Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Holiday Prep Tutorial – Indulging

          How many years have you said in October or November, “Ok, this year it’s going to be different. This year I'm not going to give up my healthy lifestyle to indulge in holiday eating debauchery."?  Well, hang on to your calorie counters; we’re headed into the holidays. I can hear recipe books everywhere opening to some of the oldest, most enthusiastically shared, richest and utterly  delicious foods we cook all year. We’re staring down the barrel of consuming in one day what we usually enjoy over an entire weekend. Remember how I slipped into the oblivion of trans fats and tannins last year? Well, I’m determined not to repeat that again this year.

Effects on Us Senior Citizens
          As older adults, we’re more susceptible to what comes with not eating and drinking right. The effects of all that fun and partying we did when we were younger now, more than ever, plays havoc with our bodies and results in longer lost days spent nursing hangovers, heartburn, and other … ahem … unmentionable ailments that bring about the need for unplanned alone time.  Alone time during the holidays is not what we need.

When Does It Start?
          For some, the holidays and over-indulging doesn’t begin until Thanksgiving, which turns into a mere month of pigging out. For others like myself, the minute I’m shopping for Halloween candy, I start thinking about pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, Almond Roca and beef short rib stew served over polenta. Okay, okay, I need to stop already with the food description!

          If it starts for you at Halloween, that’s nearly 60 days of dealing with the push and pull of overeating, or eating the ‘wrong’ stuff or just not eating the way you normally do in order to maintain your health. That’s nearly 20% of the entire year! That’s a lot of time spent not feeling your best, taking meds to compensate for not feeling your best and then all that time it takes to get back on track. (You may recall I wrote a piece on that subject just this past July. Sadly it took me until July to get back on track!!!)

What Are You Going to Do?
           I know I’m not alone in this conundrum. I’ve hear too many groans and seen too many eye rolls when I bring up this subject. There are, however, always going to be those people who never deviate from their normal eating routines. I envy these naturally thin and focused people. I also secretly think they can sometimes be boringly in control when confronted by a lavish party spread, hot toddies or holiday stress comfort foods.  

          What about you? How do you handle the season of indulging? Does it even bother you at all? Do you just allow yourself to gain and then do damage control later? I’m curious about your strategy for making it through the holidays without tossing your whole healthy lifestyle.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Final First Year Thanks

          Before moving on to Year Two of Antonia's Senior Moments, I wanted to once again thank you, the readers, for your support:

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Blogging Increased My Spirituality

Happy Anniversary         
          It was one year ago tomorrow when I posted my first piece for Antonia’s Senior Moments. The subject I spoke about in that first blog was gratitude. As I reflect on the past year, I feel a great sense of gratitude all this writing and sharing has brought into my life.  No amount of celebrating is complete without taking a moment to share what I’ve gotten out of this experience and without thanking two people who have supported and taught me more than I ever imagined I could learn at this point in my life.

          One of the main reasons I started writing here was to increase my spirituality. At the Center for Spiritual Living, my metaphysical home, we have spent this year practicing all aspects of our spiritual place in the Universe. I thought there’d be no better way to increase my spirituality than by writing about all these aspects including, as I said, gratitude, and meditating, giving/receiving, friendships, non-material wealth, attachments, affirmations, forgiveness and selfless service. All of these subjects, as well as some of the zany and highly personal other topics I discussed this past year, were written from my perspective, the senior citizen perspective. I’ve been told over and over, however, that many, many of these discussions were of interest to people of all ages, not just seniors.  That thrills me!
          Has my goal of increased spirituality been attained? Indeed it has and will only continue to expand in the future. Growth of any kind, as we all know, is a continuum; we never get to the end – hopefully. I look forward to increasing my spiritual sense of self – stumbles and all – for many years to come. And I so appreciate you accompanying me in this journey.

