Deep Thoughts

This page will probably be a lot of thoughts about getting older, because it's on my mind a lot lately.  If you've always enjoyed playing with make-up and changing your face, how do you handle it when your face changes in ways that you don't want?  How do you adapt your sense of style to a body that is getting older? What do I do with all of my heels when they seem to make my foot hurt?  I can't imagine giving up my heels!  So, that kind of thing, plus some general thoughts about social issues, family, life goals that may never be realized, etc.
I'm so sad for those who have lost their lives during the terrorist attacks in Paris, and for their loved ones who are still here.  Murdering innocent people is not only evil, it's ignorant, as in STUPID. I wonder if the young men who carried out the attacks even knew why they were doing it.  I can't begin to understand what would motivate someone to kill innocent people who never hurt them. How do they justify or rationalize what they're doing? I suppose they think those lives are just a "casualty of war". I doubt that they even feel anything like remorse, empathy, etc.  They're miserable individuals who join a "cause" (like ISIS) because they don't have any goals or direction in their personal lives. So they let someone else tell them what to do so they feel like their lives have a purpose. How pathetic. And before someone says "your country has murdered innocent people during wars"... that may be true, but that wasn't their intent.  THAT is what makes the difference, your intent. Personally I'm not pro-war. I didn't agree with my country's invasion of Iraq. I only favor military action is situations like this one. I hope the french retaliate, but they have to do it in a smart way to be sure that they're getting the right people. I have every confidence that they will. Civilized people research, they gather information, they plan, and finally they take action.
The people who planned the attack on Paris weren't civilized, they weren't smart (although I'm sure they think they are), they're not holy or whatever they want to call it, they're just animals.

What defines you?
A question to ponder when you have some time. Are you defined by what you are for, what you're against, or a mix of both? Or possibly you don't even know? What makes you who you are?   For example, I know some people who don't like anything "big business" or "mainstream'. I'd say those people are defined by their opposition to those things, aka "the status quo".  Some people have a mission in life, like helping the less fortunate get access to legal counsel, or saving people's lives by being a surgeon, or educating people.  Those people are defined by what they're for, usually.  So, just a thought....

What really happens when you get older?

I'm guessing that most people hear similar things about getting older.  What I remember hearing was conversations about every day aches and pains, the ubiquitous advertisements for anti-aging creams and lotions, mainly for "crows feet",  and other types of wrinkles, and the health problems that ran in my family, like heart disease.  Oh and you get gray hair, so you have to dye it. No biggie there.  So my take-away was that when I got older I'd have to watch for heart problems and do aerobic exercise to avoid them, I'd need to put eye cream and face cream on to stop wrinkles (although my parents both looked younger than their age so I figured I was genetically lucky), and that some day I'd need reading glasses.  And the whole biological clock thing, which was what I probably thought about the most.
So I was blind-sided when I needed spinal surgery at 43 and found out that I had bladder cancer 6 months later (although my doctors did say it was very unusual).  I was annoyed when I needed bifocals at around the same age.  Wasn't that only for OLD people, like people in their 60's?  How annoying to not be able to see the name on the bottom of a lipstick tube!  And let me tell you, that just gets worse. Now I understand why people put reading glasses on a chain around their neck.  There's always some small thing that I can't see when I least expect it. I can't even read a magazine while I'm on the elliptical machine at the gym. I feel like every time I put on my reading glasses when I'm there that I'm screaming "I'm old!!!" to everyone in the gym.
Two other aging issues that I'm surprised by - how soon your body starts wearing out, and how hard it becomes to lose weight.  I've been a regular at the gym for a long time, and I have high standards for myself. I do weights, I do the elliptical, and I used to take yoga and Pilates classes every week.  The summer of 2012 my left knee suddenly started hurting, especially if I went down stairs. I assumed that I'd twisted it the wrong way and it would get better with rest.  I was surprised (again) when I went to my regular Dr. and was told it was some problem with a very long name which basically meant that the cartilage cushioning my knee cap was wearing away.  She gave me a list of do's and don'ts and that was it. About a year later it became difficult to bend my knee.  That made doing a lot of things very difficult, especially at the gym. Have you ever tried to get on a stability ball when you can only bend 1 leg? Pretty much impossible. Then last summer my left foot started to hurt, too.  Those 2 problems caused me to limp whenever I had to walk more than a few steps. I felt like someone had fast-forwarded my age to 85.  My usual 30 - 45 minutes on the elliptical shrank to 15, and that was hard. I was also well aware that my continually increasing weight wasn't helping my joints.  I tried eating salads more and other things less, and it didn't make one bit of difference.  So frustrating! And obviously exercise was difficult. I went to a chiropractor and an orthopedist.  The ortho Dr. told me that I was going to need a knee replacement sometime soon, but that I should try to go as long as possible without it.  Wait, what??? A knee replacement??  I'm too young for that kind of thing! And no one in my family ever had a knee replacement, so why me?  And the foot? Plantar fasciitis. I'd never even heard of it. I'll just say orthopedic shoes help.  Ugh. Although they are making some nice-looking orthopedic shoes these days, they are expensive. And what do I do with all of the shoes that I already have that I love?

