful, free. Later your parents may have given you lessons and you aspired to be a great ballerina or tap dancer While you were still in school, there were opportunities to go out to a dance with your friends or on a date.
But then, somehow the seriousness of life including marriage, babies, job responsibilities, got in the way. You put the pleasure of dancing behind you, never again to revisit it again.
Now that the kids are grown and you may be feeling less pressure to push hard and get ahead, you have more time to devote to yourself and find ways to have more fun, like dancing again.
I do believe we are all dancers, that knowing how to dance is innate and embedded in our DNA. Since the very beginning of time there has always been the call of drums and the response, to dance. It is so in every culture.
So what stops us from exploring what comes naturally?
We become self conscious and self critical, afraid of making a fool of our self. The inner dialogue may include....
“I don’t know how to dance.
“I’m too fat or too old or too clumsy.
“People are watching and laughing at me”.
“And besides I have no one to dance with.”
These are but poor excuses, preventing you from enjoying a wonderful form of exercise. You may have heard the adage,”Dance as if no one is watching.” In fact, probably no one else is paying attention to you on the dance floor; they are too busy enjoying themselves. Expressing your self through dance requires you drop the self judgments and make peace with your very own unique and individual ways of moving.
Beside the joy of dancing, consider the health reasons. As aging boomers (I know this fact is hard to admit) it is important to know the latest scientific research which has found dancing is helpful in preventing or slowing down all forms of brain disease, including Alzheimer's. Dancing forces the brain to organize, plan and use judgment. Dancing brings in additional oxygen and coordinates the large muscles. It strengthens you, makes you more flexible and unblocks stuck energy. It can be an invaluable tool in slowing down the aging process.
If you are wondering where can you dance, there are many opportunities to explore this forgotten part of your life, right here in our town. One choice, especially if you have a partner, is to take professional ballroom or latin classes.
Several local clubs offer DJ or live music on the weekends. If you decide to go out dancing, bring a friend along or, if you dare, venture out, alone. Dancing folks tend to be friendly and you might meet a new dance partner.
The are several schools in the area where adults can study all kinds of dance including jazz, ballet, african or belly dance.
Or you might prefer joining dance-workout classes at a health club or at the Y. Zumba is the latest workout craze. Importantly, It gets the heart rate up. The choreography is fun and expressive of the music which ranges from latin to hip hop, charleston, tango or belly dance.
No matter what your age or size you can do zumba, as long as you have patience to stay with it and the ability to follow the somewhat complicated and fast moving choreography. After awhile you may notice the extra weight starts to come off, the belly goes down, the waist line gets smaller, your legs and arms become more toned and you realize what you have been missing all these years.
Boomers, now is our time to celebrate life as we keep moving upward and onward... so get up and dance.
LETS NOT GO THERE
by Angelena Craig
"There" is the current topic, death and dying.
For many of us, it is taboo to even discuss it. We push it away, distancing ourselves, pretending dying and death are not inevitable.
If the reader is willing, let's take a look at what is in store for us at the end of our life, acknowledging that it is, of course, "the great unknown," and that not knowing can be a really scary thing.
As boomers, every week, we may hear of someone we know who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. All the best doctors, surgeries and medications may not be able to bring back their health, and this coming loss seems more than we can bear.
When death occurs without warning, suddenly and out of the blue, we have no way to prepare. When a seemingly healthy person collapses and dies, or there is a fatal car accident, it is shocking and traumatic. We struggle to make sense of something that makes no sense, of a life over much too soon.
It is those who are left behind who suffer the most, sometimes becoming despondent for years or even an entire lifetime, as they grieve their loss
Releasing our attachment to the suffering can be a huge step.
The topic of death and dying may require us to give some attention and thought to this natural part of life.
It may be seen as one more step on our journey from birth, through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age and then letting go of our body.
Does the losing of our body and our mind as we move into "the great unknown" have to be dreaded and feared? Is it better to live in denial and make believe that somehow life on this earth goes on forever?
It does help to have a spiritual foundation — something that you believe to be true about life and death.
If your belief system is a positive one, rather than the threat that you will, upon dying, visit hell and damnation, this topic is much less frightening.
You may follow a religion or not, but to have some understanding of "the bigger picture" can be important when you consider the transitions ahead.
Personally, I appreciate the assurance of the ancient Hindu scripture, The Bhagavad Gita. "There has never been a time when you have not existed, nor will there be a time when you will cease to exist. You were never born nor will you ever die. It is only the body which is born and which will die. Your real Self is not the body. The eternal Self inhabits the body through childhood, youth and old age."
Another approach to the fear of dying is to consider what countless people have said about their "near-death" experiences. There is usually a common thread. They see themselves passing through a tunnel toward the light. Greeting them are loving guides to help them to the next destination. Those who return report that they are told that their time is not yet over, and there is more to do. Those who survive tell us it is a pleasant and deeply moving experience to be so near to death.
Just recently, it was reported that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, right before he passed, said goodbye to his gathered family and looked beyond them and said, "Oh, wow, oh, wow, oh wow."
So, what's to fear? The unknown? Surrendering control?
Of course, the dying itself can be really hard to take. Being prepared and making end-of-life decisions can help assure things are in order. You can take care of the proxies and appoint trustees of your estate, but have you planned how you want to die if you get really sick and there is little to no hope?
You may have watched a loved one needlessly suffer, on medications and living with tubes and machines, while the doctors tried to save his or her life. You may have waited for a miracle that never came. There were no choices at the end of life. But now, we in Massachusetts have the opportunity (as has been approved in Oregon and Washington) to pass Death with Dignity, a bill that will be put before voters in 2012, which gives terminal patients a choice in planning their death.
This legislation — which includes strict safeguards — will guarantee that, if you are of sound mind and you have no more than six months to live, you may request a prescription from the doctor that allows you to self-medicate and end your life in a dignified manner.
You may choose the time, the place, and invite loved ones to be with you in those final moments. You can choose to be in your home, or in hospice, or in the hospital.
Never before have we had this choice. I, for one, will sign the petition to make sure we see it on the 2012 ballot. Then, I may feel even more positive about my "ending" when it comes, while believing that, really, there is no end.http://www.compassionandchoices.org/2011/11/07/boomer-talk-lets-not-go-there/
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Angelena Craig of Newburyport is the director of The New Aging Movement and a professional-level yoga instructor. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.