A headline caught my eye in the Lifestyle sections of the Wall Street Journal: “How to Avoid Being Boring at 60” by Rob LaZebnik.
LaZebnik was a writer and co-executive producer for The Simsons, so I hardly can see how he’d think his life was boring. Nonetheless, he said when he hit 60, he felt a vibe around him that all his stories had been told and friends found him boring.
From the article:
That’s when it hit me: I didn’t have anything new and exciting to tell them. My life had gotten entrenched in routine. Calcified, if you will. I had stopped evolving, and I think we all know what happens then—like the dodo, you stop flying, get fat and Dutch sailors eat you on their voyage home.
I needed to figure out a way to turn this around. I vowed to take that big, upsetting number 60 and remake it into something positive: I decided I would do 60 things I’d never done before. Maybe that would force me to forge new neural pathways in the dog-eared map that was my brain.
He came up with a list of things he wasn’t interested in doing like sky diving or anything that could cause injury or be too expensive. The list he did come up with was unique and included things like sewing a shirt, going to a gay bar, attending a mega church and going on a police ride-a-long. (I did the police ride-a-long as a journalism student at the UW in Seattle.)
Once we hit middle age and the kids have left the nest, we do have a tendency to slow down. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But if you look at too much routine, life can get boring. We can become boring, too.
The article made me reflect on my day-to-day life. What have I done to keep things interesting past 50 and into the 60s?
I joined a swim team, learned to swim and competed in swim meets (photo above). I learned how to dive off the blocks and could race a 50. I came dead last in my age group — but beat some 80-year-old swimmers.
I took up boogie boarding two years ago after not having ridden the waves since my kids were out there with me. I found it exhilarating and it made me feel young for those few moments riding a wave.
I went to Sacramento and gave a talk to a group of swim parents due to my weekly swim parenting column on a website that had millions of readers per month. (Oh yes, I also started writing that column! Plus started a website where I interviewed swimming stars and coaches in Southern California). Public speaking is one of my biggest fears. I practiced and practiced. My son drove me to the meeting and sat in the audience, so I spoke directly to him.
That’s me near Santa Barbara last August, ready to boogie board.
My husband and I began playing ping pong regularly in our backyard after going on two vacations that had ping pong. We have a blast and the laughter keeps us young. Except I’ve fallen a couple times returning shots — which isn’t great.
We hike on desert trails near our house.
I’ve reconnected with friends that I haven’t heard from in decades.
My friend in Santa Barbara does lots of errands for her next door neighbor who is older and has sight issues. My friend began to worry when she’d take her mail to the post office and realized she was mailing out dozens of letters each day addressed to sweepstakes. She discovered her elderly neighbor was mailing dollar bills to “win prizes.” She called the neighbor’s daughter who lives in another state and they finally put a stop to it. She would pick up the letters and pretend to mail them, but hold onto them, eventually returning the money.
Another scam I heard about happened during my daughter’s last year in college. One of her friends, who is book smart and was high school valedictorian, got a phone call from the “IRS.” He was instructed to buy Apple gift cards and mail them to an address that was supposedly the government agency.
He emptied out his college account, which had his last semester’s tuition of $1,200 and bought gift cards at the local grocery store. (Yes, he had several scholarships is why his tuition bill was so low.)
The cashier questioned him but he insisted on buying the cards. Then he mailed them.
You can only imagine the teasing he received from his college mates after that! Today this young man is a doctor. Yikes.
What scams do you see in your inbox? Have you heard of any other ones I didn’t mention? Are you worried AI will lead to more scams?
A page from my parents wedding album given to me by my aunt who visited last week. Mom and Dad were 23!
A strange thing happened during my aunt’s visit. I glanced over at the sofa and Olive the cat was sitting next to my aunt licking her fingers! Now this is a first. Olive has never let a guest touch her or vice versa. Olive does sleep with my daughter, but that doesn’t count because she was my daughter’s cat until college took my daughter away.
