Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Slowing Down

 

Over time, I’ve been nagged by an annoying thought and it just won’t go away. I’ve tried to ignore it, discount it, and ridicule it, but it is persistent. The other evening, I was walking from one room to another, and noticed my gait—slow and gentle. And there was the truth: I was slowing down, undeniably, and in some ways, disturbingly.

Now you have to understand that most of my life I have put a high value in doing things—almost anything—quickly. I might not be the smartest person, but I was fast and efficient and could run circles around many people. I took pride is this talent for a long time. Finally, I began to notice that I was striving to do things quickly that just were not all that important; they certainly did not demand my meeting a deadline. I also realized that trying to do everything at warp speed was causing me a great deal of stress, but I was the only one who seemed to care about this ability. So, I made a concerted effort to slow myself down. I realized how valuable this goal was when one day, I had rushed home from a work-out and had another obligation to fulfill—not one I was particularly interested in. I decided I simply was not going to rush, but instead took my time. Out of curiosity, I checked the clock when I was ready to leave, and was astounded to realize that I had showered and changed in record time! It wasn’t possible! But, in fact, I discovered when I was simply attentive to what I was doing, timeliness would often take care of itself.

So, what does my discovery of 25 years ago have to do with my slowing down now?

My current slowing down is not voluntary.

* * * * *

The slowing down that I’m experiencing is touching on every aspect of my life. When I go on my morning walks, I’ve changed my gait. We have an increasing number of uneven sidewalks, and I’ve had two spills with a scraped chin and knees. I also don’t think it’s a good idea to walk in the street instead. I’ve realized that when I take large steps, it messes with my center of gravity. So now I am walking just a bit slower and taking smaller steps; it’s only lengthened my walk by a few minutes (depending on whether I stop to pet the local dogs).

The more disturbing changes, however, are my mind. I’m not panicking; I know the early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s and they don’t describe me. But I am simply not thinking as quickly as I used to think. My brain is less agile, less timely, and it makes me uncomfortable, as I wait for my mind to engage at my preferred rate. Naturally, my physical state, alert or tired, also affects my thinking. There’s no denying, however, that I’m just not as mindful or alert.

There is also my temporarily forgetting a name, a number, the name of a place, a recent occurrence. I know those are a normal part of the aging process—until they are not. I’ve been dropping things, too, and in part I’m just not paying as much attention to my actions.

It’s not like I’m not making an effort to hold off the inevitable: in addition to walking two miles, five days a week, I exercise in the gym. I’ve even recovered 50% bone density in my right hip in my last bone density scan. I also do prayer and meditation every day.

But all those efforts are clearly not going to hold off the aging process indefinitely.

* * * * *

Don’t think this gradual transformation is only depressing; there are a number of pluses. I give myself permission to take my time doing many things. I also take more time to notice the beauty around me on a sunny day. I’m more likely to notice a single bud on the desert rose plant; my favorite duck (named Daphne) out on the pond; the joy of scratching the ears of a dog. I speak my mind more often, although I try to be kind in my word choice. I let others help me out with demanding tasks, since I have nothing to prove. Younger folks hold open doors for me, or help me lift a heavy object, or simply ask if they can help. I like the idea, as my hair grays, that I am a fount of aged wisdom (okay, maybe that’s going too far!) and people look to me for input. That kind of respect is gratifying . . . . So new experiences emerge when I slow down.

* * * * *

So, I’m compelled to look more closely at the person who stares back at me in the mirror. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. What does it mean to be 71 years old? How can I best appreciate reaching this milestone in my life, when slowing down is sufficiently evident that it can’t be ignored? How can I gracefully move into the future with the joy and anticipation of my seniority and compassion for myself for my limitations?

Those, my friends, are the questions I’m asking.

And I’m grateful to be alive to ask them.

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  1. Front Seat Cat Member

    That is all mindful advice since you can’t expect to stay the same as when you were 50. Being more careful? I’m with you. I am a klutz and have had some accidents and spills that I still haven’t fully recovered from. I’m also letting go of non-essential things like donating books – and anything else I don’t need or use to lessen cleaning and clutter. Why not let others enjoy especially in this time of crisis? Have you tried Previcid? The commercials say it helps with memory – but lessening the mental overload is what I think so many are suffering from.

    I heard a young girl in out local bookstore ask a young clerk about a book suggestion. The clerk said “I haven’t been able to read – I can’t concentrate, but this book was easy – it flowed and helped me. I really enjoyed it.” Why can’t she concentrate? Phones and news are controlling us. I heard the same quote by a BBC news host – she can’t read or concentrate – too much stress. It’s affecting all ages. Thank you for this – we are all in the same boat on some level. You are in good shape and do a lot to stay that way. Very inspiring.

