Mirror, Mirror!

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We all do it! A child is born and instantly we compare their appearance to one family member or another. It always reminds me of that childhood story, The Ugly Duckling. If there is no family resemblance, everyone seems to be in a fluster and they begin going back generations to find something that says the child belongs. Growing up, family and friends often remarked that I looked like my paternal grandmother. She, in turn, would maintain that I was a true likeness of family members in Ireland who I had never even seen in pictures. As a young child, this analogy secretly bothered me. I didn’t want to look like my grandmother. She was old and wrinkled!

As with all aspects of life, our perception of most everything changes as we age.

My daughter recently posted on Facebook a picture of my mother and I on my wedding day. I always knew we had many similarities, but for the first time, I was struck by our uncanny likeness.

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So many friends commented on how much we looked alike. Why had I never noticed this before?

I have gone through my life believing I looked like my grandmother. What has made this realization even stranger, is that I have let my gray roots grow out, and my hair is now almost white. When I look in the mirror, I feel like I’m looking into my mom’s face, not mine. I catch my reflection in a store window and see her looking back at me. Sometimes it is just the way I tilt my head or smile, but it’s her. More recently, I have heard myself using expressions that my mom used. The words flow out as though it was her talking. It always catches me off-guard.

Do we eventually become our parent as we age? I can’t imagine ever being that lucky.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

Good Night…. Not!

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I love Maxine. She tells it like it is. Among many other things, aging takes a notable toll on our sleep patterns. Sometimes just getting ready for bed is exhausting in and of itself. This verse lays it out…..

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I am probably considered one of the lucky seniors because my teeth are still in my head and I have not yet succumbed to the need for a hearing device. I do, however, suffer from night sweats. 7586027ddb3f4b9d537e45b71ea27cfbThose wonderful menopausal years are pretty much behind me, but too often I wake from overheating.

 

 

 

 

Off go the duvet and sheet in an effort to cool my clammy body. Some nights my hair is damp and matted to my head, not the most attractive sight. And if sweltering doesn’t wake me, my bladder does. I swear I have an internal clock because I seem to be heading to the bathroom at precisely the same time every night. And speaking of my bladder, I never dreamed that Poise or Depends would be part of my shopping list.46ee29e16e320c5ce4ec03d1b3cf9a78

If it is not my bladder or a hot flash that keeps me awake, it is insomnia. I can solve all the problems of the world on these nights. A little while ago, I started using cannabis to help me sleep. I make cookies and rice krispie squares which are actually quite helpful. Who doesn’t enjoy a little treat before bedtime? I try to time eating them just right knowing they start to work in about 45 minutes for myself. At first, I worried about waking to pee, but it’s just fine. I have also noticed that I do not have night sweats or perhaps I just don’t notice them. Occasionally, I have very colorful dreams, but I wake feeling great.

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Just when I think that I have been through all the wonderful changes that aging brings, there is something new. Recently, it has been my constantly running nose. I do not have allergies, nor do I have a cold. When I bend over to pick something up, my nose starts to drip. Oy vey!

Believe it or not there is an upside to all these annoyances. 7d304744411991e5ad1ec11a710b289c

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

Regrets I’ve Had A Few

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Just like the song says, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…..la, la….la, la, la”. We’ve all had at least something that we wish we had done better, or not said, or not done at all. At this point in my life, I am prone to reflect back and wonder “what if” I had made different choices.

So many of the decisions that I made throughout my life were based on other people like my parents, my friends, my husband, and yes, even my children. That’s not to say that they were to blame for my choices because they had no idea what went on inside my head. I, alone, am responsible. In all honesty, my family and friends were very supportive of me. So, why did I always feel I needed to put them first?

After all these years, I have come to the conclusion that it was my self-confidence. I somehow made decisions that were safe because I was afraid to let anyone down. Never mind that I was letting myself down. The signs were all there if I had cared to open my eyes. Every once in a while, I would step outside the accepted proverbial box, but then I would give in to pressure.