My aunt and I did most of the things on my list and we found ourselves very compatible. We both got hungry at the same time, wanted quiet time in the afternoons to ourselves and went to bed early to read. Having a house guest doesn’t get much better than that!
It cooled down considerably, we lit the outdoor fireplace and cooked s’mores. We hiked in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We went to the farmer’s market in Carefree and explored consignment stores in Cave Creek. We had some delicious lunches and dinners out, plus I cooked. We visited the Musical Instrument Museum and to my delight, they changed up a few exhibits so there were new things for me to enjoy.
You might wonder what would be exciting about visiting a museum of musical instruments.
From the MIM, here’s the Artists’s Gallery experience:
Celebrate music’s most influential artists.
In every time and place, there are musicians whose art deeply touches the lives of many. MIM’s Artist Gallery highlights these personalities with ever-changing exhibits that span sound, style, and era. Through generous partnerships, MIM features historic instruments owned, played, and loved by the musicians who have created a shared soundtrack to our lives for generations.
Nearly 40 displays showcase instruments and artifacts from some of the greatest musicians in the world. See and hear instruments played by icons such as Elvis Presley®, Tito Puente, the Carter Family and Johnny Cash, Roberta Flack, Glen Campbell, Joan Baez, Maroon 5, and many others.
The exhibits not only have the artists’s grammy awards, gold records, costumes and instruments, they have a large screen that plays selections of their songs on the headsets you wear. I think my favorite was “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison. On display is his hand written lyrics on a yellow legal pad. So not only do you get to sing along with Roy, you get to see how he wrote it, along with a photo of him and his pretty woman. There are many other galleries from all over the world. I haven’t touched the whole of MIM yet.
Here are a few photos from my aunt’s visit:
What is your idea of a perfect house guest? What do you like to do when entertaining company?
Two pages about Mom from my aunt’s scrapbook. My mom is on the right with her little sister, my aunt.
Today we pick up my aunt from the airport. She’s coming to visit us for the first time in Arizona. I have all sorts of fun things planned including visiting the MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum, where they have an Elvis exhibit (My aunt is a big Elvis fan.) We’ll have time to sit and talk. Also, go out to lunch, drive to the nearby lake and explore the tiny towns close to where I live. I’m also hoping it will be cool enough at night to light the outdoor fireplace and make s’mores. I’ve been all set since my kids visited a few weeks ago, but we had a heat wave!
Here they are years later in 2015 at our family reunion at our riverfront property in Robe, Washington. The fireplace in the background is what remains of our cabin that my parents built more than 65 years ago.
I am so looking forward to spending a few days with my aunt. It certainly helps that she’s my closest connection to Mom, who passed away from COVID this year. Also, that she is the kindest, sweetest person I know.
My kids grew up with iMacs. Apple is the only type of computer I’ve ever owned. I was talking to my son and I was telling him about last week when my husband didn’t know how to take a screen shot and asked me for help with basic tasks.
My kids are millennials — born in the years from 1981 to 1996 — my daughter being born at the tail end.
My son said that not only are boomers (referring to me and my husband) not great with computers, zoomers are also inept.
What’s a zoomer? It’s a new term I learned from my son for Gen Z. They were born in the mid-to-late 1990s up until early 2010s. (Technically my daughter could be a millennial or a zoomer.)
Case in point, my son said his wife’s youngest sibling (yes they are married!) is a zoomer. He graduated college in June. My son asked him to get a workout spreadsheet from his laptop.
“It’s on the desktop in a folder,” my son explained.
“Where’s the desktop? What’s a folder?” was the zoomer’s reply.
Wouldn’t you think that young people who literally grew up with technology would know how to use computers? According to my son, zoomers are used to doing everything on phones — which work entirely different than laptops or desktops.
I googled it and discovered this to be true.
What’s your experience with zoomers and computers? Do you find it strange that zoomers are not as computer literate as the generation before them?
