Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Fifties

No, not the era, the decade - of my life. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I am actually here - in my fifties. How did this happen so fast? People and events have come and gone in my life now so much that some feel like a lifetime ago. I'm the same person...or am I?

Lately I have to say that I just don't feel all that good, either physically or mentally/emotionally. I haven't been sleeping very well and when I am asleep I have nightmares or "chasing" type dreams, leaving me restless upon waking and sometimes rather tense. My muscles ache more, joints creak more, eyes don't function up close or at a distance despite multiple contact lens trials, and I feel altogether listless. I have some health issues, but not overwhelmingly so. At least, I don't think enough to make me feel this lousy. I think it's just the fifties, damn it.

When I was younger I just handled everything easier. I could kneel down and not hurt. I could sit cross-legged on the floor and not feel like I need a knee replacement when I unfold myself after 10 minutes. I could remember everything without writing stuff down. Since turning 50 I just seem to have slid in all those areas - a lot. OK, my memory is actually pretty good, but I do have occasional mind-freezes where I can't pull up a name or word. More annoying than anything, really. What's bothering me more than anything is the aches and pains. I hurt somewhere on my body all the time.

Usually it's my back or knees, but lately it is also my neck and shoulders. My husband suggests that I go for massages, but every time I go for one I end up hurting worse than when I went in because of having to lay on that (very) flat surface for a prolonged time. I try to keep moving, every day. Lately I've started walking in my neighborhood, each day, with my new puppy. I can go a bit further every time, but I still ache in hips and back at the end. What I worry about is whether or not this will be the pattern as I get even older? Will I just hurt more and more? Dad told me an aunt of his told him "lose your legs, lose your life," so he's kept walking, every day of his now 83.5 years. And I think he can walk faster than I can with less pain too. So I do try to model him and stay active and moving. I guess it's all I can do, but it is disheartening to have the discomfort of pain.

I know I need some serioius lifestyle changes and that I need to stop monkeying around and drop the extra weight already. It's not helping those aches and doing nothing to elongate what I believe will be a long, long life. (Somehow I have always known I will live to a very old age - I believe it to my core.) But I want to get to that old age comfortably and with all my marbles. It means I have to get serious about my health.

I love to watch Oprah. She talks alot now about being in her fifties. Of course, she's got a whole lot of people helping her every day with workouts and cooking for her, etc. But what she talks about most isn't the physical aspects of being in the mid-century, but the freeing aspects mentally and emotionally. I have to agree with her there. I care less and less what others think and more and more about what I think. I am far more able at this age to stand up for something I believe in or stand up for myself than I have ever been at any age before. These are all good things. I'm just as smart today and I like to think that I am interested and continue to pursue learning. These will help my brain stay engaged and keep the synapses working - at least I sure hope so. I do the crosswords nearly daily as well. (So does Dad!)

I just want to feel better physically and perhaps emotionally too. While I have opinions, I keep most to myself. Sometimes I have let myself be a doormat and have had a difficult time setting boundaries with others for my time, talent, energies...and even love/friendship. It's all a balance, isn't it? The physical, emotional and intellectual? Seems like at this time in my life, if i have learned ANYTHING, it has to be that there has to be a balance in life. Yin-Yang. My challenge in my fifties is now asserting myself enough to get the balance right, and fight for what I need, not just for what everyone around me needs (which is where my typical attention and time are spent.)

So yes, Oprah, the fifties are freeing, and FLEETING. Time passes much faster than we'd like, doesn't it? I have much more to be done, and I need body, mind and soul to do them. Time to get serious.

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