00:00 You’re listening to the live happier longer podcast, episode 27.
00:15 Welcome to the live happier longer podcast. We’re your hosts, Molly watts and Angela McDade. We are here to help you build the habits of the happier, longer life starting now..
00:28 Hey Angela. Hi Molly. How are you? This fine Tuesday. I am doing well yourself. I’m, I’m doing okay. Thank you so much after the holiday Monday. Yeah, holiday Monday was nice. Um, I am so excited today about our podcast guest. I’m going to say that she was, is likely are most reluctant podcast guests yeah. Today. But, um, having her on is just was great fun because she really is a five for lifer. Yeah, exactly. And a good example of how to age with optimism and she’s doing it by really living out our five daily actions. Even though she doesn’t, she didn’t, she didn’t want to say that she really was good at, at all of them, but she’s, she’s mindfully and intentionally doing it. And, and she has, uh, she tells us herself about a lot of challenges she’s had in her life. So it’s not that she has breezed through life and he or she is in this wonderful, you know, blissful life. She, she is actively working at it doing all these different things. So yeah, she has a fantastic blog which we’re going to talk about as well. And here’s our conversation with Susie Gammon.
01:42 Hi Suzy. Hi Suzy.
01:45 Hello. How are you? Good.
01:48 Good. Awesome. We are so happy to get to talk with you today. We just gave a little bit of your description and your bio and just excited to talk to you about your experience writing the aging time bomb blog. There’s not a lot of 75 year olds that are out there writing blogs. I mean in and of itself. Just the fact that you are taking this on and doing it says something about you. What inspired you to decide to write a blog? When did you write, when did you start by the way?
02:22 I started thinking about it, I think maybe in uh, 2015 I was the local kid helping my mother die. You know, there’s always one sort of on first. And you know, I was at the senior center a lot and I saw her friends who had awe, tried to do their best to stay healthy and alert. That’s things start falling apart. You know, decrepitude creeps in and you know, I thought I might want to blog, um, with a little humor about what you can’t control about the process aging, which is a lot of it actually. I mean, you can control a lot, you can control your attitude, you can do your best to be healthy. But I think I intended, now it’s gone completely in a different direction, but I intended to try to look at it from a different side.
03:19 So it started one way and now it’s headed, it’s headed in a different direction. Is that.
03:25 That’s. That’s fair. Yeah.
03:28 Is that is that, I mean, so was that a catharsis, kind of a, a product of actually writing the blog that kind of took you along a journey and you, and you started decide to, you know, change the direction organically? Or did it just really kind of more it, it became something that was for you, something you wanted to do?
03:47 Well, for me, honestly, I started out from an academic perspective and I lived near a university and I headed over to do library research and, you know, I have a nerd background. So that was sort of an easy approach for me to take. And I realized my writing was just dreadfully boring. It was really boring. So then I took a community education writing class and in that, um, because the teacher felt a common denominator for everybody at every age would be to write little stories in class about a to prompts that often were from our childhood.
04:29 Uh, and I realized when that was happening and we would share in class, I had a come to moment. I mean, I thought, oh my God, I am not going to do this. I’m not going to share, I can’t do it. I can’t remember. I don’t want to remember. And to go blah, Blah Blah and class and then share it without thinking and editing was really a miserable experience, you know, but I’m not a person that quits. I decided to stick it out. And in doing so I realized I probably did need to look back. So that’s the way it goes. So right now the blog has observations about aging and good things that I see, you know, a walking devotion was that recent one. But I’m also going back and, um, you know, poking around at, uh, the past.
05:28 Right. And things that are harder challenges or things that you need to work on. We, you know, we mentioned to you, um, our five daily actions and that daily action number five is let go. And it is a process. It’s not a, you know, it’s not something that I think we’re all naturally just doing. You know, it’s something that’s a mindful intention. And it sounds like you’re kind of, you’re, you’re working on that. Yeah.
05:55 Well, you know, I think letting go of the harms that were done to you and have poor decisions you made and so forth. I mean, there’s a lot of that that has to happen, but, but if you have buried a shame or heartache or real disasters, and I have, I wrote on my blog, um, I think a poem about, uh, the scab, the scabby quilted I had and how between the welts of the scabs where it’s healed over, you know, it’s still a little oozes out. And I think that, um, letting go with a big scabby exterior maybe not be your best move. You know, I think you may have to go back and not pick it scabs, but allow scabs to dissolve. And maybe the best way to do that is, you know, it different for everybody, that’s for sure. But I had to let some scabs start dissolving.
