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Less Stress and More Joy

I’m in my ThirdThird now (ages 60-90) and I find there are things I used to care a lot more about than I do now.  Priorities, experience, wisdom, adapting… whatever the reason, I am much more flexible in my thinking.

The result? Less stress and more joy. A greater appreciation for each day, each opportunity, and each interaction.

Here are five ways that I can be much more relaxed now that I have lived long enough to recognize what is truly important to me:

 

Fashion “rules.”

 

Rules that try to dictate details like you have to wear brown with navy or that you can’t wear white after Labor Day (or before Easter) or that after a certain age you “shouldn’t” wear leggings or high heels.  While I care about my appearance and want to be (relatively) stylish, I am much more inclined to be motivated by comfort and common sense now that I am older.  Put myself together in a way that I feel confident and off I go.

 

Grocery store attire.  

Continuing on with a clothing theme, I care much less what I wear to the grocery store, even though I have lived in our town for a long time and there is a good chance I might run into someone I know.  If I know them, they should not be distracted by my casual attire and we should be able to enjoy an exchange of pleasantries in the aisles, with or without makeup.

 

Other people’s opinions about my family.  

Once, my husband and I made a decision that (evidently) seemed rash to outsiders without much information. We both quit our jobs and headed in separate directions, temporarily, to take opportunities we were excited about. Pretty soon, there were all sorts of rumors. One of us was dying. We were splitting up. There was trouble brewing. None of it was true. We were just taking advantage of the trust we had built over many years that allowed us to each seek our own for a period. Since then, I don’t try to explain.

 

Keeping up with the latest.  

Technology, slang, exercise, diet. Trying new stuff that is going to disappear or be replaced before I fully understand it is an exercise in futility that I no longer am tempted by.  I am dependent on technology, but try to make what works for me last as long as possible. Slang, I just try to avoid so I don’t misuse, much to my grandkids’ amusement. Exercise and diet, I know what works so being consistent is the best approach at this point.

 

Everyone agreeing.

Ha! In the current political climate in the US, there is obviously little hope of everyone agreeing. But even in a family or social or work environments, I am much more willing to adapt to someone else’s idea than I used to be. For years, I have been considering a family vacation that involved passports and planes and trains and mountains and beaches. Our kids, however, asked if I would consider, instead, a week at a Florida beach. 17 people. No passports. No train. Just sand and sun and relaxing. They all agreed, so exchanging my plans was simple.  That they all want to be together AND they want their parents there, too….that was a fine adjustment for my thinking to make.

 

Life is simpler now that I can let go of a lot of the rules and expectations and assumptions I had when I was rushing around and holding things together in my FirstThird (ages 0-30, mainly focused on learning) and in my SecondThird (ages 30-60, mainly focused on earning).  

This is one key to me making my ThirdThird my very BEST Third.

 

 

 

* first published at Sixtyandme.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luca Upper

Describe Yourself

It takes some forethought and practice to know how to describe yourself.

I once had a meeting set up by a friend who knew I was starting a new venture.  He knew someone who was generous and who had some experience similar to mine and arranged for us to meet.  I prepared what I had and was very excited to impress this stranger.  I had great ideas, plenty of experience to validate my approach, and some written explanations and examples.  I shared them all.

Finally, I  stopped my “presentation” and looked expectantly at him.  He said, <direct quote>, “You have been talking for 20 minutes and I still don’t know what the hell you do.”

Ouch.  But a really, really good ouch.

I went home and Dave took one look at me and said, “Something just happened to you…and it is good.”  He was right.  I had asked some questions of my “benefactor” and he had headed me in a good direction.  I gathered up a flip chart, post it notes, an easel and a myriad of colored markers and pens and my journal while Dave reserved a suite room for me at a hotel in a town an hour away.  I stayed two nights and three days.  I created and defined and practiced and read and came back with an elevator speech and a list of services I provided.

It was the first time I had heard of an elevator speech and it was the spark I needed to launch a successful coaching and training business that has taken me to some very interesting places, learning some very interesting lessons, and meeting some very interesting people.  It was the start of significant growth for me, professionally.

All from a failed attempt at describing myself and what I do.

I sent a note of appreciation to the man (whose name I honestly don’t remember) and a bookmark with a quote on it with:

 

 

It’s never too late. Are you in your third third? Make it your BEST third.

 

 

 

Have you been wanting to try yoga?

In my long-time  pursuit of fitness, I have done a lot of different activities.  I loved sports when I was younger and that was enough, along with being active with my 5 kids, for a long time. But when I was recovering from a neuro-muscular disease and needed to rehab shrunken muscle fibers, I found that I really loved weight lifting.  I liked the evident progress that came from increased strength.  I loved it so much that I would make myself do some cardio before allowing myself weight time!

A few years ago, I discovered classes that I enjoyed.  “Women and Weights” was at one gym.  BodyPump with 800 reps in an hour was at another.  There came a time, though that my more strenuous weight lifting and bouncy cardio was giving me some new aches and pains. My lower back was often achy. I found myself limping some when my right hip complained. It was time for something with less impact.

