Thoughts on my core!

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Every morning, unless I’m in a plane or staying in a hotel with small rugs and wood floors, I put a yoga mat on the floor and endure approximately 15 minutes of exercises. Most of them are to help my core, and by doing that, presumably, my balance, stability, endurance and back strength.  Some of them are teeth-gnashingly hard (like side planks), but the goal is to get stronger, and, as we all know, muscles don’t do that without a bit of effort.

I get that it’s not as much fun as sleeping later or skipping both exercise and sleep in exchange for a more leisurely breakfast.  That’s obviously not a good plan if you want to try to preserve your mobility, not be intimidated by flights of stairs and able to pick up objects heavier than a toothbrush.

So invest in a yoga mat and search online for core exercises on reliable sites like the Mayo Clinic or the NIH. You should obviously check with your doctor before doing anything.  But if you get the green light, make it as much a part of your morning toilette as brushing your teeth.  

“Would you like a seat?”

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Every once in a while, someone offers me a seat on the subway as I stand hovering over him.  I always say, “Thanks so much” and immediately sit down as soon as the good samaritan vacates the coveted space.  However, if I had a nickel for every friend who has admitted to being thrown into an existential crisis by the offer, I’d have several nickels.

It seems that in some people’s thinking, being offered a seat by a younger person is tantamount to looking old, even if you haven’t self-identified as an elderly person.  One friend said that she got on a subway one day when she thought she looked “pretty good”, was offered a seat and promptly felt miserable and insulted. She declined the offer. I told her she was pretty crazy to do that but apparently her self-image and self-esteem had been dealt a blow.

I suppose we all have our flash points. I was insulted this afternoon when I gave a dollar to a middle-aged subway musician who had lugged a keyboard aboard the #1 train and asked for money after he played.  As I handed him the dollar he said, “Thanks, grandma.” Now, I happen to be a grandmother and am delighted when my grandchildren, all 5 and under, call me “Grammy”.  But I didn’t feel old enough to be this middle-aged guy’s grandmother.  I was going to ask for my dollar back.

 

 

 

Never Look Anyone in the Eye on the Subway!

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The NYC subways are interesting places.  I ride the subways quite a lot but I have certain self-imposed survival rules that I follow and am happy to share.  I will rarely ride the subways after 10:00 pm.  My subway curfew has actually been dramatically extended in recent years as memories of the ‘bad old 1970’s’ in the city recede from memory.  Many of us remember the headline in the Daily News in 1975 that read: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”  I would limit my subway riding in that era to daylight hours.

It’s certainly better living here now and taking the subways, if you overlook the occasional random beating over the head with a metal pipe (that happened to someone last night on the #2 train near Chambers Street) or the occasional pushing of some random stranger onto the track by a deranged person or the odd stabbing.

The best approach is to try to never look at anyone, or, in any event, never look for more than a second or two.

I bury my head in a newspaper or focus intently on reading my Kindle. I always have an existential struggle when someone gets on the train to make a loud and impassioned appeal for money about whether to look, or not look, at that person.  If you look, he or she might expect a donation which I don’t usually give. (A fellow on the #1 train last week made just such a loud and impassioned appeal for money or food, saying he was “extremely hungry”, but had on what looked like the nicest new pair of sneakers.)  However, if you don’t look, maybe he or she will reach for a metal  pipe.

That said, my advice is simply to keep your head down and look as though you absolutely must finish whatever you’re reading.  Then, when the announcement comes over the train loudspeaker encouraging you, “If you see something, say something”, you can report with incredible precision any activity you might see on the subway floor.

 

Bye, bye fashion statements!

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There are definitely women (primarily) who remain determined to be fashionable into their golden years but, as for me,  I’m erring on the side of comfort.  I’m giving in to all those body parts that are expressing their pain and indignation over abuses I’ve caused them over many decades.

Feet are a case in point.

I remember as a teenager and young woman wearing the worst shoes imaginable for foot health.  If there are any young women reading this–listen up.  High heels with constricting pointy toes or flip-flops without much between you and the sidewalk aren’t great.  Which brings me to the present, and visits to “sensible” shoes stores in Manhattan, where (sadly) I can buy my comfy shoes.

Those Subway Stairs!

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The stairs in NYC subway stations are an interesting athletic challenge, especially if you’re pregnant or, shall we say, of a certain age.

Not everyone is challenged.  There are 80 and, I believe, 90 year olds still running in the NYC Marathon.  For the rest of us mortals, the stairs, which can be extremely narrow in some stations, require that we keep up the pace, especially if behind us are subway riders with either better lung capacity or more flexible knee joints, who can ascend more quickly.  The problem is particularly acute during rush hours, when impatience to get to an office on time or meet a date for dinner is palpable.

So my advice to my Wrinkles friends who might find this a problem: avoid rush hours, subway stations with narrow stairways (the 72nd Street westside IRT has stairways that are one lane only!) or intensify your aerobic workouts to better keep up with the crowd.

A Humorous Look at Getting Older in New York City

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Six years ago, I moved to the Upper West Side in Manhattan, a neighborhood that could be described as a NORC, or naturally occurring retirement community.  As described in Wikipedia,  “A naturally occurring retirement community (NORC; /nɔːrk/) is a term used to describe a community that has a large proportion of residents over 60 but was not specifically planned or designed to meet the needs of seniors living independently in their homes.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m part of that demographic, even though I can still jog along Riverside Drive (and terrify small dogs) and haven’t graduated to a walker or a cane yet, like so many of my neighbors.

This blog will attempt to capture some of the humor still possible to find as we deal with getting older–especially in New York City, which, honestly, can be the best place and the worst place in which to do that.