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Instead of taking advantage of the holiday sales, I spent my “Christmas money” on a trip to the cardiologist for a nuclear stress test. As the treadmill speeded up and the incline became steeper, the goal was to see how long it took my heart to reach 129 beats a minutes. It took 9.8 minutes, which statistically speaking, means I have the stats of a 28-year-old female. That’s incredible because statistically women my age—68—reach a heart rate of 129 beats a minute in only 3.2 minutes.

While that’s great news, I still don’t know what caused me to almost pass out in Neiman Marcus.

(What to wear for a nuclear stress test: gym clothes, tennis shoes and since it was freezing outside and cold inside, I wore my fur shawl.)

The stress test technicians were amazed at my “performance” and wanted to know details about my diet, exercise and my life. Even though I’ve always eaten right and exercised, I didn’t tell them I’d been an adrenaline junkie who sought extreme adventure at every turn with things that should have killed me or, at the very least, taken years off my life. Even in my 50’s, I spent time with Mexican drug lords and a serial killer… none of whom were safely in prison.

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, my “need for speed” simmered down, and I became even more vigilant about diet and exercise, hoping to lessen my risk of recurrence. My physical needs changed as well. Since then I require seven hours of sleep, and I feel even a single glass of wine I drank the night before.

As someone who had the Top Breast Cancer Blog and researched and wrote about women’s health, imagine my surprise when I discovered one of the biggest health risks for women over 50 isn’t breast cancer or heart disease but losing our sense of purpose.

If we lose our sense of purpose, it can result in a loss of positivity, our sense of well-being, fewer social relationships and ultimately… poor health.

After 50, most of us no longer want to “set the world on fire” like we did when we were younger. For many of us our sense of purpose changes from raising a family or working outside the home to writing, learning a new language, volunteering, even starting a new career.

In the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) Series: A National Longitudinal Study of Health and Well-Being, 10,000 people were followed for 14 years. The results shouldn’t come as a surprise: Those who had a sense of purpose and community had a lowered risk of mortality. Similar studies have shown “purpose” reduces risk of heart failure and Alzheimer’s.

Annie and Lulu, 1010ParkPlace, another business I run, church and friends give me a sense of purpose and community. Since my Neiman’s episode, however, every morning I listen to guided imagery affirmations to help with depression and panic attacks.

As you think about aging, are there any things you need to work on that would benefit you healthwise? Do you have a sense of purpose and community?

Happy New Year, dear friends! I want all of us to stay healthy!

Love, Brenda


  • Doreen McGettigan January 6, 2018 at 6:58 am

    I am so happy to hear your heart is healthy. For me I seem to have panic attacks, (much fewer now) when something unexpected brings a flood of memories, or I’m in a sea of unfamiliarity.
    Happy New Year to you and best wishes for a fabulous, purposeful year.

    • Liz January 6, 2018 at 3:11 pm


      Thank you for sharing your health update with Instagram. I went to your blog for the first time as a result of that post. I want you to know that reading that a woman’s “finding purpose after 50” is will significantly lower her mortality rate stoped me in my tracks. I am more committed than ever to “find my way” now that my main job of raising my family is coming to a close.


      • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm

        Thank you for telling me, Liz. This is why I write BRENDA’S BLOG, in hopes of making important differences in all of our lives. Finding purpose surprised me as well, but when I think back to my mother and other women her age and their mental and physical health decline… It’s not a surprise! In fact, I had several conversations with mother about getting involved in her community, gave her numerous suggestions and went with her to check one out. She shot them all down with nonsense reasons. The last time I talked with her about it, I told her it broke my heart to think of her in her apartment, alone, only going out to the grocery store or to get her hair done. I told her she was “just marking time until she died.” And she was… So very sad, but I was powerless to influence her. I’m overjoyed this post struck a chord with you. Brenda

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 11:48 am

      Thank you, Doreen, but I must put “heart is healthy” in quotes since chemotherapy damaged my heart (A-Fib and A-Flutter) and I already had Mitral Valve Prolapse, and take meds 3 x daily for those. I understand the flood of memories and unfamiliar territory as causes of panic attacks, but that’s why the Neiman’s episode was so puzzling… Neither of those that day. Here’s hoping we both have fewer episodes. xoxox, Brenda

  • Jamie January 6, 2018 at 9:01 am

    So glad you are ok, but you can’t mention spending time with Mexican drug lords and a serial killer and not write about that!

