Tag Archives: aging

Beach bag bell curve

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Beach bag bell curve

beach1Show me a bag anyone is bringing to the beach and I’ll tell you how old they are.  It’s like looking at a bell curve of your life: the bag starts small, becomes larger until it’s bursting then slowly tapers off.

Like your life.

During the teenage years I carried a very small beach bag.  All I needed was a bikini, baby oil, a chair, and Cousin Brucie on the radio. My Italian mother supplied lunch for the entire beach whether she knew you or not.  Back then I wasn’t worrying about what I looked like from the side or behind. I sat upright in my chair because I could.  Because when I looked down I wasn’t wondering, “how the heck did that happen?”

The dating years come; the bag gets larger.  You are still in a bikini and haven’t yet had children, who destroy your life,

…I mean your body.

The chair remains upright.beach2

My mother still supplied the lunch but only if she liked my boyfriend. No lunch delivered, I knew he was history. When I brought my future husband around she delivered breakfast and lunch to the beach and my dad carried down gin and tonics.

…Subtle like a sledgehammer, my parents.

During the years I was raising children, getting to the beach required a large bag busting with shovels, pails, sunglasses, flip-flops, trucks, diapers, sun screen, hats, and diapers , along with beach4strollers, small tents, umbrellas, and chairs.  Attempting to cross Ocean Ave to the beach with 2 kids in tow required an act of God.  By the time I had survived the crossing, unpacked, the cramp in my bicep finally subsiding, it never failed that one of my kids needed to go back to the house to use the bathroom. The bikini has been traded in for a mu-mu. And that chair?  My sister, 8 years my junior with a tight stomach and no kids now sits in it…upright.

Currently my bag is considerably smaller, my life quite different.  This was apparent when I spent a few days with a girlfriend at the beach. She used to remind me to bring my ingredients for margaritas, now it’s my heart meds, gluten free wraps, probiotics, and vitamins. I used to remind her to bring sauvignon blanc, now it’s microwaveable quinoa, green tea pills and bee pollen for our metabolism.  We lined everything up on the bar and took a picture of our “stash” to send to friends remembering how we used to send pictures of cosmopolitans. The sun is no longer our friend so our hats are large enough to carry a small child.

I’ve ditched the mu-mu and am back in a 2-piece but that chair needs to be at a very specific back-angle so that it appears I have a flat stomach. One notch up in the wrong direction and it’s all over.

Now about that bag… Sometimes I forget the bag. Sometimes I forget the book.  Sometimes I have the book but forget the beach3glasses to read the book.  I wish my kids were around so I could send them back to get whatever it is that I’ve left behind. It would make me feel like I had gotten my money’s worth for giving birth to them.

And when I finally make it to the beach, unpack, grab my hat, unfold the chair, put up the umbrella, get out the book, apply sunscreen, what’s the first thing I do?

I face the beautiful ocean.

Grab that small bag.

Turn around and head back for the bathroom.

55 ~ the Good, the Bad, the whole milk latte

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55 I think my mother’s more depressed about the fact that I’m turning 55 than I am. When someone asks the ages of her children and she says she has a daughter who is 55, a quick calculation would make my mom…well, pretty darn old. So yeah, she seems a bit depressed.

I’m trying what I have always suggested my kids do, which is to come up with a good vs. bad list to turning 55. Maybe this will help me embrace this birthday. Maybe this will deter me from putting an eye lift and liposuction on my Christmas List.

The Good. I can sleep in because I don’t have to wake up to make breakfast or lunches for kids at home. The Bad? I can’t sleep. If it wasn’t for infomercials on juicing, doo-wop music collections and rotisserie ovens, I don’t know what I would do with myself at 3 in the morning.

The Good. I’m hot. The Bad. It’s not hot in a sexy way.

The Good. I got over being over-the hill when I turned 30. That was the most shocking birthday for me. Growing up, anyone 30 was practically decrepit. They wore weird sweaters, were married, wore way too much make-up, and were thick in the middle. The Bad. I seem to own a lot of weird sweaters, I’m married, I wear a lot of make-up and I am thick in the middle.

Now as far as that “thick in the middle” aspect of turning 55, the good is with no children at home to suck the life out of me, I have a lot of time to work out so most mornings I get dressed and head to the gym. 2 hours of either spin and step classes, or pump and step classes 3 days a week. 1 day a week I take a Pilates mat class.551

The Bad.

