Just Plain Growing Old

A couple of months ago, I posted a blog called Growing Old Together In The Old South (Growing Old Together In The Old South – Terri LaBonte- Reinventing Myself in Retirement). In that post, I discussed Max and me celebrating our 25th anniversary in Savannah.  That was a fun time.  Today, I want to address a more sinister topic…. Just plain growing old.

We all understand that aging is a natural process and, unless we die young, old age will have an impact on our bodies.  I think I got complacent, though.  For years, even though the number in my age increased, I did not feel any different.  Aside from a momentary panic upon reaching each milestone birthday, I truly did not feel any older each September 30 when I blew out the candles on my cake. 

I think I am being realistic when I say I think I went about 15 or 20 years with no significant aging.  Even when I look at home movies and pictures from days gone by, I think I looked pretty much the same from age 35 to age 55.  Certainly, there were differences if one looked closely.  Still, I think I always looked to be in my late thirties. 

Then, sometime around my 60th birthday, nature seemed to catch up with me.  It is as if all that aging that should have happened in the first 15 years of the new millennium happened in a matter of two years.  My skin is dull.  My face has wrinkles, which might be a good thing.  Without the wrinkles keeping some of my features in place, my cheeks and jowls might be sagging down to my waist. There is certainly extensive sagging around my previously taut jawline.   My back and legs tend to protest more vociferously when overexerted… or, maybe more accurately, exerted at all.  My knees, always a weak point, seem to have locked up tighter than a maximum-security prison cell.  Picking up items from the floor is suddenly much more difficult.  I am surprised it is not an Olympic sport.

It is not that there is anything really wrong with my health.  Certainly, no new illness has cropped up in the past couple of years.  I am a pretty healthy person.  If anything, I am healthier now than I was prior to my descent into agedness.  My diet is better than it used to be.  I exercise every day.  My lab results are excellent.  I am fortunate that the only malady that seems to plague me is this mutated version of the normal aging process.  I am not complaining.  It is just that the suddenness and fierceness of my elderliness is alarming.  At this rate, my body will be eighty-five before I am chronologically sixty-five. 

Do you think it might have something to do with senior discounts?  I did qualify for some discounts when I reached 55, but many did not kick in until age 60.  Does every 10% off come with a corresponding hit to my physical being? Or perhaps it is the decades of hair dye.  Maybe dying my hair is like donning a pair of Spanx.  When I put on Spanx, the fat does not, unfortunately, disappear.  The Spanx just shoves it to another location.  Maybe coloring my hair does not make me more youthful.  Maybe the hair dye just shoves the aging to a different position. The dye covers my gray hair but causes other parts of me to age more.   I will have to think about that one.  I think I would rather have gray hair than joints that do not cooperate with my inclinations. 

My brother and my cousin, bless them, tell me that I look as young as I did in junior high.  My brother and my cousin are clearly liars.  On the other hand, maybe their assertions bear some consideration.  Let us ask ourselves a question.  Do any of us really want to look like we did in junior high?  I certainly do not.

Maybe aging is not that bad.

Me, as an incredibly awkward fourteen-year-old… let’s not go back in time!

Have you aged suddenly or has the process been more of a slow burn for you? What do you to keep healthy and functional as aging starts to catch up with you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you may email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a youthful day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Closing The Loop- But Not The Blog

Last week, I wrote asking for your advice about whether I should continue publishing the blog.  At the end of January, Terri LaBonte will celebrate five years in print. I was wondering if that was more than enough to exceed my fifteen minutes of fame.  Obviously, five years is much longer than fifteen minutes, but let’s be honest.  My time in the blog-a-limelight probably does not qualify as actual fame.  I figured more time and less fame might average out to mean it was time for me to pack it in.

Thank you all for your helpful and very flattering feedback.  It was so touching to read all your support.  I guess there are a few of you still reading, after all!  Many of you suggested that I should write blog posts when the spirit moves me and not worry about making sure I have new content each week.  You graciously tell me that you will continue to read, no matter how frequently I post.  This brought me a great deal of joy. In essence, you gave me reassurance that I should do what I wanted to do anyway.

I am going to continue the blog.  I have renewed my support subscription with the web hosting service.  For about $10 a month, I think I can afford to indulge myself.  Regrettably, I probably spend at least that much a month on Disney swag that serves no purpose whatsoever.  The cost is not a significant factor in making the decision.  The real issues are time and fear.  Your kind feedback has calmed the fear that I am ridiculous to think what I write might be interesting or helpful to anyone.  After all, writing posts and sending them out to the blogosphere as if anyone cares is a bit self-absorbed.  It would be easy to start taking one’s own perspectives way too seriously.  You all have convinced me that I am relevant to someone other than myself.

The only other issue that remains a bit of an obstacle is time.  I do want to spend more time in the future on my next book.  I do not want to feel panicky because I am not making the progress I want to make on the book, the blog, church work, housework, friendships, prayer, and other projects. I do not want to feel like I must skip fun activities or outings because I am getting behind of my self-imposed responsibilities. They way to manage this problem, I think, is to let go of the need to post new blogs every week.  I may or may not post new content every Wednesday.  I think I probably will still post most weeks, but I am not going to make it a chore.  If I do not have anything in my hopper of new posts, I will just skip a week.  Thank you all for agreeing to keep reading anyway.