06:54 And I think they’ll, part of letting go is actually recognizing that there’s something to let go. So, so that you have it buried and you’re not looking at it, but it’s there, you know. So if you, if you go back and as you say, you kinda poke around and dig it up, then you, then you can look at it, see how you feel about it and work through it. And it’s not until you do that , that you can, you can then let it go and it has to be brought to the surface first.
07:22 You know, and some decisions, I had horrible consequences for sure. And you’re living still with the consequences and other people who were affected by them, uh, are so there’s part of that you’ll never let go of. But if, um, I think you can look at them and cradle them and hold them in your heart for what they are with out a scabbing over them. Does that make sense? I mean, you know, you just, yeah, and I think that for some of us, um, we’re going to age more gracefully and more at peace if we are willing to let a few scabs dissolve.
08:13 Yeah. When we say let go, I guess sometimes let go. It could be the wrong way of phrasing it. It’s more about not continuing to hold on to the negative emotions that we often put upon ourselves. That kind of the shame and the guilt and the, you know, the, the fear and the regret and those kinds of things. It’s really more about, I think being compassionate with your, with yourself and your, your life and being able to reflect on things and understand that, you know, the past has happened and there are consequences and you have to, you know, yeah. You can’t continue to live with that. And then your words to move on, move on peacefully. It’s not so much that you’re letting go and saying, oh, it was okay. You, you’re dealing with it and you’re now living with it and you’re at peace is probably a great way to phrase it.
09:17 And in my case, um, you know, another one of your things reaching here, issues as reaching out and I left a religion that really gave me a lot of plug and play friends and I just decided I couldn’t adhere anymore as an old person. So then, and people in that culture certainly knew my history. But as I’m reaching out hiking with new people in a car, and, uh, a question would come Susie, how did your son die? And you know, then you kind of professionally, you can always avoid that. You know, you play hot potato.
10:01 Somebody asks you a question about your family and I’m right back on him. I only have, you know, I have two kids at home. How about you? Are they in college? Where did they go to? You will never get the question back on me. But in a situation where I’m now old and I’m developing new friends and new relationships playing a game of hot potato, I don’t know if I describe it well, you asked me a question and you will never get another question back at me. Playing hot potato is not going to really help you out too much to have, you know, I mean, you need to be empathetic with other people in. You need to find out about your lives, but you let, you need to give them a sense of yours too, in an honest way. Not Dot all the dirt. Not everything by any means, but um.
10:54 Yeah, deflecting isn’t going to help build any relationships.
11:00 No, I mean you don’t have to bare your soul, but, um, you can’t be an artful deflector and forever it literally as you age, I mean, you won’t have the energy as an old person cognitively to do that in an old folks home, you know, wherever you find you may be a, it takes energy to deflect. And, um, so that was another sort of issue that I had to confront. Um, and that was happening along with, uh, the time, um, after my mother passed because I had more time and time to then start reflecting on my own aging, building friends and relationships.
11:47 Well that’s even, I mean, that’s pretty incredible to just that decision and, and to start forming, you know, new friendships and reaching out and, and we do talk about that in our daily action. Number three, share. Because you know, people, people need people. Yeah, they do. And sometimes when faced with a situation like that where you are the only care provider for your dying parent and going through that process, that kind of situation can cause you to want to become isolated and not reach out. You know? And so that’s a, and it’s a, it’s a problem for people as they age. So Kudos to you for, you know, for taking that step and wanting to go engage with other people and share your story and share that, that bond because it actually does. It’s proven to help you.
12:37 I haven’t shared it much and you know, I probably will share it more in writing, but I need to know how I got there actually to make that dreadful decisions. So, you know, I will be going back, you know, when you talk about sharing, I mean there, there are other issues for old when you get old. I mean, part of it is I’m partnered but we’re aging in different directions, in different paces. I mean, his health allows him to do one thing, not some of the things he did throughout his life. Mine allows me to do others. Um, our interests have changed with more discretionary time, less overlap on needing to do with family. So even though I’m partnered, um, I think we’re both working at figuring out how to make lives we share rich with connections to other people and other activities, you know, I don’t know if that, and the other challenge is you work at it and then people move, they get hurt. I mean, um, social network changes pretty rapidly. It can, it is your older, so that’s another issue.
13:55 Well, keeping up, keep just like you said, keeping to work at it is something that we encourage people to do. And if we say it’s an actionable habit, you know, and I think again, you probably, you know, when we talk to people like you who are, these are really living examples of our five daily actions and working at it and living mindfully, it’s easy to think that, oh, that’s just, that’s just the way it is. It just comes naturally. It actually doesn’t, there’s a lot of people, a lot of people that are aging that really struggle with all of our five daily actions are part of them. Or one of them or two of them. And so being an inspiration in that way. And just like I said, even just writing a blog, starting the blog, and I know you mentioned to me via email, not only the, the writing class, but learning how learning WordPress! Has been, right? It’s not easy.