It’s not working.

I have cut back on carbs. My weight remains the same. I have cut down on up sugar. My weight remains the same. Given up soda, desserts (well…sort of), and watch my calorie intake. My delusional friends tell me that muscles weigh more. But 30 pounds of muscle? It’s why I refuse to give up wine. I can still drink myself sexy.

The instructor in my Pilates class wants our abs back to their glory days. He instructs us to hold in our cores: to clench as if being hit with a basketball while we do planks, side-planks, and sit-ups. I clench. I hold it in. But when looking down, hanging off those clenched muscles is still a stomach.

Hence, the wine.

DD Blend 004The Good. Upon turning 55 I can use my AARP card and receive a free donut with my coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The Bad. I have no will-power and eat the donut.

Always.

I make myself feel better by getting a latte made with skim milk but that’s sort of like ordering a Whopper with a diet coke. I’ve done that too.

My solution is I find at least 1 person a day who looks worse than me. Then I stand next to them.

Many people remark that 50 is the new 30 and they’re happy to tell you that they loved their 50’s. But I’ve noticed these people are in their 80’s. And then there are those who say to me, “but you look 45” as if that should make me happy.

So you’re probably thinking this gal has no problems and she should just be thankful for the life she has. You’re right, and I am. But it’s like an out of body experience when filling out a form where they are asking for your age and you have to scroll down to 1958. It takes a REALLY long time to get there.

The Good. Lot’s of celebrating yours truly. On the actual day my mother cooked me a fabulous birthday dinner. My husband took me out for drinks and then a Bonnie Raitt concert. And to cap it all off, my best friend surprised me by inviting 10 of my very best sleep deprived, memory challenged, sweaty, sugar craving, near-sighted friends to celebrate with me at a local restaurant. And we all ordered dessert.

In weighing the Good vs. the Bad, I’ve decided there’s enough Good to forgo the eye lift and the lipo…for now. And if I don’t look down at what’s growing over my belt I suppose I’m content to be 55. I’m going to eat a donut whenever the heck I want and maybe I’ll even order my latte with whole milk… just to be able to walk on the wild side again. 553

RECLAIMING MY BRAIN

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I’m on a mission to reclaim my brain.

Previously I wrote that I’ve been feeling memory challenged. Memory of names, words on the tip of my tongue that I can’t remember, where I left my phone, keys, glasses, etc. Being assured by my doctor that it wasn’t the onset of early Alzheimer’s, I was told to pretty much deal with it…”it’s part of the aging process”, he said.BRAIN2

“F… that,” I said.

In my younger years when I wanted to learn anything I reached for something I could touch. Flash cards used for multiplication and addition (obviously that didn’t work, but that’s another blog), cookbooks when I wanted to learn a few recipes.

That was then.

This is now.
I pick up my iPhone and go shopping at the APP store. And there it is…Lumosity. An app suggesting I could “reclaim my brain”! It’s a brain trainer. Sort of like an exercise trainer but nobody is yelling at me to get down lower in my squats.

Finding Lumosity gave me hope. Clearly I wasn’t the only person who wanted to find their brain or why would there be an app for it? Others must be walking around in a cloud wondering where they parked their car too. Maybe this app could help me feel like I wasn’t having a senior moment 24 hours a day.brain6

I started with the SHAPES game used for memory. It claimed to help you “manage business meetings where lots of ideas are discussed”.

Managing a business meeting? The closest I come to managing a meeting is discussing who will do what chore in our family. I don’t need ideas. I need someone to take out the garbage. I skip to the next game.

The BRAIN SHIFT game also claims to help with memory and can “make you a better listener at work and in relationships.” WHOA! I don’t need to be a better listener. I want people to listen TO ME! And as for relationships , I don’t need any more friends. The ones I have know what they’re getting and still like me. They too are walking around in a cloud wondering where they left their glasses and their cars. Where’s the training on Lumosity for that, is what I want to know?

I decided to go on their website and sure enough, all those looking to reclaim their brain are in their 20’s. It’s like 18-year-old models selling wrinkle cream to 50-year-olds.

But I knew for sure that this app clearly wasn’t written for me when one of the statements said, “I need to improve on projects – although I can easily switch between them, it’s hard for me to maintain focus on one of them for long”.

