Aging Gracefully: Part II

The Cane Chronicles

Hilda

 

Last year I wrote a blog about aging gracefully.

I emphasized the need to accept our natural bodily changes with dignity, push our egos aside and celebrate the privilege of growing older.

And then it happened.

One morning about a month ago I could hardly get out of bed.

I assumed I was having an arthritic flare up in my left knee.  I had these flare ups a few times in the past. But not like this.  This was a bad one.

The doctor confirmed that it was arthritic inflammation. He gave me a cortisone shot and hoped that my knee would respond as well as it had in the past.

Nope.

Advil. Ice/Heat. Heat/Ice. Advil.

Repeat.

The recovery time was taking longer than I had hoped and I was becoming increasingly more frustrated with my self-imposed lock down on the couch.

 My ego held me hostage in a place of fear. I was longing for simple activities like just leaving the house to make a quick stop at the grocery store. But walking was a challenge.

 I was afraid to leave the house for fear that I would fall and maybe break a hip…yikes!  My balance was off and my thinking was self-defeating.

Life interrupted.

And then while icing and heating my knee on the couch one night, I read an article on “How to get through arthritic flare ups”. Apparently, I was following all the recommendations except the last one: “let go of any shame and self-judgment regarding the use of supportive devices that could assist in your mobility; i.e. canes, walkers, scooters, etc.” The article said that unless one was bedridden, it was important to stay mobile if only in short spurts.

Whaatt???!  Was it time to invest in a cane????

My ego went into full overload:

Ego: “What would people think if they saw me using a cane? Are people going to see me as an old lady? Am I getting old? If anyone asks, can I just lie and say I was involved in an adventurous activity that injured my knee (skydiving?)”

Me: “Get over yourself. No one would ever believe you jumped out of a plane for fun. Get a grip and stop playing the victim! You need help…don’t be afraid to ask for it!”

So even though my ego was still blathering in my ear, I mustered up the courage to hobble into my local CVS the next day and asked for the cane display aisle.

And within minutes I saw her.

She had an ordinary look but I could tell she was for me. When I placed my hand around the handle, I immediately felt a connection.

I felt supported and balanced by her.  She took the burden off my achy knee and was my ticket to mobility.

Freedom!!!

I named her Hilda.

She was the inner warrior I needed to give me the confidence to be out in public, flaws and all, and not care what I assumed others might think of me.

I was pleased at how much easier and less painful it was to walk around the grocery store with Hilda and was surprised with how much help I got from others. For the first time I can remember, I actually had a guy, who by the way called me Ma’am, (I have to let that go) run across the parking lot and asked if he could take my cart back to the store after I emptied out the groceries. At first, I hesitated, once again trying to do everything for myself, but then gave in, and said thank you and released the cart. It felt good to get some help.

Being a martyr can be exhausting.

Oh…and on a side note, I have to say that I found some other good uses for my cane.  I used it the other day as a pointer when I wanted to point something out in a distance to a neighbor…and…I killed a spider with it (RIP). I’m feeling very comfortable now with my aide.

So, what’s the message here?

 Let go of critical mind chatter when you need support. Push your egos aside.  Asking for help has no age limits.  It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of humility and strength.

Thanks for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

Biological Clock

As we turn the pages of our calendar with each birthday, we’re reminded that another year has passed, we’re another year older and our bodies innately continue the rhythm of natural aging with or without our approval.

For most of us, each new year brings with it a list of goals we’d like to cross off our list within a specific period of time.

Our lists can be specific or assumed and start early in life. High schoolers usually have some type of graduation plan in place by age 18. By age 21 most young adults are trying to make career decisions in hopes to get started early on the “right” financial path for their future.

From there, the clock keeps ticking.

Marriage? Starting a family?

The biological clock.

For women who want children, the biological clock can feel like Cruella de Vil looming over your shoulder. Fertility can decline by a certain age and the pressure of getting married and having children by your 30’s – 40’s can feel like a race against time.

And then there are the empty nesters.

Those of us with no children at home who are either retired or are planning to retire soon.

For many of us in this midlife age group, we can find ourselves thinking more about who we are outside of our families and who we might be outside of our jobs when we’re ready to retire.  

Of course self-introspection can happen at any age or stage in our lives but those of us entering our 40’s, 50’s and beyond can often find ourselves in a time of transition.

Closing chapters in our lives and hopefully opening new doors.

More curious about what was and what can still be.

I call this the Wonder Years.

