Into the New Year

By Naomi Beth Wakan


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This year, among my New Year resolutions, I promised myself not to be drawn into following diets and seeking ways to extend my life. I immediately broke my promise by reading, and being bored to death, by three books on advice to the aging. No, I won’t name them, but I was so overwhelmed by their advice that I considered the option of dying in preference to the guilt and confusion of trying to stay alive by performing the many tasks the books suggested might be useful in order to lengthen my life by a few years. Still, I didn’t want to totally reject the words of such hard-working writers, since I know the hard task of getting a book off one's desk and into print. I decided instead, to simplify the information and chose 20 “Dos” and 20 “Don't Dos” from the three books. I know that following these authors’ recommendations may not do much to lengthen my life, and they definitely won’t put off my death, but I thought they might give me the illusion that I am still in control.

Following my first resolution that I should be more generous this year, I decided I’d generously share my summary of advice about how to approach the New Year, and the rest of your life. So here goes:

Things To Do

  1. Plan lifelong learning (Elder Hostels will help you here).
  2. Get your finances in shape (out of debt and saving 10% of income).
  3. Balance play and meaningful work.
  4. Keep your body parts working.
  5. Get strong, stay strong.
  6. Keep your mind stimulated (not just Sudoku).
  7. Find a purpose in life, if you don’t have one already.
  8. Finish the projects you’ve started (or scrap them, but either way, get them out of the way).
  9. Celebrate when you feel there is something worth celebrating.
  10. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
  11. Sleep for at least eight hours a night.
  12. Volunteer.
  13. Eat lots of fruit and veggies and nuts and seeds.
  14. Gather a few close supportive friends around (In Martha Grimes detective story, The Black Cat, one character says, “I don’t think it’s sickness or being penniless that’s the hardest; it’s being forgotten. The worst thing about getting old is that people don’t look in.”).
  15. Keep in touch with friends and family and make the contacts multi-generational (this takes a load of energy, but it’s important to have a few babies, children and adolescents in your life; it offers a nice balance).
  16. Gather your health team in preparation.
  17. Be supportive of yourself.
  18. Be supportive of others.
  19. Tell the truth (it saves energy; lying means you have to remember the lies you’ve told, and remembering the details are exhausting).
  20. Stay flexible to changing circumstances and welcome a challenge.


Things Not To Do

Don’t

  1. Decline away in a retirement home. Just because you’re in a retirement home doesn’t mean you have to surrender your authenticity.
  2. Abuse body - with drugs, alcohol, or unsafe sex.
  3. Stay in an abusive relationship.
  4. Have a meaningless retirement.
  5. Waste time with non-supportive, negative people.
  6. Keep eating sugar and drinking coffee.
  7. Argue with your partner.
  8. Be grossly overweight (although social isolation is more damaging apparently).
  9. Over-analyze everything.
  10. Try to change others.
  11. Try to please others (an impossible task).
  12. Surf the Web mindlessly.
  13. Overspend.
  14. Whine.
  15. Be negative about yourself.
  16. Smoke.
  17. Be too puritan about giving yourself a few treats from time to time.
  18. Plan too much - leave room for spontaneity.
  19. Watch TV mindlessly (or do anything mindlessly).
  20. Worry too much and be ungrateful.


Well, I squeezed 21 into both lists, but who’s counting? So, I’ve thoughtfully planned the whole of the New Year (and the rest of your life) for you. Don’t bother thanking me - just go for it!

 

JANUARY 2011 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND

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