Losing Weight

                    Lose weight.  How many times have I heard that ominous directive, not only from my doctor’s lips, but from my own guilt-manufacturing neurosis? 

             I have peacefully reached the stage in life where I am comfortable with the fact that I am overweight—I can’t say the word “obese”— it’s such a nasty word.  In my lifetime, I have lost 50 pounds. Three times!  It took commitment, money, and time.  Each time I’ve lost the weight, I’ve kept it off for three years, and, then, voila, not only the pounds I lost came roaring back, but extra pounds appeared as well! Obviously, this happening is a warning never, ever again, to consciously lose weight.

             Up to now, I’ve been able to accept my overweight self as I am, but fate has intervened. I’ve been struggling to walk with pain in both ankles.  My doctor diagnosed the condition as tendonitis and gently suggested, once more, that I lose weight to relieve pressure on my joints. I heard the doctor this time and decided, yes, I would lose weight.  Not try to lose weight, but actually lose weight.

              As most persons who have dieted know, the programs designed for losing weight do work if diligently worked.  It has been true for me that if I pay for something, I follow instructions, so I have had success with these programs.  However, there is that three-year bugaboo lurking in my head.  I need some plan to have hope of keeping my weight reasonable for the rest of my life, a plan that I can commit to without penalties or extra motivation, a plan that is based on easing the pain in my joints.

            As is my custom, I start with prayer.  Lead me not into temptation is a good one.  Also, guide me as I once again begin a new adventure.

            I decide that I will eat only at meal times.  I’ll eat what I want and stop when the plate is empty.  Before I sit down, I’ll gather everything except coffee and dessert, but I will decide on what dessert I will eat.  If I feel satisfied without dessert, I will skip it.

            I notice that my younger son has taken up the habit of eating large quantities of vegetables.  Hmm.  Vegetables.  Plants are a source of medicine, I reason.  Dr. Oz talks of the benefits to the body of certain vegetables.  Hmm.  I like vegetables.

            I buy pounds of vegetables at my local warehouse store.  I began with a huge helping of broccoli at supper, a generous dollop of sour cream, plus three baby cucumbers, a couple of thin slices of fresh yellow peppers, and a baby portabella mushroom with my entrée of leftover pot roast. A glass of water and a cup of coffee—without cream, another decision—and a chocolate-covered ice cream bar complete the meal.  I am satisfied.

            For breakfast, I begin eating the pickled herring in sour cream I bought for good luck at New Year’s and I add more broccoli, a few saltines, a banana, coffee and water.

            Lunch becomes a fresh salad of Romaine lettuce with celery, cucumber, green onion, mushroom, and cherry tomatoes, the water to drink, and an apple. Plain yogurt and fresh blueberries is my dessert.

            Those are my basic meals with variation in vegetables, fruits and meats.  I also have a potato with the main meal or bread when the mood strikes me, especially if I have an egg in the morning.

            I’ve added a short walk in the morning during which I look for something on which to focus my gratitude.  The first morning two flocks of Canada geese honked noisily as they flew over my head. On another morning, I noticed how starkly beautiful a tree was, silhouetted against a blue sky.  Still, on another walk, the cool breeze caressed my face and rattled the spikey leaves of a rosemary bush. I’ve decided the purpose of the walk is not to exercise, but to fill myself with the joy of creation each day.  I know how fortunate I am to be alive and reasonably healthy.

            So far, I am doing well.  I’ve dropped a couple of pounds, which doesn’t seem as important as the way I feel.  I notice that my digestive system is quieter as is my mind.  I am not obsessing on eating something salty or sweet.  I reserve the right to do that at mealtimes; I haven’t yet wanted those foods. I feel more focused and less harried by everyday tasks.  My ankles, aided by some treatment and lots of stretching are less painful.  And, look!  I’ve found time for my passion, writing.  By losing weight, I just may be gaining a renewed self.

Unique Issues in Aging for LGBT Seniors

What’s so different about being old and sexually diverse and being old and heterosexual?

On a basic level, nothing. We all experience the same kind of joys and the same kinds of suffering old age brings, but to those who are heterosexual comes a confidence in aging to which seniors who are sexually diverse are not easily privy.

The secrecy that many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people have had to maintain most of their lives follows them into their senior years and has a profound effect on everything a person does and especially the level of care available.

A newly released study, Caring and Aging , the first of its kind to be funded by the National Institute for Health and the National Institute for Aging, questioned 2,560 GLBT persons, aged 50 to 95, across the nation about issues of aging. Eighty percent of those studied were between 50 and 79, most of them easily qualifying as Baby Boomers.

Among the findings: Nearly one half of these LGBT older adults have a disability. One third experience depression. Almost two thirds have been victimized three or more times. Thirteen percent have been denied or received inferior health care, while more than 20% do not tell their primary health care provider their sexual or gender identity

While these statistics are stark, imagine, if you aren’t an LGBT person, what it must feel like to have to think twice before you tell your doctor who you are. If you are depressed and are not heterosexual, who do you trust to treat that depression? Although our society is better informed than when these seniors were growing up, how does one who has been victimized so many times before begin to trust that he or she will be treated with respect and fairness?

