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

 

 

Wrinkles and Other Stuff

Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought or even said out loud, “Whoa! How did that happen?”. I know I have. Aging just seems to sneak up on us. Now we all know that individual who never seems to change or look older, but they see the changes too. Perhaps, they are just better at hiding those telltale  signs from the rest of us.

I think the scariest piece of beauty equipment that I own is this little device below.

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That’s right! It’s the dreaded magnifying mirror. When I have to use it, I try never to look at my whole face at once. It’s  terrifying!!! I just kind of sneak up on the area I need to work on, like chin hairs for example.

Don’t you just love the hunt for chin hairs? I swear they spring up overnight. Sometimes they are dark and easier to find, but now as I get older, they are white. I run my finger over my skin to feel for them. It’s like Braille. Then I have to be a contortionist with my face to expose them for plucking using another tool of torture…. tweezers. Ugh!

Once we have our face cleared of unwanted chin hair, there is the mustache. Please do not shave! There are any number of do-it- yourself products on the market such as depilatories and sugars or  waxes. Of course, you can always have it removed at a salon. I tend to like to remove it myself. For some reason, I like to feel I am in control of my own pain. Pick your own method, but don’t neglect this area.

 

Once our facial skin is smooth, we are ready to tackle those wrinkles and age spots. It always reminds me of spackling a crack in a plaster wall. No matter what your age, there is no denying the importance of a good face cream and there is no shortage of products at all price points. Those products promise us the fountain of youth in a jar, but we know their limitations. After all, we weren’t born yesterday. A product that I have found that helps is……

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I use it after I have moisturized. The creases around my eyes seem considerably less visible, and the skin feels like satin making foundation glide on easily.

We all have our own individual make-up routines for eyes. They are my favourite part, and I don’t feel complete without doing them, but many people prefer a natural look which is great too. Do your own thing ladies!

Lips make me crazy. Where do they go when we age? Mine seem to shrink with each passing year. I am not into Botox or fillers, so I have taken to over-drawing them. Before you get some scary picture in your mind, I keep it very minimal. Experiment with your own, if this is a problem you have as well.

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Well, I have shared my own issues about my aging face, but we all know the problems don’t stop there. As one of my girls put it, “I use to look at my naked body in the mirror and see Perky, Pointy, and the Black Cat. Now, I see Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.” Add to that the moles and skin-tags that grow in profusion like barnacles on a boat, and you get the picture. We don’t have to like it, but we might as well accept it. Smile, those wrinkles are coming anyway.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Girlfriends

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Growing up, I had always had lots of friends. Most of these friends were people that I met in school or was introduced to by others. When you are young, you just assume you will grow up, start a job, get married, and keep those friendships, but as is often the case we become consumed by work and family life, and we lose touch with many of those people. Friendship takes work.

Friendships to me are like plants; each one is entirely individual and unique in personality and like plants they need to be fed and cared for or they will wilt and eventually the friendship will die. We all have those individuals who have wandered in and out of our lives; at one time we were close, but as time passed, they drifted away and we lost touch.

Youth take so much for granted. They don’t seem to maintain friendships. I can’t count the number of times that younger people have asked how long my friends and I have known each other. They are shocked to learn that many of us have been close friends for 50+ years. This fact amazes them. Most have not even been alive near that long. My daughter, who is now 40, often remarks how she has not stayed friends with any of the kids from school. She has developed new friendships through her work, but they do not share a history.

There is something to be said about growing older together. We know the good, the bad, and the ugly about each other.We have been there through marriages, babies, divorces, health problems, and yes, even death. We do not always agree, and that’s just fine.

My own amazing circle of girlfriends are an unusual mix of characters. We come in all shapes and sizes and preferences, but we share a common trait. We love to laugh…at life, at each other, and yes, even at ourselves. About 7 years ago several of us started to get together for dinner every few weeks. Well, for the last 5 years we have met for dinner EVERY Wednesday at the Tartan Tavern (yes, it is old like we are) no matter the weather and even when the power was out. Sometimes there are 9 or 10 of us squeezed around our table and sometimes only 3, but we never miss. We have become somewhat of a fixture at this pub and the waitresses and other regulars know to expect our rowdy gang without fail. We chat and gossip and laugh so much that my sides often ache when I leave. On occasion, we break into random song and that creates quite a stir.

My family mean the world to me, but I am not sure I could have made it this far in my life without my girlfriends. They lift my spirit and support my goals. They have never let me down when I needed them.

Girlfriends are powerful.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny  xo