When I was in high school, I told myself adamantly that I was not going to get married, and at the first opportunity, I was moving to a large city. Well, I did get married, and I still live in the small city where I was born. I could easily have changed those decisions, but I didn’t. I was pretty much one of the last of family and friends to walk down the aisle. At the time I remember questioning my decision, but went ahead because I felt it was expected of me. How foolish!

Now, before you start to think that I regret everything in my life, I assure you I do not. Many good things came from those decisions, like my two kids. They are my world! But what if, I had decided to become a writer like I had always wanted. Or what if, I had moved to the south of France or Italy like I had always dreamed of doing.

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Would my life have turned out any happier or more fulfilling? I will never know.

I do know you can’t go back, but you can decide to take charge of your future and do it your way. I am glad that with age came self confidence. My hour glass still has enough sand in it to enjoy.

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So what do you regret? I know there is something.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

Who’s Old?

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Driving to the cottage one weekend with my mom, I asked her, “How do you know when you are finally old and mature?” Without a moments hesitation she replied,” How the hell would I know? I’m not there yet!” She was 81 at the time. Now my mom was an amazing example of the idea that you should “die young as late as possible”. She was still rollerskating twice a week and downhill skiing in her 80’s. e9f84813bed03e5582ce442b45bdb0ef

I am by no means saying that aging is a piece of cake, but when you weigh the options, it’s the best choice. From my own experience so far, it is the physical changes that are the most difficult to accept. In past blogs, I discussed the visual changes of growing older like wrinkles, unwanted hair, sagging boobs, and graying hair, but those are relatively minor compared to other body functions.

One of the most obvious signs of getting older is Menopause. I put a capital on that word because it’s a big deal. In fact it is to blame for many of the things I listed above. I will go out on a limb here and say that no one misses their monthly period, but  who looks forward to those damn hot flashes? Those hot flashes affect you and everyone close by you. I remember when I first started to get them; I was teaching grade one. It was the middle of the winter, and I would throw open the windows in my classroom. One morning the principal dropped by for a visit. There sat all the kids wearing their mittens and hats. The principal looked at me and said,”Should I know what’s going on?” Before I could respond, a little voice spoke up, “Mrs. F. is hot!” My principal could barely contain his laughter as he closed the door behind him. He never mentioned it again.

Changes in our vision and hearing are other problems that creep up on us much more slowly. I remember my arms seemed to get shorter and shorter as I strained to read the newspaper, and I had to keep adjusting the volume on the phone and television. I have been wearing “reading glasses”  for several years now, but I am starting to notice that it is more difficult to see distances when I am driving. I guess there is an eye test in my near future.

9c054ffb4fa960ff23b81a5f2d140bd9  Sitting with the girls at the pub is a good demonstration of hearing deficit. Someone will say something and ultimately someone else will tap their neighbor on the shoulder and ask, “What did she say?”It turns into that kid’s game of “Telephone” where they pass a message down a line.

I was talking to a male friend at the pub one night and after the conversation, one of the girls asked what we were talking about for so long. I said that I had no idea because I can’t hear him very well with the music and talking. She said, “But you were answering and nodding your head.” I replied, “I just agree with everything he says and smile a lot.” She started laughing. “That could get you into trouble.” She’s probably right. I may have agreed to wild sex!!! I am counting on the theory that he can”t hear very well either. 5afd794f8e18a60044af87d79ab1fca4

I think the worst part of getting older is leakage. That’s right! I said leakage. You laugh and you pee. You cough or move the wrong way and you fart. There is no getting around it. www.pinterest.caLuckily most of us are in the same situation, so there is a general understanding among our age group. You know you are not alone with these issues because the store shelves and television ads feature helpful hygiene products that are readily available.

And how many others are up several times during the night to visit the bathroom? I can’t remember the last time that I went to bed and slept through until morning. Eight hours of sleep a night be damned!

Oh, I almost forgot! There is one change that makes the other issues less problematic. Memory loss! How many times a day do I go up the stairs and wonder what I am doing there? By the time I walk back down, I have remembered and head back up again.

0793f1b6c625ca3bcb5f78d34abba691 It’s like an involuntary exercise program.

