Health …

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I am thinking about ‘health’ for the past week. Not that I am sick or have any big revelations about it, but I am considering how we deal with whatever our health status is.

Some people make a big deal out of minor ailments and yet some others are silent and brave about serious concerns.

I believe that as we get older, the health system responds to us differently. This is when the doctor responds to your concerns with, “it is normal for that to happen at your age.” They don’t seem quite as enthusiastic about fixing us up as we get older.

Another aspect about health – do we talk about it? When is it appropriate and when is it not?

Should we be proactive and do our own research (via Dr Google) or trust in the knowledge and experience of our health care professionals – or a bit of both?

Then there is the scientific approach to health or the alternative therapies. I lean very much toward the medical model – maybe because Medicare will subsidize me if I see a doctor but I pay the full cost if I see someone who practices natural therapies.

What part does our mind play in our health? I am sure it plays a significant role but can we think ourselves better? I know we can think ourselves sick!

So there you have it – a week’s reflection on health, summed up in less than 300 words 🙂

Seeking a simple life …

When  it comes to what is important in life, I think the less complicated we make it, the better.

Family, friends and good neighbours contribute to many of the simple joys we experience.

Sunshine and access to nature are important too.

No games of pretense to confuse our relationships with those around us – be who you really are!

Maximise your strengths and curb your weaknesses where you can.

We all have something positive to offer in every situation – it may be just to listen …

simplicity

Fifty something …

MondayI want to point out to the world that people over 50 have a lot to offer. I want to point this out to all age groups but especially to people who are past 50 or thereabouts.

I get tired of hearing people talk about retirement. Retirement belongs to the previous generations – our parents and their parents (if they lived long enough). I am not suggesting that we keep working at a job we hate or find too difficult. I am saying that we need to pause and reflect on this phase of our lives. You may need to keep working at your job due to financial pressures but is there the capacity to reduce your hours?

Consider the following:

• Is there so much more you would like to be doing with your time?

• Do you have interests that you would like to pursue now but don’t have the time?

• This period of our lives (say 45 – 80ish) is likely to be very different than it was for our parents who were born before World War II

• If you are anticipating using your time to catching up on years of reading, and are happy to do that, then that is fine. Read no further!

• Maybe you want to spend more time with your grandchildren or are artistic and enjoy you leisure time in these pursuits and find them to be gratifying.

• Do you get up each morning and wonder what is the point of getting up as you did yesterday what you will do again today and the day after?

• Do you get irritable because the world seems to be run by young people – eg doctors, the media, some politicians that don’t look old enough to vote?

• Does your brain still function the way it used to, or is it even better now that you have abandoned a lot of the crap that came from working full-time and the office politics?

• Are you unsure of how to dress – you don’t want to be masquerading as a young person? How do you see yourself?

• Are you able to graciously profess your views without getting defensive when younger people see your views as obsolete?

• Consider how you plan to spend the next 20-30 years? Do you want to sit around getting old and immobile? If you are still actively involved in sport, then good for you!

• Is there a way we can collectively find a valuable place in society that breaks the common stereotypes of the over fifties?

• Does social media provide us with an avenue to express ourselves and perhaps help others at the same time?

• How would you feel about using some of your skills or developing new skills to assist the community to improve health, education and environmental outcomes?

• How would you feel about gaining your community’s respect and gratitude for the use of these skills?

• Would you be prepared to work for a nominal amount that Not For Profits could afford?

• Can you see the difference between this idea and the tremendous work that thousands of volunteers already do each day in Australia (and other parts of the world)?

• Can you make sense of all of the above and are excited about contributing ideas on how we can change this concept into reality?

If you would like to get more involved with me on this project you can email me on reoh@iinet.net.au

Thanks for reading 🙂

How close is too close?

***I watched the above video about a pride of African lions and cubs that accepted a man into their space. He plays with them like they are kittens or playful puppies. It almost goes wrong when a hyena gate-crashes the party. The lions start to get cranky and the man has to make a hasty exit.

I think most of us like to have some connection with other species – dogs and cats tend to be the most popular. What is it that drives some people beyond the safety barrier and put themselves at risk? Australia’s Steve Irwin is a good example of someone who died doing what he loved most – getting up close and personal with wild creatures.

We domesticate animals and yet sometimes we forget that they are still animals. There are awful cases where a family dog has turned on its owner or a member of the family, with disastrous impact for all concerned.

On the other hand, we use other species to our benefit. I think of farm dogs trained to round-up the sheep or cattle. They are working dogs and not pandered to like pets. They have a role and it generally doesn’t include sitting on the couch!

There are people who collect reptiles and yet others who are fascinated with dangerous spiders. People try to outsmart the bulls at rodeos and horses and grey hounds are used for our sporting pleasure.

I have experienced some amazing encounters with creatures who are just as curious about us as we are about them. For example I once found a bird on the ground and I thought it couldn’t fly so I picked it up, sat it on my car seat, and drove home with it. On the way it must have tired of car travel and flew out of the open window. It was quite a special experience.

*** For my creative writing group, I was finding it difficult to come up something on the designated topic – it had to include something about African wildlife – so here it is 🙂

Choose Joy

I find it easy to become discouraged by so much bad news every where we look. For the next 24 hours I will focus on the many good things and people there are in the world 🙂

 

JOY

The age-old questions

“Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?

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Some people are really sensitive about their age and try to hide the truth from others – leave them guessing! For me, from an early age I looked older than my contemporaries. I think it is fair to say that trait has stayed with me so I just accept it. In fact, I often tell people how old I am just in case they think I am older!

My 29th birthday is the only one I really stressed over. Leaving my twenties behind seemed really significant at the time. I had three young children by that time. Sometimes I reflect on my life in decades, as follows:

0-10   All that childhood stuff

10-20   Probably the worst decade of my life – being a teenager is tough!

20-30   I enjoyed trying to be the model “Earth Mother”, baking my own bread etc and enjoying my young children

30-40   Wow! What happened? My life turned up-side-down with a broken marriage and being single again with young children

40-50   Life started to really improve at this point. I had a good job, mortgage and started getting my act together (at last!)

50-60   Well, I am not quite there yet. I have my sixtieth birthday later this year but this decade has been really good so far. I don’t know how I feel about turning sixty. I am aware that quite a few people I went to school with haven’t made it this far and I feel really grateful that I have.

60-70   Well, I feel fairly positive about the future. I have strong feelings about people in my age group continuing to play an active part in our world (however that translates for each of us). You might want to check out my other blog at http://www.encoreaustralia.wordpress.com. It has some great links relevant to this age group.

I am looking for ideas on how to celebrate my sixtieth, so send them through please. Big parties have no appeal, nor does jumping out of a plane – something a little less dramatic would be good 🙂

 

 

A story about an old man (fiction)

old manI visit my elderly aunt every week. She is in the dementia ward of the local Care Village. She turned ninety recently. I notice each week that there is a fellow sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. He has a beautiful smile and says hello to me as I pass by.
As time goes by, we start to exchange a few words about the weather or comment on the flowers in the well-cared for grounds.

Sometimes my aunt is agitated and doesn’t want to see me so I spend a bit more time with ‘the old man’ sitting outside. One day I introduce myself as Jenny and he tells me his name is Bill. Bill is also in his early nineties but he still has his wits about him. I often wonder about his past as he doesn’t seem to have any visitors and he doesn’t give much away about himself. He always asks after me and my family though. I can tell by the lines on his face that he has seen a lot in his life – not all of it has been good either.

Over the next weeks and months we get to know each other a little better. My aunt doesn’t even know who I am now but I still visit once a week and tend to spend a bit more time chatting to Bill. He tells me what mischief my aunt has been up to over the previous week. She keeps wanting to go home and tries to escape at every opportunity.

One day, I will muster up the courage to ask him to tell me a bit more about his life. He prefers to be the one asking the questions.

It just so happened that my most recent visit fell on Father’s Day. My Dad passed away some time ago and I spontaneously bought a box of chocolates for Bill. I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I casually gave them to him, saying, ‘I thought you might like these, Bill’. I was a bit nervous as I was unsure how he would respond. He was very quiet at first, then I noticed his eyes brimming with tears. I touched his hand and sat quietly beside him.

‘It is so kind of you, Jenny. I want to share something with you – if you have the time?’

‘Of course, Bill’, I replied.

He sat quietly and I could tell he was summoning up the courage to speak. He said, ‘I always look forward to your visits. I know that you really come to see your aunt, but I like to think that you come to see me too. You see, I don’t have any family. My parents died years ago and I had no brothers or sisters. I married a beautiful girl, Kathleen and we had a daughter called Jenny – just like your name.’

Bill paused again to catch his breath and then continued, ‘When Jenny had her tenth birthday we took her to the Zoo as a special treat. She really loved nature and especially animals. It was on the way home that our lives changed forever. A drunk driver went through a red light and smashed into our car. Kathleen and Jenny died that day’. He paused again, tears rolling freely down his cheeks now.

He went on, ‘I was in a coma in hospital for two weeks after the accident. When I came around and they told me about Kath and Jenny, my world fell apart. I didn’t want to go on living without them. Physically I got better over time but I was emotionally dead from that point on. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and years. The pain is still with me today, like it happened yesterday. However, I slowly learned to see the good in the world again. That is why I like to sit outside and look at the gardens and watch the birds. And now I am an old man.

Your kindness is like a ray of sunshine in my life. Please forgive me for my emotional outburst today, but it is so long since anyone has shown me such kindness. Thank you Jenny.’

I was very moved by what Bill told me and I wrapped my arms around him and no words were needed.