Clint Eastwood just turned 91 but his famous explanation for how he keeps going, which became a famous song, is “I just don’t let the old man in.” Well, baby boomer Lorie Eber of Irvine, California, just doesn’t let the old woman in. When she started feeling her age, she did something about it.
I enjoy many aspects of being in my 60s. I feel confident that I can handle any curveball life throws my way because so many have grazed by and I’ve always managed to avoid a direct hit. While I was never a candidate for Miss Congeniality anyway, as the years tick by I’m even less concerned with other people’s opinions of me. In the same vein, I’m now confident enough to expose my unvarnished self to the world, blemishes and all.
But it takes a toll on the physique. Physical degradation is tough. In addition to the wrinkling and sagging, other inauspicious changes have begun to spring up. The first oddity was that hairs sprouted in unwanted places while disappearing from the more desirable locations. When I look at my hands, I see that my fingernails have acquired ridges like Ruffles Potato Chips and worse yet, have begun to curl inward like a diploma that’s spent too long in a mailing tube.
I dread injuring myself when I’m working out, knowing that the recovery process will take as long as becoming fluent in Mandarin. Even getting out of bed must now be done slowly and gingerly like a grizzly awakening from a winter hibernation. Why hasn’t someone invented a WD-40 for human bodies?
So I’m adjusting my attitude. I’ve decided that rather than join the ranks of kvetching old people, I’ll just take it as it comes. A catch-phrase I coined several years ago to describe my vision of a good life is apropos here: “Healthy, Healthy, Healthy, Healthy, Dead.”
I’ve decided to adopt an attitude of positivity and to take joy and pride in the physical things that make me feel vibrant. Four times a week, I take a challenging 50-minute spin class that requires climbing imaginary mountains and then pedaling as fast as my legs can move while careening down steep hills. If the 20-something next to me poops out while I’m still going strong, it makes my day.
The pandemic forced me to change workout. I surprised myself by boldly deciding to start running, which I’d given up more than 20 years earlier fearing that I’d blow out my knees. The irony is that running was my primary form of exercise for decades but I never really enjoyed it all that much. In a strange twist of fate, I love it now. It makes me feel young because I’m still perfectly capable of doing it without any pain. It’s become my best mood lifter.
So, if you’ve reached the age where you’re feeling it, join me and just refuse to be an old lady. It’s the better course of action.
Lorie’s book about changing her career is “How I Escaped Legal Practice and Got Myself a Life.”