young pup old hand

I’m embarrassed to say that it took me more than half a century to learn to love man’s best friend. But oh I do now….and with a passion and gratitude. If you have an older relative, or lonely friend, get them a companion. A dog would be great, but even a fish would do. It is a great way to focus on the here and now—particularly when that attention is on someone other than your self.

I did not own my first dog until I was almost 60. Why? I hated them. My hatred, though, came from plain, old ignorance. I feared them because I knew nothing about them. In fact, I was SO stupid that the first time I dropped a sock and my pup brought it to me, I was completely amazed. So amazed, that I posted her feat on Facebook and received some 35 comments. One said: “Um, Helen. That’s called ‘fetch.'”

My dog has connected me to all kinds of people: big and small, young and old, every race, color, creed and political bent. She has made me realize that we are all in this together. And, I think we would enjoy the ride more with a pet at our side.  Even science has documented proof that dogs increase our lifespan as well as our health:

1. Dog owners walk more and have lower blood pressure than those without dogs.

2. Petting your dog actually releases oxytocin, a relaxation hormone!

3. Having a pet helps you connect with others.

4. People with pets are generally happier and less lonely.

5. People with pets are less likely to visit the doctor with minor concerns.

Yeah, they are a bit of work, but unlike kids they do NOT bite the hand that feeds them. Instead? They lick it. You can be gone for five minutes or five days but upon your return, you will be greeted with a tail-wagging excitement unlike any other. They know when you are happy or sad or sick and will stay close to you through all of those moments.

Now, I brush my pup every night before bed. I even brush her teeth with an extra electric toothbrush head. 50 times on each side. Silly? Maybe. I just want to keep her molars clean so that she can live a long and healthy life …..right by my side.



(My friend, Ivan who is pushing 80!!  Yup 80.)

According to Buzzfeed, there is now an actual word for young people who act older than their age: “Yoldies.” Apparently these are the 20-somethings who like to watch Netflix on a Saturday night instead of going out drinking because bars are just, “too loud.” These are also the kinds of kids who take their own recycling bags to the grocery store and wear practical shoes. They even pride themselves on their ability to knit. Put simply, they are old people trapped in a young person’s body!

That set me thinking about those of us youngsters who are hopelessly trapped in these older bodies. We are “Yoldies,” too! You know who you are: the grandpa who still drives that little, sports car that he can barely bend into, or the arthritic grandma who still prances around town in those death-defying stilettos.

mac lesson

(a 60-something learning how to use his Mac from a 20 something.)

What the young don’t get is that who you are NOW stays with you until your last breath. Don’t believe me? Check out these pictures of a few “oldsters” I captured around town this week. ‘Young’, old folks or ‘old,’ young ones, it’s all the same. The only difference is time.  And boy does it fly when you’re having fun!!!

collander on head

(My husband clowning around with a colander on his head.)



For those of you laboring under the illusion that this is a day of rest, think again. Right now the toll punchers are in their booths, the conductors are running trains, lawns are being mowed, dishes are being washed, bus drivers are navigating passengers, pilots are taking off, police are giving out tickets and babies are being born. There is never really ‘rest’ in this world until we are out of it.

Besides, I take things literally. Always have. I vividly recall being served “boysenberry” pie by my Great Grandmother when I was 5. ‘Wow,’ I thought to myself. “How did they get little boys in these berries?” I spent the next half an hour trying to dissect the teeny, tiny berries between the crusts of my pie. In the process, a great deal of the dark, gooey mess ended up on Granny’s white, starched tablecloth. “What on earth are you doing!” she scolded. “I’m looking for the boys, Granny, but so far I can’t find ANY at all!”

Thus, every ‘Labor’ Day, I feel I must labor. This will be the weekend the plants will be re-potted, the attic cleared out and the outside of the cupboards cleaned. While I know it is a day of ‘rest’ around the world, the word itself will not let me do so. In fact, since I first gave birth, “labor day” has had another connotation altogether.

Crazy, right? Well, maybe not. Words are tricky things. They sway us this way and that, so subtly we can be duped. They act as our bridge between one another. But we really only ‘connect’ if we ‘hear’ the words the same way. People who are “all ears” would be good at that. The first time someone said this expression to me, I looked for their ‘extra’ ones. Literally.

Look. All holidays are temporary illusions. They lull us into thinking their 24 hours are special or different but they’re not. The important thing is to keep one foot in front of the other. Be grateful for those who NEVER stop working because if they did? Life as we know it would not be life. Right now I’m taking out the rug shampooer… time like the present….It’s ‘Labor’ Day.

 P. S.  I can hear the waste collectors emptying the cans out back.  Yup, on Labor Day.


helen ekg

I hate going to doctors! Hate being poked, prodded and stuck with needles. Hate the smell of hospitals. But today, I forced myself to keep a 5-year overdue appointment with my cardiologist. I knew it would be ignominious so decided to make it fun.

First, I chatted up my fellow patients. Easy, cause this crowd is so old that no one was on their cell phone! I discovered that three of us were scheduled to see the SAME doctor at the SAME time. “Oh, goodie,” I said, “Let’s all go into the exam room together and scare the heck out of him!” They smiled politely and looked back at their magazines.

Finally, a very large, 20-something, male nurse called my name, walked me solemnly down the hall and had me step on the scale.

“Get on with me,” I impIored, “So we can put some real weight on it!”