You’re 20 years old and you can’t focus? BRAIN1

Clearly this person was not a 50+ year-old mother. Mothers switch between projects the minute they get up in the morning until the minute they go to sleep at night. We don’t need an app to help with project management.
Friends my age aren’t dealing with managing meetings or relationships. We want to remember what we had for dinner last night.

You think you have lost your brain at 20? I at least have an excuse… It’s called MY LIFE! “What’s yours?” I scream at the iPhone.

Maintain focus? Are you kidding me?

You haven’t even been married yet! Now there’s a mind numbing experience.

You haven’t had kids yet who think you were born to serve…them!

You haven’t yet been an executive at a fortune 100 firm making money with a wonderful office and a secretary before you decided to give it all up for the card you get once a year on Mother’s Day.

What I realized was that I deserve to be forgetful! I’ve earned it. I’ve done nothing but schedule activities, play dates, meals, concerts, sleep-over’s, sports practices, competitions, juggle 14 balls in the air at one time, and drive, drive, drive for the past 20 years. MY BRAIN IS FRIED FOR A REASON.

So what if I’m forgetful. I never once missed a game or a concert. I was successful without an app.

So I decided I am going to reclaim my own brain with no help from the app store.

I will park in the same lane at Shop-Rite so I always know approximately where my car is. I will have multiple glasses scattered around the house, I will force myself to put my keys in the same pocket of my purse and on the same counter in my house every time I drive. BRAIN4

I need to give myself a break.
I need to embrace my fogginess.
I’ve earned it.

I’m losing it….Really.

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I’m losing it….really.

I have become a list maker. I used to make lists to remember who had to be picked up where and when, dates to turn in various school forms, pizza day at Bragg School, birthday cards to buy…You know, those important things that us
“stay-at-homes” live for.Clipart Illustration of a Red Pencil Marking Of Items On A Check

Now I make lists just so know I have accomplished something by the end of the day because without my list I wouldn’t remember what I accomplished on any given day.

I was getting concerned that I had the early stages of dementia until I realized that all my friends are memory challenged. My girlfriend forgets a lunch date but it’s OK! I forgot to pick my dad up from his doctor’s appointment and I DROPPED HIM OFF THAT SAME MORNING! My other girlfriend can’t remember where she put the book I lent her. It’s OK! I can’t remember even having read the book although I must have loved it because I’m running a neighborhood book group to discuss it.

Today, when getting together my friends and I find ourselves in competition over how forgetful we are. We face the same challenges with a common theme: where’s the keys, where’s the scarf, where’s the wallet, where’s the glasses. Although we laugh, there is still that nagging little voice in the back which says (sort of loudly)…maybe this ain’t so funny.

I actually downloaded the Lumosity app onto my phone which promises to “train your brain for better function.” (More on this in my next blog). When someone is looking over my shoulder I switch over to the NYTimes app so I appear to be smart.

I looked up the symptoms of dementia:

1 A group of symptoms affecting intellectual and social abilities confused

Well, surely I have that one covered. It’s hard to sound intellectual and excel in the social scene when you are flipping your words as in, “I think I will go to the car and get the heat seated”, which really translates to “I think I’ll get the seat heated.”

2 Memory loss

I literally can’t remember why I am standing in a particular room on any given day. I know that I went there with a purpose I just can’t remember what that purpose was. Then, 3 hours later when I’m getting into bed, that’s when I’ll remember.

3 Problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and impaired judgment or language.

(refer to answers number’s 1 and 2)

4 Dementia can make you confused and unable to remember people and names. foot in mouth

I have decided I have way too many friends and this is the reason I can’t remember names anymore. I don’t need any more friends. So I have decided to close the gate. My friends are the ones I currently call friends. The rest of you – don’t bother me.

5 Changes in personality and social behavior.

See the last remark in the answer to number 4

So I went to go see my doctor about this and he said it’s an age thing. REALLY? Something else that us 50 year old women now I have to deal with along with insomnia, weight gain, and feeling like we’re hot but not in the sexy way?

DR: Anyone can forget some details but people with dementia forget the entire thing.

ME: Good…I will forget what my thighs used to look like.

DR: People with dementia are prone to placing objects in odd places.