Big Help
          Along the way, I’ve been joined by a few knowledgeable guest bloggers who kindly agreed to share their perspective and experience in the world. Thank you Randall Friesen, Jane Beach, Edward Viljoen, Chris Michaels and Gretchen Rubin. Your input here has added a dimension and enrichment that could not have existed without your presence.

Edward Viljoen

          I  wish to give a standing O to my teacher, blog administrator, spiritual leader, mentor and friend,  Rev. Edward Viljoen. When I hesitated, you were there, encouraging and helping me realize my dream. Most of the time the technical aspects of this project made my head spin but  I'd always walk away from our meetings with a greater sense of just how simple it is to know my truth and to speak it. Thank you, Edward.

Rod Sverko
          Also, I wish to thank my dear friend, Rod Sverko, who has consistently been my biggest champion.  You let me share early drafts of nearly all posts, you “Liked” and shared on Facebook and Google+’d everything ALL the time, you kept me company at public events, you were distracted by me as I flailed around in darkened theaters to take notes for my movie reviews and you always talked up "Antonia’s Senior Moments" to everyone you knew and met.  Thank you for your love and support.

         And finally, thank you, the reader, for finding my work, whether you were with me from the beginning or only recently stumbled upon this little corner of the blogging world. You unfailingly gave me your feedback and told me when I made you laugh and when I made you cry. If I can enhance the life of only one person through this passion of mine, I will be overjoyed.

         A toast to this past year and to the  future!

My job is to find a place of truth and tell that truth ~
                                                                Jay Z

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Friday, October 18, 2013

One of Those Moments: Breast Cancer Survivor


          October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The National Cancer Institute estimates that:

  • Based on current breast cancer incidence rates,  about one out of every eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life.

  • The strongest risk factor for breast cancer is age. A woman’s risk of developing this disease increases as she gets older.

  •           I am a 20-year breast cancer survivor and am grateful for research and treatments that enabled me to withstand its ravages.

              For more information about breast cancer and its affects on both women and men and to learn about where to make financial donations click here.

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    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Surprising and Intriguing Brain Exercises - Guest Post from Gretchen Rubin

              Did you know that humans are the only animals whose brains are known to atrophy as we get older?

              Gretchen Rubin is a blogger and the bestselling author of  The Happiness Project. She agreed to share the following post on a subject you will undoubtedly find interesting.

              Dorothea Brande was an American writer and editor, well known for her books Wake Up and Live and Becoming a Writer (a useful resource for writers, by the way).

              In 1936, in Wake Up and Live,  Brande suggests several mental exercises to make your mind keener and more flexible. These exercises are meant to pull you out of your usual habits, give you a different perspective, and put you in situations that will demand resourcefulness and creative problem-solving. Brande argues that only by testing and stretching yourself can you develop mental strength.

              Even apart from the goals of creativity and mental flexibility, Brande’s exercises make sense from a happiness perspective. One thing is clear: novelty and challenge bring happiness. People who stray from their routines, try new things, explore, and experiment tend to be happier than those who don’t. This is a challenge for me: I love familiarity and mastery.

              Because, of course, as Brande herself points out, novelty and challenge can also bring frustration, anxiety, confusion, and annoyance along the way; it’s the process of facing those challenges that brings the “atmosphere of growth” so important to happiness. (It’s the First Splendid Truth: to be happy, you must think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.)

              Consider these exercises:
              1. Spend an hour each day without saying anything
                        except in answer to direct questions, in the
                        midst of the usual group, without creating
                        the impression that you’re sulking or ill. Be as
                        ordinary as possible. But do not volunteer
                        remarks or try to draw out information.

              2. Think for 30 minutes a day about one subject ex-
                        clusively. Start with five minutes.

              3. Talk for 15 minutes a day without using I, me,
                        my, mine.

              4. Pause on the threshold of any crowded room and
                        size it up.

              5. Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself
                        or herself without allowing him to become
                        conscious of it. Turn back any courteous
                        reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor
                        doesn’t feel rebuffed.

