Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baby Boomers - Turning Sixty Our Way

I was reading an article today about a doctor who treats quite a few patients from the Baby Boomer era - my era - those of us born between 1946 and 1964. He sees many of us for exercise/sports injuries as do many other doctors these days. He calls the syndrome "boomeritis." In fact, he even copyrighted the name. Boomeritis is an affliction of older people who think they can work out like younger people and believe they can hold off aging, according to this doctor, and who injure themselves as a result. The way he describes boomeritis, it sounds like we're just fantasizing and can't own up to the fact that we're middle aged and some of us are even seniors who shouldn't try to keep up! Middle aged? Didn't we remove that term from the dictionary? I'll be 59 in a few days and I don't ever remember becoming middle aged, nor did any of my friends.

Seriously though, many older athletes and weekend warriors (men and women) can injure themselves by overusing muscles and tendons that may not be as supple as they used to be. We do have to pay attention, but that doesn't mean we have to stop and drop into the easy chair.

None of us Baby Boomers really want to be called "seniors" either. My vision of a senior is more like what my grandparents were like when they were in their sixties and I was just a kid: soft, smiling creased faces, a little plump, aprons, stockings rolled around grandma's ankles, the house smelling like cigar smoke, ashtrays all around, calm but almost never doing anything outside other than gardening. I know. This is blatant stereotyping, but it's my personal picture of yesteryear. Of course, there were people over sixty who were very active back then - I just didn't know them and I suspect there weren't that many of them compared to today except in the farming industry.

Our parents' and their parents' generations just didn't know what we know today about exercise, nutrition, mental health. They didn't have the health care technology we do today. They just did what they thought they should - worked hard, supported their families, went to church every Sunday and tried to stay comfortable.

But I'll be 60 in another year which I believe is supposed to move me into seniordome and I'll still be riding my bike, going to the gym at oh dark hundred, dreaming of sculling and trying really hard to keep my bones from turning into spider webs and my arteries from clogging up like my sink. And yes, sometimes I have injuries ....just like my twentysomething peers do. Big deal. I am paying attention, doctor.

I wear cutoffs and sandals in the summer and jeans and western boots in the winter and unless I have to meet some head of state, I will never put stockings on again the rest of my life. I also refuse to wear polyester. Most of my friends have similar philosophies.

So we are a very different generation than our parents or grandparents coming into our sixties. I'm happy to be who I am at this age and delighted to be doing what I'm doing. I'm still working full time which I didn't expect to be thirty years ago, but things change. I make way more than my dad did and I have a pension which my kids will not.

I watched my mother die of breast cancer and my dad die of heart disease in their sixties. They didn't know what steps they could have taken to reduce their risk. I have no excuse.

So I'm out there exercising more and living differently than I did in my twenties. I'm no doubt in better shape with the exception of a little arthritis. I'm not kidding myself that I'm never going to age - I am aging. But it is damn well going to be my way (to the best of my ability)!

They have a centenarian luncheon in my town for everyone over 100. My plan is not only to be alive for it, but to walk in under my own power and know that I just turned 100!! If that's Boomeritis, well, I have the affliction. Anybody want to join me?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fall Fun is Around the Corner

Well, summer seems to be wrapping up - date-wise anyway. School is back in session here in Arizona. But the temperature just doesn't seem to have gotten the news. We're still bumping up against the 100's and the monsoon season really stank this year. And now it seems to be breathing it's last - out with a whimper, not a bang! Hot and dry. Whew! We had the worst electric bill ever.

But for me and a couple of my friends, September also means we are only a month (give or take) away from our hike into the Grand Canyon. To be more specific, we will be hiking the Havasupai Trail for the first time which is not in the national park but on the reservation. I am SO looking forward to it. The waterfalls and pools at the bottom are spectacular. We were supposed to have gone last year, but they had some very bad flooding that damaged the trails and little community there. So we're back for another go.

Have been doing a lot of long walks with my little furballs. I haven't had a chance to do our local 'hill walk" but I need to get going on that so my legs will get used to the long ups and downs. Can't wait.

A few years ago, one of the women I'm hiking with this time - one of my best friends, Teresa, invited a few of us to hike the regular Grand Canyon (how can it ever be regular?) for her birthday and stay for a couple days down at the bottom at Phantom Ranch. It was one of those lifetime experiences you never forget and produces all kinds of vivid memories. The Canyon just leaves you awestruck, turn after turn after turn. I felt so privileged to be in it - like it's sacred ground. Some of my pictures are here, but seeing them just isn't the same as being IN IT. If you ever have a chance......DO IT! You don't have to go all the way down. If you take the Bright Angel Trail, halfway down at Indian Gardens there is a rest area, water, restrooms and it's a good place to turn around for day hikers.

We camped down below. It was freezing when we left the south rim and we were all bundled up. But by the time we got to the bottom, about 6 hours later, we'd shed the jackets, sweatshirts, knit caps and were liberally applying sunscreen and downing Motrin! Our tents were wide open all night and we really didn't need blankets. Our group cooked up a smorgasbord of freeze-dried meals on our little gas stoves and they were scrumptious. Teresa's husband, Gary, is a gadget guy and he had all the equipment we needed to be comfortable. So we used mules to pack some of our stuff down so we wouldn't have to carry it all. That probably isn't the purest way, but it worked for us!

There is a little store/restaurant at Phantom Ranch and it's perched up on a foundation that requires steps to climb to go in and out. It was so funny to watch hikers come down the steps. Many of them, including us, were so sore the next day, we had to side step coming down! I bought my husband, who didn't go, a Phantom Ranch hat that you can only get there and we all mailed postcards from the store that also doubles as their post office. They have their own Phantom Ranch postmark, sending proof that you indeed made it to the bottom. Fun.

One afternoon, we were sitting around at the campsite and we noticed a couple of wild turkeys down by the creek near our site. They were slowly making their way up to the path we were next to. We were all excited and kept shooshing each other lest we scare them away. But they just walked right into our campsite, bold as you please - checked out the table and the ground around it for food like we weren't even there. Turns out they were the "camp turkeys" and they even had names. Later we saw the camp deer! Very cool.

So we are really looking forward to this new trip - new sites, new experiences, tons of photos which I'll share with you in an upcoming post.

It's always good to have something to look forward to, isn't it? Good for your health.