Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why I'm Changing it Up This 4th of July

I don’t know about you, but holidays have taken on a new, more personal, meaning for me as I’ve aged. I noticed I’m re-focusing from partying to personal growth.

Take the Fourth of July.

Traditionally, July 4th has been an easy holiday for me. With my eyes closed, I can reach out to friends, plan festivities with the best food and drink and provide an atmosphere of fellowship and fun.

Why I’ve decided to do things differently this Fourth.

Last week, I sat down, turned off my monkey mind and settled into an open and receptive stillness. Then I let my mind re-live past July 4th celebrations and the activities associated with them.

I was surprised to see a pattern unfold.

The common theme that wove its way through almost all past July 4ths was the lack of any sense of what the holiday truly represented for me. It seems I’ve spent more time partying and less time on the significance of freedom in my life.

This realization led me to break with the tradition of hosting or attending a BBQ or other get-together this year. Instead, I’m going to re-connect with July 4th in an introspective, more personal way.

What does this mean? I’m going to personalize this July 4th by identifying and celebrating ALL the freedoms available to me, not by just acknowledging our nation’s breaking away from the motherland -- with food and drink in my hand.

In fact, by spending time consciously appreciating all the personal freedoms that our founding fathers fought so hard for, I am not only filled with gratitude for my life, I feel I am paying proper homage to them for their monumental sacrifice.

I will be celebrating the rich blessings of freedom in my life.

On a more intimate level, here’s what I came up with for a truer meaning of freedom in my life:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Unexpected Benefits of Being Quiet

Do you have this problem?

You’re with a friend, and all of a sudden there’s a momentary lapse in the conversation. Instead of just sitting with the silence, you find yourself immediately chattering on about some random thing neither of you cares about. Or worse, saying something inane you’ll regret later.

Being quiet is so uncomfortable you’ve just got to fill that space.

If this is you, be kind to yourself. Like most of us of a certain age, you were probably brought up to believe it’s the polite thing to do to not let conversation lag. That it’s up to you to keep the ball rolling.

Conversation (and words) were huge in my family. I was taught to be charming, show off my verbal acumen, my humor and my ability to engage others. As a result, I sometimes never shut up.

Being truly present with others

It has taken me years to learn to be comfortable in the silence.
In return,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

10 Quotes About Aging That Will Inspire You to Live More Fully

          Over the years, there have been great thinkers and role models who have spoken eloquently about aging. I admire their ability to reshape our thinking with simple statements, and I share ten of my favorites with you today.

     “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” 
               ~Henry David Thoreau

     “Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special 
     and precious for you shall only live it once. Be comfort-
     able with growing older.” 
               ~Louise Hay

     “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but 
     beautiful old people are works of art.” 
               ~Eleanor Roosevelt

     “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream 
     a new dream.” 
               ~C.S. Lewis

     “The age of a woman doesnt mean a thing. The best 
     tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.” 
               ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

     “We dont stop playing because we grow old. We grow 
     old because we stop playing.”  
               ~George Bernard Shaw

     "Aging is an inevitable process. I surely wouldnt want 
     to grow younger. The older you become, the more you 
     know; your bank account of knowledge is much richer.
               ~William Holden

     “Those who love deeply never grow 
     old, they may die of old age, but they 
     die young.” 
               ~Ben Franklin

     “There is a foundation of youth: it is 
     your mind, your talents, the creativity 
     you bring to your life and the lives of
     people you love. When you learn to 
     tap these sources, you will truly have defeated age.” 
               ~Sophia Loren

     "One of the benefits of being a mature well-educated 
     woman is that youre not afraid of expletives. And you 
     have no fear to put a fool in his place.” 
               ~Judi Dench

          Do these statements inspire you as they do me? What favorites of your own might you add ? I am compelled to add my own statement to this list:

      These just might be the best years of your life.” 
               ~Antonia Albany

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Not 25 Anymore - Guest blog by Rev. Ruth Barnhart

Ruth Barnhart
          “Well, you’re not 25.” This is what my young orthopedic doctor said as he glanced at my chart while we were discussing whether or not I should have surgery on my broken wrist. And this means what? Too old to matter whether my wrist fully heals, too old to handle the stress, too old for my bones to heal themselves?

          At 25, I was mountain climbing, exploring wild caves, running, biking swimming. Since then, my runs have slowed to brisk walks and hikes, my mountains have lowered from 14,000 feet to 2,000 feet, and the spring in my step now talks back to me with a noticeable hitch in my back and hip. Where I used to jump out of bed, I now carefully stand, stretch, wriggle to get myself in a grounded alignment. Where I used to effortlessly lift all sorts of heavy objects, from backpacks to couches, I now defer to younger, stronger bodies.

