On the Back Wall of My Courtyard You Can See Annie.
My yard has been invaded by a family called the Bufonidaes. I don’t mean to be unkind, but they’re ugly, with faces only a mother could love. Their skin is dry and leathery, their legs short and fat, and they have large bumps that run up and down both sides of their bodies that look like warts. I get along with all of my neighbors. I’m even on the board of our homeowners’ association, but I draw the line with the Bufonidaes.
Short of going nuclear, I don’t know how to get them to move.
If it seems like I’m dissing women on the natural decrepitude of aging, first let me say the same things happen to men. It happens less often to men because of the natural differences between us. Women have less muscle mass, and we have fatty deposits in different places. We get osteoporosis earlier than men. We are different, and therefore, we age differently, but there is another difference. Men just don’t seem to care as much. You’re more likely to see women having face lifts, tummy tucks, and liposuction than men, although these statistics are changing as men are becoming more obsessed with the maintenance of a youthful appearance.
But since 1010 Park Place is all about us gals, let’s talk about women over 50 and preventing a slumped spine.
Whether you call them batwings, jiggly arms, or you remind yourself not to “wave like that,” our arms will eventually be a problem for most of us. It’s fine to strengthen your triceps, but just so you know, those batwings won’t go away. But you say you know someone who did 200 dips a day, and their batwings went away? Okay, then have at it, but for every one of those people, I can tell you about 25 who injured their rotator cuffs and triceps tendons doing the same dips. Instead, let’s think about exercising for the purpose of maintaining our strength, not to fill up sagging flesh with bulging muscles.
Because that doesn’t work.
Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen
Not long ago I watched the 1985 film, Out of Africa, and found myself crying in the exact same place I cried the last time I watched it. I didn’t cry after Karen Blixen’s lover, Denys Finch Hatton, was killed, or when she says goodbye to her longtime Somali headman, Farah, before she boards the train for Denmark and leaves her beloved farm and Africa forever. I cried when the all-male members of the exclusive Muthaiga Club ask to “stand with Karen for a drink.“ It was the only way the aristocratic, British Colonial men of 1931 knew of expressing their admiration for her strength and resolve of character. The very qualities she’d been forced to develop when the same men had turned a deaf ear to her requests for help.
I cry each time I watch this part of Out of Africa because it reminds me of how few men have helped me along the way or acknowledged my strengths, and I believe the majority of women can say the same thing.
Photograph from Spana.org
I hope you’ve been reading Dr. Barbara Bergin’s humorous and informative series of blog posts about what happens to our bodies as we age. She cracks me up sometimes, but I’ve learned a lot about why various parts of my body seem to be turning on me. This week she’s talking about women over 50 and fat knees.
Photographer, Michele Andrews
Isa Austen is a florist, a model and a painter, and the epitome of cool. She’s sexy and intriguing, a woman who does her own thing and has her own style. As Isa wrote on Instagram, some days she’s “feeling raw, vampy, artistic, exquisite, psychic. These feelings are a gift.”
Last week, Isa and I talked about aging and being comfortable in our skin.
If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve kept diaries or journals over the years. There are the daily entry kind and the blank books you might write-in sporadically, or maybe your calendars have doubled as your diary. Mine did. Ten years ago I started keeping digital calendars, and my blogs became my diaries although since then, I’ve become more careful about what I write because they’re online for all to see. To the woman at my church who doesn’t believe “ninety-five percent of what comes out of my mouth,” why don’t I send you home with my diaries?
As an advance warning: You may wind up sleeping with the lights on.
I remember the exact moment my feet first rebelled against high heels. I was 47, far too young to have a mutiny on my feet, but the unexpected, crippling moment happened as I was walking down the aisle to marry James. My shoes were silver, strappy, and sexy, and were perched atop four-inch heels. During the ceremony the pain receded into the background, but as soon as it was over, my feet felt like they’d been stabbed with Ginsu knives.
By the time we got to the reception, I was barefoot, and I stayed that way the rest of the day.
Not all patients come to see me for painful conditions. Some see me because they don’t like what they see in their aging bodies, and they believe I can tell them how to fix it. I’ve shared one of those concerns previously on 1010 Park Place: why our butts get flat and wide.