By Di Chapman
I’m in an exam room at the dermatologist, “dressed” in a flimsy gown the size of a sheet, open down the back, in my altogether. Sitting on a high exam chair, I feel like an impatient kid—dangling my legs, kicking them around, and wondering if I should amuse myself by making finger puppets on the walls. Reading the news reels on my phone will have to suffice. Dang, I need to use the restroom. Time to scamper down the hall, clutching the back side of the voluminous gown, hoping that (A) I don’t accidentally let it drop open back there; and (B) I don’t drop any of the enormous amount of excess fabric in the toilet.
My need for dermatology visits are my own dang fault. Can you say sun, sun, sun? “I’m gonna write my column about ‘Who ya callin’ old?’ this month,” I told my husband while we talked in the kitchen. “I’ll start it off with my expertise as a dermatology patient.” We talked about how I had my first skin cancer at 32, and how, that very day, I officially ceased to “do sun.” I also became dedicated to skin cancer checkups—buttcheeks and all.
“Let’s see,” I ruminate. “I started doing skin checks twice a year at 40 and now I’m, well… you know, so that means I’ve had… ”
“50 skin checks,” he announced matter-of-factly, loading the dishwasher.
“50? How can I be old enough for 50 skin cancer checks?”
Ah, age. It also brings the dreaded brown spots on my hands—the ultimate giveaway of one’s age. Those ugly critters sneak up overnight and scare the daylights out of you. “Those are from maturity,” my dermatologist (who is half my age) says as I point to them. “Maturity.” God bless her. They must be teaching diplomacy in med school now. Those spots scream “OLD,” dang it, and fat chance that’ll ever change. But short of scrubbing my hands raw with a barbeque grill brush, I’m on it. Will I get old? Not on my watch.
I consider myself completely “ageless.” Recognizing that “age is a state of mind,” as my sister-in-law (a woman in her early 70s who is a slammin’ specimen of agelessness) tells me. Her mother Frances (an Irish lass of 103) is still a beautiful ageless woman—excellent conversationalist, snappy dresser, and voracious reader. She is interested in everybody and everything.
I love Dan Buettner’s work about Blue Zones and first read about them years ago when he was a National Geographic Fellow. Blue Zones are places where people live to be 100+ in good health—fewer than ten of them have been identified on planet Earth. (I guess we won’t know about other planets until we get there.) How do they do it? It’s pretty simple: they do all of the things every day that most Americans don’t do. Period. They walk or ride bicycles every day. They visit family and friends regularly, often daily. They want to be useful, and even work well into their 90s and 100s. Dan notes that Okinawa doesn’t even have a word for “retirement.” Their cultures revere aging. Our wisdom is valued. Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore!
How do they eat? Well, let’s just say there are no drive-through windows or donut shops. (We’re Americans, dang it! That’s just wrong!) Their diets consist of fresh foods like greens, grains, nuts, and beans. However, the longest living family known on earth has sourdough bread, a glass of wine (Ahhhh, some redemption here!), and a bowl of minestrone soup daily.
I see the Blue Zone habits working for Frances. No surprise, she eats very lightly, following basic nutrition. “I don’t need much.” She has a daily relationship with her daughter, and girlfriends come a-calling constantly. She exercised and stayed active through her early 90s. I witnessed men chasing her around grocery stores in her 80s. I figure my sister-in-law will blow past all age records.
Now, you ageless party animals and fun lovers of ALL birthday numbers, put on your St. Patrick’s Day faces and get out and rock. Enjoy the green lunacy that brings on the blarney stones, shamrocks, and crazy hats. If the notion of a quick pinch entices you, ditch the green attire. Never know who might be at the party.
Agelessness is not just about youth. Heck, what do they know about having fun? Rather, it’s knowing MORE about having fun after a lifetime of experiences—good, bad, or otherwise. We know fun.
I recently went out for a girls’ night of dancing to a live band who specializes in oldies of the best kind. You know, playing stuff à la Eagles, Michael Jackson, Heart… that good rock and toe-tappin’ stuff, and some 21st century tunes as well. That’s one thing about we ageless gals, nobody knows how to get down like we do. We ladies strut, jiggle, and gyrate and never stop moving.
If we ageless girls go out dancin’ this St. Patrick’s Day, who knows? We might just tease the men. Wearing green? Optional!
Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at firstname.lastname@example.org