They say that when you are a senior , you are “over the hill”. Where is this hill and what’s on the other side?  I’m not climbing it unless there is wine.

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I think the best piece of advice that I could pass on came from my own doctor, surprisingly. She said that no matter what, keep moving and living your life because when you stop doing all those things that make you happy, it’s downhill from there. And speaking for myself, I am in no hurry to get to the bottom of that damned hill.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

Sex and the Single Senior

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One of my favorite television series was “Sex in the City”, and I now watch it every day in reruns. I always fancied myself as the Carrie Bradshaw character, and here I am writing about sex and the single, senior woman. Dreams can come true! All kidding aside, I get the impression that many younger people think that once we hit a certain age ( I have no idea what that age might be ), we are no longer interested in sex. I am here to set the record straight. Yes, we are still interested! (Except those who perhaps never were.)

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A friend of mine has a mother who is living in a retirement home. She is in her late 80’s. One evening at a large, family dinner, her mother needed something from her purse, and she proceeded to pull several items out to find what she was searching for. Out tumbled a condom package. Her children and grandchildren gasped. She was unfazed. When questioned about the condom, she simply said that they give them out in the “home”.

“You have to be careful, you know,” was all she said as she refilled her purse.

And she is correct. Sexually transmitted diseases are sometimes rampant in retirement homes. The residents may be old, but they are not dead.

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Not so long ago at our weekly pub dinner, the conversation got around to sex, as is often the case. We were laughing and joking, but one of the girls became serious.

“I’m worried that if something happens to me, my children will find my “special drawer” where I keep my vibrator,” she admitted.

The table went silent for about a second. Then another voice piped up, “Just pair up with one of the other girls, and if either of you becomes too ill, the healthy  one will go in and hide the evidence. Problem solved!”

Everyone laughed and nodded in agreement.

Then another friend announced that she had already given this some thought, and she had a better solution. ” Never mind a vibrator,” she said, “what you need is an electric toothbrush. No one will think twice about an electric toothbrush in your bedside table.” We were puzzled for a minute or so. Then we burst into gales of laughter, but she was serious. Now let this idea sink in for just a moment. Are you still with me? Just use your imagination. ( I think the toothbrush manufacturers should be paying me for this plug. )

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“I wonder if I can get a motor for this beauty?”

The point of this post is that age has nothing to do with desire. And while aging bodies do create more challenges , where there is a will, there is a way. As I have said so many times before, life is not finite or predictable. If something is enjoyable and you are hurting no one, then I say go for it. At what other time in your life can you have the fun without worrying about getting pregnant? But as always….be safe!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Who’s In Charge?

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There is nothing like a health scare to get your attention. Most of my life, I have sailed along enjoying good health and apparently taking it for granted. With the exception of a gall bladder surgery almost 18 years ago, I have not had to deal with doctors or medication. Getting older, of course, brings the aches and creaks of joints, but I try not to give it much thought.

I have lived in my own home and managed just fine for almost 40 years. My independence is my most prized possession and I guard it closely. So, when a recent health issue threatened that possession, I was alarmed.

My problem started with a lovely walk to the hospital to keep a friend company as she sat with her son who was in a coma. It was cool, but the sunshine felt wonderful. I arrived in the I.C.U. department and sat in the lounge to wait for my friend. As I sat there, a pain developed first in my chest, and then between my shoulder blades. Next, I felt chill, but perspiration beaded on my forehead and I could feel a headache gaining intensity. When my friend came to join me, I told her I wasn’t feeling well, and shortly after decided I should go home.

As I walked toward the exit, it occurred to me that I should walk directly into the emergency department, but as I processed that idea, I noticed the taxi phone at the door. I picked it up and called for a ride.

At home my symptoms remained the same, so I took an aspirin and went to bed for a nap. When I woke several hours later, I still felt terrible and in the darkness of the night, I also felt scared. I could have and should have called someone, but I was determined to muscle through this.

By morning, I felt somewhat better. After all, everything seems more manageable in the daylight. The cold sweat had disappeared, but was replaced by nausea. The chest pain was almost gone, but the headache remained.

