postaday2011 question: what would you tell yourself 10 years ago?

At age 61 with 20/20 hindsight, I’d counsel myself to laugh a lot, live my own life and not someonelse’s, and eat 25-30 grams of fiber a day to “stay regular.” I know, I know, TMI! But it’s the truth, the God awful truth! ha,ha. Told you…laugh a lot.

One other thing I’d pass along is to ward off “ants,” or automatic negative thoughts, as described by psychiatrist Daniel Amen in Change Your Brain Change Your Life. I’d go even further to say we should beat the c**p out of those buggers for attempting to suck the life from us. “Ants” take on a life of their own if we let them.

Automatic negative thoughts fester in our minds, convincing us that they are truth when, in fact, they are only illusions, posturing as facts. Many of us, if not all, live our lives based upon these masters of manipulation. No wonder relationships run aground, and mistrust among countrymen is possible, if not inevitable. If we allow these “ants” safe haven, they will grow fat and multiply. As hosts, we will succumb and self-destruct. Alzheimer patients are prime candidates for these nasty “critters,” which eventually consume the sufferer’s every thought, spinning falsehoods until fantasy and reality are one.   

It’s for sure we have all been overrun with automatic negative thoughts from time to time, some may never be without respite from these “ants.” Fighting them is imperative, sooner rather than later. Dr. Amen’s book provides the armament necessary. He speaks of these “ants” in the following YouTube videos. I’m hoping you will be encouraged to pick up and read  Change Your Brain Change Your Life, and other books authored by Dr. Amen.

Join me in stopping “ants” dead in their tracks!!!

wish I’d learned this 10 years ago…or earlier…hugmamma.

cat nap? wish i could

In another post, published on 1/12/11, “solution to insomnia? blogging!” I owned up to the fact that I’m an insomniac, not good for someone with Alzheimer’s in my genes. It’s been proven that 7 to 8 hours of restful night-time sleep is a must in fighting the dreaded disease. Another thing I’m working on, even as I type.

I still struggle to clear my mind as my head tosses and turns on the pillow. Last night it seemed to help that I kept repeating to myself, “melatonin, melatonin, melatonin.” For those of you out of the loop, melatonin is a natural supplement which aids sleeplessness. It’s actually present in us, in varying degrees. I guess those blest with more, sleep better; those like me, registering a deficit, lay awake counting, or not counting, sheep. Too lazy to get my body out of bed, to down the “wonder” pill, I opted for “mind over matter,” and said the word instead. It worked! I think the process is called meditation. Evidently that’s another helpful solution for insomnia. Hey, I’ll do anything, short of hitting myself over the head with a two-by-four!

I wish I could slide into “la, la land” as easily as cats seem to do. While their radars are probably still on “full alert,” their bodies look sublimely relaxed in repose. The following photos are of my ballerina daughter’s, adorably, photogenic, buddy Misha, named after the famous ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov. It’s hard resisting the urge to snatch him up and cuddle him without end. But as you can see, I resisted long enough to capture these sleeping images.

Too cute!

…too, too cute!!

Beyond cute!!! Absolutely precious!

And the little rascal always knows when we’re talking about him…

now if i could only take after my “grandson,”…hugmamma.

bump and grind

Returned to exercise class this morning after weeks of sporadic attendance. At 8:15 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it’s a real challenge for me to get myself up and primed for moving. I’m an habitual night owl, never have been the early bird, at least not willingly. I’ve long since chucked the routine of rising at 4:30 to dress and breakfast before schlepping to the office to make a buck. I’ve tremendous respect for my husband who goes to work like the mailman, in rain, snow, hail and thunderstorm. Regardless of how he may feel, though I’ve never known him to be anything less than passionate about work, his mantra is “The show must go on!” I guess it’s true what they say. Introverts blossom on stage, and my husband’s job is definitely where he takes to the spotlight, and shines.

My shining moment is in the gym during exercise class. When the music starts, so do I. My surroundings are transformed into an imaginary club, and I become a dancing fool. When my daughter’s been home and accompanied me, she lovingly recaps my butterfly arm movements as I move from side to side. She’s just jealous, I think. Her career has already caused the beginnings of arthritis, so she can be as stiff as me sometimes. So she might be wishing she could move like her 61-year-old mom. Although I don’t think that’s really the case. She just thinks I’m goofy,loveable, but goofy.