14:57 Yeah. For your listeners that don’t know what WordPress is, I think a lot of blogs and personal websites are based on software called WordPress. And I mean, just to get going on that a bit, I signed up for community college class. Um, I have a Mac. It was a PC lab. I was translating language between PC and Mac with a lot younger, um, people and my gosh, I mean I got through college calculus and everything with a slide rule. I think I had three kids before handheld computers came out, I’m not digital savvy, by any means. And I, I got pretty discouraged with the class and I got a website up and going, but then I wanted to change it. I couldn’t remember how, and I got an wingding expert in WordPress. And then, you know, the time lag and he’d interpret. And so finally I got a Udemy online class that I could go back and repeat and repeat and save and, um, started afresh and got my own a website up and running. But I think when you’re older and a lot of this isn’t, um, anything that you’re familiar with, it’s all new, you’re going to have to keep your sense of humor. If you can’t keep up and figure out a way to skin it another way, you know.
16:21 That’s, that’s, I mean, yeah, but I, and we’re, we’re big fans of Udemy too, we love Udemy. So that’s, uh, you know, we can, we can relate because whether you’re 75 or in your 50s, it, our website has been, um, challenge, nothing short of challenging. And yes, WordPress is, is, uh, and then they changed. It came out. Oh yeah. Anyway. Um, yeah, so all of it. I know, right, exactly. But you get, you’ve gotten, I mean, that’s then daily action number two, learn. I mean, all of that is helping you keep your brain active, your brain younger. It’s, it’s forcing you to use those synapses and actually create new pathways, which, you know, I’m sure even in the frustration of the part of the learning it does, you know, there’s, there’s benefit happening right there. And then,
17:13 You know, I think I wrote a blog post about that, that there is good research that just sitting in doing crosswords if that’s what you’re good at isn’t going to help you. Um, your brain as much as making it hurt.
17:27 Yeah. WordPress made it hurt.
17:29 It hurt to talk to apple care or it hurts every time I, you know, it hurts to do what you have to keep your sense of humor and say, that’s the way it is.
17:43 Yeah. And you always have to keep pushing yourself just that little bit. Yeah. You know, all the time. Yeah. Of, so last year you had to have back surgery. You’ve mentioned that you are in a hiking, you know, you’re, you’re hiking with people. So, and I know that your fitness or staying healthy and fit is something that’s pretty important to you. So talk to us a little bit about that and about your surgery and about that daily action, number one, move. How you continue to keep, keep doing it.
18:14 Well, you know, I think for all of us, um, so your five items, everybody’s going to have strengths at some and you know, find themselves challenged and my strength would be moving because really I had a life where I didn’t feel that I had a ton of control about other things, but I could get out the door and move occasionally. I could, I, I have re, you know, if I, I have resistance bands on the doorway here, you know, I mean, there were things you can do at home, you can manage your fitness one way or another. And um, I did, so I’m lucky in that I hit the need for back surgery and a terrible amount of pain. I was in pretty good shape before I had the surgery and so forth. You know, things deteriorated. But I’m getting back, you know, I, I had a PT assessment yesterday, I probably will be able to downhill ski again. I’m pretty excited about that.
19:22 Yeah, you should be!
19:23 So, yeah, you know, I can cross country ski now, but that’s pretty boring. So, um, and you know, uh, when I was 65, I went to a crazy religious boarding school. Girls had to wear skirts and we couldn’t compete in anything. And part of my fitness is I live by a university and the local running club holds a 5K there every year on the hilly trails. It’s very rural, a part the campus on the hilly trails. And I saw it one year when I was 64 and said, I walk as fast as some of those racers, because it’s an all age race. And so I signed up for a class at a local shoe company and worked my butt off for a year to run one race at 65 and I had times I was hoping to get and I was just basically competing against myself, but I wanted to compete in my best. So I think that that was a decade ago going into back surgery, I had that to look back on and say, okay, I started out with 14 minute miles. I got it down to 10, you know, I, you know, I will never be 10 minute mile again. I can, I can start over.
20:50 Wow. Well, yeah, and even, I mean, downhill skiing, that’s, you know, I mean,
20:55 I don’t know if I’ll do it, you know, I don’t know if it’ll come, but boy he said he would not blocks at this point after I sit on my strength, lateral strength tests and everything. So, um, you know, it just, I think when you’re older you’ve, it’s good to have something as a carrot even if you don’t do it.