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 11:53 am

      LOL!! You’re right, Jamie. I’ve set a max of 500 words for each blog post length, and there’s no way I can write about drug lords and the serial killer in such a short space. Hmmm… Thinking… Next Saturday I’ll write about “Felix.” Let me know what you think about it. Thanks, Brenda

  • Charlesñjoycee Silverman January 6, 2018 at 10:01 am

    My very unprofessional guess would be dehydration….that being said …smart to take tests and know nothing is dangerous. *)

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 11:56 am

      That’s a smart, well-informed guess, Joycee, but I don’t think it was the cause. Thanks for the suggestion, however.

    • 1010 Park Place January 7, 2018 at 11:57 am

      That’s a smart, well-informed guess, Joycee, but I don’t think it was the cause. Thanks for the suggestion, however.

  • Jen January 6, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Glad you are OK. I’d not read about the Neiman’s experience. I’ve had a few panic attacks while driving because of vertigo and my eye situation. So scary. Take it easy (well, easier, since easy is impossible!) Xx

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      It is scary, Jen. How are your eyes doing? I had to drive almost 100 miles with vertigo… This was 20 years ago, and I didn’t know what was happening to me. Of course my mind went to the absolutely worst case scenario… BRAIN TUMOR!! xoxox, Brenda

  • Lisa Carpenter January 6, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Ha! I love that upon reading this, I can now say I’m fewer than six degrees from Mexican drug lords! What a life you lead. I’m inspired by the health issues you’ve overcome and the habits that keep you healthy. Cheers to improved health for one and all in 2018!

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Agreed, Lisa! Cheers to a HEALTHY NEW YEAR FOR EVERYONE! I’ve received a lot of emails about the drug lords and the serial killer, so this coming Saturday, I will write about “Felix.” For my safety I can’t tell you how I met him… Thank you for reading and commenting! Brenda

  • penpen January 6, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Several years ago, Gretchen Rubin blogged about developing a formula for happiness. One of her elements was to be part of something that’s growing. Which I think is is another way of making your really key point: how important it is to have a sense of purpose., to be involved in something–especially as we near or are in our retirement years.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      I love that analogy, Penpen! Thank you! Being a part of something that’s growing and having a sense of purpose is moving forward. They’re the opposite of doing nothing. Both result in stagnation and it could be said, death, whether it’s the death of our dreams, the next part of our lives or life itself. Women, particularly, have a tough time when their children are gone. The “death” of that part of our lives has a ripple effect within our family unit and our communities. Smart, involved women who’ve been contributing to their children’s schools, cultural and community activities are no longer involved. Their wisdom is missing and in some ways, those groups experience a death or may stop growing as well. The hard part, as Gretchen Rubin says, is deciding what is it that you want to do? One of her suggestions was what did you love to do when you were 10-years-old? One of her friends played with dollhouses and became an interior decorator… If only we could think outside the box after a certain age… What is it you’ve always wanted to do and think about moving in that direction, even if there’s a fork in the road. At least it’s a starting point for many of us. I loved your comment… It’s gotten me thinking about how I can offer suggestions in this area so thank you, again. Brenda

  • Cherie James January 6, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Oh Brenda, what a wonderful post. I would have never guessed that no purpose in one’s life is a health risk, but I can certainly understand why it is. I began my style blog a few years ago because I felt I was losing my purpose, and I’m so glad that I did! It has opened up a whole new world and I look forward to my second act! You are an inspiration! XOXO cherie

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      Thank you, Cherie! When I think about people I know, men and women of a certain age, those without a purpose seem to be drifting further and further from shore, and it alarms me. In college I met a group of guys who grew up together and all came from unbelievable wealth. After they graduated from college, they smoked pot, drank, listened to music and watched TV. All died senseless deaths because they didn’t have goals… they didn’t think they needed goals. Now I see what a tragedy it was. xoxox, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA January 7, 2018 at 9:33 am

    They just give up, don’t care how they look or what they EAT!
    Also, think back on THAT DAY were you HYDRATED?
    I suffer from this too and they have yet to figure ME OUT!
    Been over a year!