Some refer to this as a midlife crisis.

I prefer to see it as a reckoning…or an awakening.

An awareness of past disappointments, regrets or choices that could use healing or reframing. Maybe a time to renegotiate and make peace with the expectations of what we thought was supposed to have happened in our lives that didn’t. Gracefully letting go of what was not meant for us.

And maybe it’s about reshaping our roles and identities to fit new chapters in our lives with clearer visions of our own personal desires.

All great stuff!!!

And as we continue to explore what it is we really want and begin to realize that our mortality is real ( yikes ) many of us begin the list…

The Bucket List.

The biological clock for seniors. What some believe is the Holy Grail.

The magical list of all the things we’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have Time for and because we’re at that certain age it has to be done before Time runs out.

Eeek!!!  So much pressure.

And this pressure can include how to answer some of the questions people might ask about this infamous Bucket List.

What exotic plans do you have on your Bucket List?

What countries are you planning to visit?

What’s the wildest thing you have planned now that you’re retired?

 

Uhmmm…How do you answer these questions?  

Maybe all I want is a simpler life…maybe I just want to do more nature walks or more visits to the beach or just sit in my backyard with my second cup of coffee and wonder.

Boring?

Early in my retirement, I admit I used to feel judged and somewhat ashamed that my bucket list was so simple as compared to others…maybe not as Hollywood-ized and exciting as others wanted it to be. I even wondered if there was something called Bucket List Shaming which could be defined as the disappointment you feel from others when your list is simpler than what you think they had hoped it would be.

But I’ve long moved past these feelings of shame and am much more understanding that people can often ask well meaning but awkward questions. Maybe it’s just that we sometimes feel the need to impose our fantasies and expectations on others…opinions on what we think should be done at various milestones in our lives.

But why wait until retirement to start a bucket list?

Do what you love when you can.

Stop watching the clock.

As our lives shift, our lists may shift as well but don’t miss out on what you can be doing now because you’re waiting for circumstances to be lined up perfectly or for a certain age. This can keep you in a holding pattern while the clock ticks on.

As cliche-ish as this sounds make the most out of life NOW regardless of your age. Bring meaning, fulfillment and happiness to the time you do have.

Be You,

Do You,

For You.

And remember,

“Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.”

Thanks for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

Unexpected Kindness from Strangers

Over the span of our lives, we have all borne witness to the devastation that natural disasters and other mass related deaths can leave behind.

Due to the availability of today’s social media, we’ve been able to watch many of these tragedies unfold from the comforts of our living room. We’re able to listen to and catalog just about every harrowing detail of each publicized tragedy. Many of us find solace in the acts of kindness from strangers that seem to emerge during these distressing catastrophic events.

While it always inspires me to hear stories about the innate goodness of others who lend a helping hand during a crisis, I am also amazed by the kindness that so many people offer for the smaller, less critical, everyday things in life. Graciously letting someone cut ahead of you in line or offering to help carry someone’s groceries who seems to be struggling is simple kindness without expectation…just because.

In my corner of the Universe, I recently had some acts of kindness come my way from strangers during a very non-critical, utterly ordinary, yet frustrating time.

Here’s what happened:

I ordered a chair online.  The day of its expected delivery it was pouring rain.  I made a point of being home all day perched at my living room window so I could see when my chair was delivered. I didn’t want my chair to spend any unnecessary time out in the elements. As it got closer to 5:00pm I became concerned.

No chair.

I then checked my email and noticed that FedEx sent a confirmation that my chair had already been delivered to my front door hours ago…whaatt???!!  I threw open the door and walked up and down my walkway several times to make sure that somehow, I didn’t miss a 60lb box that had been delivered.

It wasn’t there ☹.

I even drove around the neighborhood for a while hoping it was sitting on someone’s front stoop. Nope.

I then called Wayfair (the online company that I ordered the chair from) and spent what seemed like an eternity with the nicest representative I’ll never meet. Her name was Corinne.  Corinne listened very patiently to my frustration and helped me process two major possibilities: my chair was either delivered to the wrong address and the recipients decided not to call and report it or my chair was lost and abandoned out there somewhere.

We kibitzed about the moral compass of anyone who would keep a purchase that did not belong to them and also how hard it was to accept the error of a delivery guy who continued to claim that he delivered my chair to the right address. Corinne and I shared stories about how hard it can be sometimes to let go and move on.  She understood.  She got me.

