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Fitness, eating healthfully, working out regularly, living a stress-free life...these are all important issues for everyone and in particular, the 50-plus man or woman. I'll attack each of these important issues in subsequent blogs so stay tuned.

Fitness is of utmost importance as we get older. I'm sure you already knew that. As for me, a sedentary lifestyle is an absolute no-no. Now don't get me wrong - I don't profess to be this huge fitness buff! No sir, by no means. In fact I wish I were so I really need to be doing more.

I try to do something active every day. For example, instead of driving to work – from one garage to the next - I take public transportation so I can get a total of 20-25 minutes worth of walking done doing just this each day. Now, that's not much but its way better than nothing at all! (Plus, it’s way cheaper than buying all that gas and paying $125 per month for parking!) Then throughout the working day, I get up and walk around the office do various chores. When its spring, summer or autumn, I walk for an additional 30 minutes during my lunch hour at least three of the five days of the week and this is quite invigorating. But at winter time, yuck, I'm certainly not walking in the cold. I hate cold weather as a matter of fact. The Caribbean in me will not allow me to conform to it!

In addition, there's a school near my house so I might walk around the track there on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I also moved my elliptical machine into my living room so I hop on for a few minutes from time to time. I do a little strength training here and there with my little 3 and 5 pound dumbells (need to move up to 8 and 10 pounds now). And, (so proud of myself) I just ordered a really good skipping rope for some cardio workout. I know for sure I'll use it as this is something I loved doing as a kid. I also found this place that sells a great hoola hoop called the Hoopnotica travel hoola hoop. It even comes with an instructional DVD so you know I’m getting one of those!! I'm even now contemplating what to sign up and pay for - yoga, African dance classes or a gym? I'm more inclined to do the dancing because again, this is something I absolutely love do to. But rest assured, if I pay for it – I’m going! I'll let you know which one I chose.

So as you can see, I'm definitely trying to stay active and not embrace the sedentary critter. That critter is dangerous for the body.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.  -Maya Angelou, poet, b. 1928

This statement by Maya Angelou is so very true and I was compelled to write on it. When I was younger, I used to wonder why people kept forgetting what was often said. Or was it selective memory at work? I was always bothered as to why someone would even act as if I hadn't said something that I just finished saying. Was this the in-one-ear-out-the-next syndrome (I often thought)? It just seemed so easy for people to forget what someone else said.

And oh - forget about what someone did!! People never seemed to remember that. I've had many experiences of people “conveniently” forgetting that I did something. Grrr!!! Mind you -- it didn't matter what it was. This included places I've worked back then, friends and yes at times even family members, were among the "forgetful" ones. So why bother saying or doing anything then, I often wondered. I used to wonder why this was! Why were people so selective with the things they remembered?

But, as I grew older, I came to the realization that the answer to all of this was...if something you said or did had no effect on someone's feelings, it didn't matter at all! When I hit my late forties, the realization became even stronger. So as I discovered this, I started trying as much as possible to make sure that what I said or did was done in such a way that it had an effect on people’s feelings. This sounds weird, right? Because it could mean that if I wanted to make someone feel bad, I would do or say something that would create that effect, and vice versa. I’m here to tell you that I did just that! Now let me be very clear. Doing or saying something bad doesn’t mean what it sounds like, okay. What it meant was that I would be very forthcoming with what I thought about someone or something, whether they liked what I said or did, or not. I was never like that in my earlier years. I cared so much about what people thought, that I would only do what they wanted done, or say what they wanted to hear. I cared so much how people felt.

I’m now in my fifties and while I have not stopped caring about how I make people feel, I now care about making people feel good (for the most part), but from an angle where I feel I did the right thing (not just to say or do what people wanted ). It has been working so far! Mission accomplished. I’m here to tell everyone that all this “wisdom” I have now gained in my fifties – this is the best decade of my life and is a great part of the reason I love to write. I had to share it!