My biggest question is this: how do people get used to the fact that they can no longer do things that they've been doing their entire lives?  What you do day in and day out defines you, it's part of your identity. So who are you when you try to do those things and you can't? No wonder older people get depressed!

Next I'll talk about the beauty issues, but I'm saving them for a separate post. I just wanted to tell any young people (that means anyone under 42) who are reading this to appreciate the simplicity of your youth.  Assuming that you don't have unusual health issues, you can see small print, you can walk when you want to, without pain. You can be as active as you want to be.  They may seem like little things, but when you lose them, trust me, they seem like big things.  Put them on your gratitude list.

And lets give a lot of credit to all of the older people we know. They are probably much stronger than we've ever given them credit for.
It's all in your mind
This is one of the best things I've ever learned: if there is something that makes you upset, but you can't do anything about it, try to change how you think about it.  This morning I was thinking about a gift that my Dad had bought me for Christmas long ago. It was 2 of the "houses" that you put in a Christmas village, the ones that you plug in so that you see the lights in the houses.  I had told my Dad that I wanted them, so I was touched that he remembered and bought them for me. They made me think of happy Christmases that I'd had as a child - people warm inside their homes when it was snowy and cold outside, and in general, happy, contented feelings.  Every year when I'd put them out, I'd think of my Dad.  When we lived thousands of miles apart, I always felt like part of him was there with me.
Several years ago I had to move from Southern California back to my hometown in Pennsylvania.  I didn't want to leave California, and the actual moving process turned into a nightmare.  Part of the problem was that I had estimated incorrectly when deciding what size truck to rent, and the men who were packing the truck didn't tell me that until the truck was full.  So I had more things that needed to go with me but nowhere to put them. I had to be out of my apartment, and the "friend" helping me pressured me to hurry, which just made it harder for me to decide what I had to leave behind.  Most of my Christmas things ended up being left behind, including the houses that my Dad had bought me.  Ever since then I've felt so badly that I lost them. When my Dad died in 2013 it made it worse. Usually when I think about it I get so sad that I force myself to think of something else. This morning I thought about it more deeply, though.  The houses were a representation of my Dad's love, but they weren't my Dad, they weren't his love, and they weren't happy Christmases.  They only represented those things to me.  What got left in California were just 2 ceramic houses.  Even if I still had those houses, I wouldn't have my Dad back, and I wouldn't have those Christmases again.  Sadly, my family has grown apart and we no longer have those happy, warm Christmases.  Little houses can't bring that back, and accepting reality has made it easier than pretending something exists that isn't really there. But I will always have memories of my Dad's love for me, and I will always have memories of happy Christmases from childhood.  I realized I need to separate the emotions and the thoughts from those 2 little houses. I didn't leave my father behind, and I will always have his love in my heart. Hopefully from now on IF I think of those I'll remember that they were just decorations. Anything more is all in my mind.


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