we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues

We’ve had decades to develop resilience. Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice. We don’t need to look at our horoscopes to know how our day will go. We know how to create a good day.

We have learned to look every day for humor, love and beauty. We’ve acquired an aptitude for appreciating life. Gratitude is not a virtue but a survival skill, and our capacity for it grows with our suffering. That is why it is the least privileged, not the most, who excel in appreciating the smallest of offerings.

Many women flourish as we learn how to make everything workable. Yes, everything. As we walk out of a friend’s funeral, we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues.

Our happiness is built by attitude and intention. Attitude is not everything, but it’s almost everything. I visited the jazz great Jane Jarvis when she was old, crippled and living in a tiny apartment with a window facing a brick wall. I asked if she was happy and she replied, “I have everything I need to be happy right between my ears.”…

There is an amazing calculus in old age. As much is taken away, we find more to love and appreciate. We experience bliss on a regular basis. As one friend said: “When I was young I needed sexual ecstasy or a hike to the top of a mountain to experience bliss. Now I can feel it when I look at a caterpillar on my garden path.”

Older women have learned the importance of reasonable expectations. We know that all our desires will not be fulfilled, that the world isn’t organized around pleasing us and that others, especially our children, are not waiting for our opinions and judgments. We know that the joys and sorrows of life are as mixed together as salt and water in the sea. We don’t expect perfection or even relief from suffering. A good book, a piece of homemade pie or a call from a friend can make us happy. As my aunt Grace, who lived in the Ozarks, put it, “I get what I want, but I know what to want.”

We can be kinder to ourselves as well as more honest and authentic. Our people-pleasing selves soften their voices and our true selves speak more loudly and more often. We don’t need to pretend to ourselves and others that we don’t have needs. We can say no to anything we don’t want to do. We can listen to our hearts and act in our own best interest. We are less angst-filled and more content, less driven and more able to live in the moment with all its lovely possibilities…

By the time we are 70, we have all had more tragedy and more bliss in our lives than we could have foreseen. If we are wise, we realize that we are but one drop in the great river we call life and that it has been a miracle and a privilege to be alive.

~ Mary Pipher, excerpts from The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s (The New York Times · January 12, 2019). Mary Pipher is a clinical psychologist in Lincoln, Neb., and the author of the forthcoming “Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age.”


Photo Credit

Sunday Morning

Our time always shortening.
What we cherish always temporary. What we love
is, sooner or later, changed…
Giving thanks for what we are allowed
to think about it, grateful for it even as it wanes…
And occasionally the bright sound of broken glass.
All of it a blessing. The being there. Being alive then.
Like a giant bell ringing long after you can’t hear it.

~ Jack Gilbert, excerpt from “Burma” from Refusing Heaven


Notes: Poem via Mythology of Blue. Photo: Maximus Audacious of Bell

That’s when you want something a little milder, don’t you?

I’m not very interested in my school days and feel no special nostalgia for them. But I remember Sixth Form. In those days, we imagined ourselves as being in a holding pen, waiting to be released into our lives. And when that moment would come, we would be at university. How were we to know that our lives had already begun, and our release would only be to a large holder pen. And in time, a larger holding pen. When you were young, you want your emotions to be like the ones you read about in books. You want them to overturn your life and create a new reality. But as that second hand insists on speeding up and time delivers us all to quickly into middle age, and then old age, that’s when you want something a little milder, don’t you? You want your emotions to support your life as it has become. You want them to tell you that everything is going to be ok.

And is there anything wrong with that?

~ Tony (Jim Broadbent), A Sense of An Ending (2017)


Notes:

Word. Full Stop.

wrinkle-face-close-up-portrait

Wrinkles here and there seem unimportant
compared to the Gestalt of the whole person
I have become in this past year.
Somewhere in The Poet and the Donkey Andy
speaks for me when he says,
“Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it.”

