Get Old… and Fulfill Your Dreams

“How do you feel about getting old?”

Granted, right about now we might want to pull a Benjamin Button and start aging backwards (especially if we looked like Brad Pitt). But I firmly believe that (to borrow from a commercial of the 70s): “We are not just getting older; we are getting better.”

If nothing else, ask yourself, “What’s the alternative?” (Yeah, that’s a real motivator, isn’t it?)

People are living longer today than ever before. So why not make those longer lives fuller as well?

Some mornings do I awake with a depression so thick I think I cannot possibly get through another day? Yes, to be honest, I do. (Bitty finds me incredibly enjoyable on those days.)

But eventually that depression releases its stronghold, and I find myself planning and, most importantly, hoping for my future. I am determined to live as long a life as possible and to fulfill my remaining dreams.

And my biggest dream in the second half of my life is to travel.

Young Aging Gal in Venice, 1985

I’ve been to Europe twice, once after I graduated college in 1985 and a few years ago in 2009. Both times I found my journeys to be life-changing events. There is something about adventuring into a different culture (once I finish the multi-hour plane ride) that reinvigorates, even reaffirms, life, living, learning. Dare I say venturing into the world gives me hope?

There’s that word again: hope. It’s no coincidence. When my depression washes over me full-bore, I feel hopeless. I cannot put one foot in front of the other until I once again feel hope. Without hope, I am drowning. With hope, I can keep my head above water.

Bitty and Aging Gal in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, 2009

So I’ve just regurgitated an entire therapy session at you (I’ll be sending each of you a check for services rendered). But I feel better laying out my demons as well as my desires.

And this is what Pfizer wants to help all of us Aging Gals and Guys do through their GetOld.com platform.

As Pfizer says, “Ultimately your job is to work on your dreams. Ours is to make sure you live long enough to achieve them.”

Visiting Pfizer’s Get Old platform on-line can help you discover what it is you want for your life as you age. You can connect with others, find tools to live a longer, healthier life, and inspire yourself!

So, talk it out and then get moving on your dream.

Now mull all of this and tell me: “How do you feel about getting old?”

Answering that question in the comments will earn you an entry for a chance to win one of three $500 SpaFinder gift cards. Please note that the winner will be selected from the entries compiled by a group of participating bloggers

For your convenience, here are highlights from the Official Rules for the Sweepstakes. Please note by submitting an entry you are agreeing to the full Official Rules, available here.

No duplicate comments.

Please do not mention or imply any pharmaceutical products in your posts. Posts that mention or imply a pharmaceutical product will be subject to removal.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt at the bottom of this post.*
b) Read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
*Note: if you want to comment but either (i) are not eligible or (ii) do not want to enter the giveaway, please include something similar to the following statement in your comment: “I do not wish to enter the sweepstakes.”

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Medical professionals who are licensed (or are otherwise authorized) to prescribe medications are not eligible to enter. While BlogHer encourages you to share your thoughts and experiences about getting older, comments discussing medical conditions and/or medical products are not permitted, may be deleted, and are invalid entries. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/30 to 8/31.

Be sure to check out the BlogHer.com Get Old page to find out more about the Get Old platform and read how other bloggers feel about aging!

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No-Pain Junkie

Recently, I got a cortisone shot in my right elbow to battle increasingly painful tendonitis, or tennis elbow.  “This is gonna sting a bit,” the doctor said before injecting the needle, then grinding it in and around the sinewy tissue, trying to inoculate the tendon in a fight to the death.  “Holy cannoli, Doctor!” I screamed, loud enough to startle the nurse.  “’Sting’ was a bit of an understatement.”  Like saying Jack the Ripper was a bit cranky.

Around the same time, my mother told me of the cortisone shot she received in her hip, the hip she’s had since birth, as opposed to the man-made prosthetic implanted two years ago in the other side.  The moment she mentioned the size of the needle – large – I pictured something the length of a knitting needle forcing its way through to her hip bone and almost fainted.

I am not a connoisseur of medical stories, a lover of blood, or a fan of pain.

Yet I do acknowledge that pain makes us feel alive, assures us we’re not dead.  Or depressed.  I’ve long battled Depression (to me, my Depression, just like the Great one, warrants the capital “D”).  In my worst moments, I picture Depression as an endless bully of a tsunami intent on pulling me under and suffocating me with its massive pillows of water.  I am not a good swimmer and am succumbing to its power, being sucked under the tide of brutally crushing waves.  Depression’s only anathema – its Kryptonite, if you will – is distraction.  That distraction can come in various forms – hope, exercise, pain.  Clearly, hope is the best – that flicker of possibility which buoys my head enough to prevent irreversible drowning.  And exercise is second best (according to my physician exercise in adequate proportions is as effective as antidepressants in treating depression, or, even, Depression).  But I can’t always stir up a dose of hope, and exercise is generally as appealing to me as a root canal.  So sometimes I am left with pain as my only distraction.

Now, to emphasize:  I am not a pain junkie.  I don’t abuse myself to feel “alive.”  If anything, as a giant wuss, I am a no-pain junkie.  Plus, I bruise like a sumptuous, but delicate, Georgia peach.  Still, I am a terrific klutz and I’ve learned to see that as the “glass half full.”  Stub my toe while walking past the coffee table? Holy fudgesicles! At least I’m distracted from the maze of repeating mind games swirling in my head.  Slice a finger while cutting a bagel? Cheese and crackers! Better to bandage the finger than to keep focusing on today’s obsession of cleaning out every scintilla of my belly button lint.  Poke myself in the eye while putting on my glasses? Mother of Mayonnaise! Time to rinse out my ocular orb and stop angsting over the telemarketer who hung up on me rather than listen to my diatribe about the commercialization of America.

Sure, there are times when I like to milk my Depression and stay in bed, live in pajamas, and generally enjoy my pity party.  But, overall, I don’t want to be a stereotype in an antidepressant commercial.  I don’t want to leave my partner glaring at me from a poorly lit corner of the house while I cancel yet another social engagement.  I don’t want to leave my dog moping gloomily with his leash in his mouth while I deny him yet another walk in the fresh outdoor air.  And I don’t want to leave another meal uneaten because… oh, who am I kidding… I only wish being unable to eat would ever happen to me (notice that even all of my curse phrases include food).

Still, since I’ll be battling Depression for the rest of my life, it’s nice to know I’ve got all these tools in my arsenal and, even, that pain is one of them. After all, what’s the old saying?  “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  Hello, Pain, my frienemy.