Consider the Alternative

(This is the seventh in a new series of blog posts, the focus of which is keeping yourself sane and healthy in the face of Real Trouble. The photos for this series may, or may not, have anything to do with the subject matter. Just some nice photos from Mexico taken during this time.The one is an elderly couple who were sitting together on a bench in San Miguel, just watching the world go by.)

Like a large percentage of people, I spent most of my youth in one of two states of mind about aging. For the first state, I thought there was no way it would happen to me. For the second state, I just thought of it as something I didn’t want to have happen to me. I worked very hard to postpone it.

Some of the things I did to postpone it were physically advantageous to my health. A few weren’t. I have now completely re-prioritized my age-postponing activities. I have eliminated the unhealthy, and restricted myself to only the healthy. (More discussion in future posts). I still see nothing wrong with postponing aging. Assuming you like hanging out in your physical body for a longer bit of time, you do yourself a favor by running a well-maintained machine. And, interestingly enough, most of the things that postpone aging are also good for your health.

This year I got a very close up and personal look at the alternative to growing old. I am not ready to leave this planet. Because my spirit knew that, my body and mind became warriors. I got to know a whole new person as I walked down this road, and I really like her. Without the undesired experience of this year, I might have reached this place by the time I was 90. This year has been a crash course in my own personal growth, and a good hard kick in my own ass. I was presented with two big possibilities; to never grow any older because I was about to check out to another dimension, or to stick around for awhile…right here, right now, and just learn to love, and enjoy, the process.

This choice was made very clear to me and it was a no-brainer. I chose to live. But, in order to walk into that life, my mind had to stay strong and focused. I had to only see pictures of myself as well. I could only see my future as bright. Nothing negative could be spoken about my condition, by myself or anyone else. I quickly realized how sensitive I am to energy, and I decided to do my best to eliminate negativity (and negative people) from my life. I also learned to picture myself as an older woman, and to see her as vital, happy, and healthy. The ability to picture myself as a healthy and strong older woman was a very important part of my recovery. I learned to look into the future and see the woman I am joyfully becoming. I no longer feel negatively about growing older. I embrace it as a wonderful opportunity, and a beautiful gift.

The Secret of Life is Enjoying the Passage of Time

That line, written by James Taylor, has always rung true to me. You can look at it two ways. You can enjoy the passage of time by just being in the moment, and you can also enjoy the fact that times passes and you collect life’s experiences. The passing of time, the birthdays, and the many good things that just being alive has to offer.

We create our reality with our thoughts and our words. This is a concept that I truly believe and that I try to use as a guide to a successful life. As the years pass, I find this way of living to be more important than ever. It is a principle that is absolutely the truth. This is why I just can’t stomach it when people want to start talking about “getting old.” I hate the joke mimes that show up on FaceBook about aging. I hate the stupid birthday cards that start to turn life into some sort of joke after someone is 50. Too many people do this, and too many of them start at an early age. It is a real turn-off to me and I don’t want to be around such conversations. I find myself actively avoiding people who do this. I can’t let it pass without comment. Don’t put me in your “old lady club.” I won’t be wearing purple dresses and red hats with you. Dear God!

I am not delusional. I know the years are passing. I realize that in many ways I am different from the girl I was in my twenties, thirties, etc. But, in most ways, I think I am probably better. I certainly like myself and my life much more. This is a life I have created for myself, and I have done it with my thoughts and my words. (I only wish that I had come to understand this sooner.) I will say this, as one accumulates the years, it does become somewhat harder to have a good attitude about a lot of things. You have to get up every morning and make a conscious decision to have the best attitude and outlook that you possibly can, and that will determine how that day will go for you. Feeling good and looking good at any age requires a bit of work…a bigger bit as the years roll on. Exercise, eat sensibly, put on some makeup–(do what you like to lighten the years. And do it WITHOUT apology) and get on with it.

I’m not living in a dream world, I have to adjust my own attitude frequently. I just can’t be around people who want to inflict their negative thoughts onto me. I especially can’t stomach it when people who are much younger than me start up about how they are “getting old, feeling old, have no energy, etc. and etc.” It is not only unattractive, it is actually toxic. Yes, toxic. Because if you think that way, and speak that way, you are going to steal your own joy and create exactly what you probably don’t want. And, if I hang around and listen to this talk and feel all these negative vibes, then I might let my own thoughts and words go there, too. Negativity can be contageous, and is dangerous to be around.

Maybe it takes too much effort and energy for some people to be positive. I don’t know. I just know that the people I want to be around are people who enjoy life, like themselves, and keep quiet on a bad day. This is not to say that close friends can’t sometimes have honest conversations. Just, please, don’t take me to your pity party.