So… I tried a yoga/tai-chi/pilates class. Two things happened:

  1. My aching back and sore hip got back into behaving as they should.
  2. I was sore!  I thought that I was in great shape and that yoga would set me back, but not so! I was using muscles in new, and evidently, better ways for my over-60 body.

Now, I am a regular yoga practicer (practitioner?).  Sometimes in a class, sometimes at home with a video. I recently tried a “power yoga” class that stretched me (pun slightly intended) and went to a new level.  I love the instructor who gently corrected some of my poses and encouraged me with my progress.

If you have been wanting to try yoga but don’t know where or how to start, here is an idea.

I am a featured writer for sixtyandme.com, a huge on-line community of women over 60. I am happy to pass along this information about the gentle yoga video series they offer.  This is definitely beginning yoga, so have no fear of being sore or needing to be super limber or strong to begin.

Check it out at HERE.

This might just get you moving more with fewer aches and pains!

*****Of course, if you are a beginner and under 60, you might like them, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Raimond Klavins | Artmif.lv Yoga Intensiv 2017 Turkey Yantra.lv via photopin (license)

It’s Easier to Keep it Off than to Take it Off

I had just turned 40.  Dave and I were at a gathering and he was conversing with someone and I was not included in the conversation.  My mind wandered.

True confession…..it wandered to the obvious weight gain of the female person my husband was having a chat with.  I thought, specifically, “Wow.  She needs to lose about 30 pounds.”

Then, I did a bit of calculating myself:
I had just turned 40.  And, I had just gained 3 pounds over the past year.  Yikes!  This person was 10 years older than me.  10 times 3 definitely equals 30.  Thirty pounds!!! In ten years, I would be the one needing to lose 30 pounds, if I didn’t stop gaining 3 pounds a year.

With a moment of sympathy, I did recognize that this person (the one talking to my husband and not talking to me), would have a hard time losing weight at age 50.  I was finding for myself that the older I got, the harder it is to keep weight off.  Nutrition and health are topics for me, so I knew that the older I got, the more difficult it would become to lose any excess pounds.

That day, I determined to keep it off.  And my mantra “it’s easier to keep it off than to take it off” was born.

Now, twenty-five years later, I am not quite the same weight I was that day, but I have managed to stay pretty close.  It is not easy.  People will often assume that I am just lucky.  Ha!  No way!  There is no luck involved in showing up to work out five days a week (most weeks).  There is no luck in choosing to eat less. Or to eat lower calorie foods that have higher nutrition than the pastries and desserts and carbohydrates I once enjoyed. Nope.  Not lucky.  Just determined.

It’s easier to keep it off than to take it off.

Determined to stave off old-age as long as possible.

Determined to be able to enjoy grandkids and their activities as they come along.

Determined to be able to keep up with my fit and active husband.

Determined to not purchase clothing in a size larger every year or so.

Determined to keep making a difference in the world as long as I am able, even in my third third.

 

 

 

 

photo credit: franchiseopportunitiesphotos person about to stand on weighing digital scale via photopin (license)

Strategy

Strategy

One of my Mantras is, “Be Intentional”.

Do what you say you will do… but think about it first.

Hmmm.   I can’t remember the moment I decided to live with intention, but most people who know me would probably use the word to describe me.  It might have come from watching people not be intentional.  It might have come from the hard lessons of the frustration that comes from letting others direct my efforts or decide my focus.  Whatever the source, “be intentional” has become an almost daily mantra for me.

I can’t just tell myself to be intentional, I have to have a strategy or a plan to guide my behaviors, thoughts, and actions so that I actually become intentional.

strat·e·gy

[a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.]
 
Here is my intentional strategy: 

Be Intentional-

  • Know what I believe.  I don’t have to tell everyone every thought and/or opinion I have, but I should know what I believe and why if I want to be sure I am doing or not doing what is important to me.
  • Decide for myself how I spend my time.  There are television shows that I might enjoy or benefit from.  There are books and magazines worth reading.  There are people who will add to my life if I spend time with them.  If I choose for myself, I will be less likely to succumb to advertising and marketing ploys for things I really do not want to steal my time away.
  • Don’t say “yes” or “no” too quickly.  Take time to consider how I commit my time and energy.  There will be consequences to any decision and I am wise to be as much in control of my decisions and actions as possible.
  • Don’t blame others for my own choices and results.  Own my own efforts and decisions.  Apologize when necessary.  Reimburse when appropriate.  Accept credit and praise graciously.  Say thank you and “I am sorry.”
  • Live without regrets.  If I consciously, intentionally decide what to say, how to spend time, who to be with, what to do, then the chances of having regrets is slim.

We can’t become intentional on accident. What is your strategy?

 

Wonder and Memories

A few years ago, I made my first trip to Mexico city.

Dave had been wanting me to experience Mexico City. It is huge… the largest city in our hemisphere and the third largest in the world. I’m not all that into large (huge) cities, but we are reading a book (The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver) about Frida and Diego and Trotsky and the story draws me to see this place. And Dave loves it there.