– May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Notes:

SMWI*: Everything is boring that does not happen in a chair

horse-mouth-funny

After the customary indulgence over the holidays, here’s Donald Hall, the 87 year old American writer and poet (and Poet Laureate), offering work-out inspiration. Think “Opposite Game” you played with your kids.

My trainer, Pamela Sunburn, works me out Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. She’s tiny and strong, four foot ten and a hundred pounds of muscle. If she had to, I’m sure she could carry my two hundred pounds slung over her shoulders. For half an hour each session she has me do cardio on the treadmill, squat with five-pound weights, lift tenners over my head and out from my sides, stretch muscles, stand up no hands with a beach ball between my knees, and do push-ups (as it were) standing against a wall. Exercise hurts, as well it might, since by choice and for my pleasure I didn’t do it for eighty years. (Once in my fifties I walked four miles.) […]

I sit on my ass all day, writing in longhand, which Kendel types up. Sometimes in a car I would pass Pancake Road, two miles away, and see a man walking his collie, the dog stepping out on his forepaws, two wheels harnessed to his backside. These days I no longer drive past Pancake Road or anywhere. I push wheels ahead of me instead of pulling them behind me like the dog. With my forepaws holding the handles of a four-wheeled roller, my buckling hindquarters slowly shove my carcass forward. I drool as I walk, and now and then I sniff a tree. […]

I went out for cross-country. As I did laps for endurance, I heard my eighty-year-old coach— the war had resurrected elderly faculty— mutter, “Truck horse.” My feelings were hurt. I worked on improving my style, but when I ran cross-country, agony rotated from ribs of one side to ribs of the other. I faked turning my ankle. […]

I have been told that as a baby I crawled up on a kitchen table and devoured a quarter pound of butter. I spewed it out quickly, and mouth-memory has endured in my distaste for yellow milkfat. Because it was so athletic to climb the table, perhaps my misadventure also led to my athletic malfitness. […]

Exercise is boring. Everything is boring that does not happen in a chair (reading and writing) or in bed.

~ Donald Hall, Physical Malfitness. Essays After Eighty


Notes:

My Kind of Deity

dali-lama

Indeed, even as he seems the paragon of saintly forgiveness, he advances a claim to ordinariness. ‘‘I am a human being like any other,’’ I heard him repeat in several public appearances over the last year. In Tibet, he told me, too many superstitious beliefs had overlaid Buddhism’s commitment to empirically investigate the workings of the mind. Tibetans believed that he ‘‘had some kind of miracle power,’’ he said. ‘‘Nonsense!’’ he thundered. ‘‘If I am a living god, then how come I can’t cure my bad knee?’’

He similarly asserted his nonsupernatural qualities at the summit meeting of Nobel Peace Prize winners in Rome this December. When the city’s former mayor asked him how he coped with jet lag, the Dalai Lama, Newsweek reported, gave a frankly nonreligious explanation. He could train his mind to sleep well, he said (he goes to bed at 7 p.m. and wakes at 3 a.m. to meditate). ‘‘Traveling the world — time difference — no problem,’’ he added, ‘‘but bowel movement does not obey my mind. But this morning, thanks to your blessings — after 7 o’clock, full evacuation. So now I am very comfortable.’’

~ Pankaj Mishra, The Last Dalai Lama?


Source: NY Times Magazine – The Last Dalai Lama?

How to Age Gracefully. (7 to 93)

The secret to a long life. Oh, Boy.

funny-old-age-men


Read more here: Spirit 88.3 FM – Avoid men and eat plenty of porridge for a long life, says Jessie, 109

 

 

EXACTLY what I needed to see. PERFECT.

cool-chart-prime-person-ages


Source: People Were Asked About Their Prime Years, These Were Their Answers. themetapicture.com

Dementia: Holding onto Reason

balloons-storm-demenia


Source: Cart via Madame Scherzo. Unpublished cover for New Scientist magazine about oncoming Dementia and how to manage it.

%d bloggers like this: