Monday, March 11, 2013

Welcoming the unwelcome birthday

The birthday I've been dreading for more than a year is upon me. Today--Monday, March 11, 2013--I am 70. I think I'm finally okay with it.

All my adult life, people have told me I look younger than my age. Most of the time I have felt younger, too.

But this year some things have happened that tell me if I want to be a youthful and vigorous 70 I'd better make a few changes.

In June I broke my leg and badly sprained my ankle. I hobbled around on it for 10 days before finally going to a doctor, who put on a giant splint and ordered me to stay off the leg for six weeks. It didn't occur to me that I should have been exercising the rest of my body. Taking advantage of my inactivity, some old fibromyalgia pains flared up. Then I developed shingles--the mildest case imaginable, but even without severe pain it meant there was an active virus in my system.

I spent most of August exercising my legs and ankles and enjoying being active again. When the kids returned for daycare at the end of the month, I was mostly up to the task.

A week or so later, Augie started all-day kindergarten. He spends about 90 minutes with us in the morning playing and having breakfast, and then Peter takes him to school. Without Augie's driving energy ("C'mon Grandma, let's race around the house"), Vi and I settled into a routine of reading, crafting, playing Dragonvale on the iPad, etc. I began to marvel at her newly extended attention span, failing to notice how very sedentary we'd become.

I wrote on January 6 that I'd realized that I lacked energy and stamina, and that after Vi left each day I was resorting to chocolate and naps and ignoring my to-do lists. I made a New Year's resolution to be more active and to eat more wisely. But days later the flu hit me. I was sick for weeks and couldn't bounce back.  I wasn't going to be fitter and more energetic in time for my birthday, as I'd intended. I felt old.

I visited my doctor a couple of weeks ago. She said the flu was affecting lots of people the same way and she didn't find anything wrong health-wise. She was upbeat about my situation but matter-of-factly used the term "de-conditioned," which I found oddly appropriate. She agreed that rebuilding my activity level was a key to feeling better and sustaining good health.

I told her something I haven't yet told you: I began taking tap dancing lessons in early January. I missed a couple because of the flu, and the eight-week class is over now, but I've learned enough to put together a good workout several days a week at home until a new class begins. I love it, and it's one of a small handful of things making me feel better.

Friday my siblings and their families threw a birthday party for me, one of the best gatherings we've had in a long time. My sister flew in from California as a surprise, and she's in town for a few more days. Saturday Peter and I had a fabulous lunch at a favorite restaurant, followed by still-wonderful leftovers for dinner. Sunday we had comfort food with my sister, and tonight we'll have dinner with the grandkids and their parents. We are celebrating my turning 70, and in the process I am reminding myself to be grateful for the privilege. I even bought myself a refill for my planner so I can get back to scheduling and tracking my projects.

Life is a gift. I know how to make the most of it. I just got out of the habit for a while.


Far Side of Fifty said...

Hi Nancy Happy Birthday! It is easy to get caught up in the numbers..everyday is a gift! Sounds like you had lots of celebrating ..good for you!! :)

Green Monkey said...

Happy Birthday Nancy Bliss,
I LOVE that you're taking tap dance classes. Exercise really does boost your energy level and increase your overall happiness (says monkey me who failed to do her morning walk).

I am heading out the door in a few to meet a friend for lunch. He is also turning 70 today! what a fun coincidence.

happy, happy, tappy, tappy, BIRTHDAY to YOU!!

joeh said...

Well Happy Birthday! If you are tap dancing at 70 you must be doing something right.

I'll know I'm old when the first person says at a Birthday, "You are xx years YOUNG!

I hate that!!

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday! Have a super time this year.

Grandmother Mary said...

