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Reflections: Musings on Aging…

03/06/2011
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“Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age.” Ambrose Bierce

Reflections: Musings on Aging... an older militia man

Before 74 year old body builder, Ernestine Shepherd, started getting a lot of well deserved press for her fantastic physique, there was Marjorie Newlin, an 86 year old body builder who stunned us with her youthful physique and energy. Many of us fear the aging process and fight it with plastic surgery, however, we have the option to choose a sound and carefully developed exercise routine to help us stay fit. Yes, genetics do factor in, but that shouldn’t deter us from doing all we can to help our bodies and minds stay sharp.

In some cultures, the elderly are revered and treated with great respect. In my father’s village and many others, back in Nigeria, the elders are consulted for their wisdom and experience. They belong to special groups and attend events together; sharing their knowledge and stories of the olden days. When they pass away, their funerals are usually a celebration of lives well lived; tears of sadness mixed with a lot of joyful tributes.

In Western societies, living a long and full life is still valued, but there seems to be a disconnect between living a long life and getting old. It seems to me that the common message tends to be; living a long life is good but getting old is bad. As long as we are alive, old age is inevitable. If old age is inevitable, why are many frightened about getting old then? Losing control of faculties, wrinkles, health issues, and becoming invisible are some reasons I’ve heard, but we don’t have to give up our effort to stay healthy and age gracefully.

Reflections: Musings on Aging... Ernestine Shepherd

As a child, I wanted to grow up so I could attend the special meetings my grandmother and her peers attended. I wanted to be a member of the group of wise old elder women in the village. I admired their careful deliberations and wise decisions. By my teen years, however, something shifted inside; call it excessive exposure to TV culture and Ads that glorified youth, as those innocent wishes flew out the window. It is ironic that at age 15, a 30 year old was old and a 50 year old was ancient to me… Now, years later, I find myself echoing friends who say 50 is the new 30. Yes, it certainly is, and why not? After all, we’ve come a long way baby… So, what led me to this subject? Today, I got some very funny jokes via email; they were about what could happen to us as we get old. They got me thinking about aging again… I have added a few below. Enjoy and share your feedback. 😳

“I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.” T.S. Eliot

Reflections: Musings on Aging... sideview of an older woman.

Three sisters, ages 92, 94 and 96, live in a house together. One night, the 96 year old draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses. She yells to the other sisters, “Was I getting in or out of the bath?”

The 94-year-old yells back, ‘I don’t know. I’ll come up and see.’ She
starts up the stairs and pauses, ‘Was I going up the stairs or down?

The 92-year-old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea listening to
her sisters, shakes her head and says, ‘I sure hope I never get
that forgetful, knock on wood.’ She then yells, ‘I’ll come up and help
both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door’

As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang.
Answering, he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him, “Herman, I just
heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on Interstate
77.
Please be careful!”  “Heck,” said Herman, “It’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of them!”

While the humorous stories above do portray some of what we might experience as we age, it isn’t everyone’s experience. We do have the ability to not live a life of quiet desperation. As the quote by Thoreau below suggests, we can age well by making what he calls a conscious endeavor. We can choose to conquer that fear today and see the blessing in having a long life and good health. We owe that much to ourselves. “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” Henry David Thoreau What are your thoughts? What shape are you in and how do you feel about aging? What would you like to improve? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

This post was inspired by a Daily Post prompt: What is a fear you think you can conquer today?

Positive Motivation Tip: We can choose to age gracefully bu taking care of ourselves or fight it all the way… The choice is ours.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: Photo of older man,   and side view of older woman via Wikipedia  Ernestine Shepherd

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

37 Comments leave one →
  1. 04/06/2011 2:24 am

    I’ve told that first joke but the second one is new to me 🙂

    • 04/06/2011 6:05 am

      Okay good… Hope you like it the 2nd time around. I have a few more from the same mail I got but for sake of time/space, I decided not to add too many… Quite funny! 🙂

  2. 04/06/2011 3:07 am

    The jokes are really funny 🙂 Thanks for making me laugh this early in the day!

    • 04/06/2011 6:07 am

      You are welcome… there are a couple of those jokes I didn’t post because of the language. 🙂

  3. 04/06/2011 6:04 am

    In some cultures, the elderly are revered and treated with great respect. In my father’s village back in Nigeria, the elders were consulted for their wisdom and experience.
    +
    yes, we are doing something wrong in Europe and the US …

    • 04/06/2011 6:08 am

      I think so too… Too much focus on youth beauty and surgery… Aging has its upside too. 🙂

  4. 04/06/2011 8:47 am

    LOL at the jokes! Thanks for the laugh.
    My dad is a young 71, going on 72 in August and he gets around very well for his age. If you’re walking behind him anywhere, it’s hard to keep up with him!

