August 30, 2010

Getting Back in the Water

As some of you know, I use to be a competitive swimmer. This summer I got back in the pool for the first time since college to begin training to race again for my 50th birthday with the Minuteman Masters Swim Club.  For years I’ve been curious to find out how fast I can swim at this ripe old age. I for sure am not as strong right now as I was thirty years ago, but I do perhaps have a few things working in my favor in that I am leaner, and eat more healthfully than I did in college, and I'm hopefully more mentally prepared.

Maybe, maybe not….it gives me butterflies in my stomach just writing this.

In high school I use to be a fan of long distance swimmer Diana Nyad who just turned 61. She caught my attention when she first swam across Lake Ontario from my hometown to Toronto. In 1979 she set the world record for the longest consecutive swim ever between the Bahamas and Florida (102.5 miles). She was also the first woman to ever swim around Manhattan Island- breaking the men's record.

In 1978 she attempted to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Key West but was interrupted by rough seas.  I just found out that this year, after not swimming for 30 years, she decided for her 60th birthday to try it again this summer.

Currently Diana and her team are waiting for the weather to clear for her to begin her approx 60-65 hour swimming journey from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage-which hopefully will be any day now.  I've been checking her Facebook page daily for updates, and in my own small way cheering her on. I thought that her attempt at this amazing feat (at any age) might also interest some of you.

See below for a short video interview with Diana Nyad.

Video Clip of Diana Nyad

August 27, 2010

Aging Gracefully by Being Herself

This week’s Beauty of the Week is Sandy Marcy who is 67 years old.  Sandy is a nurse practitioner and said that it took her sixty years to figure out that this occupation is her gift in life, but “is happy that she at least finally caught on!”

Sandy’s daughter is Aldra, who writes one of my favorite blogs Consciously Frugal. Aldra describes her mom as “fierce and tenacious, traits not really valued by society in women of my mother's generation. And she manages to balance it with this huge, generous heart. Watching her over the years has taught me that I am bound by nothing. I get to choose the course of my life. I don't think enough women hear that message from our mothers. The best advice she's ever given me is, "Just keep being yourself. It's the only thing that'll ever work." We're so often taught to hide who we are or to diminish ourselves. My mama encourages me to let my freak flag fly. I think that's the greatest gift a parent can give a kid- space to be who they are and to celebrate them in all their glorious strangeness. My mom is really the embodiment and celebration of an authentic, passionate life. Which is pretty fabulous.”

 Sandy has this to share about aging:
  •  I have no wonderful words of wisdom or how to age with grace.  I have spent most of my time kicking and screaming my way through life.
  •  It took a lot of hard knocks before I realized I had to get out of my way and live my life with what I have been given which is a pleasant, even sweet personality, a love of my fellow man, and concern for their well being. 
  •  I do think people are part of everything on this earth and the universe.  I would love to put my arms around the earth and hug it.  I didn't think that when I was young and full of energy.  
  • I am sort of a pretty woman that has not let the look go away.  In my work, people seem to trust a nice looking face more.  That is sad to say but it is true.  Of course, being nice never seems to be out of fashion.
  •  At 67 I have morphed into someone that I thought I would never be-a super animal lover.  I think it is an old lady thing.  So far, I have nine rescue cats that I adore.  I have developed a love of animals and all things of this earth.
  • Age is just age.  I've had young girls tell me I am a "cool old lady."  Best compliment I have ever received. Cool is cool no matter how old one gets!

Thank you cool old lady for your great thoughts :-)

August 23, 2010

The Sweet Stuff

There isn’t anything I like more than a chocolate chip cookie, or a sundae, or a decadent brownie. I am one of those people who goes for sweets in a heartbeat. Which is a bit of a problem I’m realizing as growing research is pointing to the many health problems caused by eating too much sugar.

Sugar, among other things, causes inflammation and joint pain. Having learned this I've started to take note of how I feel the morning after going to a party, for instance, where I've had more sugary sweets and wine-which is also high in sugar. What I am finding is that the next morning I ache when I get out of bed- especially my feet. I can also feel the inflammation sometimes in my hips, and my hands when I make a fist.

However, being a proponent of eating what you love- I wouldn’t want to eliminate sugar from my diet entirely. But, I have for the most part, started to eat much smaller quantities of it.  I am even able to keep to a “3 bite rule” most of the time. Doing this really helps my joint pain if not all but eliminates it and I have to say that it’s amazing how satisfying three bites of something sweet can be when you know it’s all you are going to eat of it.

Anyway, I am here to say that in terms of aging gracefully, sugar is nasty stuff.  The more you eat it, the more your body craves it, and the stiffer you are probably going to feel. 