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Common sense kicked in and I called the doctor and made an appointment. A short while later, my son called. He asked how I was, and I admitted that I had felt better. I gradually retold my experience, and he listened patiently until I got to the part about going home instead of to the emergency.

“MOM! What were you thinking?” he exploded. I knew he was right, but I said nothing.

“That’s it!” he announced. “If you can”t look after yourself, I am going to move in to look after you, or you are going to move in with us. It is obvious that you are irresponsible about your health.”

Well, that certainly got my attention and frightened me more than my symptoms. Remember my closely guarded independence? No one messes with that!

“I am doing no such thing,” I retorted. “You are not my boss!”

“Well, if you aren’t going to take care of yourself, I WILL be the boss.”

I told him that I had a doctor’s appointment and if the pain resumed, I promised to get to the emerg immediately. For the next several days, he called or texted to check on me. Sometimes the message said simply, “Are you still alive?” which made me giggle.

My doctor arranged several tests which did uncover a health concern, and I am now taking medication for the first time in my life. My independence is still intact, and I will continue to protect it with my life. I have a great many things on my bucket list, and I have no intention of jeopardizing my future. So, just a reminder, if it doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. Do as I say, not as I did!

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I’m the one on the right!!!!

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

Fashion Is For Every Age

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A couple of weeks ago, fashion icon, Iris Apfel turned 95. This incredibly colorful woman is well-known in fashion circles for her personal sense of style, and she is the first to tell you that you must wear whatever makes you happy and confident. I have followed her for many years, and although my own style is much different than hers, it made me think about how far we have come from our grandmothers.

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Does anyone, besides me, remember their grandmothers wearing those floral, cotton house dresses? You remember, I know you do. My grandmother had a closet full of these shapeless garments with buttons down the front and large patch pockets full of kleenex.

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And the icing on the cake was the stockings rolled down to the knees and held up with elastic garters which I am certain cut off the blood flow and led to varicose veins, poor circulation, and who knows what else. It has been many years since I have seen anyone wearing these frocks, but I checked, and you can still purchase them.

You would not catch any of my friends wearing these garments. We all love to shop for clothes, enjoy a good sale, and are interested in fashion. And just to be clear, fashion does not have to be expensive. As Iris put it,

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Fashion, after all, is just another way of expressing ourselves and has no age parameters. Well, there may be some limitations!

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When I was younger, I often heard older ladies whispering among themselves about someone who they referred to as “dressing like a teenager”. They made it sound shameful. I remember wondering when I would have to start “dressing my age”. I looked to my own mom as a role-model. She loved to look “put- together”. I can’t ever remember her saying something was too young for her. She simply modified how she wore it. And for me, that is the key to fashion. Simply put yourself together in an interesting way that reflects your personality and makes you feel comfortable and confident. “Miss Fishnet”, up there, is just doing her own thing. It is not for anyone else to judge.

There are a few fashion blogs that I look at from time to time, and it is interesting to me that almost every one of them describes what our basic wardrobe should look like. No one should be telling us what we need because they do not know our lifestyle. Lifestyle dictates our requirements. Some of us like a few dresses in our closet, but others may prefer pants for all occasions. Cagney and Lacey are perfect examples of this. Both are dressed entirely appropriately for an evening out, and yet, their choices are very different.

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Style is entirely personal and is a visual portrayal of our personality. As much as I love to see Iris in her colorful outfits, I am a classic, neutral girl who loves to add bold jewellery and scarves to punch things up. Here are some looks I love for daytime errands, shopping, dinner with the girls, or Saturday pub night…..

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My lifestyle today is definitely more casual. My closet does have several “little black dresses” because I still love to get dressed up when there is an occasion.

The wonderful thing about fashion is that it continually evolves. There was a time when I loved the color and glitter of sequins on my outfit and who knows that may happen again. My point is wear what makes you feel happy, unless it is those damn pajama pants. I draw the line at pajama pants in public.

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Thanks for reading,

Penny xo