The dark, heavy door is in sight as I plod the rocky path, apprehensive to see what is on the other side. My eighth decade awaits me like no other. I loved 40 and 50. Sixty was worrisome as the years brought new and debilitating physical conditions. But seventy? That does sound old. And my body reminds me persistently that it is not getting younger.
In my 30’s I aimed for and earned a Master’s degree. My pledge to myself in my late 40’s was to run a 5K before I turned 50, which was amazingly easy as I adopted a simple jogging regimen with my neighbor. I kept it up for a few years until my neighbor moved and a job change dominated my time. My early 60’s marked by good health were busy with work, family, and friends. The latter part of the decade claimed my hip and part of a knee, both of which slowed me down considerably.
As I continue to actively address my joint issues and other insidious problems, I turn to mindfulness, that popular concept of a decade ago urging us to attend to and enjoy life. In my case, I am growing mindful of how I react to foods (particularly sugar), drink (particularly alcohol), and activity or lack thereof. Several years ago I used this technique to lose a significant amount of weight as I ate only when I was hungry and only what my body (not my tongue or emotions) was hungry for. I was picky about quality as well as quantity. When menopause hit, mindfulness got pushed aside for hot flash control.
This past weekend was a trial in testing mindfulness of imbibing of spirits, thanks to a family wedding. Although I did partake, I was conscious of how I felt immediately following a few sips of champagne: not completely pleasant nor unpleasant. A quick self-assessment assured me that with more alcohol, the pleasant qualities would diminish and the unpleasant increase. More, I assessed why I was drinking at all – too complex to discuss in a short blog. But each sip was mindful, relished, and moderate.
Here is my gift to myself: be mindful of what my body is telling me to eat and drink. Be mindful of my body’s need to move. And take time for niksen. It will be interesting to see where I am in two months.