We arrived in Florida in November this year and it has been wonderful, with lots of activities and time spent with old friends. The weather has been glorious, and not so glorious, but certainly much better than Toronto’s winter. We are blessed!
Now I have spent much time musing about growing older particularly when I am swimming in a pool, as it is always a time for reflection. Of course the body isn’t as fit as it once was, and my quest is not to ‘let the old lady in’. I think this is a line from an old movie when Clint Eastwood woke each day, stared at himself in the mirror and said ‘don’t let the old man in.’ In fact it is also featured in a video with Eastwood and music sung by Toby Keith, and it is terrific. Turns out I am not the only one to like this video, over 7 million people have viewed it. See below. I hum this tune often. What is worth the most is the sentiment, that although we have aged we can’t just give up.
I know we all know that exercise is important, but it is not only good for the body, it is good for the brain. Just walking everyday is excellent, as is swimming and golf, Pilates is great for stretching and flexibility, and lifting even some small weights is good for bone density. Some, like my husband still play tennis. My partial knee replacement won’t allow it, or rather I don’t feel safe running around, and there is cycling especially on e-bikes. I am totally guilty of admiring mine in the garage and not getting on it. It is so easy to just find an excuse not to move our 70 plus bodies. Massage is super, and leisurely baths are wonderful. All good after exercise of course.
Recently I discovered that I have Rosacea. I have spent my life struggling with blemishes and I assume it will never end for me. Yes, I am brilliant at disguising them, but who wants pimples at 75, well perhaps 78? It is great to have oily skin as it has mostly kept the wrinkles away, but blemishes are boring at any age. So I visited my dermatologist in Orlando who has a specially trained assistant who deals only in Rosacea, and now after two months of treatment, it is under control. I have two medicines that I apply morning and night; Alzelaic acid is one, and the other Zoolantra . I make sure that I wear sunblock, and I found a wonderful makeup that contains 45 SPF, Lauder’s Futurist so it does dual duty, which is great. This young woman, Kyla, also encouraged me to use Alto Defense Serum in the morning before I apply the acid, and Alastin Restorative Complex at night before the Zoolantra. Both these products are expensive, but so far seem to last, I have been using them since late December and it is mid March and there seems to be lots left, and my skin is looking well. If only I hadn’t bumped into the lanai door and cut the side of my face. I am gradually seeing that scare fade.
Then there is the hair turning grey/white issue. Well some people just look great with grey hair, especially if they wear appropriate makeup and bright coloured blouses/sweaters/ scarves to lighten their look. I am not one of those people, so I visit my hairdressers every three to four weeks for color, highlights and trim and like the way I look as a blonde. I say hairdressers, as I have a wonderful hair dresser here in Florida, in a small town, Tavares, near my small town, Howey in the Hills, and in Toronto my hair dresser started to come to my home during Covid and she continues to come to my place. Both my hair people, Lori and Evania also do Charles trims. My blonde hair is always a work in progress as I drive in a convertible and the sun does lighten it, but then the dark streaks help with this.
I think another big consideration as we age is our meds. Charles takes quite a few and I wonder if it is time to re-consider those and have the doctor take a holistic view, and make sure there are no inter-reactions. I have my own meds to consider and again I like these reviewed regularly. There are lots of aches and pains especially if we golf or do other stress exercises, and it is easy to pop an Advil or Aleve. Again, always important to not overdue the pain meds. And speaking of doctors it is imperative to have regular check ups with blood work, mammograms etc. Crucial to catch anything in early stages, and it is good to be aware of what is going on, like vaccines and boosters, not just for Covid, but for pneumonia, shingles etc., especially when we are seniors.
It is also critical to actively use our brains, to exercise them as well as our bodies. Watching tv for long hours (although I love a golf tournament or a tennis match and am guilty of spending way too much time watching these), I try to read the paper during commercials or do something at the same time. The nice thing about these sporting events on tv is that they induce a nice nap, and I am a napping person. I am sure that I have mentioned before that when I was performing I had to have an afternoon nap just to be able to survive a long opera evening on my feet. I have continued with these naps, albeit often for only 10 minutes just to refresh so that I can enjoy a long evening, and not go to bed at 8:00 like many seniors. In fact we don’t eat until 7:30 most evenings. When we travel to Europe it is quite a change with dinners often after 9:00 or even 10:00 in Mediterranean countries. However, most people in Latin climes enjoy a siesta in the afternoon.