    • #1
    • November 30, 2020, at 7:49 AM PST
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpringJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have noticed the same thing. When I was in Jr and High School, I had a morning paper route and developed a very fast walk that stayed with me for years. Now that I am retired, I have noticed that I have slowed down a lot.

    Walking the dog is a chance to notice how things are changing with the seasons, so I stop a lot to just look. (The dog is helpful in this). If I hear a hawk, I try to find where it is calling from. The same with Pileated Woodpeckers.

    I have also become much more deliberate. When going up and down the stairs, that is the only thing I focus on.

    I also take more time to talk to the people who flow through my life – the new neighbor down the street who is putting in a fence, for example.

    Like you, it takes me more time to remember names that I should know.

    All in all, I am grateful that I still can do what I can do. As Rush says, “Every morning I wake up, I am grateful”

    • #2
    • November 30, 2020, at 7:57 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. Mark Camp Member

    No tips here, but one request. Until something stops working on your side or mine (eyes, brain, fingers, heart, whatever) keep sharing your joys, sorrows, beauty, wisdom, and questions with me on Ricochet.

    • #3
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:20 AM PST
    • 9 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    That is all mindful advice since you can’t expect to stay the same as when you were 50. Being more careful? I’m with you. I am a klutz and have had some accidents and spills that I still haven’t fully recovered from. I’m also letting go of non-essential things like donating books – and anything else I don’t need or use to lessen cleaning and clutter. Why not let others enjoy especially in this time of crisis? Have you tried Previcid? The commercials say it helps with memory – but lessening the mental overload is what I think so many are suffering from.

    I heard a young girl in out local bookstore ask a young clerk about a book suggestion. The clerk said “I haven’t been able to read – I can’t concentrate, but this book was easy – it flowed and helped me. I really enjoyed it.” Why can’t she concentrate? Phones and news are controlling us. I heard the same quote by a BBC news host – she can’t read or concentrate – too much stress. It’s affecting all ages. Thank you for this – we are all in the same boat on some level. You are in good shape and do a lot to stay that way. Very inspiring.

    Thanks, FSC. I prefer not to try any over the counter stuff unless my doc recommends it. Over the last few years we’ve gotten rid of tons of stuff, and you’re right: it does feel like there’s more breathing space. I’m still reading, although I find a lot of comfort in knitting, too. In fact, in many ways I’m living my life as normally as I can. Still the virus seems to weigh on everything, but I know my persistence is paying off. 

    • #4
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    I have noticed the same thing. When I was in Jr and High School, I had a morning paper route and developed a very fast walk that stayed with me for years. Now that I am retired, I have noticed that I have slowed down a lot.

    Walking the dog is a chance to notice how things are changing with the seasons, so I stop a lot to just look. (The dog is helpful in this). If I hear a hawk, I try to find where it is calling from. The same with Pileated Woodpeckers.

    I have also become much more deliberate. When going up and down the stairs, that is the only thing I focus on.

    I also take more time to talk to the people who flow through my life – the new neighbor down the street who is putting in a fence, for example.

    Like you, it takes me more time to remember names that I should know.

    All in all, I am grateful that I still can do what I can do. As Rush says, “Every morning I wake up, I am grateful”

    We are definitely share the same lifetime, @willowspring. It’s good to be reminded that many are in the same boat. I used to walk my neighbor’s dog and stop and talk with people, but the dog has passed on and I’d have to get up too darn early to allow much visiting time. Thanks.

    • #5
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:29 AM PST
    • 1 like
  6. PHCheese Member

    At my age I am only half fast. Of course some will say I’ve been half fast my entire life or was it half wit. I not sure anymore.

    • #6
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:30 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    No tips here, but one request. Until something stops working on your side or mine (eyes, brain, fingers, heart, whatever) keep sharing your joys, sorrows, beauty, wisdom, and questions with me on Ricochet.

    So very kind of you to say, @markcamp. I so enjoy our exchanges!

    • #7
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:31 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    At my age I am only half fast. Of course some will say I’ve been half fast my entire life or was it half wit. I not sure anymore.

    I can often count on a laugh from you, @phcheese! I can assure you that you’re “fully witted”!

    • #8
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Rodin Member

    One place I have noticed this phenomena is the increasing numbers of drivers anxious to pass me. As a younger man I could have a heavy foot. I had to keep telling myself that all that jack-rabbitting only saved a minute or so. Nonetheless I was the one eager to get around the car ahead of me. No more. I don’t have piles of cars lined up behind, so I assume I am not so slow as to become a nuisance. But that push to find the clear road ahead (something that was never a reality anyway) has dissipated with time. 

