Aging is sometimes called the great humbler. Some embrace it. Some dread it. But most of us vacillate between loving the good parts and resisting the reality that our bodies and brains have a limited shelf life. What does that mean for our quality of life? Aging is an involuntary invitation to seeing how we are attached to who we want to be and where we are afraid to let go. But if we shift our attention a certain way we might find our ideas about aging aren’t quite as concrete as we thought.’
Dedicated to my Grandma, Nani. Teresa de la Forest Foster Nolde 1915- March 11, 2013 (Obituary at bottom).
My grandma, Nani, died last week in her late 90′s. She was born in France, and loved her lamb and wine as per her heritage. She was a no b.s. woman, an excellent golfer and a spark of a rebel in her own right.
I’ve been wondering what choices she may have differently 20-30 years ago if she knew what aging is really like. She wasn’t in a peer group that refined their habits as they aged. She didn’t give up the stuff that lead to her suffering, and neither did her peers, though she outlived them all.There is a humility to our bodies aging that bewilders me. How can I make the best of this precious vehicle – this holy abode – for up to 60 more years?
The bigger issues and opportunities with aging comes down to how we invest. How do you invest your awareness, which is your time. How do you invest your dollars in that which enables you to take up better ways of being in a body? How do you invest in being in conscious communities to support your growth?
Know how your ship goes down
I’ve taken to using this expression to describe the unique nature of your “vikruti”. Vikruti means what goes wrong. You and I probably don’t suffer from the same symptoms. When we both get tired and run down, we’ll suffer uniquely. As we get older and grey-er, we’ll complain of different problems. We all have different patterns of suffering.
I’ve been listening to Dr. Claudia Welch describe your “kavaigunya”. She talks about how your ship will go down in terms of vikruti, karma, and everything bad that’s left a mark on you so far. If you get your kavaiguna – you get what choices will bring you down… and which can potentially be a game-changer for the way you will age.
What does this have to do with an Evolutionary Strategy for Aging?
If you know how your ship goes down – step by step, in intimate details, perhaps you can avert the catastrophe. As we age the catastrophes of the body and mind get bigger. Think of your ancestors. What sinks their ships? Is is Alzheimers? Cancer? Bone loss? Do your peeps keep their teeth? What does life after menopause look like? With an evolutionary strategy for aging we need to deeply understand what is happening energetically, play-by-play in our personal health history. You’ll be able to change the way you age.
Most yoga students and teachers I know don’t know that they can learn Ayurvedic diagnostics as it applies to their personal wellness trajectory. What you don’t know might lead to years of needless discomfort, suffering, and you might lose your house (see below)… before what brings your ship down gets around to killing you.
Change the way you age
As a culture, we should direct our attention to the Art of Longevity. According to Ayurveda, the art of longevity has everything to do with the micro-decisions in your day to day life. You have to put your time in and make the changes that make the difference between evolving and degenerating. It’s the same kind of work you are doing on the mat in your yoga practice.When we commit to making better decisions based on the day-to-day feedback our bodies give us, we experience the benefit immediately.
The benefits are cumulative and soon your 80′s look totally different than they would have had you ignored the messages and kept up with the current cultural pattern. The benefits are also cumulative in the people you affect. We are all always influencing each other. You don’t live in a bubble. As you consistently make more evolved decisions, they show up in your kids. And you feel better as you get older – which changes the belief system of your children or the next generation in terms of what aging looks like. That is the feedback I consistently receive from my over-50 crowd of yoga students and teachers in the Living Ayurveda Course.
When you change the way you age for the better – when you feel better as you get older – the reality affects your bank account. Basically, most of us are on a trajectory of spending a ton of dough on out-of-pocket health care expenses as time marches on.
Save a bundle + change your retirement
For this part, I borrowed reporting from AHRG
- Five percent of the population accounts for almost half (49 percent) of total health care expenses.
- The average health care expense in 2002 was $11,089 per year for elderly people but only $3,352 per year for working-age people (ages 19-64).5
- A principal reason why health care spending is spread out more evenly among the elderly is that a much higher proportion of the elderly than the non-elderly have expensive chronic conditions.
- People With High Health Care Expenses Also Have High Out-of-Pocket Expenses Relative to Income
- On average, people with Medicare coverage paid $38,688 for medical care in the last five years of life.There was enormous variation, with 25 percent of participants spending an average $101,791 out-of-pocket for medical services and 25 percent spending an average $5,163 during this period.
- One-quarter of older adults incurred out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceeded the total value of their assets during this five-year period. Forty-three percent of older adults incurred expenses that exceeded their assets, excluding the value of their homes.
This is nuts. If you skimmed over the stats … read them. Almost no one I know wants to think of what their body will feel like in 10 years, let alone when you become the elderly. Your statistical odds of spending a huge bundle on your medical expenses are a sure bet. What can you do to avoid the chronic conditions that bring us down? You can learn how to fine tune yourself, your daily habits and seasonal routines for longevity. This is the fundamental teaching of Ayurveda.
Change how you “Save for Retirement”
Saving for retirement means investing in your health and wellness. This was always the point Ayurveda has been trying to make – but now the stakes are higher. Due to our pollution soils, stress and largely hybridized diets our systems are challenged. Yet there is so much more to learn. You need to reprogram your mind to invest, not just your dollar but your awareness and your commitment, to your personal and family wellness.
I’ve been conditioned to think of “saving for retirement” as putting some dough each month into mutual funds after I max out my Roth IRA. But what if you’re taking the money back out in 5-40 years to cover your out-of-pocket health care expenses? What if those bills are so high you lose your house to cover them?
It’s obvious to me… and hopefully to you as well, that planning for retirement means not just having money in the bank, but evolving the cellular intelligence of your body-mind so that you don’t inadvertently suffer from the chronic diseases that currently puts our elders not only in the pain cave, but also in the poor house.
Say you’re a yoga student. You know that your daily choices make a huge impact on your yoga practice. Good habits make yoga easy. Bad habits make yoga hard. Your yoga practice is a measuring stick for all things good and bad for you. Getting in a peer group, like in my Living Ayurveda course, of yoga students and teachers supporting each other to uplevel their good choices seasonally and through different stages of life is a solid investment that will pay dividends as long as you and your offspring have bodies.
Ayurveda for Smart Life-Planning
When you study Ayurveda, you start to look at YOUR life in epochs. I’ve taken to looking at my life in terms of decades. I want to know what I need to do now in my day-to-day choices that will continue to pay off in 5-30 years. Sounds a lot like mutual funds. But even low-risk mutual funds are much higher risk than your own wellness evolution. If you really study Ayurveda and integrate the practice for the post-modern decades ahead you get a priceless return on your investment. And the super groovy part of it is that you get the good from those body-mind upgrades today …and tomorrow.
When you study Ayurveda you get your vikruti (how you go out of balance). You get your kavaigunya (how your ship goes down related to your health history + deep karma), you get your prakruti (personal constitution) at a level of depth. But more than that, you can get yourself on an evolutionary wellness trajectory. And yes, you’ve got to pay to play. You’ve got to put in your time. You ‘ve got to find a teacher that is going to inspire change, you’ve got to get in on a community that shares your evolving worldview and beliefs.
Built to last 100 years
Yogis + Vaidyas (Ayurvedic gurus) have a different take on aging. They believe our parts can last about 100 years. Sure, stuff will happen, and we will deteriorate… but much of the suffering is optional. The entire science of Ayurveda is based on maximizing wellness longevity and spiritual evolution. There is no pill and no bill. There is simply syncing up with someone who know the “secrets” and is living into their truth. There are the seasonal refinements, there are the practices, the upleveling of self-care, the changing what you crave so that what you crave is what helps the body.
The Living Ayurveda yoga teacher + student posse from Colorado. Feeling younger as time passes.
Change your worldview. Change the way you invest in your future. You only have one body. Are you treating it to last? Or are you slowly taking your own ship down?
Accelerate the wellness of your students + children
When yoga teachers teachers study Ayurveda and live into the practices they accelerate the wellness path of their students. I don’t say this off the cuff. It’s the feedback I get the most from the yoga teacher crowd in Living Ayurveda. What I hear the most from the mothers with children at home is that their families are shifting. Their kids are making better choices. The household habits are evolving along a wellness trajectory. This feedback is music to my ears.
We’ve been programmed to think that we can’t avoid genetic diseases. We can’t change the way we age. Saving for retirement means Roth IRA’s and 401K’s. We’re programmed to think that you can’t change people. You can’t change your partner, your children, your students, you’re friends. This is a dungheap of outdated beliefs. We influence each other with every choice we make… with every investment we make or don’t make. You can’t help but influence everyone in your live. Make your choices not just for yourself, but to evolve our families, communities and culture.
