I started writing this blog after visiting my 90-year-old dad, in Edinburgh, and my 81-year-old mother, in Southern Spain, earlier this year. I appreciated their good health (albeit they had a few minor ailments) and realised there is a likelihood, if all goes well, that I might live another 40-plus years. With that in mind, I have decided to introduce and remove a few habits and to begin preparing a little better for my second half of life. The one component I need a good helping of is strength: physical, mental and emotional. I am inspired by a Latin saying that I discovered recently in a book by Ryan Holiday: vires acquirit eundo, which means ‘we gather strength as we go’.
Their Present, My Future
Here is a photo of my dad dipping his toes in the North Sea a few months ago, and another of my mother visiting me in London last year. Yes, those are pink streaks in her hair.
Late to the Party
Exercise has never played a significant role in my life. I’ve enjoyed a little bit of yoga here and there, a walk across the park, and a rejuvenating swim in the ocean, but all said and done, I’ve rated pretty average (if not below average) on the exercise spectrum. When previously I gained an extra kilo or two, I cut down on the desserts, and my nervous energy always helped burn off a few grams. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The extra cortisol racing through my veins seems to be contributing to stubborn weight gain, and I can’t help but crave more sugar.
Looking at my cerebral health, reading came to me later in life, I am embarrassed to say. Late to the party is probably an accurate description of my first 40 years. Other than reading more, I will be looking at hobbies, brain stimulating apps and music, to name but a few.
Food is my all-time favourite vice. I love to go to restaurants, try new recipes and create an array of magical food splendour. A dietician told me years ago to ‘eat what you want, just halve it’. That hasn’t quite worked for me, but it was a good place to start. If I hadn’t heard that and created an appreciation for portion control, I would certainly be a lot heavier. I eat quite healthily, as junk food was not allowed in the house when growing up, though that doesn’t deter me from thinking of food.
And emotionally, worrying is my thang. It is what I do best. Years of experience have got me to a point of worrying myself into and out of every situation.
To be reminded and show you all, it is never too late. My mother, who ran an ICU unit for most of her working career, always said, ‘where there is life, there is hope’. I feel I might be able to get a few things under my belt, and I invite you to travel on this journey with me. You don’t need to sweat the hard stuff; you can just take some of the observations, and maybe even lessons, and (with pleasure) apply them to your own life.
I will be looking to move around a bit more and find activities that are not only effective but fun to do; to stimulate my brain further, not only with food but also with innovative apps, books and hobbies; and to introduce more self-care to encourage a great night’s sleep and less worrying. All this, ideally, I will do with a touch of courage, creativity and humour. I invite you to join me.
Vires acquirit eundo: Latin for ‘we gather strength as we go’.