Tag Archives: active mind alzheimer’s growing younger health healthy mind

Sunsets and Sunrises

Sunset

Ducks on the lake at sunset

“Sunsets are the prelude to another beautiful day.  And whatever happens the sun will rise tomorrow.”
Judith Baxter

We know that whatever has happened in our lives today the sun will set and then tomorrow the sun will rise again bringing a brand new day with its promise.  This is immutable a constant in our lives and cannot be changed.

We might want this day to last for longer than 24 hours because we are enjoying it so much or we might not want tomorrow to come because we dread what it might/will bring.  But we cannot stop time; we cannot stop one day moving into the next.  We can only hope that each new day will bring some joy into our lives.

As the song says :

“Sunrise sunset sunrise sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Sunrise sunset sunrise sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.”

And would we want it any other way?  In this ever changing world these two things, sunset and sunrise are immutable.  We can rely on these things happening even when everything else in our lives seem to be off-key or out of balance.

I love the quote from Max Lucado, author, preacher  1955 –

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”

It applies equally to sunsets.

This post was inspired by the Island Traveler.  Read his post on sunsets here.
His photographs are magical and his accompanying words are worth reading.

My September Years

“One day you turn around and it’s summer
Next day you turn around and it’s fall
And the springs and the winters of a lifetime
Whatever happened to them all?”
So sang Frank Sinatra –
listen to the song here

Autumn

As one grows older and has time to look back, we can marvel at the many things we have seen and done.  The people we have met, the places we have visited.  We can also perhaps ponder on the road not taken and the options and opportunities not taken up.

I consider myself to have been immensely fortunate throughout my life.  I was brought up in London during and after the Second World War by two loving and supportive parents.  From reading some of the blogs, I know that not everybody was that fortunate.

I married at a young age (19) and stayed married to that man until he died 41 years later.  Of course, there were bumps along the road, what good marriage hasn’t survived a few of those, but in the main it was very good.

We travelled around the world because my husband worked for an international company and was transferred to different places.  Consequently, my children learned to fit into new places and to make friends easily; they can enter a room knowing nobody and within a few minutes be in the middle of a conversation with a group of people.  Luckily, I have always found making new friends easy.

The busy years were good and full for all of us.  And the years that followed after the children left home,  when we had only each other to concern ourselves with were also very good.  We were able to do all the things we had planned and when my husband retired early we took trips to parts of the world we had always wanted to see.  I had only just started my own business at the time, and as I was some 10 years younger than he, was not ready to retire.  But we often talked about what we would do when I retired.

But as Charles Aznavour sings The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned and The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men (Robert Burns “To a Mouse”) then needed to be adapted to this new life I now live alone.

The places we still had left to visit after my husband died will remain unvisited.  Travelling is not nearly as exciting or interesting on one’s own.  Who wants to marvel at a fantastic view or a beautiful painting if there is nobody to discuss it with then or later over a glass of wine?  These things and places will remain unvisited by me.  In some ways I am now an onlooker in life.  I see others doing the things we planned.  I see others walking into the sunset holding hands and am slightly envious that they still have each other.

Having said that, I am still making memories each day, with my friends and family.  My grandsons never fail to amaze me at what they do, what they already know and what they are learning.  They certainly will learn so much more than I’ll ever know.  How lucky am I that I get to share in parts of their lives.

“But now the days grow short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs, and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year”

Apart from a couple of hiccups along the way – a brush with osteomyelitis and breast cancer and the death of my husband and both parents, all my years have been good.   I am very thankful for that and look forward to the next years being as good.

And just because I like this picture and Marilyn Monroe’s quote –

Red Shoes

If only I was still able to wear those heels I would really be in my element!

“I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot!”Marilyn Monroe

A Winter Week in the Country

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money and they can take away your health; but no one can ever take away your precious memories.” Judith Baxter 1938 –

I read this blog from 1959duke today and I thought I should like to share another of my memories.

It came upon me very gradually.  I had been on my own for 4 years  following my husband’s sudden death of after 41 years of marriage.  My sister in America, had to cancel her visit to me for health reasons and in all, it seemed that my life was at a standstill.  I was waiting for something to happen.  Then I realized I had to make it happen.