He declined. So, I stood on it with one leg, held my arms out wide and pretended to be a flamingo. He looked askance, then said, “114 lbs.,” and ushered me straight into the examining room.

“Have you ever had any operations?” he asked.

“Hmm… Well, I’ve had 2 babies.”

“Well, were they C-sections?” he probed as if I were an idiot.

“Not exactly,” I replied, “but they felt like it . . . Oh! I had my tonsils out!”

“What year was that?”

“1902,” I replied confidently.

He typed “1902”. Stopped. Looked at me and finally laughed.

“We need to do an EKG now,” he said.

“I figured as much,” I replied. “So, I didn’t wear a bra.”

“Oh,” he said, “Well, that will make it easier.”      

He connected 8 leads from a little device and then hesitated.

“Well, these last two have to go up under your left breast.”

“No worries!” I laughed. “There’s nothing to go up under!”

I would tell you that he blushed, but given his dark skin it was hard to tell.

Finally, the doctor came in, (an hour and a half after my appointment), and asked: “So, are you feeling any palpitations, dizziness, out of breath episodes?”

“Well, yes” I said very seriously. “In the last hour and a half my heart has been racing, I felt a little woozy and when you walked in, my heart fluttered and actually skipped a beat.”

He grinned and said, “Well, I’ve never been told I have that effect on my patients but thank you.”

Worth the price of admission…almost.






 Well go figure. Apparently I have been doing something good for my body and brain for the last 40 years and I didn’t even know it!! I guess you could say it started in my 20’s and I just sort of kept it up.  I do it at home and always when I’m travelling. You name it. Anywhere I find the space, I  simply just do it. Like how it feels. Love how it gives me a different perspective on things.

I’ve done it in SO many hotel rooms your head would spin.  I’ve done it in public, in private, under bright lights, in pitch dark, against fences, bathroom doors in shopping malls and smack on the beach in broad daylight.  What am I talking about??  You guessed it:  handstands.

Now, science says that what I have been doing several times a day for all these years has 5 beneficial results:

  1. Builds core strength.
  2. Makes the upper body strong.
  3. Increases balance
  4. Helps with bone health, circulation & breathing

Here’s the crazy thing: anyone can do them. It just takes a little practice, a little confidence and a nice strong wall to fly up against. Place your hands about a shoulder’s width apart; aim them about 12 inches from a nice, sturdy wall…and GO FOR IT. The worst that could happen is you chicken out half way up and come back down.

One word of caution: in the thousands and thousands of handstands I have done over the years, only once did I have a disastrous result. As I recall, I was staying in a rundown Motel 6 and there was no room to do one. So, I closed the bathroom door and did a handstand against it. Well, the door didn’t latch tightly.  So as my feet landed on it, I had the lovely sensation of going all the way over and both feet landed smack in the toilet. Thank God I was only 20 at the time.

Give it a try….it just might change your mood AND perspective on things. :)

P. S.  Yes, this was me this afternoon at the YMCA.


sky waiting on the chair

Honestly, I could take a few lessons from my dog. Sure, some are obvious, like:

  1. When you first get up, always S-T-R-E-T-C-H.
  2. If someone enters your house unannounced, BARK!
  3. Snooze often and anywhere.
  4. Lick the hand that feeds you.
  5. If someone throws you a bone, FETCH it!

But others are subtler like, “Wait patiently.” She does. I do not. Nor have I ever been patient, particularly with myself. I am driven forward with an inner angst that has remained un-squelched for 62 years. What good has it done? Not much. Being impatient has cost me time, money and stress, whether in speeding tickets or simply making dumb, impulsive decisions.

You’d think at my age I would know better. You’d think I’d have figured out that of my 62 years, probably 60 of them have been spent WAITING: in the doctor’s office, the post office, the line at the restaurant or the bank.  Everything is a wait as if reality is just out of reach, put on hold by some operator who has yet to connect you.  Waiting…for the check to clear, the light to change, the pot to boil or the shoe to drop.  Probably the ONLY thing I have NOT been impatient for was the birth of my first child. Why? Because I knew exactly how long that wait would be!!!

sky waiting outside

But Skylar does not need to know such things. She waits patiently for me to get my coffee in the morning before we walk. Then, she waits for me to unload the dishwasher before I feed her. She sits patiently on the couch whenever I leave the house and jumps with excitement and a wag of her tail at my arrival. All her waiting is an act of simple grace and ease.  Not mine. I do not snooze when it suits me or distract myself chasing butterflies (though I probably should do more of both). At day’s end when hunger grips me, I do not merely nibble at a bone to appease the pangs but lunge instead for the icebox.

Patience is not a virtue. It is a necessity as crucial as breathing. Without it, we succumb, sometimes by our own hand.  We humans must work at it, but Skylar?  Just look at her: a thousand words worth waiting for.

waiting on the porch


Originally posted on Agelessly Aging :


Met an 18 year- old today who knows it. He was sitting in the lifeguard chair while I swam laps. Never seen him before. Here he was overlooking a pool full of old, white-haired ladies but he just seemed happy up there. He even gave me a big smile and a wave as I was leaving. So, I stopped to talk to him. Turns out he graduates from high school in a few months and has decided to go into the service. Figures it will give him some good training and then help pay for his college.

“Ah, to be young,” I said as I left.
“I really LIKE being young,” he replied.

I stopped for a moment and thought about that. I know a ton of kids his age right now who are scrounging around for phony ID’s and trying to be older than they are. I also know…

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