The journey continues in my back-to-school saga. I’m having a wonderful time learning all these new subjects. I’m nearing the end of my Cost & Price Analysis and Statistics classes, with finals approaching in another couple of weeks or so. What a journey it has been!

Cost & Price Analysis: I had no idea about this topic even existed. It is a topic that needs to be learned and understood in order to do contract work with the government. It covers establishment and administration of equitable pricing arrangements for goods and/or services; analyzes the total price (cost plus profit) and the individual elements of cost (labor, materials, indirect costs, and profit); emphasizes techniques for determining proper prices and estimating; and discusses methods of pricing research and development, and the selection of hardware and services. What an eye-opener for someone like me who knew absolutely nothing about it!

Statistics: This course examines the principles of probability and of descriptive and inferential statistics. Topics include probability concepts, measures of central tendency, normal distributions, and sampling techniques. The application of these principles to simple hypothesis testing methods and to confidence intervals is also covered. The application of these topics in solving problems encountered in personal and professional settings is also discussed. Before taking this class, I often wondered “why does anyone even need to learn this subject?” I now know! One must know probabilities, mean, median, mode, midrange, variances and standard deviations to get by in this world we live in. Mind you, there’s no need I believe, to know all the intricacies of any of these, but to at least have some idea. I must admit that I’m now seeing many things in a different light due to learning Statistics. Confession time!

Upon going back to school and perusing my entire curriculum, I walked around asking almost everyone I knew, why do I need to learn crazy subjects such as Philosophy, Calculus, Sociology, Logic, Statistics…you know - - these weird subjects. The answer was almost always - to keep you rounded so your degree can make sense when you get out into the world. Yeah, right!! I’m rounded alright! What more rounding do I need? Those were my thoughts that very first semester. But as each one was completed and a new one began, they all started to make sense to me! Right now I’m in love with Philosophy and Logic! What cool subjects they are! If I learned these subjects as a very young girl - from age 18 through my 20s - I would have been way ahead of my game right now. Way ahead!!!

Because I now have a different outlook on almost everything due to what I have been learning, I’m now desiring to have a brand new start. A brand new start in almost every aspect of my life. Going back to school was a super-smart decision!

Change is inevitable in almost all aspects of, but particularly in, our personal lives. You therefore must learn how to adapt to change and thrive, rather than just...survive. Really! Most of the times these changes that come about, did so quite unexpectedly. What then must you do? Keel over? Oh absolutely not!

Usually by the time you get to being in your 50s, you would probably have already gone through a ton of changes. Changes from all angles - that is. Changes at work having to deal with bosses and their various personalities. Coworkers - the same. Changing jobs due to downsizing, firing, frustration, relocation or probably health reasons. Changes at home -- with our spouses or significant other (separation, divorce, incompatibility, etc.). Changes in the process of raising our children -- illness, grades in school, behavioral issues - you name it. This list of changes that could come your way could be endless.

But you must - you must - be resilient. For the sake of your sanity. For the sake of your health. For the sake of setting an example for younger ones around you so they can see that indeed, these matters can be overcome. That, to me, is of great importance. My children and grandchildren MUST see how resilient I can be in any given situation! And I have been doing just that throughout my entire life. My three adult children can attest to this (even though I get teased quite a bit about some of it)! It's okay! Because at the end of it all, they saw that I was a tough cookie and that life indeed did go on!

Why not do the same for yourself? Grab those matters of life that are sure to come your way by the horn and overcome them all...one by one! Show everyone how resilient you indeed are!

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We had our second annual "Gardening with Grandma" event yesterday and the beautiful weather we had enabled us to go full speed ahead with our project. We (me, all three girls, their moms and one dad) happily headed off to Home Depot and Lowe's to shop for our fruit and vegetable garden. This year we planned on planting lettuce, carrot, tomato, eggplant and kale. Between both stores were able to get everything except the kale. I'm still hunting them down in the interim. We also picked up a strawberry and a grape plant. Hopefully someday the girls can have their own strawberry patch and vineyard to pick from! GardeningPYTs5-15-10

 

We arrived home and the girls could not wait to dig in! That's a picture of Sage and me laying out the carrot seeds. Of course I got a lesson on not being scared of earthworms as the noise I made when the first one appeared made them look at me as if to say, "What is her problem?" I'M SCARED OF ANYTHING THAT WIGGLES!!!! That's my problem!! Has always been!

