As some of you may already know, Be Brave. Lose the Beige is a place for Baby Boomer women, Lady Boomers as I like to call us (as I most definitely fit into this demographic). I write about issues facing our generation. I started writing back when we were struggling with how to fill our empty nests followed by how to cope when it filled back up and emptied for a second and third time. The issues have transitioned in the ensuing years to - (1) navigating retirement retirement options, (2) the advent of grandchildren in our lives, (3) our changing bodies, and (4) caregiving and health care issues. Aging, as the pundits are want to say, "is not for sissies". So true for me as I face a myriad of joint issues, thinning hair, feet issues, and a wrinkly neck (remember Nora Ephron's quote in her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck- 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 was 65 when she wrote that book (not long before her untimely death six years later). At 63, I'm really relating. I find I'm obsessing about the shampoo/conditioning protocols to deal with my dry hair; shoes...I'm totally obsessed with finding shoes that can help me manage a Morton's Neuroma and Plantar Fascitis; even makeup- what can help keep up the lie on my face as Ephron put it. So...periodically I will post tips from experts on these topics. I read with interest a recent article in The New York Times entitled "There Is a Right Way to Wash Your Hair". I actually clicked on it and received good information about:
I'm not much of a girlie girl (if I can even use that reference at my age) but I found this article fascinating. I hope you will too. I'll post tips from other experts soon. (Disclaimer: I researched neck enhancement tips but they all looked incredibly painful.
- The right way to brush your hair.
- Using a vegetable derived oil to moisturize hair as opposed to conditioner which can weigh down your hair.
- The right kind and amount of shampoo depending upon the nature of your hair
- The correct way to rinse your hair
- Even the correct method for towel drying your hair.
New York Times
I frequently write about aging issues in my blog posts. There’s no mystery as to why. As a 63 year old aging Baby Boomer, the zapping sensation in the balls of my feet and ailing knee joints constantly remind me of the trajectory of time. So I read with interest a New York Times article entitled, “How to Become a Superager”. An intriguing title that asks…
Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline? “Superagers are those whose memory is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds.That statement seems far-fetched. Apparently though, research suggests working hard at something increases the chance of remaining mentally sharp even as we venture into the last trimester of our lives. There are critical regions of our brains that remain thick and healthy through vigorous exercise or disciplined mental efforts. And, they are not talking just about participating in Luminosity brain games, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku. They are referring to learning a new language or musical instrument.
What counts as a superager?According to the article, Superagers are the Marines of maturing adults. Not only does the work have to be difficult, there must be an element of discomfort from the exertion, which literally builds muscles and mental discipline. This reminds me of Younger Next Year wherein Chris Crowley says the ticket to turning back the biological clock and living like 50 year olds well into their 80s is strenuous exercise- the spin class workout kind of exercise or power yoga. These Superagers excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention. It is human nature to avoid unpleasantness. As we age, though, this tendency becomes more acute as we sidestep situations that make us uncomfortable. Herein lies the rub-- we can also sidestep challenging physical or mental exertions (not unusual since we feel we have earned the right to relax and take it easy). However, if people consistently avoid strenuous physical or mental exertion, brain tissue gets thinner from disuse. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Two People In My Life I Count As SuperagersThere are a couple of people in my life who fit this bill. Twice a week Jim engages in a power lifting workout with his personal trainer where he bench presses 180 pounds in multiple reps. Other days find him biking, swimming, and doing yoga. At 67 he has taken up playwriting as a hobby and is learning German in advance of a trip to Bavaria. At 72, Ann is fearless about keeping up with the latest technology. She Instagrams, Facebooks, discovers new apps, and taught herself email marketing strategies through Constant Contact. Were it not for a back injury you would find her spinning regularly at a nearby cycling studio. Oh, and she is also an accomplished fabric artist. Superagers or not, I think these two are super people in my book.
I’m conducting a poll. (Since my husband and I own a market research firm I default to collecting data when I have a question.)
So on to question 1-Within the past 12 months, have you participated in a holiday family gathering? (Of course, many of us will cite the just past Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah festivities as just such an occasion).
Question 2-How were the family dynamics at said holiday occasion? Aside from being a nosey pollster, my questions stem from an article I read in the New York Times about what they have officially dubbed “Family Jet Lag”. The following is an excerpt:
The holidays mean large extended family gatherings, hours of cooking and a group of people who don’t typically interact in person, all confined to one location and trying to act festive. It’s the reality show version of your family. When you return from your holiday visit, you may be exhausted for days afterward, finding it hard to focus and return to your regular routine. It feels as if you took the red-eye from Phoenix, but in reality it was a quick one-hour flight from Cleveland. This is family jet lag.