21:20 Yeah. We’ve talked to, we’ve talked a lot about that recently, actually. Carrots, just having that focus ahead of you to move forward towards. The goal and having to putting your own, you know, and the carrot is different for everybody, but it’s a personal carrot and you, whatever it is you set yourself, you know, you putting that out there helps. It helps you create that habit of, you know, working with your resistance bands or doing whatever you need to do to get yourself back in shape and, and reach the goal.
21:50 Yeah. I mean, I didn’t, I didn’t ever want to race again. It wasn’t good for a bunion and I sure didn’t want bunion surgery. But, um, there were a lot of benefits from just having it as a goal.
22:04 Yeah. You, like I said, you really are, in my opinion, a great example of someone that is, you know, mindfully trying to age with optimism and taking things on, doing, you know, the five daily actions, move, learn, share, give, let go. We didn’t talk a lot yet about gratitude, but tell us, I’m sure I really haven’t met, uh, to be honest, haven’t met too many people that are, um, living the kind of life that you’re living, that aren’t grateful for what, what they have and where they are.
22:40 You know, I think that, um, gratitude, you’re right? I think that if you’re out there, uh, trying and taking risks and trying to keep your sense of humor as things fall apart and change, um, gratitude is the best thing you’ve got going for you. You know, whatever you have. And it’s, that is something, um, that you can practice mindfully when not much is going well. I mean we all have the opportunity, uh, to be it grateful. Not in a a petty way, but in a really meaningful way. I mean, we may have to think about people who have passed. We may have to think about, um, you know, this, that, or the other thing. If we’re having a bond, a gratitude meditation, but we, every one of us can do that, can focus on gratitude. I think it’s just a big bonus. For our souls really.
23:47 Yeah. And I think is a mindset thing. Even as you see when things are changing and fallen apart, if you can find, find the good that’s in your life, it just, it gives you that uplift that you, you might need in a bad situation. So it’s really important to, to look for it and find it and seek it out. Yeah. And we talk about that a lot. We’d our five daily actions, we don’t, we don’t, you know, try to encourage people to do this as a way of avoiding the things that are going to those, that falling, you know, those natural parts of aging that are going to happen. And the negative things that are going to come along the way because that’s, that is a part of life. You know, things change and things happen. But if you practice moving, learning, sharing, giving, letting go, you’re going to be in the best position that you can be when they come along. So, you know, and that to me is exactly what is exactly what you’re doing and exactly where you’re going. And I know that you, you were, let’s say that reluctance, you were very, you were trepidatious about how talking.
24:59 Oh I was reluctant!
25:02 Flat out reluctant.
25:04 Yeah. I mean I, I certainly put a time lag and responding to you. I certainly put a date out there that wasn’t immediate. I didn’t have gratitude in my heart about the person that recommended me, even though I love her dearly. You know. No, you can say reluctance,
25:32 But now at the, at the end of this, uh, at the end of this discussion, do you think it was a good thing to do and are you happy you did it?
25:44 Oh, of course. Yeah. Anytime you do something that uh, uncomfortable, we can sure say that it was. Yeah, it’s a good thing. Yeah.
25:58 Well hopefully I think that people are going to come find you. So again, your blog is www.agingtimebomb.com and they can come and find you and read all about your aging with a little bit of a little sense of humor and some really great stories along the way as well.
26:16 You know, honestly, I don’t think many people know about that. I mean, you may know you get a ton of, of um, bots signing up for your website and so it’s better for me to just, uh, I think that not many people know and I honestly do believe that. And so that was another, another reason because I don’t see typos and I don’t see edits. It’s, you know, I thought, oh, only my friends see this. Um, but I’m happy to have people go to it and just know that it has flaws. And at some point maybe I’ll feel like I’m doing a better job of it and I’ll try to make it more well known. But in the meantime, look at it with a little loving kindness.
27:04 The other thing as well, there’ll be stories in there, and it may not be exactly someone’s story, but there’ll be part of it that they’ll be able to relate to and it might, you know, it might nudge them along a road that, that they need to go as well. So, yeah. So, so you sharing your stories, it can definitely benefit other people as well.
27:24 I, I hear that when I get in the car with some hikers, sometimes times who said have read it and I thought, oh my God, I told him I’m saying that to myself. But yeah, I hope so. Yeah. I hope it’s good for somebody soul.
27:41 I think if it’s not just yours, I’m sure that it’s others. It’s, yeah. Yeah. It’s not just you. So thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today for sharing your story and for continuing to, to, you know, move, learn, share given, let go. Yeah.
28:00 Yeah. And thanks for that framework. I appreciate it.
28:04 Thanks Susie.
28:06 Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. Now it’s time to move, learn, share, and let go. Five daily actions to make the rest of your life the best of your life. See you next week.
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