My first encounter with a wriggler was at age 8 when my mom gave me some beans to open up their pods and wash them. Out came this feisty green worm and let me tell you! The whole container (peas, pods, worm and all) went flying high up into the air, followed by the most blood-curdling scream you ever heard! What? Have a worm crawl on my hand? Are you nuts? They probably would have to bury me that day! I was scared sick!!! Since that day all wrigglers - worms, caterpillars, snakes, maggots - whatever they may be - were enemies of mine. The earthworm was no different. Just let me see one wriggling across the sidewalk or in the yard anywhere. Usain Bolt - you try to catch me!! It's bad - really bad and the children saw my response to the earthworm and gave me a thorough lesson. "Grandma! Worms are good for the soil! You're scaring them!" The nerve of them! I'M SCARING THE WORMS! They weren't even worried about me!! They were worried about the darn worm!!! Well I never!!!! However, to my surprise, I was able to continue gardening (with gloves on of course) even after a few of them lazily slithered on by. I had to keep it down for the girls' sake - and so I did.

Anyhow, the girls each got their turn at digging the area, planting the sucker or seed, covering them with soil, then mulch and the grand finale - watering them all! They absolutely loved it! Little Amayah (the youngest) served mostly as the security guard, yelling at Sage to "get back over here, Sagie" when Sage tried sauntering off a bit, and "Marley, wait until Grandma says yes" when Marley tried watering before it was time. It was so much fun with them!

They are now anxiously awaiting the appearance of the tiny suckers so they can see their own handiworks. Last year the girls (except the youngest - Amayah - she was still too young) planted eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, thyme and sage and were ecstatic watching them all grow. Even more exciting to them was eating what they grew!! So the journey has begun and you'll be kept abreast at the various stages - the growing, reaping, eating...the whole nine!

Gardening2PYTs5-15-10

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If I knew then what I know now! How many times have you said that in your life? Seriously! How many times? C'mon - tell the truth!! I have said it many, many times as I look back at all or most of the mistakes I made in life. And those mistakes are numerous! You have a few too, don't you? Nothing wrong with "fessing" up. We all have some. Yes - all of us. No matter your profession, title, position, religious or political views, situation, etc., etc. - we all have made them.

I have looked back at even some of the choices I made where many things were concerned. These choices included friends, significant others (oh yes - not afraid to fess up to that one), jobs, paycheck, foods, my health, education..should I stop here? When I look back at some of the poor choices - YUCK! I feel like banging my head on a wall somewhere! What was I thinking then? In my country of birth (Jamaica) there's a saying for this that goes "Yu mussey drop and lick yu head?" (I must have fallen and hit my head somewhere!)

Those poor choices have resulted into many of the situations I've had to endure as I went about the daily business of life. I even continued doing some of them - - not even realizing it! However in all of these goings-on, I have tried to take the lesson to be learned from each of them and knew for sure what I wanted and what I absolutely didn't want again in my life. Mind you, I'm not at all saying I won't ever again make poor choices. But guess what? I'm more cautious, experienced, observant/perceptive, mature...all of the things I was not when these poor choices were being made, and consequently have been able to make far better choices today. Sometimes I smile in the midst of making various decisions, and say to myself "This is not what you would have done back then, Valerie! You would have done or said this or that instead." Makes me beam at my apparent growth!

Then there are things that I had said I would NEVER do back then - things that I am currently doing today. Had I done some of these very things, I would have been "sailing pretty smooth" today. My education is a perfect example. Should and could have been more realistic and focused with that very important and essential task. Young, foolish, know-it-all, naive, I got this. My mantra back then. Couldn't tell me anything because I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING!!

I surely have come a long way baby!

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