So, if you want to feel like a rusty old bike...

Eat lots of sugar :-)

 Photo by Justin Johnson

August 20, 2010

Aging Gracefully with Everything She Likes

This week’s Beauty of the Week is Annie Oakes.  Annie is the owner of the very fabulous vintage store Everything Annie Likes on Webster Street in North Tonawanda, NY.  Filled with an array of great clothes, accessories, and housewares, the store is as fun as Annie is.

Here is what Annie has to say about growing older:

  • Try new things.  I opened this store and had no idea what I was getting into.  So what?  Jump in.  A good part of aging is being less embarrassed about not knowing something or about feeling foolish.  I ran for office and had no idea what I was doing.  Scary - way out of my comfort zone.  Being out of your comfort zone regularly is definitely a good idea.

  • It's maybe the biggest cliche, but being physically active is very important.  When I'm walking, bicycling and  kayaking often, I'm better in spirit.  I often don't feel like exercising but it's well worth the effort.  Sometimes when a group gets together there is too much bitching about our maladies.  Let's assume we all have them and maybe just not talk about them!

    • Lately I've had more young people in my life.  I don't have children and haven't had much interest in youger people until now.  Whether it's a developmental time for me or just that they are nearer to me I like it.  I am the cool aunt (or older person) in their lives.  I feel protective and instructive.  

      • I am 56. Life is good.  I don't care if I look my age, I just don't want to look older than my age.  I don't have many regrets, and I don't want to.  I think this requires saying yes to lots of things.

        Thanks Annie and best of luck with Everything Annie Likes.

        August 17, 2010

        Uncover Your Natural Glow

        Did you know that about once a month our bodies shed a layer of skin? Aging skin especially needs to be buffed and refreshed on a regular basis to revive it’s healthy glow. You’ve probably looked down at your legs from time to time and noticed that they can look dry. All they need is to be rubbed with a towel after a bath or shower to eliminate the old skin and recapture their shine.

        This may be old news to many of you, but the same goes for our faces. If we don’t exfoliate the dry skin on our face, it looks dull and ashen. Dry skin dulls our complexion and exfoliating allows our freshest, most radiant skin to shine through. Kind of like buffing an apple! I learned this trick many years ago in an article that interviewed model Christie Brinkley about her love of exfoliating.

        To remove old cells on our face and body is easy. And we don’t need to get fancy and spend a gazillion dollars. I usually do it in the shower every few weeks with a facecloth and a bit of soap. You can also use a soft loofah and a homemade salt rub. I’ve even heard you can use leftover coffee grounds ( ooh... ick? )

        Remember that if you can’t pronounce what it is in a store bought exfoliator then you probably don’t want it on your skin.

        Here is a great natural exfoliator that you can easily make at home:

        1/8 cup of olive oil and a heaping tablespoon of fine sea salt. You can also use honey and a bit of water instead of olive oil. Another good combination is almond oil and sugar.

        Have fun uncovering your natural glow my beauties :-)

        August 13, 2010

        Aging Gracefully with Modeling

        Photo by John W.Hession

        This week’s Beauty of the Week is Kirsten Hede-Brierley, who will soon be 47 years old.

        Kirsten came to New York in 1985 from Denmark on a 3-week modeling job/exchange between agencies. She didn't plan to stay in the US, but after meeting her American man "Prince Charming" Andrew, she changed her mind. They have now been happily married for 22 years.

        Kirsten worked full-time for 7 years as a successful fashion model in New York, Boston, and Denmark. She retired from modeling to have two children. The kids are nearly full-grown: a son in college, and a daughter in high school.
        In 2006, when the advertising market was ready to feature mature women over the age of 30, Kirsten restarted her modeling career. She signed with 6 modeling agencies, one in each New England state, including Maggie Inc in Boston.

        Kirsten has many good thoughts on aging:

        Growing up in Denmark, she stressed her parents as being great role models who placed emphasis on having a dependable lifestyle and a daily routine, with healthy food, bedtimes, exercise, and balance in all matters.

        Kirsten likes to seek inner peace in a daily break from a busy life by taking a 20-minute afternoon nap, and through spirituality like Anthroposophy/Waldorf School where her kids went to elementary school.

        Cassandra Zampini Photography

        She strives to enjoy life, to be in the moment, and to try to reach out to old and young in her neighborhood and community. She loves to spend time with new and old friends from all walks of life. Her pets (cats and birds) give unconditional love. Kirsten previously had a nursing home therapy dog, and now has an abused/rescued mutt who needs a lot of love.

        Kirsten tries to be aware of the phases in one’s life - not just physical but spiritual as well. Astrology is an added inspiration in her life. Professional Astrologer and friend Eric Linter’s daily forecast "is like checking the weather before you go out."

