Sunday, February 17, 2019

Presidential Adventures

The world is a book,
and those who do not travel read only one page."
St. Augustine

A complete wall in the George and Laura Bush Presidential Library is dedicated to reading, and this wall captured by attention .

How do we remember our presidents? As little child I heard and repeated this knock knock joke, and to this day it still makes no sense.

"Knock Knock."
"Who's there?"
"Eisenhower who?"
"Eisenhower late to work this morning." 

I may not have known the meaning or context of that joke, but I did know that he was our President and fought in World War II. My parents much admired him for his service and dedication to our country, and he also loved to play golf which kept him on my childhood radar. When dad talked about Eisenhower or Truman mother often brought up Maimie and Bess.  It seems relevant now as I reflect that the first two Presidential Libraries that Jack and I visited belonged to Eisenhower then Truman and there is no comparison between the two. 

On a cold February day we drove to Abilene, Kansas and toured a building that looked much like a vault, but oh, the glorious beauty that was hidden inside those concrete walls can only be compared to the Queen's jewels. The Eisenhower's were the last presidential family to receive  so many elaborate gifts that stunned my eyes. (No photos, sadly) The contrast of seeing his war stories displayed, the golden jewel studded gifts, and then his humble boyhood home compelled me to think of my parents and the respect they showed our 
Presidents. Eisenhower slide show
 Boxcar, the plane that dropped
the bombs on Nagasaki.
Air Museum, Dayton, Ohio

Our tour of the Truman library seemed very subdued, but perhaps it is the history stored there that causes that feeling.  I was teaching at Truman Elementary (1995) in Norman when a group of Japanese teachers spent a week in Norman and visited our school.  I will never forget the eye contact I made with the interrupter when she looked up and saw the name "Truman" on the front of the school. She looked right at me before she spoke. All I could do was nod, as fifty-three years of history passed before our eyes. 

A silkscreen done meticulously thread by
thread creating a 3D effect.
The art and honesty in the Jimmy Carter library captured our hearts, as it stated over and over the anguish men and women of a nation's leadership go through before making decisions that will affect the lives of citizens. He also gave tribute to those who had gone before him, and shared his family with us as we walked through. His library seem to vibrate with intelligence, distinguished people, and worldly issues. 

The layers upon layers of history are told bravely and orderly in the Clinton
library. To me, it showed the gut of history but not the heart of the Clinton's. Clinton Library

Such contrasts we found between the finely manicured landscapes of several libraries and the native feel and appearance of George H.Bush's landscape where country is captured in the city. It truly felt free and open with a strong reverence for nature. 
George W. Bush Library

Our hearts broke the day we visited the George H.W. Bush library for Barbara had died only weeks before, and we found ourselves drifting to the family cemetery on the library grounds. One by one families paid their respect to Barbara and the daughter we never knew. We stood at her graveside with respect and admiration not only for her and her family, but for their love of country.

No matter which library we visit, it is the touch of humanity, irony, reflection, and loss that seems to touch us the most.  Even though it is their history, it is OUR history, too. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Younger Longer--A Stronger Core

Modified planks. These do not hurt
 my wrist or shoulders. Be sure to 
tighten the core belly button to bra line
first then lift with the core, not back. 
Will Rogers often remarked, "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there," or as I prefer to think, "Even if you are sitting on the right track, the longer you sit the sooner you age." Some weeks I steam along like a train engine, then one day I am slammed with a hitch in my get-a-long and look like an engine chugging till the gas runs out. Thinking the heating pad is all I need I sit and ache in comfort, until at last I stand up go to the gym or call the doctor and arrange for a Physical Therapy prescription.  These are the gray days when  I argue with myself about exercising versus sitting and napping. (Confession. I let the naps win, but not the sitting.) A stronger core is my new mantra for life.

Many of us who prefer to be called "Perennial" adults excuse our weak core muscles because of our lack of knowledge when we were younger.  I didn't know about sit ups until 9th grade PE. I didn't like them then, but now I know how to do them properly. For all I did right in the last 50 years by lifting weights, walking miles to seek fresh air, and playing golf, I rarely strengthened my jelly belly tummy muscles enough to keep my back in shape.

While I lived in Hutchinson, Kansas I joined a Pilate's program that serves as my ONE reminder that I can be strong again or stronger.  Like using technology, change comes our way and we can discover in any decade how to think with a clearer mind, walk with better posture, eat healthy meals, or to play a sport all with the help of a strong core because a strong core binds us like a bullet proof jacket stabilizing the spine, the lower back, and our vital organs. Sadly, we don't all have a bullet proof jacket stabilizing us internally so that balance and core go hand in hand. Younger Longer--Finding Balance

Research has shown that regular exercise can slow down the physiological aging clock and keep us young longer, what is the core?

Essentially, the core consists of everything within a person's center of gravity, all areas of the abdominal, the back, the glutes, and beyond. Exercising these muscles means to exercise an area that is part of the core musculature.   Core defined for conversation  

Notice that my hands are pointing to the area that I need to be conscious of tightening. I pretend my belly button and tailbone squeeze to meet each other. Then with the glutes tight and the lower back flat on the floor I lift my legs up and I hold them in a 90 degree angel for 30 seconds, three times. (leg curl) 

Now with a little more knowledge (from Physical Therapy) and a conscious mind set that draws daily attention to my core, posture, and gait I am moving with more ease. After three weeks of exercising thirty to sixty minutes a day three to five days a week, and stretching my old tight muscles or using a foam roller on them I feel physical and nervous relief. Attention to my mind set helps me create tension in my core, and I stand confidently taller. 

Why is it important to develop and maintain a strong core after age fifty? Through the working years of thirty to 70 sedentary adults may experience as much as 30-40% loss of muscular strength as a result of reduced levels of muscle mass making us prone to injury and illness. Strength Training Moves for Women over 50 


How do we create a stronger core at our age? My suggestion is to talk with a doctor or physical therapist first if pain is the issue. Otherwise, consider exercises such as, bridges, leg curls, and planks, every other day. My basic pictures show these exercises. 

As parents and grandparents we find ourselves needing a strong back (core) so we can enjoy lifting and hugging our grandchildren. For those of us who enjoy sports at all levels, gardening, walking, or running we do not need to be highly trained and fit athletes, but we do need a strong core to lift, twist, bend, walk, run, swing, or get down on the floor and back up gracefully.  The Mayor Clinic website offers the best options on core exercises beginning with the basic (easiest). Click on this link for pictures: Mayo Clinic Core Exercises 

The icy brown tones of winter. 
Winter is the deepest darkest time for me, and I tend to slip into anxiety over my aging body, asking questions of myself and my abilities to walk purposefully instead of hunkered over, will I be able to compete on the golf course, will the weeds win in my garden or will I be able to bend and pull them.  These are such minor worrisome issues, but they suck away my confidence.

Last summer I set a calendar reminder on my phone for 7:30 pm every night. It reads, "30 minutes of exercise or 10,000 steps." If I achieve my goal that day I delete the reminder and smile to myself.  At the end of each week or month I look back and count all the times I deleted the reminder.  It has become the best self-confidence and smile booster for me in the last decade.  

I believe self-confidence shows in how we walk and greet others and strong core strength doubles the confidence to help us stay Younger Longer. Good Luck.