Hasta Luego

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Hasta Luego.

They say one picture is worth a thousand words, and I think this picture, shot from our bedroom window, tells the story of San Miguel. The mariachi band was wrapping it up for the day, probably after serenading in the square. When I leaned out and said, “hola,” they looked up and waved.

Tomorrow we leave San Miguel. I am already looking forward to my next visit to this lovely little city. Even though this time I’ve spent most of my time here literally just being “around the house,” I have enjoyed the simple pleasures of being here – looking out my window on the sweet little fountain, venturing out a few times for a meal and some people watching, cooking with Fred in our little kitchen, hearing the sounds from the street. I’ve even enjoying the rains of the season, which usually come late in the day.

I’ve learned some things about myself on this trip. I have been very fortunate in my lifetime and had very few physical problems. I hope that this experience will make me more compassionate and understanding towards other people. It has taught me how much it means when a friend reaches out and shows they care. I have also had to evaluate the importance of a positive outlook. It is a choice, and I have had to decide each day which way I’ll go. Above all, it has shown me what a great guy Fred is.

As soon as I recover from my untimely injury (see my July 2 entry) I am going to be ready to come back to Mexico. I love it here more each time we come. So, until later, beautiful city, we’ll see you again soon.

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My Unforgettable Birthday. Featuring “Dr. Handsome

One of the things that gives San Miguel its charm is that it’s a very old city and all the streets are cobblestone. Great for aesthetics; not so great for walking. And there lies the problem. That is to say the problem became me, lying on the quaint cobblestone street. Have you ever had that experience where you were walking in one direction and the next thing you knew you were down for the count, facing the opposite direction? I went down hard, and while at first I thought everything was probably fine, by the time we got home I was really in pain. Miraculously, I hadn’t gotten a scratch, but I had definitely done some damage, and I knew it.
So on the day before my 70th birthday, while on a much-anticipated trip to celebrate it, I found myself in bed, basically unable to move, really freaking out. Fortunately I have a good friend, Lisa O’Leary, who spends a great deal of time here, and when I contacted her she said, “My doctor makes house calls.” By that afternoon Dr. Martinez was at our house checking out what I could and couldn’t do. He told me I needed to get an X-ray on Monday, as I possibly had a fracture. He left me with some pretty good pain pills and the plan to visit again after the X-ray. Now that the plans were made for my big birthday,
I had to make a decision as to how to deal with my mind and emotions. I was pissed, but I didn’t want to be depressed. So, I decided that I was going to keep a good attitude and to believe that I would get through this ordeal and manage to live in the moment and believe for the best instead of the worst. I refused to have dark, negative thoughts about my circumstances or my body. That decision was made on Sunday afternoon, while I still couldn’t get from the bed to the bathroom without help from Fred. (Who, of course, was a knight in shining armor).
So, on July 1, my 70th birthday, I found myself in a little clinic in Mexico getting my pelvis X-rayed, while Fred was buying me a cane. After he looked at the results the radiologist gave me a big smile and said, “You don’t have a fracture.” Wow! That was such good news that the fact I was walking with a cane seemed trivial.
And I meant to tell you, Dr. Martinez is known locally as Dr. Handsome. (My friend Lisa told me this). He sort of has a movie star thing working. So, Dr. Handsome came back to the casita, looked at the X-ray, and said he thought I’d be fine in two or three weeks. I needed to take it easy-that won’t be a problem-but that I could take taxis about and moving around a bit would be good.
So, I’m still taking the pain pills but I am very happy. (Possibly a connection between those two facts). I plan to enjoy the rest of my time in San Miguel. I have learned a lot from this experience, mainly how very important it is to be thankful every day for excellent health. When Dr. Handsome looked at my X-ray, he asked me how old I am. When I told him it was my 70th birthday, he had the right reaction. He said he thought I was in my 50’s (bedside manner is alive and well in Mexico), and complimented me on the health of my bones. He said that if I weren’t in good shape the results of the fall could have been much more serious. I also need to tell you what this episode cost: 2 house calls, one on Sunday, medication, X-ray=$125 US. Try that in the USA.
I plan to spend the rest of my trip just enjoying being with Fred, taking taxis to restaurants, coaching Fred on cooking good meals at our casita, and sitting in the Jardin, watching the world go by. We are invited to a 4th of July party by Lisa and I am planning to taxi there, too, and spend most of the evening sitting down. I am going to slow down, enjoy my days, one at a time, and do some of the reflecting that got postponed.
So, birthdays come and go but one thing is for sure, my 70th will definitely be the one that I will never forget.