    • #9
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:34 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  10. MarciN Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Why can’t she concentrate? Phones and news are controlling us. I heard the same quote by a BBC news host – she can’t read or concentrate – too much stress. It’s affecting all ages.

    I’m having a lot of trouble with concentration too these days.

    I was rushing around the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving. I had made some lovely bread and put the loaves through my food processor to make bread crumbs for the stuffing. I took a bag of bread crumbs in my hand, and instead of putting the crumbs in the bowl of stuffing I was mixing, I emptied the bag in the trash. I could not believe my eyes. And yesterday, I knocked a pan of really nice homemade turkey gravy onto the floor. It went everywhere.

    I think the pandemic has been more stressful and distracting than I have realized. Throw the election and the holidays into the mix and nothing is coming out right. Half-thoughts are flying around in my mind, and no one thought is ever finished.

    I read sad story a few weeks ago that the country’s dentists are seeing far more cracked teeth than they usually do. They think people are so stressed out that they are grinding their teeth really hard at night while they are asleep, or trying to sleep.

    • #10
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:38 AM PST
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Why can’t she concentrate? Phones and news are controlling us. I heard the same quote by a BBC news host – she can’t read or concentrate – too much stress. It’s affecting all ages.

    I’m having a lot of trouble with concentration too these days.

    I was rushing around the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving. I had made some lovely bread and put the loaves through my food processor to make bread crumbs for the stuffing. I took a bag of bread crumbs in my hand, and instead of putting the crumbs in the bowl of stuffing I was mixing, I emptied the bag in the trash. I could not believe my eyes. And yesterday, I knocked a pan of really nice homemade turkey gravy onto the floor. It went everywhere.

    I think the pandemic has been more stressful and distracting that I have realized. Throw the election and the holidays into the mix and nothing is coming out right. Half-thoughts are flying around in my mind, and no one thought is ever finished.

    I read sad story a few weeks ago that the country’s dentists are seeing far more cracked teeth then they usually do. They think people are so stressed out that they are grinding their teeth really hard at night while they are asleep, or trying to sleep.

    I just hope when things let up (they’d better!), we achieve some sense of normalcy, @marcin. I can especially identify with the crumbs in the trash :-(

    • #11
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:43 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Why can’t she concentrate? Phones and news are controlling us. I heard the same quote by a BBC news host – she can’t read or concentrate – too much stress. It’s affecting all ages.

    I’m having a lot of trouble with concentration too these days.

    I was rushing around the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving. I had made some lovely bread and put the loaves through my food processor to make bread crumbs for the stuffing. I took a bag of bread crumbs in my hand, and instead of putting the crumbs in the bowl of stuffing I was mixing, I emptied the bag in the trash. I could not believe my eyes. And yesterday, I knocked a pan of really nice homemade turkey gravy onto the floor. It went everywhere.

    I think the pandemic has been more stressful and distracting than I have realized. Throw the election and the holidays into the mix and nothing is coming out right. Half-thoughts are flying around in my mind, and no one thought is ever finished.

    I read sad story a few weeks ago that the country’s dentists are seeing far more cracked teeth than they usually do. They think people are so stressed out that they are grinding their teeth really hard at night while they are asleep, or trying to sleep.

    When you pour your morning orange juice over your cereal, then it’s time to worry.

    • #12
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:00 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. CACrabtree Coolidge

    All part of nature’s rich panorama (and after two joint replacements; sarcasm intended).

    • #13
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:27 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Maguffin Inactive

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    When you pour your morning orange juice over your cereal, then it’s time to worry.

    That’s just multi-tasking.

    • #14
    • November 30, 2020, at 10:20 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  15. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpringJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I used to walk my neighbor’s dog and stop and talk with people, but the dog has passed on

    I have found that a dog is one of the best ways to meet people. Ours is unusual (Scottish Deerhound), so people driving by sometimes stop to ask about her. The question is usually “Is that a Wolfhound?” which leads to a conversation about the Royal dog of Scotland.

    • #15
    • November 30, 2020, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    My husband has a moderate allergy to dogs. The dog we took care of was a poodle, and even she caused a reaction in him. I miss having our own dog, but it’s just not a good idea. Your type of dog is a delight to see!

    • #16
    • November 30, 2020, at 10:51 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Arahant Member

    • #17
    • November 30, 2020, at 11:12 AM PST
    • 1 like
  18. iWe Coolidge
    iWeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan, as long as you keep compensating with enhanced wisdom and insight, you are good!

