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A Good Pair of Heels Needs Good Soles

by Loretta LaRoche


"When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms."

— from "When Death Comes," by Mary Oliver

When I reached my 60th birthday, I panicked at the thought that I had less time ahead of me than I had behind me. Of course, that could be debated by those who are seeing from the rear. On a brighter note, this realization enhanced my need to discover as much as I could about the aging process—both the negative and positive. I’m fortunate to have had grandparents who lived long lives, and a mother who’s now 96. If genetics are on my side, then I’m in luck.

Like most people, I never really understood or believed that I’d actually reach the same place my mother was many years ago. Not that I would want the alternative, which is not to be here at all. But when she’d try to tell me how she felt about getting older, I dismissed her by saying, "Oh, you have plenty of time." She’d counter with, "You’ll see." Well, she was right. I am seeing, and it’s quite a ride! Bette Davis was right on the money when she said that "old age is not for sissies." I’ve become a great admirer of my mother’s resiliency and all of the other individuals who’ve become prototypes for my own journey. I’ll mention more of these inspirational people throughout the book.

As my mother’s body began to betray her by becoming frail, her humor would continue to sustain her. She’d remind me that she had the "furniture disease." When I asked what that was, she quipped, "That’s when your chest falls into your drawers." Well, much of what she said is true: Our minds and bodies change, and if we’re around long enough, our lives become a roller-coaster ride. If we’re lucky, the highs are greater than the lows. But like any ride, we know that someday it will end.

The good news about aging in the 21st century is that many gains have been made in the area of longevity and quality of life. We have a greater understanding of what ages the body and how we influence that process. Not long ago, it was thought that genetics was the primary factor in determining how long we lived and the quality of life we could expect; however, we now know that genes alone aren’t something to bank on, especially if we’ve managed to make more withdrawals than deposits into our life-expectancy account. How we live our lives mentally, physically, and spiritually means much more than we ever imagined.

It seems ludicrous that most people don’t think about this until they’re quite old or have been diagnosed with some type of physical or mental ailment. In order to have the greatest impact on how we live our later years, we need to think about this much sooner. Unfortunately, most of us are invested in believing we’re immortal when we’re young, and getting old is the farthest thing from our minds. But it’s important to remember that regardless of how long we’ve waited, it’s never too late to start aging well. The body/mind has incredible abilities to repair and restore itself.

With this book, I hope to engage you in the process of living not only longer, but also wiser, healthier, happier, more enthusiastically, and juicer. I love the word juicy. I made it part of the book’s subtitle because I think it’s one of the clearest metaphors for getting through life: When life loses its juice, we begin to wither and dry up. Children are inherently juicy. No one needs to force them to play, laugh, delight in the ordinary, or to be curious or authentic. Kids haven’t yet learned to judge, hold grudges, or hang on to anger. And for them, eating is a necessity but not a main focus for their attention, and no one has to prod them into moving their bodies. Unfortunately, as life becomes more involved, sorrow, disappointment, and the constant messages to grow up and be responsible take over our psyches. We lose the succulence of youth in exchange for some of the withering ways of adulthood, and some of us become terminally serious.

I remember going to the market with my grandmother and watching how she always had to squeeze the fruit, insisting that it was the only way to tell if it was ripe with flavor and juice. If it felt hard or scaly, she’d throw it back. Don’t we all love biting into a piece of fruit that spurts and squirts and may even spritz juice on those around us? Our lives should be like that. Yes, we have our days or weeks or even years of struggle and strain, but if we can incorporate the tools that I suggest throughout this book, we’ll have better skills to navigate the bumps and lumps along the way.

Some of these techniques will be familiar to you, and others will be new. I also hope to reinforce the things you already do that enhance your life. But whether these "juicy tidbits" are just being introduced to you now or you currently use them in your life, the information and skills will be most useful if—like mastering a musical instrument—you simply practice, practice, practice.

Our whole lives have been a practice of one sort or the other—good and bad. Why not leave a legacy for our friends and family of a life well lived?

Juicy Tidbits

·Can you think of someone in your family whose life you find an inspiration, whose wisdom and accomplishments you admire? If so, try to find out everything you can about the person’s life.

·Do you resemble the individual—physically, mentally, or spiritually?

·Can you correlate some of your behaviors to ancestors or immediate family?

·Do you see any particular talent or skill that’s repeated in yourself or your children?

·Who are the juiciest individuals in your gene pool?

·Have you considered creating a family history to pass down? It’s not only an interesting exercise, but one that might save your life or that of someone who’s dear to you. Medical conditions can be inherited, and knowing certain information about your ancestors can help your doctor create a better diagnosis.

Trace Your Family Tree for Free!

Want to learn about the ship that your great-grandmother sailed to America on? Try www.Ancestry.com, www.Amiglia .com, or www.EllisIsland.org. You can trace your genealogy online and possibly find other family members to correspond with. If you want to find out where your long-lost relatives live now, go to www.your family.com/lost_family.html. Or if you’re interested in discovering where your surname came from, check out www.search forancestors.com. Have fun!

The preceding excerpt has been taken from the book Kick Up Your Heels Before You’re Too Short To Wear Them by Loretta Laroche. It is published by Hay House, and available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com.


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