At least once a week a well meaning friend sends me an e-mail on aging. It's bad enough I have to look at the ravages of aging every morning when I brush my teeth, let alone when I open my e-mail. I'm comforted by the thought that I'm not alone and that many of these vignettes are quite humorous, so I thought I would compile some of my favorites to share. Sit back, relax and let's take a trip down memory lane as we update some of our favorite 45s.
I recently attended my 40th high school reunion. Yes, that's 4-0, as in four decades since . About 45 of the 102 in our graduating class showed up and what an incredible time we had! I grew up in a small college town in northern New York - that's way northern, 30 miles from the St. Lawrence Seaway. We had winter eight months out of the year and spring, summer and fall the other four. The town looks like a Norman Rockwell painting and our youth had the makings for an Oscar Wilde play.
A very wise person once wrote that, "Change is inevitable except in vending machines." I now find myself in the throes of divorce (thus the name change) and have begun venturing out into the world of single boomers. Not surprisingly, I am in the company of multitudes. There are millions of people over 50 who are either widowed or divorced. Fifty years ago, being a single woman was commonly considered to be a death sentence; the poor soul was doomed to a life of spinsterhood after their husband died or (gasp) divorce occurred. Women generally didn't remarry.
Guilt... it's the gift that keeps on giving. I was born with a mutant gene; the guilt gene. I used to think that it was just a Jewish/Italian/Catholic thing, but the more friends I talk to, the more I realize it's widespread among the Depression Babies. My mom remembers the depression as many of your parents do. It was a time of sacrifice and deprivation, living on next to nothing, but always making do. What little there was, was canned or cured and somehow there was always enough to eat and some to share with those less fortunate.
"Parade Magazine" recently ran an article on the quagmire many us face: What is the proper "name" for the stage of life so many of us 50-and-up find ourselves in? Personally, I think of myself as a Gently Aging Baby Boomer, kind of like a gently-used car. I chuckled at the new names and acronyms that many of the readers came up with, like Boomerangs, Recycled Teenagers, OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier Souls) and one of my favorites: APAL (Aging Persons with Active Lifestyles). Spare me the depressing labels please. The best one I found for the age period between 60 and 80 is Prime Time.
I watch enough television to occasionally get caught up in hype, and is there a better word to describe the Olympics, "Dancing with the Stars," and, of course, the Oscars? I think not.
I've decided that if I have a choice as to what I'll be in my next life, I'm going to come back as an animal. At first I thought I'd want to be a bear. After all, bears eat themselves silly before they hibernate. They give birth to their children who are born the size of walnuts during six months of sleep and awake to partially grown, cute and cuddly cubs. Now, I can definitely do that.
Would someone please tell me what's going on with big boys, their toys and the all-so-obvious-to everyone-but-them midlife crises? It's almost as if a testosterone-driven biological time clock alarm goes off as men approach their 50s and beyond. The story is so often the same, and tragically stereotypical. The kids are grown and have (finally) left the house, and while mom may be pining away for her babies, dad's arranging for the family SUV to be traded in for a fast sports car. Don't they know that their shiny bald spot looks silly glaring out of the top of their convertible?
Downsizing. No, I'm not talking about dieting, but about down sizing - getting rid of so much of the "stuff" we accumulate throughout the years. I have visited many clients' homes and am constantly amazed by the different collections of magnificent Japanese Imari plates, priceless antiques and porcelains These are far outnumbered by the collections of Bradford and Franklin Mint plates lining walls, teddy bears of all shapes and sizes, roosters, dolls, copper plates and well, you get the (rather cluttered) picture.
Fibromyalgia is an ugly syndrome with a variety of symptoms including severe fatigue, chronic pain, memory problems, irritable bowel, sleep disorders, headaches and lack of energy. Wow, that was a mouthful, and people still live through and with it! I read somewhere that many of Dr. Kevorkian's patients had Fibromyalgia Syndrome, which doesn't thrill me since I've had the diagnosis for over two years, and the syndrome for over seven that I can remember. I did say memory problems, didn't I? To help you relate, think back to the last time you had a bad flu - every muscle in your body shouted out in pain and you had absolutely no energy.
Or is it just me? The "good old days" become much more meaningful as I try in vain to maintain some vestige of youth. I grew up in a small town in Northern New York State, very close to Canada. Winter was eight months of the year and spring, summer and fall shared the other four.
Ok, so maybe there's a wee bit of wishful thinking tied up in this article's title... However, I've got to believe that as we age, the would-of, could-of, should-of, 20-20 hindsight thing becomes much more pronounced. Perhaps this is precipitated by the fact that when we're over 50 we realize we are no longer immortal - this is not a dress rehearsal!
No, this monthly musing is not about divorce, nor is it about death, although they are all related. The Big D is depression, a condition that is still coming out of the closet. We've all been down in the dumps, but how many of us are suffering from depression?
It was at my son Michael's 30th birthday party that he and his wife Rhonda announced that they were expecting their first child. It was a moment frozen in time, one of absolute delight and sheer horror. How could I be a grandmother? I was only 52!
I received a dramatic phone call from my husband a few years back. He was at work, had bent over and sneezed, couldn't straighten up and was on his way to the hospital for an MRI. Sound familiar? If you're over 50 chances are you know someone this has had a similar experience. It's just another wonderful benefit of aging. The disks in our vertebrae begin to lose their viscosity and all of a sudden, you have a slipped or bulging disk. Well, fellow Boomers, here are the facts. Low back pain disables 5 million people in the U.S. and forces people to lose 93 million work days each year.
When my editor told me that this issue's focus was on health and fitness, it only seemed fitting to address the most important issue in aging: mental health. My husband lovingly refers to me as a poster child for mental health. I'm not sure that's a compliment, but I do know that as we age our mental health issues become more pronounced and certainly affect us physically, too. My quest for the holy grail of mental health ended shortly; the solution is humor and laugher, plain and simple.
Funny, isn't it, that we associate so many feelings with our heart when our brain is really the center of our emotions? Well, in some of us, that is.

I recently read a statistic that was staggering. Cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer of women (that's right, Numero Uno), killing over 500,000 of us each year. That's more than the next seven causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. So, why aren't we more proactive about it?
"To sleep, perchance to dream, ay, that's the rub." Sleep has been the topic of many poems and plays throughout the ages, as the dear Bard said so aptly in "Hamlet." And sleep seems to be the one thing most of us do not get enough of.
I recently read that Jack Lalanne, who recently turned 90, last had dessert in 1929. Great way to start off my holiday column now, isn't it? 'Tis the season for eggnog, decadent cakes, wonderful cookies, candies and nut breads. Somehow the thought of a low-carb, low-fat, high-protein holiday season just doesn't cut it. Oh Jack, eat your healthy, cholesterol-free heart out!
My friend Cyndi in Santa Barbara recently sent me an e-mail (gloatingly) informing me she had been carded when she went to the store in sweats and no makeup. Let me preface this by saying that Cyndi is tall, lanky and looks a lot younger than her 48 years. I have begged and bribed cashiers to ask for my driver's license, to no avail. And now here's gorgeous Cyndi getting carded. Of course, one recourse might be to move to Santa Barbara. The clerks are probably trained to ask for identification so the wealthy women will come back again and again.
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