I had my yearly physical a few days ago, including an EKG, blood pressure, fasting blood draw - pretty much the whole gamut.
For the weigh-in, I took my shoes off, after weighing them at home and discovering they weighed 1.7 lbs. He didn't say a word about my weight, and who knows but the shoes kept me from going over the limit? Or maybe he was just nice?
He told me my blood pressure was low, really low, and that was a very good thing. That it was the #1 predictor of a future stroke, and at my levels I shouldn't ever have to worry about it (as long as I don't gain enough weight to raise it to a dangerous level.) He said the #2 indicator of a stroke was high blood pressure and my Mom's is very low, so I'm banking on taking after her there.
He said, 'barring any unforeseen situation, you could easily live to be 100. You just need to watch your weight, and stay active physically and mentally. Which means becoming an expert knitter would help mentally but I'd gain weight and not move my joints enough, so that perhaps has to be balanced with something else involving movement. Maybe there's a form of knitting that involves aerobics at the same time? Maybe take up competitive zumba dancing?! (You can't hear me laughing out loud here....)
It did set me to thinking - what if I do live to be 100? That's another almost 40 years - 2/3 of how long I've already lived, and all of my oldest daughter's life. That's a lot longer to live when you're 60 as I am.
That same oldest daughter has a saying that I find myself repeating - 'life's too long to ......' Not the typical 'life's too short' which is also true. Like many things in life, it depends on how you look at it.
Life is too short to not do the things that truly matter to me, to not say the words that need to be said to those around me, to not live with gusto and zest and full pursuit of what makes me want to get out of bed in the morning.
It's also too long to put up with a lot of stuff that creeps in my life. Not saying the difficult words that need to be said, to not repair a relationship, as much as it depends on me, to not stay in shape, floss my teeth, use night lotion so the skin on my face doesn't fall off.
So if I really was going to live to be 100, what would I want to do in those next 40 years? What could I do in those next 40 years? Good grief, the list is endless!
I could read every single book I really wanted to, if I culled out the junk. (BTW, thanks for the great book suggestions!)
I could become a really good lap swimmer.
I could learn to play the piano, really well actually, although my goal is more in the line of Christmas songs at a mediocre level.
I could learn a foreign language.
I could become a gourmet cook.
I could see every National Park in the United States (a goal of Cub Sweethearts' so it becomes mine too.)
I could actually deal with all the family photos that give me nightmares, and my family more so if I were to drop dead right now.
I could develop a basic understanding of how our government truly works, and our current day politics, rather than have my husband explain snippets of it to me over the morning paper.
I could write a book, or two or ten.
I could start painting again, and whether I became any good or not, I could have a bunch of paintings to guilt family into hanging in their living rooms.
I could work out, eat well, take care of myself, so that I was that skinny, strong, albeit wrinkled old lady that people would see and say, 'wow, she looks great for her age!
I could make new friends that would become some of the best friends of my life.
There's a long list of people going before me, whose accomplishments are sometimes amazing when they stand alone, but when you factor in their age they are amazing:
Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Little House on the Prairie, wrote the first book when she was 64 and her last in the series at age 76, aptly named 'These Happy Golden Years'.
Ben Franklin (read his autobiography!), who was formally educated to the age of ten, was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence at age 70. He also started a 'club of mutual improvement' when he was in his twenties and that became our first library. Thanks, Ben. I'm eternally grateful!
Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became the president of South Africa, the first election that allowed all races to run.
Mother Teresa was 69 when she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Mission of Charity.
Julia Child, who did not cook, did not speak french, started the TV show, The French Chef, at age 51. She decided to learn to cook because she was bored!
Doris Haddock, an absolutely amazing person, did a 3,200 mile walk at age 89, as a political activist. She felt so strongly about her beliefs she put feet to them, walking 10 miles a day, with people on the sidelines yelling, 'Go, Granny Go!' She died at age 100.
Ray Kroc, who was limited by diabetes and arthritis, invented a machine that could make 5 milkshakes at once, and that was the beginning of billions and billions of little hamburgers - MacDonald's. Today, when I'm in Idaho, I go to the Ray Kroc center to swim and exercise.
And we all know about Grandma Moses, who started painting at age 76 and died at age 101. She started painting because arthritis made it difficult for her to embroider. She had no formal training.
Cyril Baldock was 70 years old when he became the oldest person to swim the 21.1 mile long English Channel, the waterway between England and France. He did it to honor his coach, who had the same goal and died of a heart attack.
Harriette Thompson was the oldest woman to run the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon (don't you love that name?) at age 92. She ran it in 7:24:36. She used her running to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma, skipped 2013 when she was battling cancer herself. An accomplished concert pianist and grandmother of ten.
I'm not sure if 60 is the new 40 or not. Many days it feels like 60, especially the first thirty minutes of the day. There are things I can't do now that I could easily ten and twenty years ago. But I'm thinking there are a few things I can get busy at.
I've apparently got about 40 years to practice my knitting and swimming laps, and who knows how I can use them to make a difference in the world? Keep my brain and body active? hats 4 the homeless? warmth for warriors? teach others to knit? Project linus blankets? Teach an adult or child to read? to speak English so they can get a better job, or a job? mentor a mom? If the doctor is right, I have a good 40 years. If he's wrong, I have 20. Either way, I want to use them, not just let them pass by unintentionally, uninvested in something bigger than me.
How about you? What would YOU like to do? What is it that you've always wanted to accomplish, but just haven't started, or haven't pursued and maybe you think you don't have time now? Do you have a dream that you've never picked up and started pursuing? Tell me what it is. Everyone is counting how many days til Christmas (48); but January 1 is only a week more than that, so maybe it's time to make some plans?