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

To Dye or Not to Dye

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I know it is getting close to Easter, but I am talking about hair not eggs. Coloring my hair has become an increasingly difficult choice for me. I began finding random gray hairs in my mid twenties. I ignored that old wives tale about pulling them out and growing two in their place, and by the time I reached my mid thirties, I had a rather substantial silver streak across the front of my head. People asked me if I had it dyed that way, and I proudly told them it was natural.

Well, when the silver started to take over my head, I just felt old when I looked in the mirror, so I took the plunge and bought some hair color. I erased those natural highlights and went back to my chestnut brown locks.

Fast forward about 30 years and here I am contemplating letting my hair go natural. It has become a tedious, messy ordeal to keep coloring, and I think I may be ready to give it up. I am not even sure what my natural color might be at this point. I look at pictures of my mom and try to imagine myself with her hair.

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My beautiful mom

Well, to be honest, I probably would not actually go natural, but at least closer than it is presently. My hair is currently a light brown with blonde highlights and annoying silver roots which appear about every two weeks. I am tired of trying to keep up with the growth.

I used to think that gray hair just made us look old, but more recently I have had a change of heart. It is not the color that makes us look old, but rather our style and attitude. It seems everywhere I look there are women with beautifully coiffed silver gray tresses. Apparently GRAY is the new black! Older models with gray hair are gracing fashion magazines and advertisements everywhere. They look stunning!

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So why am I so apprehensive????

I was discussing my thoughts on going gray with the girls over dinner on pub night. Everyone had their own opinion and ideas of course. Then someone sporting spiky, platinum hair with black and pink highlights said, “We should get to decide on YOUR hair because we have to look at you the most.” The table broke into gales of laughter. Oi vey!!!

Maybe I should ease into this gray transition thing by doing something totally fun,

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Or perhaps not.

Another friend reminded me that if I color my hair, I must also consider my brows. She warned that it can be a dangerous situation. A technician was dyeing her brows and forgot her in the room. By the time the technician returned, she looked like Groucho Marx. The visual of that made me burst into laughter. It took several days of scrubbing to tone things down.

I have an appointment with my stylist in a few weeks, and I’ll discuss it with her. Until then, I guess I’ll just keep dyeing.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

P.S. If you have any thoughts or your own experience on this, let me know.

 

Green Medicine

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When I was a kid, it was common knowledge that people who used marijuana were criminals or at the very least bad people. Right??? Then the hippies and flower children gave new meaning to this beautiful green plant. My how times change! The Canadian government announced last year that they were planning to legalize cannabis in 2018. Medical marijuana clinics have popped up in numerous cities, and some doctors are prescribing cannabis for their patients as a method to manage pain. Last year, our local Senior Citizens Association hosted a luncheon, and the guest speaker talked about…… you guessed it, cannabis. The response was overwhelming. Many could not even get a ticket and another presentation is in the works.

Apparently, marijuana’s time has come !

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Not only has its time come, but seniors seem to be on the leading edge of its popularity. I know numerous friends who use it to help combat anxiety, reduce pain, and to help sleep.

I can personally attest to its effectiveness. About three years ago, I began to suffer from pain in my knee which ultimately was diagnosed as arthritis. My doctor recommended taking Tylenol for Arthritis to ease the discomfort and casually mentioned I would no doubt need a knee replacement down the road. I knew several people who had had this surgery, and I did not like the outcome. Many were still unable to resume normal activities and had to be very cautious about stairs, uneven ground, standing for lengthy periods, and even walking for a distance. This definitely did not fit into my pastime pleasures of travel, dancing, and gardening. There had to be some way to reduce the pain and stave off surgery for as long as possible. And so I began my research.

The medical marijuana clinics were on my radar, and I decided to look into this a little more. I discovered a wealth of information on the internet and by talking with people. It wasn’t long until I discovered CBD cream. I won’t go into a lengthy explanation about this “green medicine”, but it is made from the cannabis plant and no, it will not make you high. Cannabis has two active ingredients, THC which will alter your mental state and CBD which will not. Our bodies all have naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors.

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CBD Cream

These receptors help us absorb the CBD through our skin. CBD reduces inflammation  among other things, so you can see where it could be very helpful with NO side effects. Call me crazy, but I really do not feel good about ingesting medication to relieve pain and at the same time rotting my stomach out.

I am not a doctor, nor do I know everyone’s individual situation. I am only suggesting that it may be worth a try. I know some that have tried it and proclaimed it ineffective. I do know it is not a magic fix. Like all natural products, it takes time to build up the necessary CBD levels in your body. I also know, I am pain free.

Some of you may remember the story about “The Little Red Hen” from your childhood. She found some wheat seeds; she planted those seeds; she tended those plants; she harvested the wheat; she ground the grains, and she baked bread.

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I am beginning to feel like that “Little Red Hen”, if you get my drift. I, too, can grow it, harvest it, and turn it into other products. I may even try making the cream.

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If you have any interest in the benefits of marijuana, there is endless information online. In today’s world, we really must advocate for our own health. I do hope the government makes good on its promise to make this extraordinary plant legal.

 

Thanks for reading

Penny xo

 

 

Olé, Olé, Zumba!!

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I told you I was a Rockette once.

We all know how important it is to stay active at any age. Before retirement, it was never my priority to be physically active. My life was physical enough with work, kids, cleaning the house, maintaining the yard and walking the dog. I was a single mom and had to do it all. There were a few times when I did join a gym with the intention of getting in better shape, but as the membership ran out, so did my interest and often my budget.

After retirement, I coasted along thinking little about exercise. I was more focused on filling my days to avoid boredom. I still had to maintain the house inside and out, and of course the dog demanded her daily stroll, but there was a lot more time available for eating and drinking wine with friends, so it is not surprising that my clothes started to feel tight in all the wrong places. In addition to that, my knees were feeling the onset of arthritis, and I worried  that I may join the people I knew who had to have knee replacements. I was determined to make some changes.

Several of the girls who had retired before me, were taking classes at our local senior citizen centre. The programs are extensive with numerous choices from yoga to swimming and tai chi to pickle ball. And yes, they even offer chair fitness for those with physical limitations.

I decided to check out some programs for myself. A few of my friends were already taking Zumba classes, so I decided to give it a try. Now for those of you who don’t know what this is I can explain simply. It is low-impact movement done to mainly Latin music. Classes are generally an hour in length. You can rest or modify the arm or leg motions  according to your own needs. I love music and I love to dance so it seemed like a perfect choice. 

Little did I realize how popular these classes are. Registration day, there we were lined up at 7 o’clock in the morning to ensure a spot in the class. It was like registering my kids for swimming lessons all over again. 

Just to make it fun, wear something that makes you smile. Here is something I chose.

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There is so much to choose from and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Try Joe Fresh for some great pieces.

Well, I have to say I am really enjoying Zumba. Of course it doesn’t hurt that after class we head to a nearby pub for a lovely chilled glass of wine and perhaps something to nibble on as well. The other patrons look forward to our weekly visits too, I think.

And if physical activity is not quite your “cup of tea”, there are many other activities to choose. Just get out and do something!

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The girls are going to be so jealous!

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo