Living in the Moment

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This year has been hard so far. I have lost my mother, dear friends and have seen others suffer with terminal illness. It is true that I am in no way unique. Everyone, everywhere confronts the same challenges everyday. Not one of us reacts or deals with these events in the same way, so I can only speak for myself.

I have done the crying, the denial, the anger, the acceptance. Grief has to be worked through for us to move on. In my case, there has been more than that. I am making a conscientious effort to live in the moment!!! Not very original and not the first time anyone has tried this route. The difference for me is that this time I am older, I know myself better and I want to spend as much time as possible enjoying life, living the moments that make it worthwhile.

Blogging has been a way of keeping my sanity, but also a way to complain or keep up with the past or think too much about what I am doing or want to do. I am sure that is the reason I cannot write more than a couple of posts a month. Why I don’t seem to find new and interesting subjects to write about, or why I seem to get lost in reading instead of writing.

I feels as if a door has opened and I have walked through to find an exciting place. A place that was always there, but which I rarely visited. Some small things have shown up, though, like trying to post only positive messages on Facebook, changing the kind of books I read. Even started again de-cluttering my home, my closet, my life. Slowly, but surely I have come to this point. It is wonderful and I am most grateful.

There is no more time to waste in planning, it is time to grab what is offered and run with it. Take that trip, buy that handbag, go out with your friends, dress as you please, change your hair color, keep in touch with your loved ones. It is time to actually let go and live in the moment!!!

 

Accepting our Aging Bodies

What? That was my reaction when I read a post by Margaret Manning, from Sixty and Me. She has been on a trip to Bali for 8 weeks, rediscovering herself and accepting who she has become. It was very powerful. See for yourself HERE .

IMG_5294My mind understands this is essential to acceptance of ourselves as older women. Changes in our bodies are the first sign we are no longer the young, pretty things we once were. They creep in and slowly transform us. I know that, but since changes come slowly or we are not paying attention, we just wake up one morning and we are older!!! It’s not easy for me to post this picture, but I thought it necessary.

Margaret, of course, is right. This is who we are today and accepting, loving it and moving on is the thing to do. Now, what each one of us mean by accepting is the difference between living in harmony with ourselves or fighting to stay young by any means. This would be hardly harmonious. The desire to hang on to our youth is powerful, I understand. Millions of women spend fortunes in beauty products and surgery to try just that. Who are we to criticize….. but is it worth it? For some it is, but more and more women are changing this view.

IMG_3555The most important thing we should remember: keep healthy, active and involved. Living in harmony with our aging bodies, accepting them, does not mean we are going to let go. Nobody is saying we should just stay home, gain weight, slow down in our activities, dress like our grandmothers did and sit and wait for old age to fully take charge of our lives. Absolutely NOT!!!

Accepting our bodies as they are today involves a lot of work, dedication and care. We should work at keeping our bodies healthy and performing at their best. Make sure you have your physical exams regularly, listen to your body and tell your doctor anything you do not like or understand. This is most important. If you need medication, take it and do not forget to take your vitamins and supplements.

Eat right for your age. I know, here I go again mentioning age, but it’s important. At this stage of our lives we need certain nutrients more than others. We cannot tolerate certain foods and certain drinks. Alcohol should always be taken in moderation, but these days it’s more important. Make sure you know what agrees with you and what doesn’t. There is also the fact that overeating or eating at certain hours could be upsetting to our bodies, pay attention.

If you are exercising, great!!! If you do not like to exercise, try yoga or tai-chi. Your body needs to stay nimble, it will help your aches and pains, your posture and your attitude. Walking tall is always a confidence booster!!!IMG_5828

Finally, and very important, learn to dress as you please. It’s our time, wear what you like, what makes you feel attractive, what feels good. There are no rules about how we should dress…..never mind what certain people say. If you Google this topic, there are countless articles. Ignore them!!! Best go online and look at older women’s blogs: Not Dressed as Lamb, The Sequinist, No Fear of Fashion, Style Crone and Idiosyncratic Fashionistas. You’ll be surprised in a most wonderful way.

Now you know: accepting our aging bodies it’s a powerful statement in a world obsessed with youth. Go out and make it with pride!!!

P.S. Header photograph by Alan Maduro at Caracasbaai, Curaçao. Thank you!!!

We are What we Eat…….

DSC00647.JPGSuch an old saying, such a great truth, but such ignored one as well!!! Since my daughter moved back to the States from London, I have slowly changed my food shopping habits and my cooking ways. You all know I am not a cook, but we all have to cook at one point or another. I preferred reservations for a long time and I still enjoy dinning out; it’s just that these days I am more careful with everything I prepare and eat.

Healthy eating has become a priority in my life. As we grow older, good health is our most important asset. Taking care of what we eat is the first step to achieve a healthy lifestyle. So, I am now on a quest to spread the word. It has helped me, trust me.

Health issues are part of everyone’s life at one point or another. We do not have to suffer from incurable illnesses to understand this. Painful joints, high blood pressure, borderline sugar levels, problems with insomnia or weight issues just get worse with age. As in any modern society, our first impulse is to visit the doctor and start taking medication. We are all guilty of this!!

Do not get me wrong, when medication is needed, we all should take it, but we should also give Nature a chance. With that in mind, I decided to eat healthy. It surprised me how easy it was and how good it has been for me despite my health issues. Highly recommend it!!!

IMG_5442First thing I did was get my supplements in organic form and ditch the multivitamin pills. I do take more pills in the morning, but only specific ones that help my needs. Besides, I do not take fillers, additives and other harmful substances.

Second decision, drinking more water; not just any water, but flavored water. Anything that can give health benefits have found its way into my water jug: lemons, ginger, cucumbers, chlorophyll and other fruits and veggies. My jug is always full in the fridge, ready for me to enjoy. Soon these two changes started to make a difference, it was time to move on.

IMG_5445I started looking for specific foods that would help with my health issues and with keeping healthy. I came up with: olive oil, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, organic and raw honey, green tea, organic fruits and vegetables. Chicken and fish are still part of my diet, but they must be organic, a bit more expensive but worth it. Beef and pork make an appearance only once in a while!!! Lots of the veggies I serve are raw or steamed, same with fruits. Eggs, always misunderstood, are good too. I did learn to eat avocados and papaya…never liked then before.

Cooking healthy is also important. You start with the best you can get, you better do a good job preparing them!!! I broil, grill or stew, I never fry. Boiling has become a science since over boiling can make you food bland, destroy nutrients. This include hard-boiled eggs….didn’t know that. This is the healthier way to do hard-boil eggs. Put eggs in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a quick boil, cover and turn off heat. Let eggs stand there for about 10 minutes, put them in cool water and peel….perfect eggs!!!

Most of the time, I do not use recipes…I just improvise using ingredients I have at home. Fresh herbs and spices, onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes are always welcome. Cheese is a favorite and a challenge. I have accepted the fact that organic cheese is not easy to find where I live. So I try to look for simple kinds: Latin style white cheese, cottage cheese, any brand that offers the least amounts of ingredients in their cheese. It has worked so far.

DSC00513As I said before, I am no expert in any of this, but I feel strongly about my health. I will continue to learn and share. One last piece of advise: visit farmers markets. It has become the rage to have them in big cities. You are buying local and helping the economy. If you get to know the sellers in your favorite market, you can get the best products. On the other hand, be careful where you go. Some so called farmers markets sell products that are bought from big wholesalers.

It is never too late to take control of your health. Take the challenge and start soon…good luck!!!

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I am exercising more…….. and sweating a bit!!!

I have said it again and again: I do not sweat on purpose. No matter what people tell me, going out of my way to feel sticky and smelly would never be a priority for me. On the other hand, I have to accept that exercising can make a huge difference in our lives. Keeping active and nimble can help us stay healthy for many years to come. So, I have relented….I now exercise more and sweat a bit!!!

IMG_5270I have always walked. I could be because I lived in a beautiful place and walking was more of a treat than a chore…..or because I walked with dear friends and we talked and laughed while we walked. For whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed it. I still do, but is not as fun. Walking on your own is not the same. Lately, I have taken my husband with me. We don’t talk much, but the company is welcome. The fact that we walk along the water, looking into Biscayne Bay, is an added bonus.

IMG_5268Weights are supposed to help with bone density, keep your muscles in working order and help your posture and balance, aid in combating depression and making you look better. So what’s not to like? I am not talking about anything too heavy, that would involve more sweating. My weights are 3 pounds and bright red!!! Believe me they do their job. I have no flabby arms…..

Stretching is another great thing to do for yourself. Start slowly, develop your routine and just do it. I start before I get out of bed, all the stiffness just melts away. A bonus for me:  you don’t sweat stretching and it feels wonderful!!!

Some days, I take out my yoga mat and do some poses for beginners. It’s not that I can’t do more, it’s that the simple poses get me relaxed and nimble in a few minutes. Feels wonderful. Everyone should try yoga, it’s a complete exercise that involves your mind along with your body.

IMG_3199I have discovered that sticking to your plan is what’s important. I am not an expert, but I can tell you that working on your routine on a regular basis is the most important thing. You decide what and how much you are going to do, then you do it consistently. My goal has never been to reach a certain level or to look a certain way. I never thought of exercising so I could eat more!!! My goal is to feel good about myself and do as much as I can. Once you see results, as minor as they might be, you will feel inspired to continue…..I have and that is a lot to say!!!

Lessons Learned and Aging

Have you ever been asked your age only to hear this: you look good, though? Look good, really? Look good for what? Look good compared to whom? What does this really mean?

Well, I know it’s mortifying to many. Some of my friends can go into hissy-fits, some can get depressed and some of them just lie about their age!!! I am sure you belong to one of these groups. Or you could be one of those free spirits to whom age is just a number and you don’t care.

Since I let my hair go grey, I have not been asked my age very often. I guess everyone thinks I am just old!!! When it comes to this subject, life becomes complicated. Society has conditioned people, especially women, to strive for a youthful look. To keep looking young well into their middle-age is a goal for most of the women I know. Many of them go to great lengths to keep up an appearance of youth. Sad. We can try to change our look, but our body is still whatever age we really are. Period.

Do not get me wrong…I like to look good too. I want to feel attractive and strive to always look my best. There is no question about that. Just letting go of everything is not my idea of aging either. There is the fact that keeping healthy, active and focused on our well-being is a priority, regardless of how you feel about aging.

Now, let’s get down to reality. Studies conducted on older women have discovered certain attitudes that will bring a healthier, relaxed and positive lifestyle to anyone as we age. Most of these studies included women in the 80s, 90s and even 100s. The findings are amazing and we must share them.

First: Good posture is essential. We should strive for vertical balance. To help us along, walking is the best exercise. Try doing it everyday. I certainly know this, walking has been part of my routine for years. It is an excellent aerobic workout and gives you the chance to be outdoors enjoying nature!!! Dance when you listen to music, let go of those inhibitions…..it releases Cortisol, lowers your stress levels. Besides, it keeps you limber!!!

Second: Stay in the present. We can reminisce and enjoy our memories, but it is absolutely unnecessary to live in the past. Our future will not be as long as we want, even if we live to be 100. The present is where we live. This means becoming engaged, learning new things: listen to new music artists, learn a new language, watch new movies, get involved in social media!!!

Third: Love yourself. Love how you look, how you move, how you feel. Accept  yourself, but keep improving as much as possible. It is never too late to start taking care of your body, your health, your mind. Let go of perfect, it doesn’t exist. Cultivate a positive attitude that will lead to resetting your inner clock, making you feel years younger!!!

Fourth: Get in touch with your feelings and emotions. We forget this when we feel sick or under the weather. Find the cause of what ails you. Pay attention to how you feel. Meditate and listen to your body. Your brain is so powerful, it connects your feelings and emotions to your physical welfare. Use it to make you feel better!!!

Fifth: Savor the good in your life. Trust your instincts and defend what matters most to you. Be compassionate, starting with yourself. Enjoy and savor every experience be it a play, a book, a song, a glass of wine or a fine meal. You do not need anyone’s approval, you don’t need to please anyone but yourself….enjoy this time!!!

Gloria Steinem said once: “Women over 50 are a country to which this youth-obsessed culture has few guides“. Indeed, so it is up to us to gather the knowledge that is out there and use it to improve our lives now.  Age is liberating, we can say and think and do what we want. Make it so!!! We must not let the world tell us that we are now pass our prime, ready to put out to pasture, no longer attractive……..Aging is a right of passage just like others we have successfully lived through. It just happens that this time, we are prepared and ready!!!

Here is to 2016!!!

brown-background-blank-notepad-happy-new-year-holiday-62925209-1New Year…….opportunities and chances, choices and changes, a blank book to write wonderful stories. This year is no different, unfortunately, we all make resolutions and we all break them!!!

Thinking along those lines, I decided no to go the usual route. I am not going to get all worked up trying to accomplish the impossible. There had to be a better way, or ways to make this a good year.

Here are my ideas:

IMG_3566A few months ago, on Facebook……yes, I do get some good ideas from that…..I saw my New Year’s project. Going around, I found an article about focusing on the happy moments we have on a given day, week and month. It had a photograph of a jar, decorated and ready. For what you would ask? Well, to receive small notes mentioning those happy moments along the way. I thought it was just the thing because we tend to remember the difficult times more than the happy ones. So I bought three of them, decorated them very simply: one for me and one for each of my sisters. Part of my Christmas present to them.

The past year was very difficult to us. Nine years traveling back and forth to Panama, making sure our mother was well taken care of, struggling as so many other caregivers do. We had little time to focus on anything else and when we did, we discovered we have missed happy moments. When we, finally, put out mother in a home, mixed with the regret and the doubts, we were relieved. She is so much better off where she is and we deserve the rest. Christmas was a joyful family time!!!

The idea of our Happy Moments Jar was all we needed. It will give us the opportunity to stop and enjoy those moments, realize that we do have them and then scribble a small note about each one and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, we will get together and open our jars, read all our happy moments notes and remember what a great year it was. Brilliant idea, whoever had it!!!

IMG_3573Of course, I needed something else. I needed something to keep me busy the rest of the time, the time between those happy moments I was going to write about. On my last visit to Panama, I have picked up some coloring books and some Crayola crayons. Of course, the books were childish and simple. I most definitely needed adult coloring books. Mentioned this to my children in passing…….my son, Frank, got me the most beautiful one. Indian Mandalas and Henna designs….right up my alley!!!

IMG_3570Already colored my first page, randomly picking up crayons in no particular order, just the nearest. The result was very pleasing and, what’s more, it was so relaxing and uncomplicated. That, I discovered is the secret, you need to just go with the flow. Wonderful exercise in letting go!!!

These are my New Year projects, nothing complicated and stressful that would put me off. Nothing that requires a schedule, dieting, trying to get along with difficult people or a long term project that would never be completed. I think this is going to be a great year!!!

You Can’t Dance and Stay Uptight!!!

Remember that line? it’s from: Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest. It was just a feel good song and with a catchy tune. They never had other hit as big, but many of us still remember it. I was in college in Boston…..1972.

Today I woke up with it on my mind and on the tip of my tongue. So I decided to dance around. I know I sound a bit crazy, but I simply had to. Why not? Once a year we get a special day, all our own: our birthday!!! This is the time to just enjoy what has been given to us, count our blessings and give thanks. I know we are told to do this every day, but we don’t. At least, I don’t as often as I should. So on my birthday I will.

I am most thankful for my family: Frankie, Frank and Camille. They make my life complete with their love and support. My sisters and our mother who known me so well and love me anyway. My friends that are there for me and go along with my moods and my eccentricities. Each and everyone of you, thank you for being part of my life!!!

I am thankful for everything that I have learned, for what I am still learning and for the chance to share it all. It is an amazing feeling to be able to express my inner thoughts and see that people appreciate my efforts.

I am thankful for the years I have lived and the experiences I have had. I am who I am because of them. Each and every day, I have learned something and have been given something to be thankful for.

That is why, I have danced and hope to do so for many years to come. Dancing does indeed make you forget your worries, concentrate on the good things and make you realize that dancing is good for your soul because what the song says is true: you can’t dance and stay uptight!!!

 

Medical Tourism and Other Adventures

I have been in Panama visiting my mother. It’s a pattern I repeat several times a year. This time, I have been taking care of myself as well. Last few days, visits to the dentist have kept me occupied. As many other countries in the world, Panama has jumped into the medical tourism bandwagon. This is big business, so why not.

In Panama, most medical professionals at least have a post-graduate degree from an American university, or were educated in the States.  English is widely spoken and the facilities are first-class. Costs are about one third of those one would pay in the States. It was a matter of time, until I decided to try one of these services.

So far, I am very pleased. The clinic is state-of-the-art, equipped with the latest technology, the service is impeccable, the doctors are knowledgeable and competent. Everything is discussed with the patient and then the doctor will consult with other professionals before deciding on the best treatment.

This is something I would not have even considered a few years back. Living in Miami, I always thought I could get the best treatment there. Besides it is easier to just go home after a dentist appointment or a medical procedure, isn’t it? Well, even staying at a fine hotel and renting a car, here you can get more for less without sacrificing quality. Another advantage for me is the fact that I travel here so often. It was an easy decision.

After reading about this new global phenomenon, watching documentaries and movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this idea sounded like an adventure. Of course, this is not exotic India or casual Cayman Islands, and is not as popular yet. Still I have found it has the potential of becoming a very popular destination for medical tourism.

Feeling better about my decision and pleased with the results, I am going back to my mother’s house for an extra week. Panama City is buzzing with the coming of the VII Summit of the Americas. Presidents from every country in the Americas, their entourages, press representatives and regular citizens with the intention of having their concerns heard have descended on this city. It is not the time to be here.

Traffic, always chaotic and slow, will be impossible. The government, in its infinite wisdom, has given four days off to everyone. People that can afford it are leaving in troves. The main bridge that spans the canal was closed at noon on Friday, making it almost impossible to travel to the rest of the country.

I have welcomed the peace and quiet of the small city where my mother lives. Here I can be absolutely sure of staying out of the way of an event that would yield little. It has never before come up with anything important to make a difference in the lives of the people of this continent. Sad but true,  this has only cost money, deepen differences and promote antagonism and hate. Very sad, reasons why I stay away from politics.

Now, my experiences with this medical tourism that is developing here would stay with me. I am sure to try something else if need be. Life has a way to bring you around…….I never expected to come back here to do anything but visit family and enjoy my friends. Glad I was wrong!!!

Let’s Focus

11021409_10152735021796526_8966241876562844157_oMultitasking: it is not what we were told. Apparently, doing more than one thing at a time is not the amazing feast everyone is so proud of. There have been articles written that show: we have been confusing movement with achievement. Yes, that was it. There was a lot on our plates, but that didn’t mean we were doing any of it right.

As many women of my generation, I was always very proud of my ability to handle several situations at a time. During the years I worked, I was constantly on the go. There is no such thing as relaxation when you work and have a family. When my children were small, I drove then to all their after school activities, read a book while waiting, took side trips to the drugstore or supermarket and who remembers what else. It was the way to go, never thought much about it unless it was to realize I was exhausted at the end of the week!!! Once in a while, I mixed things up and ended forgetting something, buying something I didn’t need, had a couple of near-misses while driving and called each child by his/her sybiling’s name. Of course, I told myself, this happened to every woman I knew. Now, was that really true? or was I just kidding myself? after all, I could handle so much and solve almost anything, I had to be doing this thing right.

No, I wasn’t. If I would have stopped for a second and taken a good look at how I was running around like a chicken without a head, I would have clearly understood. What I was missing was focus. Yes, I was not focusing on any particular task, I was just running through them thinking I was so organized.

Everyone tells us that, with age, we forget, we cannot do as many things, we cannot accomplish as much in a day. Somehow, we are made to believe that we are not as sharp as we used to be. Well, that is a fallacy older women should not fall for. Unless there is something wrong with your mind, slowing down and focusing on the task at hand is the best that can happen to you.