    • 05/06/2011 3:48 am

      There you go! Another good example of a strong man who still outpaces his young daughter! 🙂 TY Sharon for being so honest about this; there are older folk who can give many of us a run for our money. 🙂

  5. 04/06/2011 11:36 am

    I love my age and the signs of age (although am struggling embracing the turkey skin quickly spreading) but both my folks died young and I celebrate just waking up! I love the feeling of experience, though not always learned from it..I love my scars because that means I survived…I honor the really elderly (read anyone older than me) …thank you for a post close to my heart!

    • 05/06/2011 3:51 am

      Amen to that… I love your feedback especially your line on what the scars mean. I wish more people would make the effort to understand that an advanced age does not mean the mind has turned to cheese or worse…
      TY! 🙂

  6. 04/06/2011 12:34 pm

    WOW Elizabeth! I just read up on Ernestine Shepherd, and all I know is, I;m putting on my running shoes and getting a weekend workout (or two) in! I want guns like that now –AND and in my 70s.

    It just goes to show you that you can have the body you want – any ANY age – if you are willing to pay a small price for it – cheers to Ernestine!

    Great post 🙂
    ~ Lee

    • 05/06/2011 3:53 am

      Isn’t she something? I’m joining you with my running shoes. I was always athletic in school, ran almost daily in college and grad school, and gradually fell off track. I still love exercise but not running… Maybe I will try it again. 🙂

  7. 04/06/2011 12:43 pm

    Here’s one for you…
    MIDDLE AGE TEXTING CODES: ATD -at the doctor. BFF -best friend fell. BTW -bring the wheelchair. BYOT -bring your own teeth. FWIW -forgot where I was. GGPBL -gotta go, pacemaker battery low. GHA -got heartburn again. IMHO -is my hearing aid on? LMDO -laughing my dentures out. OMMR -on my massage recliner. ROFLACGU -rolling on floor laughing and can’t get up. TTYL -talk to you louder!

    Thanks for the chuckles and for making me feel flabby. ;D
    b

    • 05/06/2011 3:54 am

      Oh Barbara, you are funny. Where did you find all these acronyms? Did you make them up? Hysterical! 😳 🙂

  8. InsideJourneys permalink
    04/06/2011 1:27 pm

    Elizabeth,
    Believe it or not, I’ve had both those women’s photos on my refrigerator at various times for inspiration. It’s not enough — I needed one of them to kick my butt back to the gym.
    I used to bug my mom that she needed to exercise, that it’d help her. Now, I find myself without energy and exercise is a foreign word. I was never into exercise when I was younger but couldn’t get enough of it – ran several marathons, was always active. Then after my last marathon, I told myself I needed a break. That was 5 years ago and, I hate to say. almost 80 lbs. later.
    Malidoma Some, in his autobiography, wrote that young children in Burkina Faso are paired with the grandparents to pass on knowledge and information. The thinking is that the young is coming from where the old is going.
    Thanks, as usual, for a great post,
    Marcia

    PS: I’ve moved my blog to http://insidejourneys.com. Take a look and let me know what you think,
    –mm

    • 05/06/2011 3:59 am

      TY too Marcia and I can relate to what you are saying… It is harder to get back on track as we get older but these ladies have proven that, with determination, we can surely get there; even if we fall off again and again.
      Congrats on your blog move, I will check it out and subscribe. Will you still have all the advantages of WP? 🙂

  9. 04/06/2011 1:30 pm

    Loved the jokes . . . laughter prevents hardening of the attitudes. 😀

    Some of aging is premature, caused by bad habits . . . or the lack of good habits. But some of aging is “inevitable” ~ the toll we pay for riding down the highway of life.

    Thanks, E!

    • 05/06/2011 4:01 am

      Laughter is a great thing as we age… Yes, we do the best we can and we embrace the rest. 🙂 TY!

  10. 04/06/2011 2:32 pm

    The level of respect that many other cultures have for their elderly is wonderful! I hear people saying “old people creep me out”. It makes me furious.
    I love seeing a really old person smile! It makes me happy, knowing that they’ve experienced so much and they know so much about life- and they’re still smiling!!
    I started encouraging my mom to exercise three days a week and now she goes Every Day because it makes her feel so good!

    • 05/06/2011 4:02 am

      I agree with you… I do hope that as we all age, we will become more compassionate both with ourselves and others who are elderly… The impatience is what gets me; mine included. TY! 🙂

  11. 04/06/2011 5:00 pm

    Great post Elizabeth, thanks for the reminders! I’m off for my usual Sunday morning bike ride with my friend shortly (just thought I’d let you know!)
    Thanks for the jokes, they cracked me up!