I decided that I would visit my sister in LA for several weeks and then go on to my other sister and father in London.  But there is always a question of money when one goes away for any length of time.

At the time, the New Zealand dollar was so weak that everything became exorbitantly expensive when one was traveling.  Through a friend I had heard of a company in the UK that arranged short-term placements for companion/housekeepers.  So the first move was to get information from that company and once it was established that I did qualify to work for them, other arrangements were made.  The apartment was leased for four months which gave me time to decide what I was going to do and where I was going to live.

Having visited with my sister is LA I went to London to spend Christmas with my father and my other sister and her family.

Just before Christmas I went to the agency that was to arrange a job for me.  They had only one position to offer me.  This was with an elderly (89-year-old widow) who lived alone in a small village outside Chichester.  This is not an area with which I am familiar.  I met the client a couple of days before Christmas and it was decided that we would have a trial period of two weeks, commencing early January.

The day I was to start working in Sussex I woke up to a ‘winter wonderland’.  London totally covered in snow.  All the road and rail travel in chaos.  I took a  taxi to Victoria Station to go to Chichester.

I had a very interesting train ride  during which I met two South African women who had been acting as companion/carers, one for a period of 8 months and the other for 4 months.  Their motivation for doing this was to be able to purchase a property when they returned to Johannesburg. Neither of them was particularly happy in their work and did their best to put me off.

Snow in chichester

Chichester Photo Ashley Stevens

Arriving in Chichester I took a taxi to Highleigh, my destination and part of a very small village some 6 miles out.  Unfortunately the driver didn’t know the way and of course, neither did I.  Luckily I had my mobile phone and we could call the client for directions.

After taking afternoon tea with my client during which we discussed Christmas and how we had spent it; she was in Tenerife at a great nephew’s wedding and I was in London with my sister’s family; I took time to unpack and settle in.

Eggs

Eggs to be scrambled

Supper was a disaster.  It was decided we would have macaroni cheese.  A very simple dish that even very young children can make. However, the oven’s temperature guide was in Fahrenheit and I am used to Centigrade.  As the resulting macaroni was inedible we settled on scrambled eggs.  Not an auspicious start and particularly as I had been warned by the agency that this was a very demanding woman and nobody had ever managed more than two weeks with her.

Sunday – I woke to find that the oil central heating wasn’t working.  The plumber was in Oxford taking a daughter back to university, so a telephone call to a friend of the house-owner resulted in taking off with the friend to the nearest large hardware store to buy a heater.  We found two old heaters in the house and so were able to manage until the plumber came on Monday.

Monday dawned wet and windy.  The plumber came but the gardener did not.  He decided that he would rather do extra shifts at the local hostelry and so would not come back to do the garden.

Tuesday started very well.  I took the dog in the car and we then had a lovely walk around the harbor.  But when we returned we noticed that the dog was very quiet.

Perhaps she was exhausted from the walk?  Not so.  She was chewing her way through my handbag to get at the chocolate covered raisins.

Victoria sponge cake

Not content with that, and following being severely chastised, she then took the top off the sponge cake I had put out for afternoon tea.  To complete the day, she then made a big puddle in the sitting room.

On Wednesday we went into town to do some shopping.  Unfortunately, my lady  parked the car facing the wrong way in a one-way street – the result an instant thirty pounds sterling fine.

Peugeot car

Mrs M's car

Later we decided that it was time to call the window cleaner.  He hadn’t been seen for months.  His response was that he was about ready to retire being eligible now for the pension.  He thought he would work only part-time for now and would only go to those clients who paid the most.  Blackmail or what?  So add that to the chronicle of disasters for the week.

Thursday it snowed and  the snow caused chaos in parts of the country.  Motorists were stranded on the M11 one of the busiest motorways and on the M25 the motorway that circles London.  Great outcry about the lack of foresight of the various local bodies and those responsible for applying the grit to the road.

Chichester Cathedral via Wikipedia

Friday dawned another freezing cold day.  I went into the town and explored the Cathedral and the quaint shops and lanes.