ME: I found clean wash cloths in my freezer. (I kept this to myself).

Long story short…I’m not worried anymore since nobody that I know can remember anything and we are relatively happy. My 80 year old mother who is still working, still going, still doing reminded me, recently, after having misplaced my glasses for 3 days, that my glasses may be in my bathrobe pocket. THEY WERE. Maybe dementia missed her generation and settled on ours. Or maybe we all just have way too much time on our hands.

I continue to train my brain with the lumosity app daily, but only after I find my phone.

Role-Reversal

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I can’t ever remember a time growing up that my parents asked me how to do anything. It was always the other way around with me asking them for help, and they always knowing how to do it.  Not to take anything away from their brilliance, but things were a lot simpler back then. No iPhones, remotes, or apps. The television, stereo, and lights had one switch/2 options: on or off.  So it was simple and didn’t  require a password, a download, or a PDF file. I thought my father was brilliant simply because he could switch the sound in the stereo from one speaker to another.  Your parents were supposed to be smarterfather with child than you.

Today, my house and my life come to a grinding halt if I can’t get in touch with one of my kids. It’s complete role-reversal with them being brilliant and me not so much. They are being the all-knowing parent, me the naive child.

I don’t enjoy feeing simple-minded around my kids. Everything is complicated AND it’s all connected which makes it even worse.  My DVD is connected through the Xbox which is connected to the television.  This means that if I want to watch a movie I need one of them to turn the TV on for me.

Sometimes, when I’m home alone I sit in a dark room hoping if I concentrate hard enough the television will turn on by itself.  Friends are impressed by how many books I read, but really, if I could get the TV to turn on I wouldn’t read that many books.

The lights in the family room come with a programmable remote control.  It’s called “SmartHome” and it’s a multi-room lighting control kit. Once again, you need an engineer’s degree to complete the simple task of turning the lights on. The kit includes an eight button keypad.  The instructions say, “plug into an outlet and connect to your router which can then be accessed from any web-enabled device.” ARE THEY KIDDING ME? I JUST smart mom remoteWANT TO TURN A LIGHT ON AND I DON’T WANT TO ASK MY KIDS HOW TO DO IT.

I want a remote called “SmartMom” which could make me, well…smart.

My kids are very patient with helping me. Their generation was all born “on the grid”.  Their first word spoken was probably “synch,” and they can complete any task involving electronics and technology at such lightening speed that it doesn’t pay to follow or try to learn myself.  By the time it takes me to find my glasses they have already downloaded, uploaded, liked it on Facebook and hooked me up with some cloud that I’m still trying to get a handle on.

Even trying to impress them with apps on my phone backfires.  “I have Pandora” I tell them.  Only to be told that Spotify and Tunein Radio are far superior to my hokey little Pandora app.  “Yeah, well I downloaded the Torch app and now I have a flashlight on my phone… So there!”  They are speechless.flashlight app

“And furthermore, we were allowed to play tag even though not everyone could be “it”, and not everyone got a trophy but we still felt good about ourselves, and we could make eye contact and HAVE A CONVERSATION with another person without texting!”  Now they are looking at me like I have lost my mind, but I don’t care. I’m tired of feeling inadequate. I want to feel like my parents got to feel….superior, omniscient, and brilliant.

My daughter recently got an iPhone 5.  We were standing in line at the mall and she said, “I can’t figure out how to post a picture to Facebook from this phone.” I literally ran someone over to help her.  Imagine…me helping her!  “LET… ME… SHOW…YOU…HOW… TO…USE…YOUR… iPhone,” I practically screamed so that all could hear and be totally amazed by me, a mere grown-up helping a child with something electronic.  And so it came to pass that I did help her.  To add to my new feeling of superiority, the young cashier said  he had never seen it happen before and was truly impressed.  Feeling pretty cocky I told him that I even had the torch app and could use my phone as a flashlight…and then I lost him. But for a brief period, I was brilliant and it felt amazing.child

After leaving the mall I tried to get into my car and realized I couldn’t find my keys.  I was practically in a panic trying to think on which counter I had left them.  It was then that I noticed my daughter with a smile on her face that seemed to be growing.  Slowly she pulled my keys out from one pocket, and then my reading glasses from her other pocket.  “…Just so you don’t think you know it all” she said.