This is finally our time, isn’t? Children are grown, we have retired or are working less, we have time to enjoy the things in life that used to fly-by in our youth. Now we can focus. We can concentrate on the task at hand and do it well, the first time. We can sit and enjoy everything around us. We can read all day, admire the sunsets, go out to lunch with our friends, take a walk on the beach picking up seaglass or shells. What a fabulous discovery!!!

You might think all this comes down to the fact that now we have more time. You may be right, but you may be wrong too. We are now able to do one thing well, while being able to see the whole picture. Like the beautiful photograph on this post. You can see the pier in between the branches, but if you step back a bit, you can see the whole beach, the sky, the ocean. That is focusing!!!

So do not feel that life has slowed down because you do not go around doing three things at a time. That has never been something good, it’s about time we understand. Life has not slowed down our abilities, we are finally doing things right. It is as it should be.

P.S. Thank you so much to Manu Bergman who allowed me to used this photo. It was taken on a most beautiful spot: Barbara Beach, Curaçao.

Nora Ephron, I am embracing my neck!!!

41cRDasGDKLIn 2006, Nora Ephron, screenwriter, producer, director, journalist, playwright, author, wrote: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. In the book, Ms. Ephron writes about things women my age know so very well: age, loss and vanity. Her exquisite wit and talent lead the reader on a path to understand what happens to us as we age, as we start to realize that youth is fading away. The first essay is about the neck. If you haven’t read it, please do!!

When I read the book, I completely understood what she meant. I even agreed with her as I laughed out loud at her comparisons and advice. “Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck”, she once said. Have to say I did not disagree. After all, I have seen older women, I have seen that my neck was not the same. Still, I never considered being so preoccupied with it. I was still adjusting to other changes, my neck was not important yet.

Oh, how wrong can we be!!! Not two years after that, my neck became the center of my aging concerns. No, the worse had happened, my neck was definitely showing signs of wear and I thought everyone was looking at it!! I now know, each one of my friends was worried about her own neck and had no interest in mine. At least the ones that were real friends!! Or the ones who would not worry at all about aging, and we all have a friend like that.

I felt as Ms. Ephron did, I should have paid attention to my neck when I was young. I should have taken care of it more than my face, which could be helped with make-up and creams and other such things. Our necks, I am sorry to say, do not response all too well to those treatments. Short of surgery, there is little you can do to improve its appearance.

Her advise was to start covering your neck at 43. I was older than that when I read her book, so I was a bit late. Still, her ideas were seriously considered: wearing turtlenecks and scarves, Oriental collars à la Joy Luck Club!!! Just hilarious!!! Trust me, I have considered each one of those pieces of wisdom. Have even worn some of them, but these are just ways to ignore what is there in plain sight: our aging neck!!!

I have done facial exercises, have slept without a pillow and have used untold creams and lotions. I decided a long time ago, there would be no cosmetic surgery in my life. A couple of times, I have been tempted. The only thing I can tell you is that my fear of unnecessary pain kept me from those thoughts. I always say that if I have to suffer pain, it must be for something more than looking great: like having my C-Sections. My children were my reward.

Since starting this blog, I have changed many of my preconceived ideas and concerns. After all, once you let your hair go grey, few things frighten you about aging. On that note, I am telling Ms. Ephron: I’m sorry, regardless of what you said, I am embracing my neck. It is not that I suddenly find it attractive or I have found a miracle remedy. Sorry to say, that hasn’t happened. Probably is not in the realm of possibilities. I have not gone against my principles and had surgery either. None of that, I’ve simply decided that what I am doing is all I can do. Life continues, my neck will just have to take second place, or a place further down the line.

Creams and lotions and exercises will still be part of my daily routine. After all, I am now used to them and will missed them if I stop. My pillow will or will not be used at night. This will depend on my mood or my headaches. I am refusing to cover my neck unless it’s with a fabulous necklace or it’s cold and I need a scarf or a turtleneck. Everything that shows, I have earned. For good or for bad, what I did or didn’t do is now irrelevant. Age has its rewards and its detractions. I will consider my neck one of the latter and move on. Feels great!!

P.S. Please get the book and read through it. Your idea of aging will be greatly improved and you’ll laugh non-stop.