Getting Better With Age

Getting Better With Age

Over the Hill.

A phrase typically thrown around during the middle-aged period of life where we feel like we are reaching the apex and it’s all downhill from there.

The rigors of chronology and physiology intersect as we mourn the passing of our youth, lament how this getting older thing sucks, and begin to see life as a cascade of downward spirals into the grave.

We may not be dead yet but we’re working on it, and we have the aches and pains to prove it.

I call BS on the whole thing.

The Smoky Mountains called. I answered.

This was my first trip in 6 years.

There’s something about spring in the mountains.

The weather is still cool, and the streams are strong after the snowmelt.

The birds are active, the bears are waking up, and the flowers explode all over the place.

The Hubs and I, along with good friends, rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN so we could be at the doorstep of the national park.

We aren’t interested in the touristy stuff that brings most people to the area, but 100% occupied with our big goals to hike.

 

 

Mountain trails are in a different league than the forest preserve trails at home.

The trails are uneven ground, full of rocks, roots, and mud.

There are log bridges over quickly running rivers, and sometimes you have to creek-hop your way across on rocks.

There are critters you may stumble upon that you need to know what to do about, because black bear are no joke.

You won’t likely see fitness enthusiasts with their step trackers and Couch-to-5k programs.

It can be life or death out there.

Take your time, take lots of water, and take some food for the trip. Learn how to pee in the woods, and check for snakes first.

You’ll take home with you a profound sense of accomplishment, likely some blisters, maybe some sore muscles, and definitely some new perspectives.

The mountains are great in humbling us and making us feel small.

 

When I hiked the Smokies 6 years ago I had a rough time with it.

The amount of soreness and fatigue I’d feel in my muscles and the stiffness I’d feel in my joints would lay me up for days.

 

This time was different.

I’ve been working on correcting my alignment, strengthening weak, overly mobile areas, and building more movement into my day as a categorical concept instead of just making sure I got my “workout” in.

I look at movement as something natural, healthy, and something we humans are designed to do more of.

 

Working on my Natural Movement made all the difference.

6 years older and 6 years wiser, I hiked more miles in consecutive days than I have ever in my entire life.

There were definitely moments where I had to dig deep.

There were times, when the fatigue would really set in, where my mind told me I wasn’t going to make it. My body, however, is way more capable than my mind gives credit. This isn’t a situation where I can just call it quits on the side of a mountain and call it a day.

You reach your limit, then learn that the actual limit is just beyond your perceived comfort zone.

I’d often feel an ache creep up somewhere, but the alignment and awareness work I’ve been working on for the past few years helped me key in on what was going on in my body.

Is something working too hard? Why? What is slacking? Adjust accordingly.

My new found whole-body awareness allows me to fire up my body in more effective and efficient ways and aches and pains would go away within seconds.

I moved in ways I wasn’t able to when I was younger and in, what I thought, better shape.

 

6 years older I move much better than I did when I was 6 years younger.

I experienced and enjoyed my body in a more positive way, which allowed me to experience and enjoy nature in a more positive way too.

 

Getting older chronologically doesn’t have to mean we suffer pathological aging.

Notice I say it doesn’t have to mean this.

For many it does. Why?

It’s not so much that you peaked too soon in your 20-somethings as you have now spent days-to-decades not moving like in your youthful days.

Think about it: You felt great “back in the day”; what were you doing? What physical activities were you participating in regularly? How many hours of sitting did you accomplish’’’’ in any given day? Was your ratio of being active versus sedentary different than it is now?

Probably.

Blame that, not your age.

 

It’s not your age’s fault for the creaking, cracking, groaning, and grunting you experience in your body.

You’re adapted.

Your body is performing in a manner to the exact activities you are asking it to perform on a regular basis.

Stepping out of that regular routine, your body will tell you about it.

Not age. Adaptation. Often dysfunctional adaptation.

While we don’t have the power to “turn back the clock”, we are capable of changing up our routine and adapting to something different than whatever our “normal” is right now.

 

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

I’ve spent the last 2 ½ years working to adapt my body to something different because I was not enjoying how my body was feeling on it’s path to 40.

As my body nears the “Over the Hill” Birthday in a year, I choose to walk over actual hills and erase almost 4 decades of moving through life in less than ideal, often dysfunctional and compensatory, ways.

I’m covered a lot of ground and I still have quite a ways to go. The road to Mastery is steep, long, and well worth the effort for those curious enough to explore. Dust off your grit and get to steppin’.

Don’t buy the black birthday balloons for me quite yet.

You’ll never hear me blame my age for anything, and if I hear you try, be warned: I’ll probably call you out on it.

Then I’ll invite you hiking with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Asking For Help Is Courageous.

Asking For Help Is Courageous.

Bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders is an exhausting task, a task that wipes out and tears down even the strongest people with the greatest willpower and fiercest constitution.

We live in a culture that praises a schedule designed to overwhelm.

At work, home, and play we wipe ourselves out, drinking from empty cups, feeling stressed out, fatigued, cranky, and sad.

We know it’s killing us, yet why do we keep trying so hard to keep up with the very things we’re likely to complain about to our closest friends?

I recently had an amazingly valuable conversation with a new client in my massage therapy office about the very real physical tensions she is feeling arising from the equally real mental overwhelm and stress she is also experiencing.

She wondered if the two go hand-in-hand.

Her desire to take more robust care of herself was so strong she couldn’t ignore it, however, the status quo of doing everything and being everyone in all things is in direct competition with her inner guidance system.

 

What are we supposed to do in this situation?

The reality of the matter is we are a people who thrive in supportive, caring communities.

We need mercy.

Because of our tremendous need, we are also uniquely positioned to be supportive, caring people who recognize the same need in others and offer assistance to the people around us.

However, because our current cultural norms and standards praise busyness, overwhelm, and stress, most people lack the ability to even ask for help when in need due to the subconscious scripts informing us that “asking for help” is the ultimate sign of weakness.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We find ourselves in a Catch-22: we thrive in supportive communities and environments, yet we never enter into or participate with them because of the lie we are fed.

In our fear of vulnerability, we isolate ourselves.

Isolation further breeds more overwhelm and stress causing us to lose perspective, eroding our ability to problem solve, creating fatigue and more stress, with the final outcome of actually causing bodily breakdown.

Anyone who has ever survived through the very real experience of Burnout knows the truth in this “chase your tail” situation.

 

Radical Care Concept Challenge: Support

Everyone needs help from time to time.

This week’s challenge is about becoming aware of your need and the need of others.

Too often we are afraid to ask for help, or we are increasingly distracted by the noisiness around us, often on our screens a few inches from our faces.

Awareness is something that needs to be built into your daily schedule before it becomes a regular practice and a part of your character.

Please don’t get hard on yourself if you decide to participate in this R2C Challenge; opening your eyes and heart is not something that happens consistently overnight.

 

If You Need Help: Ask for it!
This is going to feel scary. Do it anyway.

What do you need help with that you legitimately have difficulty shouldering right now?

Caveat: Notice how the most “unhelpful” people are also the same people who are quick to judge? It might show up as gossiping or providing an opinion on a matter when no one asked for it. Being a nosey busybody is also a sign. Be cautious about asking that person for help.

Seek support from someone whose heart you can trust.

Asking a Sandpaper Person for their help is a surefire way to erode your confidence in your ability to ask for support.

 

Ask If You Can Offer Help:
If you don’t feel like you can ask for help, or if you genuinely don’t have anything you need help with, build awareness by opening your eyes to see the need for mercy around you.

Ask around and fill in the blanks with what you’re physically and emotionally capable of aiding.

PS: this might feel scary too. Do it anyway.

The more you are able to recognize and be aware of peoples’ needs, you’ll be better equipped to recognize it within yourself.

Caveat: Don’t be the Judgmental Helper.

You don’t get to decide the parameters or worthiness of a person’s need.

The Asker defines support. Barring any legal or physical dangers, being sure to actively maintain your own integrity and honoring your personal values, step in appropriately.

Don’t take away a person’s agency to help themself.
Be cautious about completely taking the responsibility on yourself. People in need are rarely 3 year olds with zero emotional problem-solving skills.

Sometimes, the best help you can give is sitting with this person, shoulder-to-shoulder, with your mouth shut.

Nothing is more empathetic then sitting with someone in need as they navigate life.

They are capable and they will thrive in supportive community, so be supportive community.

Well-intentioned, truthful advice incorrectly applied with insensitivity can destroy people.

 

If You’ve Been Asked for Help:
Do it. Do not pass go…do not collect $200.

Please-please-please don’t drop the ball.

When someone asks you for help, it takes tremendous courage for that person to bare their vulnerabilities to you.

If you give them the old, “yeah, I’ll do it later” brush off, or only half listen because you are distracted by your own perspectives and numbing techniques, you will effectively erode that person’s trust in you.

By not listening, nor following through, you are reinforcing the cultural context about how you shouldn’t really ask for help.

Bottom Line: You get to decide if you’re going to be the cure, or a part of the disease.

 

No person is an island. We can’t do it alone. Honor your need for help.

Help those in need with eyes, arms, and heart open wide.

We are not made to walk through life, struggling alone, in life’s hardships.

As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work”; get creative and see where your hands, your good heart, and your words can speak life into someone else’s experience.

We are a people in need and we have incredible capacity to extend compassion in like measure.

You just may save someone’s life.

And that, my Friend, is a beautiful thing.