A new chair was then ordered (no charge to me) and was due to arrive within two weeks.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my original chair was somehow nearby. On a hunch, I called the realtor who’s in charge of the new condo complex next to me and asked if my chair had been delivered there by any chance.

And it was.

It was waiting patiently for me on the porch of their front office. Delivered to the wrong address. The realtor hadn’t been there all week and was not aware it was there until I called.

I happily walked over and was greeted warmly by a crew of workers who endearingly call themselves the “Dirt Crew”. Without any hesitation, they offered to load my chair into the back of their truck and drive it over since there was no way I could get it over to my house by myself.

They would not take any money for their time or efforts.  Just an act of kindness for a stranger.

I cancelled the order for my new chair and was told it had already traveled to Arizona and was on its way to Massachusetts.  I felt badly that it might have been catching some nice rays in such a warm place ( Maria daSilva’s comment )

but my loyalty was to my original chair…

So, why did I write a blog about a lost chair?

Simply because the kindness of Corinne and the Dirt Crew are great examples of the innate goodness that ordinary people can offer in ordinary ways and make a big difference.

The kindness from strangers is not usually planned out.  It can arrive in unexpected forms with no way to pay them back but with a heartfelt thank you.  Spontaneous generosity of someone’s time and effort toward a stranger speaks volumes of their character and their heart…their response to someone’s vulnerability.

 

I’ll end with a big thank you to all the Corinnes and Dirt Crew helpers out there!

 

Thank You for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

Aging Gracefully

What does that mean exactly?

And is there an ungraceful versus graceful way to notice the changes of our aging mind and bodies?

Let’s see…

Is it ungraceful to be surprised by the unruly random facial hair I sometime notice in the mirror now while waiting for the traffic light to change on a sunny day?

Is it ungraceful to cautiously, yet automatically, grab on tight to the railing when approaching a steep set of stairs to make sure I don’t slip and fall and maybe break a hip?  

Is it odd that I can sometimes go into a room and forget why I went in there? And even more odd that I then begin to get involved with something else that I’ve decided needs my attention?

What about mixing up the names of my children and grandchildren and yes, even their pets on occasion? Ok…well maybe more than just on occasion.

Is it ungraceful to have an ongoing emotional dilemma over whether to let go of my landline after all its years of service?  Waahhh…breaking up is hard to do.

And what about those moans and groans that seem to happen involuntarily when I stand up from a position I’ve been sitting in for a while? Yikes!  When did I turn into an old man?

So, as I look over this list that could definitely be longer, I wonder if I’m aging gracefully, ungracefully, or just simply aging?

Unless the fountain of youth has officially been located, we are all aging in every moment of every day.

While there are a gazillion anti-aging products, surgeries, tucks and lifts available to us that can help smooth out the noticeable changes of gravity and elasticity in our bodies, in the end, you can run but you can’t hide.  Death shows up for all of us regardless of how much work or money we’ve put forth into masking our aging appearance. Some of us may just look firmer and more supple in our caskets than others.

“She’s 90 years old but she looks great!

She looks at least 10 yrs. younger due to that excellent face lift she had a few years back!  What’s the name of that cosmetic surgeon???”

I saw an add recently that I thought was hilarious. It’s about knowing what your Age Give-Away Zones are. Seriously?  Do we really need to be educated about this?

Nora Ephron wrote a book entitled, “I Feel Bad About My Neck”, in which she states that if you want to know how old someone really is, you just have to look at their necks regardless of any surgeries and attempts made to hide their chronological age. Too funny ~ yet so true.

So, what is the message in today’s blog?

Just be who you are.

Maybe aging gracefully is about how we choose to experience and live our lives as we turn the pages in the calendar.

While each birthday brings its own set of changes and adjustments to gray hair and wrinkles, it is still a privilege to grow older. Not all of us have this gift.

I can live as if I’m waiting for my last breath or I can live my life as fully and as happily as possible with wrinkles and all.

For me, maintaining healthy habits, staying active and connected to a strong support system while savoring and enjoying the  moments of every day that I’m alive is how I choose to grow older and not just get old.   I’m keeping it simple with lots of laughter and gratitude along the way:

I have adopted the following mantra:

Is this graceful or ungraceful?

 

Thanks for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s March.

It’s been a little over 2 months since most of us dutifully made our annual list of promises to improve our lives somehow.

We either pledged to do more of something or less of it.

We either resolved to take on a new life perspective, foster a healthier habit, increase our income, develop six pack abs or, for me, learn how to fold a fitted sheet properly.