Ancient Family DynamicsFamilies have many emotional dynamics. Siblings who formerly shared bathrooms and bedrooms see each other once or twice a year and are now forced into similar intimate spaces in Mom and Dad’s house. Expectations for marriage, children, and career advancements thread their way into cooking conversations. Anxieties at these events are as prevalent as the pumpkin pie (and not nearly as tasty). Visitors and hosts often use precious vacation days for these holiday excursions. They are often already tired from a grueling work/school schedule, become more tired by the travel journey, and then can experience family fatigue from emotional stress. Some measure of this description resonated with me about my own holiday family experience. For the most part, joy is the way I would describe my feelings about my family gathering together for the first time in almost two years. Seeing my daughter interacting with her niece and brand new nephew, witnessing the kind of father my son has become, the opportunity to play and laugh with my BFF granddaughter—let’s say it together--priceless! But there were skirmishes in the pursuit of the perfect holiday experience. Divorced families contribute their own share of stress as parents vie for precious family time. Aside from the cooking and cleaning, six week-old babies are not known for sleeping through the night. Even with five adults and two children, exhaustion was an ever present factor contributing to this family’s jet lag. Diminished sleep, according to this New York Times article, impacts one’s sense of well-being. So what it is the solution to Family Jet Lag? I offered up a perfect solution to my children- Move Back to Orlando! Yes, uproot your life in Chicago and Baltimore and move nearby. Then you will have your own places and we don’t have to pile in on each other like puppies. Somehow, I don’t think they are going for it though. Let me know your suggestions: Please click here to take my survey on this topic.
For all of us aspiring writers, Silas House offered good advice in his column in The New York Times. "Many writers I know talk about writing more than they actually write." These aspirants read books about writing, attend conferences, talk about writers block, but spend too little time alone putting words to pages and computer screens. He opines…"The problem is, too many writers today are afraid to be still." He's not necessarily talking about the kind of stillness where you are locked in a room alone with your laptop. People are too busy being Moms, spouses, daughters, and employees. We are always in motion. But that motion does not preclude pursuing our dreams of authorship. The kind of stillness to which Silas refers is a stillness in our heads, keeping our mind's eye still as we observe the world around us, which feeds and fuels our inspirations. Silas argues writers, (like every other woman I know), "must become multitaskers who can be still in our heads while also driving, waiting to be called "next" at the D.M.V., while grocery shopping or walking the dogs. We are people who are forever moving, who do not have enough hours in the day, but we must remain writers. This kind of stillness translates to maintaining our focus on the essay or short story at hand even in the midst of caring for others. It is pausing to notice the details around us. This article embodies the Be Brave. Lose the Beige philosophy of transforming those mundane, every day tasks into creative opportunities. "Life stuff" will always pop up and try its best to postpone or interfere with our dreams. Why not use all this life stuff instead to fulfill our dreams.
I really shy away from using words like “crusade” or “evangelist” due to their religious connotations, but on occasion, I think these words can be apropos. For example, at times I feel like Be Brave. Lose the Beige is on a creativity crusade and I'm an evangelist singing its praises, so convinced am I of the potential life-changing/life affirming capabilities of creativity. Pretty strong statement, huh? Well, a New York Times article entitled "We're All Artists Now", validates this contention. The article’s author, Laura Holson, leads off by saying "Our best selves are merely one doodle away. Where once drawing and other painterly pursuits were the province of starving artists or simply child's play, unlocking one's creativity has become the latest mantra of personal growth and career success”. I've extolled the creative virtues of doodling (see Doodle for your Noodle) and coloring books for grownups in previous posts. More than 60 books are expected to be published on doodling and a meditative drawing technique called Zentangling in 2015. Johanna Basford has made coloring cool for adults with her three books -Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, and An Inky Quest -two of which are topping best seller lists this year. This NY Times article noted that creativity has the same holistic benefits as a weekend at the Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa (and much cheaper, I might add). The Mayo Clinic recommends the health benefits of painting and ceramics. A four-year study found that people who took up creative endeavors at middle age suffered less memory loss. Elizabeth Gilbert, of "Eat Pray Love" fame, has written a new book entitled Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. She argues creativity is not about dropping everything and becoming an opera star, but rather life driven more strongly by curiosity rather than fear. Gilbert talks about her father's passion for beekeeping. He did not abandon his practice as an accountant but rather folded his dream into his every day life. Whether the economy has improved is up for debate. Many people remain stuck in jobs they do not love. Creativity enables fulfillment in other aspects of our lives. Let’s face it the left brain linear thinkers among us have reduced the concept of creativity to a “trivial pursuit”. In reality, people need to maintain some sense of themselves and to keep their soulful spirits in tact. Throughout the country creativity clubs are sprouting. Members keep in contact to help each other rouse imaginations. Living a creative life is hardly a new idea. Robert Henri, an artist and teacher in the 1920s, wrote The Art Spirit. He counseled his students that artful living is as much an attitude as a practice. Then there is Julia Cameron, writer of The Artists Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Her newest book, It's Never Too Late To Begin Again: Creativity In the Golden Years, will be published next year. Cameron writes how many of us feel it is too late as we have squandered our creative capital by investing disproportionately in the hopes and dreams of others. “Others think the only path to a creative life is a quit your job or nothing proposition”. Cameron says by fantasizing about doing your art full time sometimes means not even doing it part time or at all. Many of us are currently in the midst of transitions- work to retirement, work to grand-parenting, work to a different kind of work, and even health transitions. A Be Brave. Lose the Beige motto reads...
Running from meeting to meeting, checking off the to-do-list—That isn’t really living. Discovering the playful side of life. Spreading joy. Being colorful…clever…creative. Now, that’s living!Just like the accountant/Beekeeper mentioned above, try folding your dreams into your daily lives. Even a little creative thinking can produce seismic changes.