          How do I deal with this experience called the aging process? I know those who nip and tuck, who apply additional make-up, who fashion themselves after the younger generation and refuse to slow down. I also know others who have given up, who cease to care for their bodies, who regularly complain about aches and pains and not being able to do what they did when they were 25. I have to admit, I have sometimes gone there myself.

I have decided that the best way to deal with not being 25 is to approach it as a spiritual practice. What does that mean? First it means I just notice my experience, my feelings and, most of all, how I am using my body. I catch myself when I start to think, speak or act negatively to myself. And just as in my meditation practice, I come back to my breath, to the present moment and to opening to the fullness of life. I make room for discomfort, for changes in my body and abilities, gray hair and wrinkles, a slower walk and a relinquishing of certain capabilities. In other words, I accept where and how I am. I avoid projecting into the future and practice just being with today. I’m not 25 anymore.

         One really positive aspect of invoking my spiritual practice with aging is I’ve lightened up on myself. I eat healthy but I am no longer so strict or harsh with myself when I stray. I let myself live life more, including taking naps when I am tired. I push myself when it is required. I still like adventure, but I no longer have to be the first in the 33 degree lake. It’s okay to just go slip into the warm pool.

In one of her Facebook postings, Antonia recently asked the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how healthy are you?”  I have stepped off all scales. I am fully alive as I am. My aging body proclaims one thing, ‘I Am Still Here.” And I’m not 25 anymore.

Click here to find info on Rev. Ruth Barnhart. You can reach her at revruth@sonic.net.
You can reach Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Long-Lost Art of Inducing a Zen-Like Calm in Yourself

Have you been bitten by the adult coloring bug yet?  If not, read on! 

Coloring is fast becoming a cherished creative practice that helps you artfully soothe stress.
According to the New York Times, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and New York Magazine, to name a few, coloring for adults is now officially a craze.  Recently, 7 out of 20 books on Amazon’s bestseller list were adult coloring books.

What’s all the fuss about?

Research shows coloring actually offers a world of benefits. It can "lift the mood, reduce anxiety and relieve stress," Atlanta-based art therapist Susanne Fincher said in a recent CNN post.

"Art making is a powerful intervention," Fincher wrote. "Neuro-scientific research has shown that through the use of art therapy, the human brain can physically change, grow, and rejuvenate."

Why coloring works for me as a stress reducer

In my younger days I smoked, drank to excess, indulged in expensive retail therapy and isolated myself in order to cope with stress, all of which are habits I’ve since given up. (Note:  I didn’t give up overeating, which I continue to do when I’m stressed.)

Recently I read an interesting article about adult coloring books. I’m always on the lookout for fun new things to do -- especially if they are relaxing. As it turns out, this “new” thing is an old thing I used to do as a kid.

These days I’m joining millions of other stressed out adults who are using coloring as the creative alternative to unhealthy vices in reducing stress. I find it’s particularly soothing for seniors because, while we certainly have stresses as we age, we also have more time for creative pastimes like coloring.

        It’s inexpensive and the tools are readily available.

          As with anything, you can spend a fortune, but it’s 
          not necessary. Want to color animals, mandalas, 
          flowers, cats or more detailed designs?  You’ll find 
          an adult coloring book, many under $10, at Amazon.

          I’m already an expert.

          Coloring is like riding a bike – we never forget how 
          to do it. It’s right there waiting for us whenever we 
          decide to pick it up again. Only these days I don't 
          force myself to use the ‘correct’ color or to stay in the 
          lines if I don’t feel like it.

          No one is going to steal my crayons.

          I’ve enjoyed doing it by myself as well as with others. 
          I love knowing I don’t have to share my coloring pens 
          or wait for someone else to be done with the exact 
          color I’m wanting to use.

          It takes me back to my childhood.

          Don’t you remember how much fun it was? Close your 
          eyes and remember what it was like, the feel and smell 
          of the crayon, the blank picture in front of you, waiting 
          to be enhanced YOUR way.

          It works!

          It’s entertaining and calms me. I’m sure to carve out 
          time in my day or week to do it.

Coloring is a gateway drug.

My first attempts!
In addition to regular coloring, I’ve recently tried Zentangling, a method of creating beautiful images from structured patterns. 

Zentangling is just as much fun and calms me like coloring. It increases focus and creativity and provides artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well-being. You can find out more about Zentangling here and here.

Why not give it a try?

Why take blood pressure pills or indulge in an unhealthy vice in order to cope with stress? Coloring and Zentangling have provided me with hours of stress-free relaxation. 

Give coloring or one of its relatives a try and let the color and lines flow!

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook