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Growing old gracefully

I am proud of being a senior citizen. I have totally embraced my aging, and thankful that I am doing it as gracefully as I can.

Growing old gracefully can only be done by total acceptance of the inevitable. The road to acceptance is not easy. I believe this is especially true for women, who are more obsessed with their physical looks than men are.

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Men have a more positive view of aging; they think it would make them look more distinguished. On the other hand, saying that a woman is distinguished-looking is not complimentary at all in my book. I would rather take, with a grain of salt, the inane “You don’t look your age” comment any time.

This is truly a difficult phase for us women, due to not only the preceding years of hormonal changes, but also the attendant recurring insecurities and doubts.

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As in any other phase in our lives, there are ways to circumvent the negatives — in this instance, aging. In my case, it started to get better the moment I acknowledged that aging is inevitable but there are ways to slow down the process. I am not talking here of the innumerable options in the field of science that purport to arrest the process, but, rather, the positive ways that do not involve one’s financial capability.

These are personal ways that do not require large sums of money or surgical intervention, of which I have such a phobia. These are not earthshaking discoveries; rather, they are nuggets of wisdom that really come along with age.

I have developed them and made them my routine, which has greatly helped my staying young at heart. You might ask: What about the physical aspect of aging? That has never been a problem because it seems that for every wrinkle on our face, there are countless creams to counteract signs of aging, and not just for wrinkles.

This is a no-brainer routine, yet for me, it is indispensable that I do it daily. Firstly, I am a night owl, but I always see to it that I get at least seven to eight hours of sleep. My mornings are devoted to painting, a hobby that keeps me happily preoccupied, and which I had pleasantly discovered I could do quite well.

After lunch, it is internet time, checking Facebook and e-mails, reading some favorite blogs, or just doing some writing. I would be at the computer for a couple of hours because I would also read the papers on the internet.

Sometimes I take a nap, although it is optional for me. I do my daily walking in the afternoon while saying the rosary at the same time. I know it is multitasking, but paradoxically, it keeps me centered and focused.

After a short rest, it is time for my meditation, a simple routine of just being aware of my breathing without any thoughts to distract this awareness. I learned of this technique from the book “Minding the Body, Mending the Mind” by Dr. Joan Borysenko. This book has greatly helped me overcome anxiety attacks, which plagued me when I was in my 50s — my troublesome time of hormonal changes.

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Bonding with my girlfriends at least once or twice a month is another routine that is vital to keeping old age at bay. They are my tennis mates, but we play tennis very rarely now.

Our current pastimes are retail therapy and movie outings, or just eating out and updating one another on what is going on in our lives. We sometimes travel together. I always look forward to our bonding. True friends are a boon to old folks like us.

Another activity that I think I would never give up is reading; it does keep your mind young.

This routine has been very effective in keeping me positive about aging, and, I think, even the feeling of being young at heart — the essential trait to growing old gracefully.

I have also come to realize that I feel more at peace if I can do away with anger, envy, jealousy, and needless desires. I truly believe that I have never felt more liberated and at peace with myself than at my age now.

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Marilyn Duterte Oppus, 68, says she wrote this piece a few years ago and then left it lying dormant in the “saved” documents in her computer. “I still do the routine regularly,” she says.

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TAGS: High Blood, Marilyn Duterte Oppus, Old Age, retirement, Senior citizens
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