Janet Sheridan: How I spend my mornings
January 18, 2018
I woke up early, collected my sleep-fogged wits, wandered downstairs and looked out the kitchen window. Night shadows still darkened the backyard, where a doe and two fawns, ears on alert and eyes wide, peered through the back gate as though hoping to hear, "Good to see you. Why don't you come on in and have all the tree bark you'd like?"
I sipped coffee and watched the deer until, disappointed with our lack of hospitality, they sauntered away in search of a more hospitable breakfast cafe. Without the diversion they provided, I could no longer postpone the inevitable, so I reluctantly began the morning routine I've followed since reaching the age where strangers feel compelled to call me "honey."
I took pills, rinsed my sinuses, dressed in exercise clothes and donned compression stockings — a task akin to working a flexed boa constrictor up my leg. Next, I strapped on my Garmin watch so I'd know how fast and far I didn't walk and pulled on a coat, hat and gloves. After grabbing my phone, several tissue and pepper spray for menacing dogs, I finally exited the house for my morning walk, exhausted from my preparations.
Fifty minutes later, I followed my walk with balance exercises prescribed by my physical therapist, prolonged stretching prescribed by common sense, a nutritious breakfast that would never be voted Best of Moffat County and enough dental cleansing to make a hygienist weep. Then basic grooming, a quick change of clothes and by 11 o'clock, I was ready to get on with my day.
Before age kicked in and demanded my attention and time, I woke up at the same time I do now, exercised for thirty minutes, ate and showed up at work in a presentable state at 7:30.
My extended morning routine developed in response to my realization that, with luck, my brain could chug along fine, but my body probably wouldn't: parts of it were showing signs of wear, and I didn't come equipped with spares.
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I take comfort in knowing medical advances may not help me live forever, but they can ease the living I have left to do. Over the years, doctors have cured my ulcers with antibiotics, regulated my sluggish thyroid with a tiny pill, kept me from being the little old lady who drove into Denny's by implanting a pacemaker and, most recently, improved my vision.
After my cataract surgery, aptly described by the anesthesiologist as "blink-and-you'll-miss- it" I saw, for the first time, a large, uneven depression in one of the slate tiles on my bathroom counter — a tile installed two years before. Then, when I walked around City Park, I marveled at the crisp details and vibrant colors I hadn't see for a while.
Preparing dinner, I could see well enough to judge how much seasoning I added and found the results more pleasing than when I simply shook spice containers until my hand grew tired. I threaded a needle without using profanity and told my husband he's much better looking than I realized, which seemed to please him.
I also noticed my furniture needed dusting and my wrinkles looked more like chasms, but those discoveries seemed unimportant compared to the increased beauty and ease of my world now I no longer peer through a cloud.
Because I want to age as well as possible, in addition to as long as possible, I'm motivated to nurture my body, seek the help of medical professionals when needed and follow their advice.
I think of it as enriching my life and increasing my odds.
Sheridan's book, "A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns," is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at auntbeulah.com on the first and 15th of every month.