When I was in my late twenties I helped run a dairy farm in Vermont for a few years. When the grain feed levels would get low I would have to climb into the tall bin that funneled the grain down into the milking area and shovel it into the hole. There were two ways to get down into the bin: there was a ladder or there was a rope that would allow you to repel down the sides. I usually used the ladder. One day I was feeling a little spunky and forgetting my late twenties, three baby-begetting body and grabbed hold of the rope to repel myself down the side of the six foot wall. Not one ounce of repelling actually occurred and I found myself hitting the wall hard enough to knock the wind out of me after which I proceeded to fall to the floor below with a very loud thud. I laid in a pile of dusty cow grain trying to suck in air wondering where the hell my muscles went. That was the exact moment that I realized I wasn’t the kid I used to be and just maybe….I was getting *gasp!* OLD. Little did I know that rope grabbing, wall splatting incident was merely the beginning of the downhill slide.
The worst part of getting older isn’t the grey hair, because there’s Clairol for that. The worst part is the fact that you no longer have the ability to do the things you use to do….. like seeing things clearly, remembering why you went into a room, sneezing, staying awake past 9:00, and speaking words. Turning forty seemed to be the tipping point for all of this to hit me. That was the year the optometrist muttered the dreaded word “BIFOCAL”, to which was quickly followed with a defiant NO! That was also when simple words and names just started to disappear from my vocabulary and would leave me wracking my brain, looking and feeling absolutely ridiculous shouting it out victoriously two minutes and a whole other conversation later. I was in Target recently and bumped into a family that I had sat next to on the sidelines for many years of lacrosse games. It had been over three years since I’d seen them. For some reason I could remember their children’s names clear as day, but for the life of me could not remember theirs so the conversation went something like: “Oh hey…..ummm….you…..how are YOU?” Big smile, all the while inside your head you are running through names Ann? Amy? Alice??? No…. Laura? Lisa? Oh, &%@, forget it…… “So nice to see YOU!!!” Big hug, more smiling, slink away. It took me a whole day to remember their names and my mind was kind enough to wake me at 2 am to let me know it remembered.
There are days that I worry that I should be put in a medical trial for early onset Alzheimer’s and then there are days that I dazzle myself with genius, and think BOOM, there it is! The days that I just ooze awesomeness are the days that I am more focused, have a better plan, and don’t allow things to distract me. We live in a world of constant distraction and we are multi-taskers. We try to do everything, because once upon a time WE COULD. Well, guess what? NEWS FLASH: We ARE older. There are actually changes going on in our frontal lobe that makes it harder for us to pay attention, so when there’s a lot of stuff going on we tend to get distracted more easily and this distraction emerges in the form of what appears to be the losing of our minds. It IS normal. There’s no need to check yourself in to a nursing home just yet.
We are so apt to not allow ourselves whatever it is we need in the moment, like progressive lenses that the optometrist has been trying to tell you for years that you need and would actually help you to see better, because it makes us feel OLD. That stubborn part of our psyche translates this to being weak, when in reality it’s just being HUMAN. About a month ago I finally broke down and went to the eye doctor with my head hanging low and told her “it was time” and OH my flippity floop can I SEE now!! (sorry, that’s my “trying not to use the F-word so much” substitution that’s actually starting to stick).
Once in a while work a little harder at limiting the distractions. Slow down. Chill. Relax a little. Grab a book, sip your coffee (or a nice glass of Pinot!) and allow yourself to just BE for a few minutes. Go play tennis, go for a run or a hike, or just a walk down the street by yourself. Don’t worry about what still needs to be done, what you forgot to do, or what isn’t getting done because you are just sitting there. Reset your brain and allow it to rest.
Take care of yourself, listen to others when they are trying to help, and let them.
You just may be able to see the world more clearly.
And have a bright, bright, sunshiney day, my friends ❤