Well, then Saturday.  We awoke to find that we had no telephone.  The owner of the house was 89 years old and a trifle frail and therefore, very vulnerable.  Luckily I had my trusty mobile phone but when I did get through to British Telecom I was told that there was a fault outside the house and it could be next Friday before anyone could get around to fixing it.

Old phone

They did tag the call priority, but could make no promises as to when the phone would be in working order once again.  The whole morning was spent chasing British Telecom and the Care Line Service that provides assistance to elderly folk in case of emergencies.

Again, Mathilde (the Dandy Dinmont dog) was very quiet.  The breakfast tray cloth was larger than the tray and yes, you’ve guessed it, Mathilde tugged the cloth and the whole tray fell distributing tea, butter, milk, marmalade etc etc everywhere.  Not only did the floor have to be washed but also the kitchen table and the covers on the kitchen chairs.  Oh happy day!  And we were having guests for lunch!

Malhilde

So to Sunday.  A beautiful clear, frosty day dawned.  We decided we would go to Church.  The Church in the village is 12th century and has been used for worship regularly since then.  It is rather simple but very lovely.  After Church we were taken to lunch at the local country club.  Roast beef was on the menu, so following a dry sherry and a conducted tour of the premises, we all tucked in.

On our return to the cottage we heard the dog barking furiously.  The silly, greedy, little thing had been scavenging in the downstairs cloakroom and got her head stuck in the empty bag that had held dog biscuits.  Not quite frothing at the mouth when we arrived.

So you can see that life in an English village is not uneventful. My family was amazed that I didn’t throw my hands up in disgust and return home.

“To live in lives we leave behind is not to die. So don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.”  Judith Baxter


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So what is it that you fear?

Storm

Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.  Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.  Dr David M Burns.

I am part of a group of women who get together to support and learn from each other.  This is a new group that has had only one meeting so far.  At that meeting it was decided that future meetings would have a ‘theme’ and the ‘theme’ for tonight’s (the second) meeting would be FEAR.

We were asked to put something together about our fears and how we planned to get over them aka move/live through them and come out the other side.

When I sat down to put together my piece for the meeting I thought about the many acronyms for FEAR and several came immediately to mind.

The obvious one is False Expectations Appearing Real but what about

For Everything a Reason

Forget Everything and Run

Forget Everything and Remember

Failure Expected and Received

Face Everything and Rejoice

False Emotions Appearing Real

Forget Everything and Relax

Future Events Appearing Real

Of these my favorite is ‘Face Everything and Rejoice”.

But of course when we usually talk about FEAR it is in the negative sense.  For me, having lived this long and interesting life, there really is nothing I fear except perhaps ending my life as a vegetable.  This could be Alzheimer’s or some other debilitating illness.

MPH LogoEach week at the hospice I see people in the last stages of their life.  By the time they arrive at the hospice they all appear to have accepted that their life is coming to an end.  I don’t fear this as an ending to my life but I would hate to be totally dependent on somebody else for all my needs.

Not since I was a small child have I been dependent on somebody else.  I was inter-dependent with my late husband  for more than 40 years but this is something quite different.  We were mutually supportive of each other.

There are two things that I really dread – losing control of my mind and losing control of my body.

So I am doing everything I can to stop either of these things happening.  I walk up and down the hills of this very hilly suburb in Wellington, on a daily basis.  I walk to the local store and take opportunities to walk when I can.

Golf club and ball

Photo -Karl Nelleson

I play the occasional game of golf with a friend.  Neither of us is particularly good but we love the game and the open air.  I promise to play more golf in the coming months.

I read vociferously.  I love words and word Pile of bookspuzzles and these form part of my everyday life.  I play bridge, not as often as I used to but I promise I will take it up again.  I will find three others to play with on a regular basis.

Playing cards

I will keep on working on these things so that my daughter will never hear me say “Who are you?” when she comes to visit.  And I will also  exercise the body.


I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness. Other things being equal, I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side.  ~Katharine Butler Hathaway 1890-1942, American author.