As we had been talking about our itinerary, it came to me that we could see the butterflies! I love monarch butterflies and the story of them wintering in Mexico intrigues me.

 

 

Monarch Butterfly

I have always noticed and loved the monarchs. As I planned that trip, I remembered why. It was the monarch butterfly I “raised” as a girl in Texas.

Somehow, I found a monarch caterpillar and brought it home. My daddy became interested as well and he searched for milkweed plants to bring home to feed my little “pet”. It was not easy, but someone he worked with had a home near a railroad track where there were milkweed plants. It was not a short process, but my daddy was in it with me for the long haul, finding food every day or so for my hungry caterpillar.

And one day, it made a chrysalis. And slept in it, for what seemed, to a young girl, a very, very long time.

One Sunday morning, the chrysalis was black. I was concerned….was it dead? We had to leave it and go to church, with me very concerned. But,when we returned home, it was emerging! That caterpillar had, indeed, transformed into a beautiful, black and orange, Monarch butterfly.

monarch butterfly mexico

I was in awe. What a wonder!

The new butterfly came out wet, with wings scrunched. But we watched as it dried and stretched and unfolded, my Daddy and me. The two of us, together, opened the jar lid and watched as my wonderful butterfly flew away… in all its splendor.

Now, I remember why I am intrigued by monarch butterflies. It is about a sweet memory of a quiet and private man who surprised me, occasionally.

 

 

 

 

photo credit: DrPhotoMoto Monarch via photopin (license)

photo credit: jennifernish monarch flight via photopin (license)

Thinner Next Year – No, THIS Year!

Run Rabbit Run 50 miler.

You can be thinner next year–and have some fun doing it. Here I am at age 64 with son Willy at the end of my first ultra–the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. Start now– an essential part of Your Best Third Third

Being a bit slimmer next year is a bit of a pipe dream (or a part of the denial process…it’s that NEXT word that does it) of many ThirdThird people. Chris Crowley (of Younger Next Year fame) has teamed up with Jen Sacheck, Ph.D to tell you in simple, no-nonsense, no fad diet terms how to loose some blubber THIS year. Starting right here, right now.

Their invaluable book is called simply Thinner This Year. And it is essential reading material for Your Best Third Third.

And remember that being set for your best third third is a process that relates to all ages. My wife and I cultivated practices in our twenties that paved the road for a vibrant last third of life. As a result both of us have avoided gaining that pound or two every year that leaves our nation in the grips of a healthcare crisis.

Here is what I have gleaned from this little “health bible” from Crowley and Sacheck:

1. Its about the food, not the exercise. Like they say, “Don’t eat crap and eat less of what you eat”. Simple.

Drink less alcohol.

The Okinawa Diet quotes the Japanese phrase “hara hachi bu” which our aspiring Japanese scholar son Willy tells me means literally “belly 8/10” or “belly 8 parts”. The idea is eat until you are 80% full.

And if you have not gotten the memo about the onslaught of empty food we are generally offered at the supermarket and restaurants, then wake up and smell the Wonderbread!

This eating less and well is not easy–but it is not rocket science.

But its fun, feels good, and is usually cheaper.

2. Look around and learn.

We are surrounded by a deadly epidemic of obesity.

Ask yourself if you want to loose your hips/knees, heart, brain, etc to a mass of fat tucked all around your legs, arms, and vital organs.

Get real and get motivated. Pick up Younger Next Year (or Younger Next Year for Women) and do every thing it says–starting today.

3. Exercise starting where you are.

So, ok. Exercise is an essential part of the plan. But most of us are not really serious about it because we have some excuse. Some lame excuse.

When I wrote this post I was in Steamboat Springs doing final training for a 50 mile run (Run Rabbit Run). My target is to improve my course time by 20 minutes and set a good record for a 66 year old.

You may think that is clear out of your realm–and perhaps it is. But I started some 25 years ago getting my stride and I work at it every day. Right here right now.

I am not a natural athlete. Far from it. But back early on in my second third, I returned to my heritage and love of running … and I have stuck with it. I hear a lot of excuses from my fellow Medicare friends. But whether it is running/walking, biking, fitness center, or whatever. You can get and stay active.

So start now. No excuse.Walk 5 minutes if that is what you can do. And next week make it ten—and keep going. Work out every day–ok six days a week–no excuses.

Here is the vision and promise: you will feel great, live longer and happier, and there is just one downside. You will unfortunately live longer and end up helping to fund (insurance, medicare, etc) the hip replacements, open heart surgeries and diabetes meds of your compadres who just THINK that thinning down and health is a good idea.

Sounds like a pretty good downside to me!

Run Rabbit Run 50 miler--and i am Younger Next Year!

The Run Rabbit Run 50 mile race passes through the lovely meadows and forests of the Rockies above Steamboat Springs. [Post race note: I DID finish the race (many didn’t) and felt great the next day—and I lan on running another big race soon!]