Just Sayin’: Lessons Learned in the Last Six Months

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It seems like a terrible waste to have to wait until one is almost 80 years old to learn lessons that should have been part of one’s life experience from the beginning. The bright side of that coin being that if I were done learning life lessons, I’d be dead . . . whether or not I was in the ground.

Lesson #1. If you can flicker an eyelash, you can (horrible, dreaded word) exercise. Exercise is just another name for moving a muscle. And I’m not kidding, if all you can move is your eyelids, exercise the heck out of your eyelids. No matter how incapacitated one is, if you are able to move even the smallest muscle in your body, it will call on surrounding muscles to respond . . . . then build from there.

If nothing else, you’ll develop a heck of wink.

Lesson #2. There’s no such thing as too old. (Refer to lesson #1.) Are you bedridden, confined to a wheel chair, dependent on a walker or a cane? It doesn’t matter. Move whatever you can move. Move whichever muscle that is, until it is tired, then move it some more. Do it again tomorrow, or this afternoon, or two hours from now and try to add one or two repetitions.

Too difficult?  Makes you too tired? OK, do the same number of reps for a week, then increase by one or two or 10. Do whatever you can do as often as you can and as long as you can.

There. That is the most important part of the lesson. Now say it again. Repeat after me. Do whatever you can as often as you can and as long as you can.

Lesson #3. Help and support is vital, essential and also necessary.  It’s so nice to hear people say they are proud of you and tell you to keep up the good work, but the actively involved support of someone who will, day in and day out, look at your physical output and abilities objectively and has the knowledge to guide you into activities that will maximize your abilities, is crucial, invaluable and important.

Lesson #4. Yes, I know, usually that kind of involved support costs money. But each of us is so very worth it. Does that seem selfish?  No! . Investing in maximizing your physical health and well-being is one of the most unselfish things you can do. If you are bedridden or wheelchair bound, who will take care of you? If you fall and break something because your strength and balance is winnowing away, who will be responsible to help you? It will fall to either your kids, or some relative, or your bank account. So, it follows that the better your physical shape, the less of a burden you are on your family and society at large.  Yes, and even yourself.

Lesson #5. There is no such thing as one size fits all. We human beings are so locked in to comparisons. Why do I have to work so hard to reach that weight or do that many reps, or lift that many pounds when Betty Boop or Joe Jock on the next machine seems to be able to do all those things with so little effort? Why do I struggle to restrict what I eat when Lola Lovely can eat whatever she wants and never gain an ounce?

Doesn’t matter. DOES. NOT. MATTER! Your journey is YOUR journey. Your life lessons are YOUR life lessons. Just because that other person is driving their Ferrari body along on the freeway at a figurative 80 MPH doesn’t mean there isn’t value in riding your moped body down a country lane.  In fact, you just might be having the richer experience.

HA! Take  that, mirror on the wall.

And I would bet that there are many of you out there who are still learning important life lessons at whatever stage you are in life. Can I get an AMEN?

Thought for the day: No matter how slow you are walking, you’re walking faster than the guy on the couch! Yes, I read that somewhere. It’s not original, but so very true!

Adrienne Jacoby
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years. A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes … she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.
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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Hollyn Chase says:

    Bravo Adrienne! And thank you. All of this is so wise, and thank goodness, not about the election.

    I am reminded of my mother who had a form of adult onset muscular dystrophy. She spent the last 25 years of her life using a scooter, then an electic wheelchair. During this time she lived at a very nice adult community with an wonderful gym and pool, complete with a hoist to assist the less mobile in and out of the pool. Except she refused to be seen in a bathing suit and never used it. And she gradually became obese and became one of those large people on a scooter who people judge as too lazy to walk. So I would add, if I may, one more lesson. The right kind of people don’t care what you look like, and the wrong kind will judge you anyway. So, put on the bathing suit, or yoga pants, or sleeveless t-shirt–whatever–and keep moving.

  2. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    “Sitting is the new smoking.”  “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.”  These and others affirm what is written above. But
    “it” refers more broadly than to balance, tone and quality of life.  “Ain’t one of us gettin’ outta here alive.”  But why would anyone want to leave early when the means of staying longer are so readily available?

  3. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I would add to your list, as I am approaching 80, is how the internet has helped mental health in that whether it is blogging or playing on line games it keeps the mind from wasting away.  And the internet has helped get older folks outside by listing garage sales and auctions to hunt through.  I see several people my age at auctions in wheelchairs, with oxygen tanks and crutches who are active and enjoying it.  As Warren Buffet, who I actually met in his furniture store in Omaha, states “Invest in yourself”.  That is true whether one is 20 or 80.

  4. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    My husband’s high school reunion was last month.  There were some canes, some walkers, an oxygen tank or two, and some obvious added avoirdupois, but they were in the minority.  On the whole, those octogenarians were in pretty darn good shape.  We drove 500 miles to attend, and some came from as far away as Virginia; so as Cheyenne implied, getting out and being with people is also investing in oneself.

    Congratulations, Adrienne, on learning these lessons even in your 70’s.  May we ask about your health progress?  Are your clothes a bit looser?  We’ve all cheered for Doni when she updates us; now we can include you, too.

  5. I like to say: “We’ve learned a few things in fifty-some years on this planet.” And yep, the lessons keep piling on — when we are willing to learn them.

    One lesson I keep learning? “Listen to people who are willing to keep learning.” Love your take on things!

  6. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    This goes along with your “keep moving” theme:  Don’t lie when you can sit; don’t sit when you can stand; don’t stand when you can walk.

  7. Avatar cheyenne says:

    One of my favorite sayings is something about how an eighteen year old boy turning nineteen is amazed at how much his parents learned in one year.

  8. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    Thank you for an inspiring article Adrienne.  Everything you wrote is true.  The irony about exercise is that the more a person really needs it, the harder it is to do.  When my 84 year old friend Ray was in rehab after an operation, he approached his exercise with enthusiasm because he knew that the sooner he got stronger, the sooner he would go home.   While I was with him though, I saw on the some of the client’s faces the same look I remember from gym class.  “I hate exercising.  Why are you making me do this!  Am I done?  Now am I done?” If exercising seems difficult when you’re young and fit, it’s much more difficult when you’re older or are in pain.  I so admire you Adrienne for all you’ve accomplished.


  9. Avatar Mike Ferrier says:

    Sweet and wonderful Lady!  It has been 320 weeks now since I started writing my own Lessons For Life.  Each week the topics present themselves and I have to narrow down more often than go searching. May the lessons never end. Just keep Sayin’

    I pay myself for each cup of coffee I drink. They cost 25 push-ups, yes, even at work.  Sometimes I even tip myself.

  10. Avatar Barbara Stone says:

    Right on, AJ!

  11. Avatar Jorgi says:

    AJ, I have always admired you and this article is just one of the reasons. Keep goin’, Girl – you rock!

  12. Avatar Jan Gandy says:

    Amen, AJ.  Keep on keepin’ on.

  13. Avatar Sue says:

    Thank you Adrienne,  this is great.  An investment of my time and money to keep my mobility is so important to me and I am grateful for your inspiring words.

  14. Andrea Charroin Andrea Charroin says:

    AJ!!!  Such astounding advice!!!  An investment in your health is the greatest gift to yourself.  Thank you for sharing!!!