    • #18
    • November 30, 2020, at 11:27 AM PST
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. Skyler Coolidge

    There’s something pleasant about someone that names the local ducks.

    • #19
    • November 30, 2020, at 12:14 PM PST
    • 1 like
  20. She Reagan
    SheJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn: The more disturbing changes, however, are my mind. I’m not panicking; I know the early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s and they don’t describe me. But I am simply not thinking as quickly as I used to think. My brain is less agile, less timely, and it makes me uncomfortable, as I wait for my mind to engage at my preferred rate. Naturally, my physical state, alert or tired, also affects my thinking. There’s no denying, however, that I’m just not as mindful or alert.

    Oh, Susan, I have so been there. I know those signs too. And they don’t describe me either. But slowing down and aging is part of life’s journey, and I’ve come to accept it. Those who deny it, fight it, or mock it aren’t going to win, no matter how determined they are. Giving in gracefully is, I think, the only rational choice.

    Susan Quinn: There is also my temporarily forgetting a name, a number, the name of a place, a recent occurrence. I know those are a normal part of the aging process—until they are not. I’ve been dropping things, too, and in part I’m just not paying as much attention to my actions.

    Yep. It is a normal part of the aging process. And it will never be “not.” As for “dropping things,” keep knitting. It helps.

    iWe (View Comment):
    Susan, as long as you keep compensating with enhanced wisdom and insight, you are good!

    Yes!

    What though the radiance which was once so bright
    Be now forever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.–William Wordsworth

    We’re getting old. As a result of that, we know more. And I, for one, embrace that knowledge.

     

    • #20
    • November 30, 2020, at 12:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    She (View Comment):

    What though the radiance which was once so bright
    Be now forever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.–William Wordsworth

    We’re getting old. As a result of that, we know more. And I, for one, embrace that knowledge.

     

    Ah, so beautiful, @she, so comforting and reassuring. I hope, indeed, that I can “find strength in what remains behind.” Thanks so much.

    • #21
    • November 30, 2020, at 12:25 PM PST
    • Like
  22. PHCheese Member

    She (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: The more disturbing changes, however, are my mind. I’m not panicking; I know the early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s and they don’t describe me. But I am simply not thinking as quickly as I used to think. My brain is less agile, less timely, and it makes me uncomfortable, as I wait for my mind to engage at my preferred rate. Naturally, my physical state, alert or tired, also affects my thinking. There’s no denying, however, that I’m just not as mindful or alert.

    Oh, Susan, I have so been there. I know those signs too. And they don’t describe me either. But slowing down and aging is part of life’s journey, and I’ve come to accept it. Those who deny it, fight it, or mock it aren’t going to win, no matter how determined they are. Giving in gracefully is, I think, the only rational choice.

    Susan Quinn: There is also my temporarily forgetting a name, a number, the name of a place, a recent occurrence. I know those are a normal part of the aging process—until they are not. I’ve been dropping things, too, and in part I’m just not paying as much attention to my actions.

    Yep. It is a normal part of the aging process. And it will never be “not.” As for “dropping things,” keep knitting. It helps.

    iWe (View Comment):
    Susan, as long as you keep compensating with enhanced wisdom and insight, you are good!

    Yes!

    What though the radiance which was once so bright
    Be now forever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
    We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.–William Wordsworth

    We’re getting old. As a result of that, we know more. And I, for one, embrace that knowledge.

     

    My father and I went to see Sugar Ray Robertson last fight sometime in the sixties. He was pound for pound the best fighter that ever fought. However that night he was beaten by a Tomato Can named Joey Archer. Sugar Ray was my dad’s favorite fighter but he wasn’t upset that he lost. His remark was that Father Time is undefeated. Dad explained that sooner or later time catches up with all of us especially athletes.

    • #22
    • November 30, 2020, at 1:10 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Quinnie Member

    I can relate. My running career has been downgraded to a run/walk activity. Such is life. Thanks for your posts. Your honesty and openness are refreshing.

    • #23
    • December 1, 2020, at 2:10 PM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Quinnie (View Comment):

    I can relate. My running career has been downgraded to a run/walk activity. Such is life. Thanks for your posts. Your honesty and openness are refreshing.

    Thanks so much, @quinnie. The run/walk is easier on your body. Think of it as art preservation!

    • #24
    • December 1, 2020, at 2:40 PM PST
    • Like
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Thanks to all who participated in the November group writing theme. The December 2020 Group Writing Theme is up: “’Tis the Season.” Stop by soon, our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #25
    • December 1, 2020, at 8:39 PM PST
    • 1 like