Invest in your future body.
Learn your inner body technology from the inside out. I’m offering a huge discount for those who want to join my Living Ayurveda Course that starts next September. You’ll get instant access into the Living Ayurveda Prep School. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of a 3 day Access Pass to my Future of Ayurveda Summer Solstice 2014 Event near Jackson Hole, WY.
Living Ayurveda… an evolutionary strategy for aging…
Take better care of:
- your family
- your yoga students
Or take you yoga career to the next level.
Teresa Foster Nolde 1915-2013
passed away at age 97 in Venice, Florida. She was born on March 29, 2015 iin Melun, France. Her parents were Anne and Count Francois delaForest. Teresa’s family moved to St. Paul in 1920 where she attended the Visitation Convent School. She is predeceased by her husband, Gilbert Foster. Gil and Teresa have four daughters, all of whom survive her. They are Anne Forest of St. Paul, Gail Monchik of Old Greenwich, CT, Kathleen Stillman of Driggs, ID and Suzanne Rothschild of Englewood, FL who gave her mother devoted care. Teresa is also survived by 10 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. She is also predeceased by her second husband, Glen Nolde with whom she resided in Englewood, FL. She was a spirited and adventurous woman. She loved to have fun. She loved to travel. Bridge was one of her favorite pastimes. As she aged her one complaint was that she could no longer play golf. Mostly she loved being with her family and traveled many miles visiting her children and their families, all living great distances from her. In her quiet moments she produced beautiful knitted works and lovely needlepoint. She was treasured by her many nieces and nephews who called her Aunt Ta. Because of her spark and zest for life, it seems like a happy and bright light has gone out. Teresa, Ta, Nani, Grandma, Mom, you are so missed.
Are you ever too old?
If you’re like me this thought has crossed your mind more than once or twice. I believe we all have moments when we think I’m too old for this or the really big one; I’m too old to start over, maybe if I were younger I’d consider it. Now granted there are times when these feelings have a practical place in our thoughts but I’d say more often than not, it’s simply not true.
Generally when I’m thinking that I’m too old for something it’s because I’m feeling tired and uninspired. It has little to do with age.
It’s especially easy to feel like you’re too old when you’re feeling tired from too many long days and weeks of the daily grind of life or when you’re suffering from a nagging injury, etc. that just won’t go away. Regardless of age, being physically tired has a big impact on how we feel and can easily drag us down leaving us feeling uninspired.
Now what I do think impacts our thoughts of “being too old” is when we hit the wall of feeling uninspired with life. This is where I think our thoughts create the limitations of thinking we’re too old to do this or that. It feels like we’ve gotten on a one-way road with no exits when more often than not it’s just that we lost our ability to see the exit signs but they’re there. If we take another view of the road we can find our way to a new direction.
The simple act of being physical, getting to the gym, getting outdoors, doing something to break a sweat can give us the clarity we need to re-inspire our day. Feeding our bodies a healthy diet can create the mental health we need to sustain a better state of well-being and the great news is that when we on our own can’t change the way we feel there is inspiration all around us!
It wasn’t that long ago that my ninety year old uncle suggested to me that perhaps at ninety he was too old, after all this past year he’s had ammonia, a blood clot in his leg and an irritating hip problem. Of course none of these issues are fun for anyone to deal with at any age and we all know that you don’t have to be ninety to suffer from any of them. But here’s the thing, at first I could think to agree with him, after all ninety is getting up there but as we chatted, I reminded him that not that many months back his excitement of purchasing a new family cottage had him out with his chain saw clearing trees day after day until he felt satisfied with a job well done and the summer before at eighty-nine when we were all gathered for a family reunion with the opportunity to visit with friends and family he stayed out later than any of us combined, danced until the sun came up and made it to almost every single scheduled event. Bottom line, none of us so-called “younger” individuals kept up with him! So ninety has had a few more moments along the way than eighty-nine did but with ninety-one just around the corner who’s to say with some daily inspiration ninety-one won’t be a piece of cake!
So final food for thought, if we take the time to “stop” thinking we’re too old for things and perhaps stay focused on finding the things that inspire us, motivate us and give us joy then perhaps we’ll never have to stop and think about how old we’re getting and just keep getting on with getting on with this beautiful thing called life!