              6. Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests
                        without complaining, boasting, or boring your  

              7. Plan two hours of a day and stick to the plan.

              8. Set yourself twelve tasks at random: e.g., go
                        twenty miles from home using ordinary con-
                        veyance; go 12 hours without food; go eat a
                        meal in the unlikeliest place you can find;
                        say nothing all day except in answer to
                        questions; stay up all night and work.

              9. From time to time, give yourself a day when
                        you answer “yes” to any reasonable request.

              Doing this kind of exercise can seem artificial, but it can also be a fun way to put a little challenge into your ordinary routine.

    You can learn more about Gretchen Rubin and The Happiness Project at:
    Please leave any comments for Antonia here:  antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
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    Friday, October 11, 2013

    One of Those Moments: Thank You !

                 The one year anniversary of Antonia's Senior Moments is just around the corner, and it's because of you, the readers, that it's been so successful. I've enjoyed you sharing your insights and thoughts on various subjects as well as your suggestions for future posts.

              If you like what you see on this blog, I'd appreciate your comments, which I will post on the home page and on Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook. If you'd care to write a few words about what you like, that'd be great! You can send them to AntoniasSeniorMoments@hotmail.com.

              Here is a recap of my most popular posts in case you missed them.

    Ten Things to Make Your Senior Moments Happier
    How to Let Go of Attachments

    When Bad Things Happen:  Five Ways I Cope

    Being Awake - guest blog by Randall Friesen

    How to Celebrate the American Way

    What Causes Senior Moments?

    Senior Moments:  The Best is Yet to Come?

    The "84-year-old woman claims massive Powerball jackpot" Headline Made Me Think
         About Money

    A "divine stepping stone" for Paula Deen

                     Thank you for your support.

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    Tuesday, October 8, 2013

    Five Things to Love About Fall and How to Cope With the Other Five Things You Don't

    What I Love About Fall

              I wonder if what I love about fall, you love about fall. I’m not a big summer fan with all that inescapable heat (read ‘no air conditioning’), so on those first few mornings when I step out into the cool morning air that whispers a change is imminent, my heart quickens.

               See if the five things I love about fall are what you love:

              1. Crisp mornings and cool evenings

              2. Mother Nature’s most spectacular display

              3. Kids heading back to school and a less crowded routine is re-
                        established in the community

              4. New television programs I’ve been waiting all summer for finally
                        arrive. The big networks put their programming backsides into
                        shows that start in Sept and Oct.

               5. I begin looking forward to holiday activities with family and friends

    What I Don’t Love About Fall

               At the same time, as fall signals some pending changes, I begin to steel myself. The following is my list of five things I don’t love about fall:

               1. Holiday preparation stress – planning, shopping, cooking, wrapping

               2. Too much food and drink and not enough exercise

               3. Having to stay indoors more

               4. All those holiday activities with family and friends (see #5 above in
                        my list of what I love about fall)

               5. Generally more colds, flu, and a myriad of other ailments

    What to Do     

               Can you relate to this love/hate dilemma? Do you also experience the diversity of all fall brings in both fun and not so fun events and activities? I wish I could give you some concrete ideas for things to do to avoid the not-so-fun parts of what comes before winter and the new year. For myself, I know if I’m wanting to stay grounded enough, I just will. I will seek out less stressful situations, I will go to my spiritual home to absorb the soul sustaining elixir that keeps me sane, and I will surround myself with people who love me unconditionally, even when I’m not successful. It's generally not an all or nothing proposition. I do well part of the time and fall down and have to regroup another part of the time. Such is life!

               The best advice I can give you, dear reader, is not to throw over your well-established habits: exercise, get plenty of rest, meditate, make the best food choices you are able to at any given moment and find quality time for yourself to rejuvenate so you can be there for the kids, spouse, friends and family members. Do the best you can.

               Good luck! I hope we're both successful!
     Fall veggies at the farmers' market.