Happiest of Birthdays to you, Nancy! I love your doctors diagnosis of de-conditioned because that's just what it is. The good news is of course that you can get conditioned again. Tap dancing sounds like the perfect approach- fun, full of music, rhythmic. At any age our muscles respond to exercise by getting stronger. Spring is here and walks with Vi are surely in the curriculum so you'll be feeling like your old energetic self before you know it. Yes, write it into your schedule. Give to yourself first. I'm celebrating you!

Teresa Evangeline said...

A Very Happy Birthday, Nancy. You're inspiring me to stay aware of how complacency can set in, something I also need to guard against.... Enjoy the day and all the years to come!

Ms Sparrow said...

Welcome to the sunny side of 70! You have a good plan for staying upbeat and active. Even better, you have a great family and friends to keep you that way! Happy Birthday, Nancy.

Red Shoes said...

HaPpY BiRtHdAy, Nancy!!


Yer a spring chicken!!

I have a sister that is 82, a brother that is 77, another sister that is 75... and they are ALL going great guns!!

I think about just not acknowledging birthday numbers any more... and I'm a little younger than you! HA!!



Jeanie said...

I think it is great that after a really rough year you are so determined to get you energy back and live your life to the fullest. I have no doubt that you will succeed. Have a wonderful birthday and an energy filled year to come.

Nanette Stearns said...

Sounds like a wonderful birthday, Nancy! Glad the family was all here for it. I like the idea of "de-conditioned." Getting out and about in winter is always hard but soon it will be gone. I took tap as an elementary schooler and loved it - great exercise and a fun way to make some noise!

DJan said...

Well, happy birthday from another septuagenarian! I am actually looking forward to 71 now, since I learned that I will be in my Prime (number, that is). Congratulations on taking the tap dancing. How cool is that? :-)

Meryl Baer said...

Happy birthday and so glad you had a wonderful 70th celebration. Keep up the tap dancing! What a wonderful way to exercise.

Golden To Silver Val said...

Happy Birthday! I'm right behind you on the 15th. Sigh....some days I feel old, others not so much. But, I can't complain, considering the said...

Happy Birthday, Nancy! You DO look great! All this time I figured you were the same age as me... I'm going to be 60 in May. In fact, now that I know all that you're doing at 70, I'm feeling kind of feeble for 60. Enjoy tapping away!

AiringMyLaundry said...

Happy Birthday to you!! Hope you have a great one.

Murr Brewster said...

Happy birthday, my friend, and may it be a long time before you shuffle off to Buffalo.

Allyson said...

Happy (VERY) Belated Birthday!! We love the fellow Pieces in this house! ;) I hope it has been going swimmingly well ever since the big 7-0. Although, you can do what our friends do...declare it the 50th anniversary of your 20th birthday. If people can't do the math, then that's their problem. ;)

Jenny said...

Oh my.

Wishing you a very, very, very belated birthday! I read that 70 is the new 39...but I think it might be a lie - ha!

Love that you're taking charge of your life!

May you fully enjoy every single day!

Sally Wessely said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I needed to read it. I can relate to so much of what you are saying. When years are rough, it is easy to lose our way. I'm glad you are finding yours again.

I love that you are tap dancing! You go girl!

Linda Myers said...

Deconditioned! What a fabulous description. Glad you're getting back to it - the physical exercise, I mean. I hurt my back a couple of years ago and I am still reluctant, sometimes, to be super active, wanting to protect my back. Docs say nope, do everything you want to do.

Anita said...

I can tell that you are an optimist! Any time you have a setback, you work to get back to normal; even it it takes a little time.

I had the flu a few weeks ago. My head hurt off and on for 7 days. The following week, I dragged around because my energy was not what it usually is. I haven't had the flu since college. I see what people mean when they say that it sucks the life out of you!

Keep tap dancing and enJoy being 70!

Unknown said...

First let me wish you a belated Happy Birthday! I so agree with you regarding keeping up with the birthdays. Exercise, friends and family, and happy activities all extend our life and happiness. That is so cool you are taking tap! Here's to many many more trips around the sun!

Julie Magers Soulen Photography


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