Susie Ekberg Risher
I'm late for coffee with Brenda, so when I see the man standing by the side of the road, I almost don't stop. But there's something about him and his sweet puppy that makes me pull over.
I'm driving back from visiting my father in Bismarck, and 27 miles west of Jamestown it hits. Fog so dense I can hardly see the hood of my car. I slow down a little, take a deep breath, and try to look ahead of me. But I can't see anything. I can't see to the left side or to the right side. I look in my rear view mirror, but can't see anything behind me. I now have a choice. I can totally freak out, or I can trust. Most of us like to know things. We like to have control and think that we have options and the ability to make decisions quickly.
"I've decided to start my plant-based diet again," my friend says. "When did you stop?" I ask, confused. I love my animal protein. I just do. There's nothing like a juicy, organic T-bone to get me drooling. Yes, I am drooling as I'm typing. "GOOD FOR YOU FOR SAVING OUR SWEET ANIMALS AND NOT EATING THEM!" another friend practically yells at us. "NOBODY SHOULD EVER EAT MEAT.
My last column about having an extra layer of stomach fat due to stress wasn't meant to be Part 1, but because my life has sufficiently flipped to the other extreme, I want to talk about what happens when stress becomes so great it causes you to lose weight. While stress produces cortisol, the stress hormone that can create instant stomach fat, it can also cause your digestive system to effectively shut down. You can't eat. You probably can't sleep. You have brain fog. You have anxiety.
My Munro peep-toe booties are so cute I wore them all day. The next morning I turned to get out of bed and felt a familiar pain in my lower back. I call it my, "Why did you wear heels again? You know that hurts me" pain. This has got to stop. I have to do something. We don't magically get more flexible and stronger as we age. Running? No, that makes me too tired and sweaty. Weights? No,they're too heavy and make my muscles sore. Yoga? That's the ticket.
"You're a lily-livered ninny muggin!" OK, those weren't her exact words, but they conveyed the feeling that she didn't like me very much. I was stunned. I hadn't done anything! I was just sitting here. I think I was even smiling. I feel like a broken record when I say that it appears the whole world has gone crazy lately. In the past three weeks, I've had no fewer than five people attack me out of the blue. Family, friends, strangers — apparently, I was fair game for most of Fargo and even some places in Minnesota. So I did what most people would do.
I turned 55 last week—double nickels. Dime Time. Although I've loved every age, I have always loved getting older. It may be that I'm the youngest of five sisters, and my husband is 10 years older, so no matter what happens, I'm always the baby in the group. At 55, I'm a spring chicken. Only when I stop to think for just a minute, this spring chicken is feeling a tad like an old bird these days. I'm now on the downward slide to 60, and that number is approaching middle age. It's a big number. It's a retirement age number.
Let's face it – if we did everything experts "tell" us to do, we wouldn't have time for anything else in our lives. Meditate, exercise, cook fresh, dance, laugh, relax, travel, read, study. "If you only ________, you'll live to be 100! You can run a marathon at 80! You'll never get sick again!"
I love being at the lake. All that open space, the birds singing in the early morning, the bats circling at sunset. I got dressed in my workout gear and started my day, moving chairs around, raking the weeds, weeding the flower beds and generally staying in constant motion. When I got out of the shower that afternoon I noticed a red patch on my upper stomach but assumed it was heat rash. The next day I noticed it was still red, but we had a cabin full of family and no time to think about it. By the time I got back home I decided to try my trusted homemade dandelion salve on it.
"I need to quit the health club," I told Amy. "I just don't get there. I ripped every muscle in my left shoulder last October, and just haven't been back." "Susie," Amy said softly, "you're not 20 anymore. You need to stretch. You need to do different exercises than when you were younger. I'm going to set you up with Pat. She's really good with people like you." OK, I made up that last phrase, "people like you," but that's how it felt.