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, there’s a lot we can do to stay healthy as we age. The Harvard M.D. is a best-selling author and director of the program of integrative medicine at the University of Arizona. In his new book, Dr. Weil shares his secrets for living better longer. It’s called Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being.
- Spring’s rainy morning morphs into a steamy afternoon.
I walk the path alone, a lengthy stretch of road
That leads me to my dwelling’s door.
A modest shelter that I call ” A Home”.
- In the warm drizzle of a mild rain I witness lazy mist
It rises from the heated ground,
Than slowly creeps across the road and out of sight.
- A chestnut tree erect and straight,
Adorn with white-flowered cones, I
s pulling on my strings of heart.
It is a tree of long lost youth
And I’ve collected many of it’s precious seeds
From loving soil of my native land.
- With each few steps a curious robin runs
Than freezes on the edge of the path I travel.
He stands there like a statue and greats me with his stare.
His warm-red chest burns brightly in the sun
And yellow beak, framed by intense bright eyes
Points innocently and inquiringly
Perched on his head held high, turned slightly to one side.
And I can swear I hear him whispering the words:
“I wish you a safe journey and I’m watching over you!
I will protect you from all harm
And be your faithful companion on this road
At times when you feel lonely or unsure!”
- A Starling, striking black against green lushness of the grass
It’s beak locked tightly over lengthy worm
Recoiling desperately, trying to avoid
Becoming latest meal of tiny hunter.
Worm screws itself securely into ground,
Soon losing battle quickly disappears.
- A vain Magnolia Tree, it’s arms stretched out half-naked,
Stands proudly centered amongst it’s scattered petals,
Recent adornments worn as priceless gown
Sequenced with blossoms, now simply a reminder
Of brilliant, yet Oh so brief and fleeting beauty,
Forgotten splendor in the sea of past.
But her deep sadness may be brief and temporary
For, although fancy shroud of her youth now long gone,
A fresher, greener, more mature attire
Is now hastily woven for display and admiration.
- Like pure white rice that showers blushing bride
As she runs happily to carriage on her wedding day,
So Father Wind and Mother Pear-Tree
Shower me with tiny floating petals as I walk.
They glisten in the rays of sunshine through the rainy mist
Like perfect snowflakes… Light, pure, white…
- Today I spent few precious hours reveling in the past
Basking in love of a life-long friend
Not seen for ages, yet always dearly loved.
As we both journeyed down nostalgic path of youth,
Of memories long lost and painfully forgotten,
Each one got fueled by gifted words of other,
A validation that we both were here,
Had life, had fun, had craziness, had value,
Left our mark and our legacy to World!
We both made difference and fought against the odds
And tho in business of lives we lost our sight and felt forgotten,
Rejuvenated now by rememberings of another
We take them home, along with others love and validation.
- And as I listen to my footsteps echoing against the humid day
A thought keeps running in my tired mind:
“Perhaps my life was not as extraordinary as some
In a larger scheme of things,
Never-the-less I lived!
And that I lived was witnessed by another!”
- And like the footprints etched into this road I walk on,
So are my footprints etched into the history of life!
May 22, 2011
The day was cool and somber as we drove to Uxbridge, Ontario. Dark clouds hang in a pale blue sky; long stretches of grayish-black fields, littered with rounded golden bails of hay, scattered along each side of the road; trees stood colorless, motionless and naked, like some tired weary hitchhikers trying to catch a lift anywhere away from here. Occasionally, the monotony would be broken up by a vision of a birch tree looking strikingly white against the blue sky, gray fields and lifeless trees. Dark, naked and somber like my mood, Nature still had an ability to look beautiful. As I stared out of the car window, recent events were replaying themselves over and over in my mind.
Today was Sunday, November 28, 2o1o, 11am, and we were on our way to say good buy to two of our beloved family members who were about to be cremated in a private ceremony. We were about to send Snow, a 16.5 yrs old white male cat, and Kissa, a 17 yrs old female calico cat, on their final journey. Both of them were rescued by us within weeks from each other and enriched and brightened our lives for over 15 years. They were joined by a third rescue cat, Leo. The three of them bonded and became known as The Three Musketeers. They became important members of our family and a big part of our lives.