Thank goodness our class is comprised of mostly seniors like me. Nobody competes; we just try to survive. The instructor, a Brit in her 50’s, is a dynamo. She’s a role model for all of us, but we could never be her equal. She’s been teaching classes for 20+ years, and was a student herself before that. She also subs for the senior center classes, and is a personal trainer as well. I believe she also works with a trainer, and attends refresher classes. Her life is exercising; mine is avoiding it whenever I can.

Thankfully, my mind has been dragging my body to exercise class for several years now. My body would rather remain on the memory foam mattress; my mind wants to harness the sun and be up and at ’em. Unless I’m suffering with allergies, a sore ankle, aching back, sleep deprivation, or the day is overcast or rain is threatening, you get the drift, I drag myself to the gym. Once there, I have a blast bumping and grinding with my fellow weight conscious friends.

There are 2 very important benefits to be reaped from sweating until it hurts, it counteracts the effects of Alzheimer’s and the camaraderie is priceless. Doing step on Wednesdays must stave off the disease that robs one’s memory. (Back from a time out. Sitka, my mixed-breed Maine Coone, wanted to give me hugs and kisses.)  My brain cannot wander for a second, otherwise I’m completely out of sync with everyonelse. And I have to bring my entire focus to bear to get back into moving with the group, for they, of course, continued without me. Fortunately no one laughs; they’re too busy making sure they keep up. However, I do chuckle at my own mistakes. It’s either laugh or cry. I’m way too old to cry over “spilled milk,” or a misstep. Besides it’d take up precious seconds which I desperately  need to get my groove back again.

Coffee with the ladies afterwards is always fun. Conversation runs the gamut from talking about deadbeat husbands or kids, to sagging body parts. We’re not brutal, just honest. Venting with others going through similar experiences helps us realize that we’re living in the same world. We’re all trying to get through the day, the week, the month, the year, and the rest of our lives with as much vim and vigor as possible. We all get a good dose of positive reinforcement while sipping a cup of flavored coffee, soy latte, or green tea. “Sisters” in exercise; “sisters” in life.

take a “step”, and sip some coffee…hugmamma

a very special mom

Rather than wait for Mother’s Day a year from now, I wanted to acknowledge the extraordinary love of a mom for her children. She no longer lives nearby, instead moving to be with her daughter in another state after the dissolution of a 26 year marriage.

Our daughters were both aspiring to be ballerinas, hers a few years older than mine. For a brief period, I worked with my friend at the dance school where our children studied. She’d been there longer, having been a fixture shortly after its inception and continuing well after my daughter left to train elsewhere. 

Friends because of our daughters’ shared passion for dance, we knew of each other’s tribulations. Through the years, hers became more and more challenging. Both her daughter and a slightly younger son seemed on the verge of promising stage careers. Unfortunately they were sidelined by life changing illnesses.

The daughter pursued ballet with a passion that was singular. The son was touted as an up and coming actor in musical theatre. They were strikingly handsome, pale complexions framed by hair the color of espresso. The daughter was tall and elegant, the son equally tall yet casual. Their mom was understandably proud of both.

Without warning both children suffered illnesses that were difficult to diagnose. First, the daughter experienced digestive issues which have until this day gone unresolved. But through it all she, and her mom, have weathered the ups and downs with as much vigor as they could muster. 

Some years later the son developed serious sleep deprivation which affected life as he knew it. His situation also remains unresolved. But as with his sister, his mom has helped him press forward to live his best life.

In the midst of my friend’s ongoing crises, she and her husband went their separate ways. She never faulted him, at least not publicly. She may have vented privately with those who loved and cared about her well-being. She started a new life near her daughter, and is finally reaping personal rewards of which she is so deserving. My blogging has brought us back in touch. I’ve learned that she is once again enjoying her lifelong love for singing, in a church choir. And she is acting in small theatre plays! She has earned the spotlight. She is not just a survivor; she takes life by the “horns” and rushes headlong into each day. She’s never asked “Why me?” She’s always demanded to know “What can I do?” And she’s always answered her own question.

she has taught me to live life, as it is…hugmamma