I wrote this when my daughter was 19. It’s my most read post. I am currently going through similar feelings with my daughter being annoyed with me. Maybe it’s the stress we’re all going through.
I understand how she feels. After all, I was once 19 years old. I remember it very clearly.
Everything my mom did, I found unbelievably annoying.
I’ll never forget sitting with her in the car, getting ready to shop at Bellevue Square. She had parked the car. She was fumbling through her purse, making sure she had what she needed. She reapplied her lipstick. Dug through her purse for her wallet to look through credit cards. Searched several times to check where she placed the keys.
Would we never leave the car? Would I be stuck all day? I must have said something to her quite snippy, or flat out mean. A few tears rolled down her cheeks. Which made me more upset with her.
Isn’t it a sad feeling, transitioning from a mom who could do no wrong—from changing diapers, to cooking their favorite spaghetti, to taping treasured colorings on the fridge that were made just for you—to being the person of their abject disdain?
It’s a tough new role. Let me tell you.
But, having gone through these feelings myself, I understand. I’m visiting my mom this week in her assisted living center. I talked about it with her, what I’m going through now, and what I felt like when I was 19. Fortunately, she doesn’t remember me ever being a snarky 19-year-old.
For some reason, I’ve gained more patience throughout my life and that has been a blessing. I’ve also learned forgiveness.
Something else, I’ve learned through the years of parenting: this too shall pass.
It’s called independence and freedom. We want our children to grow and become separate human beings that can stand on their own. Sometimes they need to separate from us. A good time to do that is during their senior year of high school, or their freshman year of college. It’s a good thing. I keep telling myself that.
However, we also want to be treated with respect, and once again—someday—to be cherished.
I wrote more about separating from our kids and the experiences we go through when they leave for college HERE.
What are your thoughts about adult kids being annoyed with you? Is it deserved or is it growing pains?
Do you think when people close to us are going through rough times, it’s easy for them to take it out on those closest to them?
“Exercise Before Surgery Slashes Post-op Complications”
That’s a headline I found for an article written by Lynn Allison. I’m having eye surgery tomorrow. Then in September some minor outpatient surgery. So the article caught my eye.
Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand say that intense exercise before surgery reduces the risk of postoperative complications as well as hospital stays by as much as 56%, says Study Finds.
“We have found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is safe and effective for surgical patients,” says lead investigator Kari Clifford, of the Department of Surgical Sciences at the University of Otago. “A HIIT program can meaningfully improve a patient’s fitness within four to six weeks, and this reduces postoperative complications and length of stay.”
The work analyzed 12 studies including 832 patients who engaged in HIIT before their surgeries. The training involved repeated aerobic interval exercises at about 80% of their maximum heart rate before going into active recovery.
The most significant result was the change in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) — a measure of how well the body takes in oxygen and delivers it to the muscles and organs during prolonged periods of exercise. The significant improvement in CRF lowers the risk of adverse postoperative events, says Clifford, in a university press release.
If high-intensity interval training is good for post op recovery, that must transfer to everyday life. I reflected on my own workout routines. I realized that my slow and steady walks and swims are not getting the job done.
When I swam with my Master’s coach, he’d change up the pace. He’d have me swim 75s or 100s alternating “fast and slow.” Like swim 25 easy, 25 sprint, 25 slow for a 75 four times through. I was changing my heart rate. Without a coach, I leisurely swim laps not changing pace, because I’m proud to show up. Period. There’s nobody to push me. Not even my husband. I watch him sprint during his last two hundred yards and worry that he’ll have a heart attack.
We have an assault fitness bike gathering dust. Yesterday I got on it and sprinted for 20 seconds followed by 30 seconds easy a few times. Yes, it got my heart rate going. It’s something I’ll repeat each day and build on. When I swim laps, I’m going to throw in some interval training and sprint a few 25s. It can’t hurt.
What are your thoughts about high-intensity interval training? Is it something you incorporate in your workouts? Do you think you can be too old for HIIT?
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