Choices to Make

My belief system about old age has contained one of the same truths since my Mom was placed in the locked Alzheimer’s unit six years ago. It feels as if you have to change on a dime more often than not in your last several decades. Either because your situation with health, money or living situation shifts, or those around you face changes you want to help support. Just when you think things are set for a bit, they suddenly are not, and the situation must face a reevaluation.

Research told my generation as we reached middle age, that strong skills in resilience would serve us well in surviving and thriving in life and that there are lots of ways to improve that skill. I agree, although it can be exhausting to be a resilient elder. Now I know, that not just the situation may need to be reevaluated, but your personal part of the whole picture too. YOU CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH. I write that to remind myself as much as the reader. While you are assisting others, your health, money or living situation may shift and there is not enough physical or emotional energy to deal with that effectively.

Making choices, from which new phone to buy, to what therapy to get for bone spurs have many of the same methods. Gather as much information from as many “experts” in the field, figure out what your priorities and value systems say to you and move ahead with out haste, but quickly enough so the whole situation has not shifted and your choices are more limited. There is that little quirk now that we have so many choices we can become overwhelmed–and that is not just us elders either.

If you have a large enough social circle and people you trust, you already know immediately whom to call or text or email or send up a flag for. If not, ask a medical professional or religious leader who knows your situation.

In my life, I have recently done all the due diligence and am leaving most of my teaching or volunteer projects behind for some serious hours learning to write a personal essay or letter to the editor that may impact an issue that interests me. Traveling to the last of the places on earth I hear calling to me is another decision, that requires more self-care in the short-term to get all of it done while my body can enjoy the trips too. As we know too well, don’t wait, do it now.

So, this will be my last blog for a time, with the hope that when I am traveling a new set of observations will need to be set down to share with anyone who wants or needs to read them. The discipline of a blog has helped me to learn focus and practice mindfulness and writing it may be a constant companion that will not go away.  It may be the ultimate self-care for me.

May you encounter more joy than sadness, less suffering than expected and spread kindness and compassion all of your days.

Joanna

November 4, 2017

 

 

 

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Natural Healing

On my daily gratitude list, the inventors of medications that help or heal the diseases of the flesh and body systems could be mentioned every time my pill-box is opened. Actually, if penicillin had not been invented when it was, my first round of pneumonia in the late 1940’s would have been my last. But, extraordinary elders, you may have noticed that the medical community occasionally seems to push the meds on us instead of looking at more than a symptom. If you have reached the age of older, you may have gone through not only the health care wars, but the finding -medical- personnel- who -really- listen- to- you- battles. (My brother and sister-in-law fit in the “listen” medical personnel category)

When pain from various chronic issues started controlling my life too much, to my delight I found that an internist who is a STAR, was practicing again at the Anschutz Wellness Center. She could help me get a handle on how to manage this next few years of aging with a body that is not allowing a quality of life I want. Balancing movement, sleep, nutrition, mindfulness, stress, and activity level with pain caused by different body parts as they deteriorate is the goal. Keeping good records to track what helps and what needs to be improved is half the battle. Being able to utilize as much “natural” healing is also a goal for me. If you know me or have taken a class or seen a reading list, you know that the book Never Say Die, by Susan Jacoby is one considered a must read by me.

My doctor sent me to the small town of Kittredge, on Colorado highway 74 to a set of greenhouses that grow organic hemp. Now that Colorado allows the growth of marijuana, various health related business ventures have started to stand out.  CBD is the part of the plant that is used for various ills. The research is incomplete, FDA doesn’t regulate so you are guessing on a strength of a salve or tincture that will help, but the owners are very knowledgeable and in addition to a purchase they gave me several samples to try. Ambary Gardens being the choice of my doctor and her medical friends tells me a lot. I trust this woman with my life and now that I have been to the gardens I can see why the doc is excited about the product and the people.  If the salve just relieves the inflammation from the arthritis in my hands for several hours during a flare up, the trip was worth it. Of course, because it is in the mountains and I had breakfast across the street with my friend it is already worth it

Natural ingredients that are in the product in addition to extract of the CBD from hemp include shea butter, almond oil, coconut oil, argon oil, Calendula, arnica, essential oils of jasmine, ylang ylang, bergamot, geranium, and clary sage. It smells heavenly.

I have used arnica for several years and found it effective for bruises, and general pain from hitting my head against the wall–accidentally. If you read stories and books about the middle ages in Europe there is always a wise women (or man) who lives at the edge of the village and has a herb garden. If the person isn’t killed for being a witch, she or he will have all types of tea and salve to help the physical pains of living…especially living long when you would also like to prosper.(they also have the best gossip) My children have aches and pains from sport injuries years ago and the specter of an aging body right in front of them. My journey is for all of us who hate to take pain pills, believe in physical therapy and massage and acupuncture as methods to try. I just added hemp oil.

The cottage picture above is mine (in my mind) and we should all go and plant a garden of good medicines and good memories.

Here is to health and quality of life

Joanna

ps give the guys a call and ask about hours and payment options and the store dog who is walking better because of the salve.

 

 

 

Piece of Cake, Easy as Pie, A Walk in the Park, Easy- Peazy- Breezy….

And No Sweat! My life for the past two years has been full of adventure, new people, loving family and a couple of hundred people talking to me about aging and what their experiences in life have been. In the past year a number of these people have started a gratitude journal to help diffuse feelings of several unpleasant emotions: anger, narrow-mindedness, quick judgements, fear, social impotence, marginalization and confusion. The need to be introspective as an elder in order to feel centered is a common occurence.  The political climate and chaos of acts of terror urges an elder, who still wants to make a difference in the community and the world on a higher moral plane, to search in writing personal journals, reading, classes, lectures, deep conversations, prayer and generally reaching out for answers to hold onto.

Then we remember—-life is suffering with a few moments of joy beyond our dreams. And then there is the suffering. For me, the more my heart aches for the victims of storms, any human violence and the aftershocks of human trafficking or drug trade, the less I can function with positive energy toward the ills of the people or animals in need that can be helped. Trauma is trauma and the only thing that varies is the degree of pain and details. Letting the trauma of the entire population of the world overwhelm you is a waste of your extraordinary elder status and wisdom. Practice letting things go into a pile of events placed in a closet on a shelf wrapped in a soft blanket that contain people and places broken so badly you may not be able to help. They will wait for you while you make chicken soup for your neighbor next door who just gave birth. Work on what you can work on and be mindful about your energy and gratitude and focus on the now.

None of the above applies if you one of Nelson Mandela’s council, an editor of a national newspaper, a well-respected magazine or any of the richest people on earth. You, my newest friends, can come over for a cuppa tea and a piece of my chocolate cake so you can learn how easy-peazy-breezy it would be to help the suffering…for you all, a walk in the park I am sure.

Pecan Pie with vanilla bean ice cream please –easy.

Joanna