Ponce de Leon searched for the fountain of youth. Dr. Oz gives tips and tricks daily for staying young. Regenerative medicine is a new field of medical study that’s gaining momentum and immense popularity. No doubt, baby boomers are forging a different landscape for staying young—they’re not following the pattern of their parents! Probably for many, some of your best memories are from those days of being ‘young’—college and those first years of adulthood—the 20s and 30s.
I am not embarrassed at all to say, I want to stay young! Young, however, has a twisted connotation now for me—it’s not so much about the outside. It’s more about the inside, what’s in my head, my thinking—this is what orchestrates and decides what I do and how I look at the world. And, this can even bring a transformation in my looks, how I walk, talk, smile, interact—you get the picture!
I want to keep finding ways to make each and every day exhilarating like it was when I was in my 20s and 30s—those were raucous fabulous years full of enchantment. The idea of becoming a fuddy duddy isn’t even in my vocabulary—so how do we do this? Are there secrets? Or is it just a matter of some core beliefs and life habits that move you into the ‘golden years’ in stark contrast to maybe what you saw from your grandparents, your old aunts and uncles (who were probably just in their 50s back when you were a teen), and what that image in your mind was of getting old.
One of my most enlightening ways for staying young thinking, acting and moving has been to get into the practice of yoga. Getting there came out of necessity—I had this electrifying pain in my left leg that developed—long story short it was the ol’ spine that was the culprit—seems that this is just a normal part of ‘aging’—rather than go a route of back surgery—(yikes!)—I decided to try some less invasive and non-traditional ways to remedy this problem, and the journey into the beautiful world of yoga was one way.
This leads me to another thing about yoga—the clothes—they’re just darn cute and comfortable, and one of my favorite brands is Lulumon. So when I buy something, I usually get this inspirational shopping bag that is never thrown out because it’s purposeful for both carrying things and also for checking in with my head and thinking. Why? Well, it has all this hip, cool and absolute truths (in my mind) written on it—
‘Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.’
‘Friends are more important than money.’
Drink fresh water and as much water as you can. Water flushes unwanted toxins from your body and keeps your brain sharp.’
‘Do one thing a day that scares you.’ And more and more and more.
This last one about doing something that scares you brings me to the purpose of this sharing with you as an Rx for staying young. I think doing something that gives you room for pause and even the heebie jebbies is like oil for your brain—it moves and operates more smoothing and efficiently—gets you out of the complacency of your thinking, makes you look for other ways to deal with the fright or uncomfortable feelings/emotions/thinking.
So on Saturday, July 21, 2013, I had a ‘come to Jesus’ fear that jolted me into overdrive! Ben and I were traveling to Durango, Colorado to visit dear treasured friends—we’d stopped in Grand Junction for lunch with new friends, so our route from there to Durango meant going through the San Juan Mountain range. The views were breath-taking and magnificent. My cell phone camera was snapping pictures like gangbusters—I had to capture this inspiration for you!
Little did I know what lay ahead as we began to head upwards—meandering over hairpin curves, climbing elevation to almost 11,000 feet, at snail pace 20 mph speeds and on roads that had only enough room to narrowly let vehicles pass each other in either direction. Add to that the fact that there were no guard rails. There was little or no berm. There were drops of thousands of feet into an abyss of nothing but the massive rocks and rugged mountainside.
Now, I grew up in Southern West Virginia and cut my teeth driving on Route 10 from Man to Logan. This road is one intimidating and dangerous ‘highway’—it’s one that will, if you aren’t accustomed to it, make you wet your pants if you’re driving or a passenger! As a teenager and well into my 20s and 30s I had no reservations whatsoever about driving this road—I had no fears. Fast forward several decades, and I’m riding shotgun with Ben in an SUV, and we’re on the outside lane of the road heading up this mountain—I can only say that Route 10 was no more than an amusement-like ride—the San Juan Pass was a hair tingling rush!
That brings me to staying young—the purpose again of this post—I had no idea what lay ahead as we climbed that mountain. My heart was literally racing, my hands were clammy and wet, I was edging literally out of my seat hugging the center console as we rounded curves and the road looked like it might give way—I immediately knew I had to breathe, and I kicked in like gunning a race car my pranayama breathing—what I’d learned and practiced over the years in yoga. What I really wanted to do was scream ‘STOP THIS CAR! Let me out’ or ‘Turn around!!!’ I knew neither of those were an option at all, period.
I had to wrap my head around the situation I was in. Ben was probably as scared as me as he navigated quietly and calming behind not one, not two but three 18-wheelers ahead of us, each slowly steadily and perfectly climbing, shifting gears, and coming, yes, only hairs from the edge of the roads.
Yes, I made it. WE made it. And, I am more confident and assured because of this. It jolted me like a nuclear explosion out of my ‘comfort’ levels when riding, driving and exploring—that’s what, I know in my mind, is needed to keep my thinking and living fresh and youthful. So take your head each day to your level of discomfort in something you do—you’re generating synapses and brain stimulation that will, for sure, be novel and invigorating and keep you from lapsing into the stodgy closed world of being ‘old’! And, a PS to close on~~if you’re in the area and don’t want to drive it, yep, there’s a scenic train ride~~for me, I’d need to take a sedative!