Now stretch your imagination to include housing, senior centers, golf and bridge clubs or any other activity many seniors enjoy and think about whether LGBT persons are not only welcomed, but are nurtured as friends and companions. What about children, grandchildren and extended family? For many older senior LGBT persons, there are few or no relatives to take care of them in their later years. Partners or friends may be there, but these relationships have limitations, one being that they, too, may be old and in need of care as well.

At least two million people are LGBT seniors. That number is conservatively extrapolated from the number of seniors willing to share their sexual identity. As attitudes change and the population grows, the number is expected to double by 2030.

If you think that LGBT persons can be entirely free and open in today’s society, think again. Our nation just recently rescinded the “don’t ask, don’t tell” required for service in the military. Between 1997 and 2007, nearly 10,000 service members were fired for being gay. Policies of this sort and the betrayals they foster are not easily forgotten. In the study 26 % of the participants had served in the military, among them 41% identifying as transgender.

The study results showed that older LGBT adult participants are still reluctant to be fully out. Best friends are the ones most trusted with this information (92%). Children came in second (85%), followed by sisters (81%), brothers (80%), mother (66%), father (54%), grandparents (27%). In the larger communities in which they live, work, or are retired these seniors were out to current or previous supervisors, (69%), a neighbor (66%), in their faith communities (73%), and to their physician, (79%).

The good news in the study was a finding that LGBT older adults are resilient in living their lives and building their communities—90% said they felt good about belonging to their communities. The use of activities like meditation to promote wellness was reported by 91% of the participants, while 81% said they exercise regularly, and 38% attend spiritual or religious services.

Increasingly there are improved services for LGBT older adults. The best known national group concerned with this population is SAGE, Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders.

Finding Delight Again

            Loneliness is a killer. If not physically disabling, the awful silence in a house of one person threatens madness.  No wonder lonely people watch so much television!  Electronic voices fill the void and provide resistance to that flood of nothingness that perversely insists on attention. That feeling, my friends, is madness.

            The prescription for treating loneliness is contact with other human beings, so we who are lonely go out and join a church or some other organization in an effort to find a place where we fit. We don’t find satisfaction until we roll up our sleeves and include ourselves in the work of the place we have joined.  Soon we are engaged and reasonably happy, but not quite.  What is missing is that intimacy of being with another person special to you, someone who senses what you need and gives it to you, someone to whom you give back just as freely.

            Ah, there’s the rub, finding that special person.  Technology can help, especially if paired with good old-fashioned willingness to share something of ourselves.  I went online to play bridge in a game room that offered chat.  Seems that the mannerly thing to do was to compliment one another after a well-played hand of bridge or to soften a loss with words of encouragement.  In the electronic bridge room, that translates to “gt,p,” which is “good try, partner.”  Practicing these niceties built up my courage to offer bits of information about myself. Soon some special friends at the bridge tables knew about and were interested in the new book I had written on aging. 

            I then friended them and had a private chat.  Before long I was emailing a charming woman in Texas, getting to know someone new and sharing myself with her.  It was exhilarating.  We even talked on the telephone once.  I felt my life interests expanding. I was making new friends.

            Then in came a gentleman friend, who bought my book.  We began to look for one another in the online bridge rooms.  Soon, we, too, were emailing. He’s a match for me in age, in intellect, in our various interests, but he’s a thousand miles away with an established family, very definitely out of reach, except as a special friend.  You see, he is lonely too because his wife has Alzheimer’s.

            My online contacts bring me delight in living. In a way, it is a “let’s pretend,” world because we know we are unlikely to meet face to face. Our various lives are too complicated, and it is too expensive and exhausting for some of us to travel long distances and fuel untested friendships that way.  But online and in our imaginations we can find delight once more.  Our life stories are fresh and meaningful, and we get to remind ourselves that indeed we have had some great times in life. There’s a validation and a great sense of freedom to be one’s true self once more.

            For me, my old friends and loved ones—those long gone in divorce and death and simple neglect become real once again in chatting with new friends.  Intimacy returns in memory blessedly washed in waves of positive experiences, all negatives drained off.  This getting older is fun when I allow my imagination the freedom it deserves.  It pays off in newfound delight.


Something Old/ Something New

 Something old is here bringing something new. The something old is I bringing newly created thoughts and insights to the Internet. (Yes, the English teacher in me compels the word “I,” not “me.”)

But guess what? It is I who am old-fashioned. Language is a living entity. When enough people use “it is me” or some such grammatical construction, then that usage becomes the new norm. So, I guess it is me writing after all. Let’s just not make any conversation we may have just “between you and I.” Oops! That grammatical boat has sailed, too, hasn’t it?

Welcome to my blog where something old (me) is willing to change into something new––within reason, of course.

You’ll notice I am a published writer. I will be blogging about issues in my new book as well as the older book, so expect to hear stories on aging and stories on sexual diversity. Hmm. Can we connect the two? We’ll see. For now, explore the website.

OMG! I just spellchecked this entry and guess what? I’m being prompted to change the “me” (the one in parenthesis after the word “old” in the welcome to my blog sentence) to “I!”