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My mum, Peggy

I was raised on this phrase, always spoken by the optimist, my mum. Today seems the appropriate time to relaunch this blog as we celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Whether you can see the likeness or not, I’ve always believed that my mum looks a bit like the Queen.

mum (612 x 816) hrh (600 x 400)

Reflective in my 50th year, I have mixed emotions on ageing. I do believe that age is an attitude. Without doubt my mind does not feel 50. My degenerative spine is reminding me daily of my actual age however this is the year where attitude presides. 50 new experiences (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1084972574857526/ is where you can join other women alongside me), I’m even skydiving next weekend. Only this week, a lady of 100 jumped from exactly the same plane I’ll be in jumping out of next weekend (https://www.facebook.com/7NewsAdelaide/videos/1207429032621083/?pnref=story. At double my age, she certainly doesn’t have an attitude that we would expect of 100.

Some say I’m ageing slowly as I have not had children. I just consider myself to be very fortunate that I get out of bed on a daily basis and love what I do. It’s not a job, it’s a calling.

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Having said that, I do occasionally worry that there are not enough years left to make the difference in the world I really want to make. Reminded recently that Louise Hay was of a certain age when her empire began. Asked how she looked and felt so good at her age, she said “Well, to me it comes down to loving yourself, loving your body, and making peace with the ageing process,” she replied. “You can’t do anything well or for the long term without loving yourself first. When you love yourself, you care about your body, and you care about what you put into it. You also care about the thoughts you choose to think.” How perfect is this answer, in line with my new membership community for new teachers.

Whilst out for coffee this week with mum, the subject of colour and ageing cropped up. It all started with mum saying she doesn’t like yellow. I reminded her that her national and favourite flower is the Daffodil.images (70 x 45)“Ah yes” she says “but that has green on it too. I’ve always hated yellow.” I reply “You’ve always hated black too mum,” to which she calmly says, “Yes true but when I’m old I’ll wear black!” A potential title to a new book? I’m reminded of Jenny Joseph’s poem,

“WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE”

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Some of you are aware that my dear mum has Alzheimer’s so when I ask, “so how old do you have to be to wear black mum?” Her answer is “oh much older than me”. “How old are you now mum?” “I don’t know how old am I?” “Well how old do you feel?” “Oh 50” say says. Great I’m now the same age as my mum! She then asks “how old am I?” On a piece of paper I write the number 86. She is shocked at first but then remembers and looks sad. So is ageing an attitude?  Attitude can make all the difference. Research has shown that how people feel inside, and their expectations of their capabilities, can have a greater impact on health, happiness and even longevity than the date on their birth certificates.

In her seminal “counterclockwise” study, in 1979, Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer brought men in their 70s and 80s to a weeklong retreat that was retrofitted, from the music to the newspapers, to look and feel like 1959. One group of men was told to reminisce about the era. The other group was told to let themselves be who they were 20 years earlier.

By the end of experiment, both groups of men, who upon entering had been highly reliant on relatives to do things for them, were functioning independently, actively completing chores, and showed significant improvements in hearing, memory, strength and intelligence tests. The group told to behave like they were 20 years younger also showed better dexterity, flexibility and looked younger, according to outside observers who judged photos of the participants taken before and after the retreat.

Other studies that look at age identity — also known as subjective, or felt, age — have found that feeling younger than you really are is linked to better health, life satisfaction and cognitive abilities.

I would love to hear your views below on your attitude to age, whatever your age! Life begins at 50 for me….

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