Many of you are already getting alerts when there is new content.  If you are used to just checking every Wednesday and do not want to face the crushing disappointment of hopping on over one Wednesday to find nothing new, you can arrange to get email notifications when there is a new post.  You can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com  and I will put you on my mailing list.  You can also allow the blog to do it automatically by becoming a subscriber.  It is free.  You will find the box to subscribe under the list of blog posting months.  If you are looking at a computer screen, it is over to the right side (your right as you look at the screen).  If you are looking a phone, you will need to scroll down all the way through the previous posts on the first page.  There, you will find the list of months and the box to subscribe below the list.  I hope that helps. 

Again, thank you for sticking with me and helping me make this decision.  You ROCK… and ROLL!

Have a great day!!

Terri/Dorry 😊

What To Do; What To Say

Believe it or not, we are approaching the fifth birthday of www.terrilabonte.com.  I have published over 250 posts.  At an average of about 1000 words per post, that means I have written approximately 250,000 words over the past five years.  There have been over 1200 non-spam comments.  Who would have thunk it? 

It is hard to say how many people read my blog.  Analytics show about 350,000 hits per year.  This sounds impressive, but I know there is a lot of junk in there. There are so many spam comments that I just delete without y’all ever seeing them.  This tells me that a lot of those hits are from search engine optimization companies that pay poor people in foreign countries pennies to “hit” websites.  The idea is to create clickbait for their clients.

When I first started my blog, I said, no matter what the readership, I would continue posting until I ran out of things to say.  Every now and again throughout the past five years, I would hit a place where I wondered if I had arrived at the “ran out of things to say” point.  Then, something would happen in my life or in the state of the world that would make me think a new thought and I’d write another blog post.  Now, as five years is drawing to a close, I wonder if now might be a good time to call it quits. 

Typically, I have about 5-10 blog posts written and waiting to be posted.  Now, I am down to just a couple.  Is that a sign that the new ideas are drying up? Am I becoming boring or redundant?  Also, it is a bit of pressure to come up with a new post every week.  I started a new book a couple of months ago (by the way… remember you can get a paperback or Kindle copy of my book Random (A)Musings on Amazon) but have kind of stalled because the blog has taken precedence.  It also costs money to pay for the blog hosting for another year.  And, is anybody reading?  I know I said that I’d keep writing if I had something to say, regardless of readership.  If I were a really noble, well-adjusted person, I would not care about readership numbers.  I must confess that I do care a little bit, though. 

As part of my COVID reconsideration of my life (see  The Year That God Hit Pause – Terri LaBonte- Reinventing Myself in Retirement for more information on that), I am taking a good hard look at the blog.  Is it something I want to continue doing? 

On the one hand, the downsides I have just noted are real. They may be sufficient reason to shut the blog down before it is time to pay the annual renewal fee. On the other hand, I really do enjoy the blog.  The fee is less than $10 per month… less than most people pay for just about any form of entertainment.  If I was better adjusted, the readership numbers should not be a factor in my satisfaction level.  I could eliminate any undue pressure to come up with new blog posts if I just released myself from my self-imposed requirement to publish every week.  I know that people might stop reading if there is not continuous new content, but I truly do not think I am rocking anybody’s world anyway.  Maybe I should get outside my head and pay the renewal… then, just do whatever comes naturally.

Part of me wonders if the blog is really what I am supposed to be doing in life.  I truly believe that God has a plan for each our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).  I think it is important to stay awake to the signs and opportunities He puts in our path so that we will see the plan He has for us when it appears.  I believe that, if we follow the path He has for us and use the opportunities He gives us, then He will bless our efforts.  He will multiply whatever little we are able to do on our own so that the results will be far beyond anything we can ever imagine.

I have always maintained that His plan for me was not to do anything extraordinary, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.  I believed that God would bless these little, love-soaked ordinary things and they would have a positive impact beyond my small circle.  St. Therese of Lisieux lived simply as a nun in a cloistered convent for her entire adult life and spent her days doing small, generous things for others.  Today, her writings are known the world over and they inspire people to walk towards God.  Unfortunately, I do not think my ordinary acts, despite the extraordinary love of God that I try to harness within them, are having much impact beyond the people who love me anyway. 

Maybe I believe I am only supposed to be doing the ordinary deeds I find in my way because it is the most comfortable way for me to be a Christian.  Maybe God believes I am supposed to aim a little higher in finding the plan He has for me.  So, is there more I should be doing?  Does God have a bigger plan for me, even at this late stage in the game? And does www.terrilabonte.com have a place in that plan?  Or do I just need to get over myself?  I am no St. Therese of Lisieux.

What do you think?  Should I keep blogging?  Is there anybody out there reading?  How would you feel if I only ended up posting new content on a more irregular schedule?  Would you keep reading?  What do think about finding purpose in life?  How do you know if you are following the path you were meant to follow?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement.com. 

Have a metaphysical day!

Terri/Dorry 😊