An NPR story about aging women and self-image made my day: “Gray-Haired Granny? An 85-year-Old Writer Goes Punk Rock Instead.” The blue hair, the writer Anne Bernays says, was to protest “the passage of my own time here….While young people like diamonds, old folks are invisibel — except, as I discovered, if you have bright blue hair.” So I’m thinking that perhaps dying hair red (and green) for the Christmas holidays might be in the cards! A defiant visible acknowledgement that many physical changes will accompany the aging body into retirement.
A few weeks ago I started working with a trainer. My goal was simple: learn how to use the nautilus machines in my community center’s fitness room so I didn’t injure myself if I wanted to play with them occasionally when walking grew tiresome. Walking has been a satisfying activity for the past two years, but it seemed time for something new. Then too, everywhere I turned, advice suggested that resistance training was a good thing for “older adults.” Surely muscle strength would: 1) let me heft with ease that 40 lb. pails of cat litter into and out of the shopping cart; 2) help me pick up and hug the one grandchild still small enough to be picked up and hugged; 3) prepare me for the next summer’s mulching and mowing routine and make sure that if it snows I can free the car in the driveway; and 4) just keep me moving toward retirement with resolve and a semblance of control. So, a little light exercise and someone to make sure I didn’t hurt myself along the way…a pleasant way to spend time at the gym.
Instead…I have become an addict – feeding my addiction twice a week with an hour of brutal work and a coach whose “just one more rep” refrain and insistence on increasing the weight I work with is encouraging and infuriating at the same time. These sessions have introduced me to new aspects of my aging body. It recovers from the pain and exhaustion more quickly than I imagined. And, with my trainer’s monitoring, I begin to see new energy – physical and mental energy.
I should confess that for most of my life I’ve been guilty of the sin of …sluggity. (A word not recognized by Webster’s but surely it’s in keeping with other sins –vanity, gluttony, etc., etc., etc.) Exercise was always something I intended to do, and sometimes kept at until something happened…a muscle that hurt, a book to write, a syllabus to design. Now, however, I find myself atoning for my years of sluggity (or is it sluggerhood?) and damn if it doesn’t feel good (as it awakens that other sin of pride).
And so, as a way to both express and contain pridefulness…I think a dye job just might be in order. Thank you NPR for a most entertaining story, and thank you Anne Bernays, the story’s punk rock granny.
Here’s the link — you’ll enjoy the content. http://www.npr.org/2015/11/18/456349585/gray-haired-granny-an-85-year-old-writer-goes-punk-rock-instead?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=2044