Fitting exercise into our life


We know that we should exercise our bodies at least five days out of seven, but in our very busy lives it is often difficult to make the time.  Perhaps like me, you have joined a gym and then been unable to take advantage of the membership because of calls on your time.  Have you purchased exercise equipment to use at home in the belief that you will exercise while doing something else, ie watching TV?

I think we have all tried these things and for me they have failed.  Recently when I moved into a smaller house, I put all this seldom used/unused exercise equipment onto an internet trading site and sold them.  They had been sitting there almost chiding me for not using them.

So I looked around for other ways of exercising my body.  I have a small dog who needs to be walked daily.  So come rain or shine we go out for usually around 30 minutes but sometimes longer.  One of the things I do is behind the scenes activities to assist my real estate friend.  At least one day a week Lotte (my small dog) and I walk the streets of our suburb delivering fliers and other advertising material for her.  This usually takes about 1 hour after which I have a very tired small dog who collapses in her bed.

This walking is great.  I purchased a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps each day.  It’s amazing how far and how many steps we take just following our normal routine.  I would encourage you to purchase a pedometer.  they are readily available in sports shops for a minimum price.

And walking can be easily integrated into our every day lives and activities.  Just get off the bus one stop before your usual stop; park the car further away from the office or train or bus stop; use the parking area furthest from the entrance to the mall.  Each of these little things can be the catalyst to big things.

But Lotte is a small Tibetan spaniel and I thought that besides the walking I needed some stretching or other EASY exercises to keep me in shape.  That’s when I discovered the Five Tibetan Rites.  These are easy to use exercises for those of us whose chronological years are high.  But they can be easily done by most of us.  Remember to start slowly and do the preparatory exercises first.  See Five Tibetan Rights.

I now start every day with these exercises and I must say after only a few weeks I really do feel more supple than I have for years.

So remember, it’s never to late to start.  And as Zig Ziglar says ‘You can eat an elephant a bite at a time.’

And my mantra for you – If you get the choice to sit it out or dance; I hope you dance.

Enjoy your journey as you grow younger each day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey begins

Trying new things in the desert

Trying new things in the desert

Following the death of my mother, followed shortly thereafter by the untimely death of  my husband, I set out on a voyage of discovery.

I knew I could exercise and eat the right foods to keep my body in good condition and there are plenty of avenues available to discovering what are the right foods and exercise.

But more than that, I wanted to find out more about how the mind worked, what the process was in the deterioration of brain cells and how I could reverse or at least, stop this process.  I began reading and researching on these subjects and although I can make no claim to understanding these processes I found that science has now definitely determined that brain cells can regenerate.  For a very long time it was thought that neurons did not regenerate, however, recent studies have shown that they do. Different types of neurons regenerate in varying capacities, but those in the hippocampus were among the first to be discovered regenerating in the human brain. (Various primates have been shown to regenerate and add neurons throughout the brain).

So using the maxim use it or lose it I decided that the brain/mind should be exercised daily in as many ways as possible so that it would not degenerate to the degree that my mother’s had.

In my life coaching training and in my own life I found that the most important thing in life is our self respect; how we see ourselves and what we tell ourselves.  Most of us have heard of the Law of Attraction: the phenomenon that swept the world a few years ago.  The basis of this Law is that we attract to ourselves that which we think about most.  So I started to listen to my thinking- my self talk.

We all have this critic in our subconscious  telling us that we can’t do something because we are too old, too slow, don’t have the right qualifications etc etc.

What was I telling myself?  “I’m too old”; “If it was going to happen it would have by now”; “I can’t do that”  and so on.  So I immediately set about reprogramming my mind.  You can control your thoughts and in some instances these are the only things we do have control over.

Try this for a day.  Start first thing in the morning.  What are your waking thoughts?  Write them down.  Then at regular intervals through the day (every 2 or 3 hours say) note down what you have been primarily thinking about. Are these thoughts helping you achieve your goals of staying fit and healthy?

Were your thoughts mostly positive or did the self-doubting, negative thoughts take over?

Remember that your subconscious mind is relaying what you think into your life.  So if you think I am too old your body reacts as if this is true.