Leo, Snow and Kissa enjoyed a long, happy life and had uniquely different and interesting personalities. They taught us the importance of “just chilling”, looking at things upside down to get a different perspective on life, never taking “no” for an answer, never letting the closed door stop you from going where ever you wanted to go, and so much more. But the most important thing we learned from The Three Musketeers is how to love each other unconditionally.
We would love to keep our pets with us forever, but the old age eventually catches up with them and there comes a time when we need to let go. Over the past months we started noticing changes in our friends. After all 15+ for a cat is a Geriatric Age, equivalent to 85+ in human years. Although Leo remained a tough old bird, Snow and Kissa started to quickly fade away. Once a cat this old starts showing signs of aging, it seems to accelerate very quickly. Within a week their condition deteriorated. Snow was going quickly. Kissa seemed to be determined to keep taking care of him regardless of how she felt herself.
On Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at 1:11pm, Snow has made a decision to cross over The Rainbow Bridge. Kissa, missing her life-long friend too much, decided to follow him 3 days later, and went quietly in her sleep at 4:11am Saturday, November 20th.
In the past we have always chosen to provide a private cremation for all our pets and rescue animals that shared and enriched our lives so much. We felt this was how we needed to honor them for bringing us so much joy. However, up until about a year ago we were not aware of any other cremation option than those available through veterinary clinics, ranging around $200-250 per pet. A little over a year ago we met an amazing couple, Nancy and Colin Graham of Thistledown Pet Memorial & Columbarium. They run a private Pet Cremation Services for just a little more than what is charged through Vet Clinics. The benefit of doing cremation through them is that you can actually see your pets being handled with respect and dignity, you can be there through the entire process and you can take as much or as little participation as you need in order to have closure.
The most significant difference is that when you leave, you feel at peace and the healing of grieving process begins almost immediately, in that moment. We dealt with Nancy and Colin last year when our beloved Minuette passed away and we were very pleased with the service. We have decided to once again come back to them with our precious Snow and Kissa.
Present financial situation presented some difficulties and having two pets pass away so close to each other was a little more than what our budget would allow. Some friends recommended setting up a ChipIn and posting it on Facebook and Craigslist. They said people sometimes liked to help out with costs by making donations. I felt a little uncomfortable with an idea of asking people for money. In 20+ years of running a private rescue, I have never once asked anyone for any financial help and funded it entirely from my own paychecks. However, present times are tough for all and sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. In my grief I decided to take my friend’s advice and set up a ChipIn account. I posted it first on Facebook. To my surprise I had 9 people make a donation within 3 days, $150 in total. I was speechless with gratitude.
Still starry-eyed I decided to post it on Craigslist. This was probably one of the worst mistake I have ever made. Within hours of my post going up, some vicious, slanderous counter-posts started popping up, accusing me of being a scammer, ridiculing my decisions in how we chose to say good buy to our life-long companions, spewing all sort of horrid accusations, and even going as far as flagging my post and getting it removed from Craigslist. In the moment of grief, devastation and vulnerability, when one would expect to see some compassion and understanding from his/her fellow humans beings, I instead encountered malice, discrimination and ill-will. I could not believe how eager people were to condemn someone without even as much as taking two minutes of their time to look at our ChipIn info, or visit Thistledown website, or even just email me for details or clarification. They acted strictly out of assumption and self-righteousness. Needless to say I will never ask for help or post anything on Craigslist again.
Still feeling raw from my experience I arrived today with my son to say our final good buy to Snow and Kissa. It is here, during this touching final ceremony, when my faith in human kindness was renewed. After hearing my story, the owners of Thistledown Pet Memorial not only decided to give us an almost $200 discount on their services, but they assured me that even though the cremation was performed today and I can take my lovely Snow and Kissa home with me, I should not worry about money. I can make payment arrangements with them at a later date. These peopled opened their doors for us on their day off. Kissa and Snow were the only two souls being sent off today and I can’t imagine having this happen in a more appropriate place. There is still some human kindness left in the world.
And so, with my hopes once again renewed, I now take this chance of opening myself up to my reader’s mercy. I ask that you please visit our ChipIn site, and if you feel in any way at all compelled to help us with Cremation costs than we would be eternally grateful. However, if all you choose to do is send us your love and good thoughts for Snow and Kissa, we will be grateful for that too.
With all our deepest love and respect,
Pawz For Thought Animal Rescue & Sanctuary
Please visit Thistledown Pet Memorial website for more info on their amazing services.