    Friday, October 4, 2013

    One of Those Moments: Touch Wood

              I'm posting this because of it's beauty and because of the awe that it creates in my heart. At first I thought it might be all smoke and mirrors, but the second video confirms that the first is real. It is lovely. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    A Fear of Death

              The sunnier side of my personality and probably the private side too told me not to write about my fear of death. I mean, c’mon, how depressing. Who wants to think about that? Must you, Antonia? Yes, unfortunately, if you want to know who I am at this point in my life, you have to know what I’m thinking, even the less popular, darker thoughts.

    Why All of a Sudden?

              I noticed about 6 months ago that I was thinking more about death, like every day. I couldn’t figure it out since no one near me had died recently, and I wasn’t aware of any sense of foreboding. Why all of a sudden? So, I looked inside myself and, at the same time, hit the books. You know me; I’m all about research when I have unanswered questions!
              This short blog post is my initial look into the subject. But, be warned, this piece is open ended, there are no definitive conclusions, no all neatly-wrapped-up-and-tied-with-a-bow final outcomes. This piece is an opening to a conversation. If it’s a conversation you want to have, great. If not, that’s okay too.

    My Thoughts

              First I started by trying to identify ways to alleviate this fear of death, exercises I could do, ways I could trick myself into accepting this scary thing that has lately been clouding my view of the world . Without any basic human nature around my reactions to just the thought of it, however, I couldn’t proceed down that avenue. Instead I used an excellent book, Who Dies? By Stephen and Ondrea Levine, to guide my tentative journey.

              One of the first things I learned was, obviously, part of my fear is the lack of control. The impermanence of life can be rattling. I have worked so hard to set up a satisfying life that it seems almost insulting to have to fork it all over at a time and place and in a method without my input.

              In Who Dies, the authors talk about how, because we identify ourselves so much with our ideas, beliefs and possessions, we see death as losing who we are. We use everything we have to become someone or something … “I am this”…and death takes that away. If we step rather into the space of being whole, moving closer toward a state of openness about who and what we are, we are more inclined to see ourselves as the path instead of the thing at the end of that path. Make sense? Like I said, it isn’t an easy or linear conversation.

              Staying open is hard. The routine of every day makes it hard. Getting things done and taking care of business makes it hard. One thing in our favor is that it’s easier as we age to be more open. We have a little more time to open wider by meditating, listening rather than talking, not rushing to judgment and by picking our battles. Things fall away as we age: friends, the importance of material things, and hopefully our vehemence at the way it all has to be. What does all this have to do with death? I’m not sure, but it just feels to me a little less controlling and gut wrenching to be open to everything, including death, which will eventually affect me and us all.

              The truth is that we are so much more than just our stuff or what we do or who we think we are. Sometimes if we – okay, I’ll stick to me – if I can’t see it or touch it, it’s easy for me to forget. I am grateful that my metaphysical education, which is expanding my point of view, helps me know and trust that Universal love exists and that I am more than who I think I am. This knowledge allows me to free myself from the idea that I’m going to have to let go of a lot of ‘stuff’ when I die. I don’t want to let go. But I can feel better about letting go when I think of all that ‘stuff’ being replaced with different intangible stuff like freedom, love, kindness, joy.

              I wonder if I’m too obsessed, if I think about death too much, and I wonder if there are other people like me who have begun to feel it as an additional mantle to carry through life until it’s right there in front of me. I don’t want to be passive or avoid things that I might do to make life now, as well as my passing, much better.

    Final Thoughts – No Pun Intended

              You’ll notice there’s no Part I or reference to a Part II in the title of this post. I may never speak of it again. At least I’ve cracked open the door ever so slightly on this subject for myself and perhaps for you. There is a lot to look at about what our attitudes and actions are surrounding death. After these few words on paper, however, I’m not quite as afraid to open that door a little wider.

              Please share your thoughts if you are so inclined. I’d be truly

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