        It’s important to be yourself and be grounded, and have a daily good belly laugh. Don't worry too much over the things we can't change, like aging and getting wrinkles. Keep your soul and spirit fed, and grow by reading, traveling and meeting all kinds of different people in domestic and foreign countries and cultures.

        A good marriage is built on love, communication, friendship, and respect. Raising two caring, bright, now nearly "launched" kids, has brought my husband and me much joy and happiness.

        In closing, Kirsten shared this poem by Danish poet Piet Hein:

        while you've got
        love to give.

        while you've got
        life to live.

        Thank you Kirsten and best of luck in your continued success with modeling.

        August 09, 2010

        Cry Yourself a River

        I’ve always thought that if a movie doesn’t at least bring me to the edge of tears than it usually isn't worth watching, unless of course it's a really good comedy.  Generally I tend to be a bit of a crier, but I have hardly shed a tear lately. I thought I’d hit menopause and cry myself a river but so far this has happened only a handful of times. Which in one way has been a relief…if you know what I mean.  Still, having a good cry always makes me feel better, whether they are tears of sadness or of joy. My hunch is that I need to slow down long enough to cry. But, that’s a subject for another day, dear readers…

        I thought I’d check out my favorite doctor, Christiane Northrup’s, take on crying.  In Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom she explains, “Crying is one of the ways in which we rid our bodies of toxins. Crying allows us to move energy around our body and sometimes to rechannel it or understand it a different way.”

        I read elsewhere that crying releases harmful toxins and stress hormones. Suppressed emotions can make us feel depressed and need to be released. Crying is one of the healthiest ways to do this and it helps keep depression at bay. Tears lift our mood because they release endorphins (just like exercising, thank heavens) that act as mood elevators and painkillers. That’s why we feel so much better after a good cry. Crying relieves stress and helps calm us, as does laughter. We need both tears and laughter in our lives.

        I also found some good quotes about crying:

        • To weep is to make less the depth of grief. - William Shakespeare

          • The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.  ~Henry Maudsley

            • Time engraves our faces with all the tears we have not shed.  ~Natalie Clifford Barney

              • Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.  ~Christian Nevell Bovee

                • The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea.  ~Isak Dinesen 

                  And I leave you with this last one:

                  • Let your tears come.  Let them water your soul.  ~Eileen Mayhew

                  August 06, 2010

                  Aging Gracefully with Honor

                  This week's Beauty of the Week is Marlou Russell who is a psychologist and marriage and family therapist who specializes in helping people understand the lifelong impact of adoption. Marlou (Margaret Louise) has a private practice in Santa Monica, CA, is a lecturer, and is also the author of the well received book Adoption Wisdom.

                  Marlou has this to share with us about aging gracefully:

                  I love being in my 50s! I worry less and appreciate more. I know that listening to my intuition steers me in the right direction, and I trust that life will take me where I need to go.

                  I love having gray in my hair, not wearing make-up, and wearing flats.

                  Looking back I can see that my life experiences have melded together to form the person I am, the profession I chose, and the kind of life I am leading.

                  I have been led to celebrating my age by having wonderful women in my life who embraced their gray, their wrinkles, their foibles, and their wisdom. These amazing people showed me the value of personal stories, the spunkiness in speaking one’s mind, and the connection that occurs when someone listens.

                  I attempt to honor these women by living my life as they lived theirs – by being in the present moment, staying true to myself, and remembering that a kind deed is not soon forgotten.

                  Thank you Marlou for your wonderful words of wisdom.

                  August 03, 2010

                  Our Sex Lives and Aging

                  It's been such a busy summer that I haven’t yet been able to read The Beauty of Aging- A Women’s Guide to Joyful Living but I was able to visit author Angela Paul’s website and was inspired with many things the fifty-five year old author, model, and life coach had to share in her video about growing older. Angela is married to Alan Paul from the forty-year-old band Manhattan Transfer.

                  Some of Angela's words of wisdom are:

                  • Don’t get caught up in the media’s perspective of what beauty is suppose to be about. Everything we see is just an illusion.
                  • Focus on yourself from the inside out.
                  • Have a good sense of yourself.
                  • Meditation and silence are very important.
                  •  And so is sleep. Take time to rest when we're tired.
                  But here is the best thing which echoes what Christiane Northrup says in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom:

                  • Sex is even more important as we age. Sex is key to good health emotionally and mentally, but a good sex life is also very important for us physically even into our 80's.
                  Good news don't you think?

                  Great to know that orgasms are right in there with eating well, exercising, and getting a good nights sleep :-)

                  Be sure to check out Angela’s 50 tips for aging beautifully when you have a minute here.