It’s March.

And how are those resolutions going so far?

Some of us are staying strong and following through while others are limping along doing our best when we can, or when we remember.

Why do so many of us fail to stick to our New Year’s resolutions?

  1. Unrealistic goal setting: maybe asking too much of ourselves given our personal capacity or choosing goals that are too lofty or too vague.
  2. Time management: maybe not enough consideration of how much time it would take to realistically devote to these new goals in the way it was intended.

Researchers say that we’re more likely to stick to our New Year’s resolutions when there’s “an immediate reward”. We all like to see the success of our work sooner than later.

So, maybe making our goals more specific and breaking them down into manageable chunks is a way to guarantee a longer lasting commitment.

 

Remember that goals and resolutions can be rewritten and modified at any time.

Today might be as good a day as any to reexamine those New Year promises.

 

It’s March.

 

*And then there’s the 3-month rule.  In very small print at the bottom of your list of New Year’s resolutions, there is a disclaimer.  It’s an escape clause that clearly states that if you haven’t been working on your goals by now and don’t think you’ll be able to by the end of the year, you are then completely absolved from any responsibility or guilt to uphold your commitment to your resolutions.

I think I made that up.

Brunnie

M.Ed, Mental Health Counselor, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy tale Childhood

 

*Wordpress seems to format differently with email versus cellular devices. If the video does not pop up automatically at the end of the article, just click on the word video above.

So, It’s Valentine’s Day… and??

The hype around Valentine’s Day starts around the middle of January.

Stores quickly fill up with candy, cards and gifts for that special someone way before all the Christmas ornaments, wrapping paper and dancing Santa’s are completely packed up or shipped away.

How did this day become such an international day of gift giving, love and romance?

The origin of Valentine’s Day dates back to the middle ages. Romans celebrated a Pagan ritual feast in February in which women were randomly gathered and then somehow, matched up with men, becoming a traditional “day of wild fertility and love.”

Sound like a modern-day speed dating experience gone wild.

But over time, Valentine’s Day became less barbaric and morphed into a day of romantic gestures and proclamations of love, heralding this day as the biggest day for lovers.

Hallmark cards made these expressions of love easier by providing couples with the right words to say for that special someone. Valentine’s Day cards became the biggest card sending holiday second to Christmas.

Lucrative big business.

Thinking of something original to write has become almost unnecessary.

And does underlining the words inside the store-bought card, somehow make it your words?

Confession.  I’ve done that. Haven’t you?

And while not all couples acknowledge this holiday with all the fanfare of gifts, cards and candy, it’s still more common to witness those who are coupled up, glazed over at their local card shop, trying to find that special card or gift that will prove to their partner how much they are loved.

 

But what if you’re single?

How do you walk past all those Valentine Day Cards, including the candy aisle and not think?

“Ugh…I’m single” …and it’s Valentine’s Day…where’s my gift? wahhh wahhh”.

Can you still be ok? Absolutely.

Maybe it’s about shifting the meaning and any exclusivity you assign to this day.

Celebrating love can happen on any day, it’s just that commercialism over the years has been focused on romantic relationships. It’s understandable that some singles might be emotionally triggered by all the hype of Valentine’s Day. I know in the past, this has been an issue for me as well. It’s clearer to me now, more than ever, that feeling grateful and acknowledging my support system (those around me who I love ~ family, friends, grandchildren) is what the meaning of this day is all about.

Valentine’s Day is more about the love you have than the love you think you’re missing out on.

And then there’s celebrating ourselves.  Let’s not forget self-love.

How can we treat ourselves on Valentine’s Day whether we’re single or not?

This can be as simple as scheduling a spa day, a weekend getaway, ordering out a favorite meal, buying ourselves some flowers, giving ourselves permission to engage in a little retail therapy or guilty pleasures.

For me, in addition to all those possibilities, it’s also about honoring one of my first loves.

Chocolate

I love chocolate as much as Oprah loves bread.

And while I do understand that chocolate is no substitute for human connection and can have a high caloric value, it’s still how I personally help out with the overstocked chocolate surplus that begins on February 15th.
#CommunityService

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers whether you’re single, coupled up or “it’s complicated.”

Brunnie

Chocolate Cake Love:

M.Ed, Mental Health Counselor, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy tale Childhood

*Wordpress seems to format differently with email versus cellular devices. If the video does not pop up automatically at the end of the article, just click on the word video above.