Age is a State of Mind

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Photos are of the of the gals I grew up with from Live Oak at a recent gathering. Jean Ann Kozlowski is the photographer!

My friend Leah blogged about anti-aging today. She maintains that she is pro-aging because the alternative to aging is dying. She said checking out is the ultimate in anti-aging, and she wants to live life to the fullest every day of her life, wrinkles and all. I’m with her. I guess I’m pro-aging, too. I’m planning on hitting the 100 year mark standing up – ,maybe on a surfboard.

A 51 year old friend of mine told me he was getting old. He was lamenting about something that he used to do, and he just was too old to hang with that anymore. It shocked me because this guy is not one of the “getting old” types. There are people my age who are old, and there are people my age who are young. Some of it is genetics and the luck of the draw with good health, but it’s mostly a matter of attitude. I can tell you that I feel as young physically as I did in my mid-30s. I ran my first marathon at age 48, and I started running just 3 years before that. I went to Costa Rica and learned how to surf at 51 along with some 60 something friends. I’m not an anomaly. Fifty-two is not old.

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Momma would have been 52 when I was 32, so she would have been my age right about the time I got my first divorce. Daddy is a couple of years older than her. Since that time, they’ve traveled all over the United States, camped and followed the Lewis and Clark trail, moved to Pierre Part and started a yearly working trip to Red River NM. Momma walked a half marathon with me in New Orleans the year Katrina hit. Daddy ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot in New Orleans with me two years ago. And, Daddy just published his 4th book – ALL written after he was well past my age. I’m sure they look back at 52 and think how young they were, and I imagine I’ll do the same. So, I’m not going to waste my time and energy now acting like I’m old when I’ll regret that when I’m 80, 90 and at last, 100 years old.

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I met an author that wrote a book about centenarians in a Barnes and Noble in Indiana. She had done a series on NPR about centarians. She’d found them all over the country – some 53,000 of them in 2010. She expected that they would reminisce about all of the changes int he world they’d seen in her lifetime. Her interviews were designed to pull out their memories and listen to their hindsight. But, no – she said they didn’t want to talk about the past. They were living in the present. They wanted to talk about the future. She said their phones rang off the hook while she visited with phone calls from people of all ages – not checking on them – asking them to do things. She said there were 3 things that were common in centenarians:

  • They ate everything in moderation. No one particular diet seemed important.
  • They had a positive attitude about life.
  • They were socially connected.

Hmmmmmm…. She said she made friends with a woman that was 107. She had a male friend in another state that was 105. She thought they would hit it off. They met, fell in love and got married. They were very happy. Their families weren’t. They were worried they were too old and couldn’t adapt to a new lifestyle in a new location. They lived happily married for 3 years until one of them died. I think that’s pretty sweet. I’d like to have danced at their wedding.  I wonder if they would have described me as old. Yeah….. no.

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If you google how to stay young or how not to be old, there are all kinds of articles from different sources. But, the tips are the same. Here are some of the ones I see over and over. We all know what they are:

  1. Stop eating so much and eat the right things.
  2. Exercise and use your body.
  3. Double your sexual activity or find something that you are passionate about.
  4. Stay connected with others.
  5. Keep learning to keep your brain active.
  6. Reduce stress … exercise, yoga, drink green tea instead of coffee.
  7. Enjoy life. Enjoy every moment.

The three things that the centenarian researcher mentioned are in this list. Having a positive attitude is so critical. If I go into life with the attitude that my friend Leah has, I’m going to be curious…. eager … less stressed and worried … and smiling. How can that not make you feel younger? I remember one of my deceased relatives used to complain, “It’s hell getting old.” When I do the math now, she was in her 40s when she started that, and she lived to be over 80. She wasn’t old physically, but she stopped being young. That was a choice not a sentence. Staying socially connected is important because we are ultimately spiritual beings. We need deep connections with each other to make life worthwhile. Some of the unhappiest young people I know are lonely. You don’t have to be old to know that horrible existence. And, of course, eating in moderation is the key…. garbage in, garbage out.

If you think about it, all of these things are about using what you have. Use your attitude to color your world. Practice gratitude for the years you have before you and for today. The present moment is so precious and fleeting. Use your brain, use your sex organs, use your hormones that course through your body to keep everything working the way it should. Use your muscles in exercise. Use your heart to love and be connected to others. Use your wisdom to give back to the world and feel valued. Use your inner’s body’s wisdom on what’s healthy to eat. If you eat crap, you feel like crap. If you don’t believe it, give up the junk for a month. See how you feel. Use it or lose it. It’s that old motto, and it applies to getting older.

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They say that the body starts to shut down because of atrophy not because of aging itself. Sure, there is a turning point where we age, but I’m a long way away from that. Statistics show if you make it past 55 or 60, you have an excellent chance of living another 15-20 years. Momma said she noticed this in her lifetime. There was a rash of deaths in her peer group in her mid-50s due to disease, but then it settled down and now she’s seeing it again in her seventies. I have a friend whose Dad runs sprints in the Senior Olympics and has for years. I know he’s in his mid-70s. My parents still drive across the country several times a year and run a campground up in the mountains. They are alive in every sense of the word. They have all been an inspiration to me that life does not stop because of wrinkles or sagging skin.

I just planned a trip to Austin at the end of October. I’m running a 10 miler with my 29 year old trainer and spending the weekend with her twenty-something roommates. They were excited about hosting me. We got tickets to a country concert with Pat Green the night before the race. My young friend texted me that she was so excited about going to this concert with me. I’m still fun! She’s not doing this because she feels sorry for this old lady. Youth is a frame of mind. I’m with Leah… I’m pro-aging. Bring it on. I’m going to show these youngsters how it’s done.

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Me and Jessica… decades apart in age

6 thoughts on “Age is a State of Mind

  1. Absolutely love your stories, so inspiring and motivating! I’m feeling younger than ever! Love all the pics! Us Live Oak gals still having fun and lookin good! Lol! Feel as if we all picked up right where we left off!!

  2. Love hearing about all the fun things you are doing, and your take on the subject of aging, my friend! Interesting hearing about the folks who are still thriving at 100.

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