    • 05/06/2011 4:03 am

      Enjoy your biking! I’ll be off for my walk sometime soon. Walking has been a lifeline for me through many changes… Yoga and meditation too. 🙂

  12. Bree permalink
    04/06/2011 5:22 pm

    Aging is seen as a bad thing by some and a blessing by others.
    I’m with you on appreciating life;especially a long life. 🙂
    B

    • 05/06/2011 4:05 am

      A long and healthy life is a great blessing… If more can see the glory in that notion, maybe we will all work harder to stop the beauty=youth oppression…TY! 🙂

  13. 04/06/2011 6:11 pm

    I remember being very young and feeling like folks in their 20s were learned, aged people. Around the time I turned fifteen, I started seeing more and more “old” people who didn’t strike me as at all old in spirit or demeanor. Slowly my sense of “old” started shifting. It started seeming like a very positive thing.

    After I read Lord of the Rings around the time I finished college, I became downright excited by the thought of getting older. I started seeing a correlation between age and wisdom–or at least other people appreciation one’s wisdom!–and began checking my head for signs of gray hair.

    I cheered when I turned 30. I can’t remember exactly what I said in my birthday letter, but it was something along the lines of, “30 isn’t 400, but it’s sure a step in the right direction!”

    My forebears have seldom made it to 60 (my mom was the youngest to go, at 52), so sometimes it saddens me to consider the prospect of not growing old. I’m doing what I can to ensure I’ll not only make it into but out of my 60s. With any luck, I’ll be like the 82-year-old who came in within a minute or two of me in my first marathon! That’s what I aspire to, anyway. That and having the kinds of friendships my “adopted” mom has with her girlfriends of decades.

    • 05/06/2011 4:10 am

      Amen to that and from your mouth to God’s ears. When we put our hearts to the grindstone and work with our beliefs, everything is possible. I pray you into your 80s and beyond with good health tossed in. 😉
      In my lineage, the men didn’t make “old bones’ as they called it, but the women lived forever… though I must admit, that my maternal grandfather lived a very long life and looked younger as he aged. WoW! 🙂

  14. 04/06/2011 6:22 pm

    Stuffed bunnies have to worry about deterioration of the fabric. Thankfully I know some very good seamstresses, but there will come a time that I will have to be kept in a box or bag to prevent further aging. I don’t look forward to that…unless I have internet in the box.

    • 05/06/2011 4:11 am

      There you go… You may never have to worry if you maintain your internet facade as you age. If we don’t see you, we won’t know what you look like right?
      Thank you Baxter and I do hope to see you around for a long while. 🙂

  15. 05/06/2011 7:56 am

    Love the TS Eliot quote! I’ve been working out with free weights for a few years. I tell myself it’s for my bone health, but it sure has helped my upper body strength. But looking at the photo of Ernistine, bones nothing! I can work harder and look great! Thanks for that!

    • 06/06/2011 12:45 pm

      She looks terrific and I could stand to get serious and add more to my routine. I did body building/training for a while and I felt my strongest during that period…. Right down to my core. 🙂

  16. 05/06/2011 9:45 am

    Wow–Ernestine is my new heroine! Just lately my niece returned from watching my 93 & 90-year old in-laws and emphatically exclaimed: People shouldn’t live to be that old!!

    I must say that I am healthier and stronger now at 58 than I have been since 25! Finding out that I had osteopoenia drove me to Boot Camp twice a week and am one clothes-size smaller in just 4 months!

    • 06/06/2011 1:09 pm

      Good for you… I might need a boot camp myself soon. I was always good with exercise and staying fit; I even taught it in graduate school but the last three years things shifted… I still love to exercise but with a different approach to it.
      As for aging, genetics plays a role and then our own effort. I can’t imagine what happened with your niece but if they never lifted a sneaker, then it could be a struggle. 🙂

  17. 05/06/2011 9:29 pm

    Here is what I believe about aging:

    “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

    –Sophia Loren
    😉

  18. 05/06/2011 10:32 pm

    I don’t know when I found this post, but had saved it to read later. I sit here today reading it and smiling that I would have finally gotten to it the day before I turn 64 (typing that out just gave me pause). Don’t know how I could be 64 when I feel nowhere near that age.
    I am challenging my brain with my writing that I’ve started in earnest just recently. And I’m out walking when the weather is good, or on the treadmill when it’s not. Gotta keep moving!
    Great post, thanks.

    • 06/06/2011 2:46 pm

      Happy Birthday Angeline!
      May you continue to enjoy your 2nd youth and good health. I’m glad you read this before your birthday, now you won’t have to worry too much about the usual nonsense that goes around on aging.
      I am so happy to hear from you and will visit your blog to cheer you on!
      Best wishes,
      Elizabeth

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