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 5:18 pm

      Elizabeth, I know you’ve had some issues that have gone undiagnosed, plus I know other women with similar symptoms the medical community just shrugs their shoulders at. Thanks for telling me about Carotid Sinus Sensitivity… I will put that on the list to ask my cardiologist about. The very idea I have a cardiologist is shocking and didn’t happen until after eight rounds of chemotherapy. After chemo, I had lots of these episodes, wore Holter Monitors on and off until they discovered chemo caused A-Fib and A-Flutter and I already had Mitral Valve Prolapse. Perhaps we need to adjust my meds, it’s stress or panic attacks. Regardless, they’re scary, as I’m sure you know. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for YOUR INPUT about this! xoxox, Brenda

      • LA CONTESSA January 10, 2018 at 11:11 am

        I HAVE MITRAL VALVE PROLASPE as well………….
        Have you done a ZIO PATCH?I have only done the HOLTER M……….TOO TOO MANY TIMES and I don’t think they are as good with this as the ZIO PATCH which supposedly doesnot FALL OFF !!
        I am asking for the ZIO on my next appointment!

        PS.POP over to my BLOG!YOU will ENJOY my trip SOUTH I THINK!!!!!

        • Brenda Coffee January 10, 2018 at 2:22 pm

          Contessa, This is the first time I’ve heard of the Zio Patch. Looked it up and I like it already. Will mention it to my doctor. I’ve read half your blog after I received it and then things went crazy around here so thanks for mentioning it. Am on my way to read the rest!

  • Rena January 7, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Great information! I think that starting my own business 3 years ago added years to my life. I love waking up every single day and haven’t had an issue with my depression in such a long time. I know the fight isn’t over, but I seem to have won the battle at the moment.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      That’s great news, Rena, and speaks to my point of having a purpose. I can’t imagine getting up everyday with nothing to do and nothing on the schedule. So many people say they’d quit their jobs if they won the lottery, but I think that would be the beginning of some terrible problems! Here’s hoping your depression stays at bay as well. xoxox, Brenda

  • Elaine Killian Olsen January 7, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    A sense of purpose… yes! I feel this shift significantly in my life right now. It’s a short step from purpose-driven to losing purpose. Thanks.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 10:36 pm

      Hello Dear Elaine! Have I told you I think of you nearly every time I drive down a street near the house where I moved a year ago? There’s a business on that street where I pulled into their parking lot years ago so I could talk to you on my cellphone. You’d been out for a walk… in the rain, and we talked for a long time about the ups and downs of breast cancer and treatment. Funny how the most unlikely “place” can still be connected to memory.

      Your comment that it’s a short step from purpose-driven to losing purpose is so profound. It’s a good description of how quickly we can lose focus and become ruderless. It can happen just when we think our lives are on a good track but the realization it’s already taken place often takes a while to catch up with us… like the sound being out of sync with the video. We keep on moving until we discover our story has a different ending.

      I hope you stop long enough to write a new ending to this chapter of your life or maybe you start a new one. xoxox, Brenda

  • Laureen Satabe January 7, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Being a woman of that “certain age” …. or at least I think I am; finding a purpose for me has been an unexpected journey. I retired last March after working 50+ years, I was thinking I’d be doing some traveling, volunteering with animal foundations and volunteering with the USO, I instead have found myself working virtually full time again and enjoying EVERY moment. I love having the purpose at this time of working because it’s a choice, not a necessity. My ability to still provide in a work environment is lovely!

  • 1010ParkPlace January 7, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Choice, being needed and being able to contribute gives great meaning and unexpected purpose and reward at this time in our lives, don’t you think? I’m so happy this productive and appreciative environment has dovetailed with where you are in life. That’s an enviable position to be in now Laureen. xoxox, Brenda

  • Pat January 13, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Amazing results from your heart test. What is your exercise regime? Have you shared tips along the lines of fitness and healthy eating in other posts? I would be interested in reading more.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 14, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Pat, I haven’t shared my exercise regimen because I figure everyone already knows what they SHOULD DO. Part of why I have good heart health–except for the damage chemotherapy did–is because I’ve worked out three times a week since I was in my 20’s. Yoga, water aerobics, free weights, weight machines, elliptical machine, treadmill… Then there’s diet… My father was a diabetic so I never developed a taste for sweets because we didn’t have them in the house. I eat foods as close to what God made… fresh fruits and veggies, grilled chicken, almond milk/fruit smoothies, almond butter. Rarely do I have fast food. My cardiologist called the other night to discuss my test results. He confirmed it was decades of exercise and healthy eating. LOL! He said if more people lived like I did, he’d be out of business. One of my girlfriends was shocked when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 because as she said, I was “the poster girl” for living right. If I GOT BREAST CANCER, “there’s no hope for the rest of us.” Unfortunately that girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer 8 years after I was. She’s good now but didn’t use that as an opportunity to change her habits… I worry about her. Thanks, Pat.

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