Author's Life · Morning Thoughts · Senior Life

Senior Exercises for Arthritic Joints

Recently I found a great chair stretching exercise for seniors, especially those with osteoarthritis. Which I have. The YouTube title for the session was 20 Minute Chair Yoga for Arthritic Joints. There is not one reference to mindfulness, etc. Simply gentle stretches held for several breaths. However, if I tell my Christian friends I’m doing chair yoga, some will think I’m sinning. It’s all in the name.

So, do I simply say I’m doing chair stretching exercises for my joints? That’s what I’m doing. I’m not trying to connect anything except my butt to the chair. LOL! I’m not practicing yoga, I’m exercising with some simple yoga movements. I think the video was titled as it was because there were two women, the arthritis doctor and a yoga instructor.

I actually had to research the negative connotation about Christianity and Yoga to figure out what the issue was. I live a pretty sheltered life. I have no desire to turn my stretches into a religious experience of any kind. I just want to stretch because it feels good and is healthy for my muscles and body. It is also good for improving posture and balance as well as being no impact.

I used to walk a lot in my younger years. Walking now actually hurts my ankles and my hips. I used to do exercises with home videos. I loved Richard Simmons videos because of the music. That was fun. But I’m nearing 80 now, so I have to be gentle on the aging body.

If I slip and tell you I’m doing chair yoga, please don’t think I’m turning against my faith in God. That’s not happening. I’m just a senior woman trying to stay agile as long as possible.

I also found a chair aerobic exercise for seniors. It’s easy, fun, and it does raise my heart rate. That’s what I need according to my cardiologist. And since there is no impact, it’s gentle on the joints, too.

Combining the stretches and the aerobics on different days, I should make my general practitioner happy, too. I’ll find out in February. Who knows, maybe I’ll even shed a few pounds!

Author's Life · Morning Thoughts · Senior Life

Snow, Nature and Me

I love the beauty of nature. I often post my morning view from my office window because I love the peace and serenity I see. God’s work. I love what is revealed in spring and summer, fall and winter. I did a little research and found the sounds of nature trigger the part of the brain that lets us experience rest and relaxation. This is truly what I gain from my views as I sit at my computer every day and watch the darkness turn to the light of day.

Yesterday it snowed. I love the snow. I love to see the flakes falling from the sky and slowly covering the earth like a comfy blanket. I no longer enjoy driving in the snow, as I did when I was younger, but from my office window I love what I see. In my research, I also learned that snow absorbs about 60% of background sound. I hadn’t realized how true that is! The morning sounds of traffic on the road adjacent to my condo complex is silent this morning, yet I hear the call of the geese even louder than usual. Yesterday, just as the snow started falling, the ground was filled with birds seeking what they could find before the snow covered their feasting place.

I heard them chattering even through my closed door as I took these pictures. I didn’t enjoy my drive to church as it was slow going, but there were those who didn’t want to be careful. I saw several cars that slid into the ditches along the rural roads I travel on.

The snow was a wet snow and I watched it continue to fall throughout the day. The snow for me means serenity and calm. A peaceful and quiet atmosphere. When I see the beauty God creates, whether in sunny weather or the cold of winter, I feel positive and filled with joy.

Author's Life · Senior Life

The Day After Christmas

Christmas should be all about Jesus, yet I realize how much I have come to rely on traditions. When we leave our parents’ homes and start our families, we make new traditions. Some of them will be based on traditions followed in the families of the new bride and groom.

Christmas when I was a child wasn’t filled with traditions. My dad worked nights and wasn’t always at home on Christmas Eve. We didn’t go to church. Sometimes my aunt and uncle and cousins would visit and we children were allowed to open one gift. I don’t remember a lot about Christmas back then, other than it was just my mom and me.

I wanted my children to have Christmases to remember. I wanted to teach them that we celebrate Christmas because we are remembering the birth of Jesus. We went to Christmas Eve candlelight services and would have a cake afterward while we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

As the years passed and the children married, we began having a family celebration on Christmas Eve or close to it. I made a meal for everyone and we enjoyed being together, playing games, laughing, and exchanging presents. Christmas morning was quiet. My hubby and I exchanged our gifts while sipping hot chocolate. We tried to make it festive, but I always felt something was missing. Our family unit had changed.

The Christmas my mother spent with us after she moved in was another change. We didn’t have the family celebration because my husband was ill. We didn’t exchange any gifts, but the children and grandchildren did stop by to visit. This turned out to be my mother’s last Christmas as she died on December 30, my husband and my wedding anniversary. He was too ill to come to the hospital to say goodbye.

Thus, Christmas became a time that left me feeling empty. Three years later my husband died. Though my youngest daughter tried to brighten my Christmas by inviting me to be part of their Christmas morning, it was still bittersweet for me.

The best part of Christmas was being with family and attending Christmas Eve worship service. This year, 2022, this was not possible. Due to the winter storm, the roads were too bad to get out. Thus I spent Christmas Eve alone watching the worship service online. Christmas Day started being a day to rest and be present with God, but it soon turned into a pity party for me. I felt alone, abandoned, unnecessary, and worthless. I know this was Satan taking advantage of my grief. When I went on social media in the late afternoon, I didn’t stay long. All the pictures of happy families together was a trigger for me. Family was what I missed so much. Throughout the day I tried to remain strong, but I was glad when I fell asleep for a two hour nap and then again when I could go to bed without feeling I was using it as an excuse.

I woke this morning, and asked God to forgive me for being selfish and for not being strong enough to combat Satan’s attacks. Before feeding Finnegan or myself, I put away all the Christmas decorations and the tree. It’s a new season now, a week before the new year begins. In this time, I am focusing on making each day one of looking outward instead of inward. And being thankful for all God has provided.

Author's Life · Senior Life

Aging Gracefully is Not Easy!

Aging gracefully is not always the easiest thing to accomplish! To be honest, I get frustrated on a daily basis. I have a tendency to look to future things that “might happen” and seek answers! I look in the mirror and shake my head. Who is that woman with all the wrinkles and the thinning hair? What is that new pain in my knee and ankle? And the big question: if I get on the floor, can I get up?

I talk to God a lot. I know my body wasn’t meant to last forever. It’s like my vehicle. While it gets me from place to place, maintenance needs to be done. For me, that’s all those medications in my pill box. I never thought I’d need a weekly pill box with places for morning and evening tablets.

Yet, all these things have become a part of my daily life. I must accept these things with gratefulness. I look in my Christian planner at the habit tracker items and see I’m being faithful in everything but exercise. I tell myself, I’m old. I have lived for 79 years and am now living in my 80th year. I shouldn’t be expected to exercise!

Then there is eating. I am a widow and only have to feed myself and my cat. My cat is easy. I open a can of food and put half in his bowl, and he’s satisfied. As for me, I will have to prepare something. I have to cook. Cooking used to be a pleasure. Now it’s a chore and one I don’t want to deal with.

Well, Lord, You knew all this was in my future when you created me. I know that with You I have the strength to persevere in this season of life. I know it’s a matter of slowing down, taking one day at a time, trusting and hoping in You. I’m thankful. Each day is a gift and a challenge, but also filled with blessings. You have taught me to live in the moment fully trusting in You. You know my failings. You know my difficulties. And You love me in spite of them. Thank You.

One day at a time. That’s how I have learned to age gracefully with God.

Senior Life

It’s Okay to Cry

Before I start, this blog is not about Finnegan. My little buddy is happy, healthy, and lying on a chair next to me purring as I write. I’m feeling led to talk to you today about the grief we feel when we lose our beloved furry family members.

You know what? It’s okay to grieve the loss of your pets. And just like losing a family member, you don’t just “get over it. It’s okay to cry. We honor them when we remember the love and companionship they brought into our lives. I still remember each of my “babies” who crossed rainbow bridge. I even shed a tear when I think of them. They were a big part of my life, my family.

There is no time limit on grief. Sometimes grief is silent. After Templeton passed, the last of the three siblings my husband and I adopted many years ago, I cried a lot. I remembered the loss of his sister a year and a half earlier and his brother just six months prior. The two of us were as I said, “growing older with each other.” He just needed to leave this earth before God called me home. Eventually I stopped the tears, mostly, but I was physically stressed over having a home without a pet.

Through God’s leading, my brother visited and insisted I needed a cat and he wasn’t leaving until I had one. I’d already decided I wouldn’t have another pet. I didn’t want to go through the grieving again, plus at my age (I turned 79 today), I worried about God calling me to my eternal home and having to leave my furry baby behind. Yet, the idea of a new pet felt right.

My friends and even my doctor said I needed to get a cat. My blood sugar was high, and I wasn’t feeling the greatest. I was in a mild state of depression without knowing it.

I have Finnegan in my life now and I’m very happy and actually healthier now. But some people don’t have the option of getting another pet. Or they truly feel it is not the best idea. Their grief should never be looked on as weakness. No one should tell them “time will heal” or “just get over it.” That won’t help and it won’t happen. We are normal when we grieve. It is part of our healing process, and each person’s journey of grieving will be different.

If you are reading this, and you are grieving, I want to tell you it is okay. You are not being unreasonable. You are okay. If you can, I suggest getting a new pet several months after saying goodbye. But if you can’t, for whatever reason, that’s okay, too. Don’t let anyone put you down. Don’t let them make you feel as if you’re abnormal for your grief. You are loved. You are worthy. God knows your heart. He knows your thoughts. You can talk to Him. And I pray you have a good friend or a family member you can talk to about the joy you had with your pet. Memories are wonderful things. God gave us the ability to grieve in order to heal.