So exercising my mind includes of course reading, doing the NY Times Crossword..I can manage up to Thursday, Wordle is great fun before breakfast, running my opera club which requires me to learn a lot about an opera, and pass on that knowledge with a bit of singing added, and most recently I have decided to do my presentations in a different way, by memory and trying to create a scene or atmosphere, and not to just read my notes. I sing every week with Neil on Facetime. We both love this and can’t wait to meet again in person when I return to Toronto. Charles and I faithfully continue with our French conversation Zoom classes with folks from around the world, and a wonderful coordinator, Simone Tavares. I have recently taken on the Presidency of our ladies golf association in Florida for the next two years. I have done this before and perhaps I am crazy, but it is always good to have a fresh perspective. That will start after our April meeting, and I chair one tournament in Toronto at my club there. Now I am not suggesting that all of you do what I am doing, but there are many activities that you can be part of. Volunteering is an especially rewarding one, and is needed. Some of my friends are talented quilters and love the camaraderie they find with others who enjoy the same pursuits. And speaking of camaraderie it is most important to have friendships that you nurture and nourish. It is good to have a lifeline. Many find pleasure in their church or synagogue, and find friends there as well. It just is so important to keep busy and involved and stimulated.
I have not mentioned the hard issues that present themselves at this stage of our lives; long or short term illness of a spouse and losing a spouse. I have suffered grief with the loss as a teen of my parents, and then the crushing loss of my daughter. Losing a longtime partner is another kind of grief. I am not qualified to tell anyone how to handle this gargantuan change to one’s life. I do know there are grief counsellors who specialize in helping people work through this new reality, and from what I understand are worth using. Friends are great, and family, and other bereaved persons, but sometimes you need someone removed from your circle to help advise.
I have cut back on drinking because I find that it affects me more as I grow older. I used to have a champagne in the bath, and still do once in a while, but now it is ice water. Never more than 2 glasses of white wine, red if it is a very good bottle, I am spoiled, and only a sip of my favourite cognac. And if I want more than a sip, I drink less wine. I seem to have even more energy in the mornings as I am an early riser. When on vacation perhaps I will loosen these rules to include a glass of rosé at lunch. The only thing worse than an old person who has drunk too much, tripping around as she/he walks, is a young one.
If you are fortunate enough to have grand children then that can be one of the big pleasures of older age. It is delightful to watch them grow, follow their development, get hugs and ‘I love you Nana’, and if like ours, yours are scattered around the country, it means planning trips for visits and lots of Facetimes. I would love to show you pictures of my grands, but their parents do not want their images on a public blog, and I respect this, but I do savour all the little videos and pictures that I am sent during the week.
So those are my musings about my age as I move along this chapter of my life and I wanted to share them with you, but now I will tell you about some of the fun events that I have participated in since returning to Florida.
We arrived the beginning of November and after we celebrated US Thanksgiving it seemed that Hunukah and Christmas were upon us. I mentioned at the end of my last blog Autumn in the City that our Christmas plans were cancelled for Covid/airline etc. reasons but we ended up having a fine time here in Howey in the Hills. I invited folks I knew would not have family with them and we ate a traditional and very jolly dinner on the lanai. It was certainly warm enough. I served turkey with all the fixins’ as they say. Lots of red wine was imbibed, and earlier managed to Face Time with kids in Vancouver and Montreal. I ran to the UPS store along with everyone else to send the gifts I had been going to take with me. It was all good.
New Years we spent with our dear friends, Liz and Wouter, on a Zoom call. We each did our own dinners. We had caviar and blinis that I got from Marky’s in Miami. It wasn’t the very best of course , but was pretty terrific with crême frâiche. They also had caviar. I served enormous cocktail shrimps that I got from Fresh Market in the Villages, always worth the trip, some potato salad and little canoli for dessert. The best was that we all dressed up, and we aligned our Alexa goddesses, and they played music of our choices from 60’s onward. And we danced and giggled and managed to stay up past 1:00 am, some sort of record for us.
We celebrated Hunukah with friends and it was delightful. I made my little baby potato pancakes and served them with smoked salmon. We had half cornish hens, green beans and carrots and I used my mother’s recipe from Naomi Cookbook for apple crisp. We lit the candles, ate some chocolate coins and had a good time. I love entertaining, but you know that if you have been following my blogs.
One highlight of the New Year was the birthday of my good friend, Lynne. I organized a brunch at 1921 in Mount Dora and 8 of us celebrated her coming of age. It was a lovely day and the special private room they have there is exquisite, and they provide a great server who looked after us very well. The cake that I offered was fabulous from Le Petit Sweet. It highlighted Lynne’s accomplishments as a quilter. I believe she had a fine time. I know I did.
I look forward to telling you about some great concerts and operas I have seen and also about a very special dinner at Soseki restaurant in Orlando. I hope you will continue reading and listening to this blog as I wander into my golden years.