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Finding Joy in Life

It's no surprise that following your passion is important for both brain health and happiness. Studies suggest that having a good reason for what you do can improve your mood and memory and protect against mental decline. One of my passions is gardening, and I love digging in the soil to plant new flowers. What's yours? Visit AARP® Staying Sharp® for more brain health information.

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Periodic Contributor

I am grateful everyday for my retirement at 55. I planned financially for early retirement, and I ended up taking early retirement due to autoimmune disease disability. Now I take each day at my own pace, that is a gift! I do what brings me joy and avoid worry. Most of my life revolves around improving my medical condition. I could not have been able to be where I am health wise if I was still working. I imagine I would likely be in a wheelchair, so focusing on my emotional and physical well being gives me joy, allows me to be a more involved grandparent and see that I can have a future beyond the limitations of a bad day/days with a flair.

Conversationalist

We love to spend as much time with our kids and grandkids as possible The pandemic really put a hold on things, especially with the grandkids. We can't wait to take them out for "adventures" again, such as hikes in the woods and bike rides on the trails. We also can't wait to have sleepovers for them at our home again, where we set up a tent in the living room with sleeping bags. They love it! So don't their parents, who get a free night at their home! Family time is the joy in our lives.

Silver Conversationalist

@AARPMaggie , Such a great topic! Always admire someone with a green thump.   I am passionate about helping and encouraging others.  Whether that's providing a home cooked meal to someone; baking muffins; making a homemade card; customizing a poem for a loved one;  looming a hat for the homeless, premature babies or people going through chemo and volunteering in the community.  Christine

Contributor

I've come to the conclusion that all I want from life is to be happy. So I do what makes me happy even though "society" often considers them time wasting. I'm pretty spontaneous about it. If I look out the window on a sunny day (or snowfall) and think, I wish I was out there, I'll grab my wife and take a walk of go sit in the park. Maybe I'll go brush the neighbors cat since I don't have one (he likes that too). Text or call one of my sons. Sometimes even house cleaning or home repair when I feel like it since these give me a sense of accomplishment. Exercise which makes me feel energized after. Dinner at a nice restaurant. A video game puzzle or tournment. So many things but they are what I enjoy at the time.

Periodic Contributor

I agree, David.  I believe that everyone wants to be happy and to find some meaning in life.  The bottom line is that we all want to love and be loved.  I find that the pleasure I receive from doing things for myself are fine but don't last as long as doing acts of kindness for others, even if it is a smile or kind word to lift someone up and make their day.  Hence, I spend most of my waking hours doing this type of activity using as my guide - the Corporal Works of Mercy which you can find Online (feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison, etc.).  I see that you are already doing random acts of kindness for others.  I also try to stay fit by doing Yoga for flexibility and balance, using an Isorobic machine for muscle toning and an Elliptical machine for Cardio.  I also fast daily for about 23 hours on water, black coffee or tea.  I have been doing this for 15 months now and feel great.  I also have more time for the other activities mentioned.

Robin R
Periodic Contributor

Awesome on the intermittent fasting, I have been fasting 20 hours a day since Jan 2020. It truly creates resilience/ supports healing. It also cuts back on dishes and meal planning!

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Periodic Contributor

Hi Janna,

 

Congratulations on your fasting regimen.  I was able to stop using Insulin for my Diabetes 2, as a result of my fasting.  I did not need to use insulin but was able to manage my numbers better when I did.  I also lost 25 pounds in the process, although I had only planned to lose about ten pounds.  I feel great and as you said, it creates resilience and supports healing, in addition to gaining more time by only eating once a day and not snacking in between.  I also choose to take cold/hot/cold showers every morning for self discipline and health.  They wake me up, refresh me and give me the strength to do other activities during the day that are out of my comfort zone.

Robin R
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Awesome. I am a retired RN of 30 years, retired 2 with my disability. I did advice my last 19 years due to my limitations. For activity, I do passive conditioning. I use an infrared sauna 3 x a week for 45 min, if I owned one, I would do 5 days a week. I follow that with yoga stretching on an ice mat, then a little bit of recumbent cycling. I am blessed to have a long term friend that owns a small gym where it is comfortable for me to do this. At home I use the inversion table several times a day and I have a Zaaz vibration machine. These things are helpful at keeping more mobile with my psoriatic arthritis and ankalosing spondylitis. I have another back procedure coming up and a reconstruction of soft tissue in my left hip in June. My full time job is managing me, I sometimes say I need to retire from retirement and I say that with a smile because I could not work on my health and get a chance at those two steps forward if I was still employed.

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Periodic Contributor

Thank you, Janna, for your dedication to working as a nurse for 30 years.

 

I also have an Inversion Table which I need to make the time to use more often.  With my Yoga including Head and Should Stands, Core Exercises, etc. I often forget about my Inversion Table.  I keep my Elliptical Machine and Inversion Table in my home office so it is easy to get to, as opposed to in the garage.  I try to stay on the Inversion Table almost vertical for at least 15 minutes, while I listen to religious Talk Radio shows.  How long do you stay on the Inversion Table and do you prefer vertical or an angle that is not so steep?

 

Tell me more about your Ice Mat.  I steel myself for my morning Cold/Hot/Cold showers.  The cold part is first for 30 seconds and at the end for one minute while balancing on on each foot for half that time.  I find it easier to pull the other foot up to my waist in front of me and behind me.  All these activities serve to bring me joy during the day, along with the various volunteer activities that result in lasting peace.

Robin R
Periodic Contributor

Sorry for my delay. I had to travel. My youngest child is getting married tomorrow!

I get on my inversion table 1 to 4 times a day for 20 to 30 min. If my Ankalosing spondylitis or my greater trochanter pain syndrome with torn IT band and ligaments are flaired. It helps me open up my hip and straighten/enlongate, get fluid and blood flow into my spinal spaces that are deteriorated. The icing is cold mats you keep in the freezer, you can buy different sized on Amazon. I have several 13 x 20 gel freezer pads and place them for my back and hips, can lay on my sides, massage out my buttocks hips in slow rolls from side to side. When I go face down, it is beneficial to my pelvis/hips. Infrared, cold therapy and intermittent fasting all increase stem cell activity and increase the speed at which the body heals itself. I'm all about the healing. 😁

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Periodic Contributor

Thank you, Janna, for responding to my question, even though the wedding is about to happen.

That is impressive regarding your use of the Inversion Table and the Ice Mats.  I can see how both of these tools along with Intermittent Fasting are reaping benefits.

 

Have you tried keeping an Ice Mat under you while on the Inversion Table?  Do you hang almost completely vertical or at a slight angle that is less than vertical?

Robin R
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Periodic Contributor

I started at at an angle at first and increased my angle over months. I now leave the strap on my teeter at  it's least constricted length. It is a little less than vertical. I like that I can hold the bar below my arms for leverage. I do gentle torso twisting while upside down to help with that opening up of my spine and hips, allowing vertebra to settle into more natural positions, getting fluid and blood flow moving into those starved spaces. I am well balanced on it, on good days, I just tighten my calves and I can move myself back to upright position and I can rock myself a a bit and go back to upside down it I am getting uncomfortable with my hang....or bored😂 its good to engage your inner child. I have not used the ice, I will have to try that. I do have set of gel pads that fit into a velcro strap holder for use on other body areas arms/legs/shoulders that would easily be strapped against the back support. Thank you for the idea! My current teeter is about 4 years old and now I see they have one with an easier leg release. I admit to letting out horrible noises getting my feet free on not so good days, but I am committed. My current teeter is going to my mother's vacation house at Bear Lake so I can use it on my 3 or 4 trips a season and I am purchasing a newer model for home. I have wanted an excuse to keep buy one for time when I am there, but had no justification, now I do! 😁 Thank you for the conversation on this topic, I don't know anyone else in my in person life that uses an inversion table.

 

I recently added a 10 gram scoop of vital proteins collagen in alkaline water daily to my routine. I take a dose of phytoceramides and vitamin C at that time. On sauna days, I take it just before I get in and continue drinking my 20 ounces while in the sauna. I'm sure it is an ideal time with the increased circulation and sweating. I added it to improve the quality of my skin and firm the collagen below my skin, improve my cartilage. I can say my skin quality, firmness and turgor has has improved over the last 4 to 6 weeks. If I can see it working on my arms, I can believe it is helping rebuild a better me on the inside. Think of vitamin C as the glue that holds you together and is essential to collagen synthesis. Phytoceramids are also and essential for quality collagen and skin. There are some topical skin products that include these, just as there is vitamin C serum for your skin, but what is more ideal than building for the inside out? Far more effective! The wedding was beautiful! Here is a link if it works https://www.facebook.com/camille.j.burt/videos/10224538348543269

 

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Periodic Contributor

Thank you, Janna.  You give me motivation to use my Inversion Table more often.  Of course, time is a challenge with all the volunteering work I do.  Also, I get enough of a workout with my regiment of Yoga with Head and Shoulder stands for balance and mobility, Isorobic Exerciser for Muscle Tone and Elliptical Machine for Cardio.  This is in addition to lifting heavy boxes while volunteering at the Food Bank and at the Habitat for Humanity Store a few times a week.  I try to get seven hours of sleep daily and track my sleep using a Samsung Galaxy 3 watch, which I also use for tracking my pulse, Cardio, etc.  I look forward to doing more intensive tracking with the Oura Ring which should be here next week.  My son uses it and from listening to him and reading up about it, I believe that it will be useful to me.  Glad that the wedding went well.  The link will not allow me to view it, unfortunately.  I don't take any vitamins but I do drink a portion of a Probiotic (Kombucha) with my one meal a day.  My skin feels quite healthy for an almost 75 year old (December this year).  However, I am sure that the genes help, along with the Cold/Hot/Cold daily showers.

Robin R
Periodic Contributor

Super cool! I drink a kombucha daily through my late morning to afternoon. I love it. You are very active, quite a great routine and super busy, I applaud you Robin👏👏👏The benefit for the inversion table for you would be giving the opportunity to change that pressure, a little something that isn't accomplished by your very busy routine. I have wanted to try one of those Oura rings, I love data for guidance. You know the recipe for healthy aging! Kudos🎉

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Periodic Contributor

You are right, Janna, about using the Inversion Table to change the pressure - the Yoga Head and Shoulder Stands do put the spine in compression, whereas the Inversion Table puts it in Tension.  I try to be almost vertical when doing this, but I need to make the time to use this handy device which is right next to my desk in my Home Office.  My Oura Ring should be here in a few days and I will try to remember to share feedback on it soon.  Thank you for your positive and practical tips for staying healthy and thus bringing more happiness into our lives.

Robin R
Periodic Contributor

You are welcome. I'll always be that nurse, exploring the better way and open to hearing about better ways to maximize my health. Its unfortunate, but I spent New Years having my cervical laminectomy foraminotomy, I previously had a spine fixation through the front of my neck 3 years ago. With that counting as one event, one outpatient spine proceedure under heavy sedation, one outpatient surgery on my foot, accupuncture through my health care provider, dental appts due to damage from mainly injected steriods and being immunosupressed from cosyntex, other specialists and 4 appts this year/monthly with my therapist because I do have so much going on with my health, two radiology appointments to follow up on a 2 cm lesion in my lymph nodes at the base of my neck by the carotid artery. It's not something you can feel, incidental because my back went out in Dec and I had 2 MRIs, thoracic spine and lumbar to find the spinal swelling causing the problem. In total for January 1 to now, I have had a total of 67 "appointments". All of those things added up as one event each. I say I need to retire from retirement, but it is the price of trying to improve my quality of life. I do feel grateful to the back going out, it was painful and I could not stand, my pelvis shifted forward. I was on crutches for 10 days. Grateful because of the incidental finding and that this lesion with angiogenesis can be monitored. Grateful that I had been intermittent fasting and doing the infrared, these are both things that can slow tumor growth. Besides the MRI in December, I have had CT with contrast and ultrasound, will have more monitoring through the year. It has not grown since first found. I'll not summarize last year, but the major surgery last summer was reconstruction of my left foot, ankle and achilles. Its all a lot. My point, I am grateful that I was given an opportunity to deal with this and grateful that I had been prompted to make beneficial changes before I even knew about it. Funny, to look at me, you would not think there is anything wrong with me till I get stiff and hobble or bend over and hold myself up on furniture or a wall, etc. I apologize for droning on, but I really do my health as a full time job and my docs frequently say, you're my best, most compliant and proactive patient. I appreciate their cheering me on, but I would rather not be a patient 😂 At 57 and grandma to 8, I am highly motivated and always studying. I have a real joy and can't wait to go to Bear Lake this next week with a friend, just fun, cousins and the peace of looking as the lake as my mothers vacation home. No worries, no appts for 10 days and I am taking that inversion table😀 YES, please tell me if your Oura Ring is as good as I hope, I will get one if it is!

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Periodic Contributor

Janna, going back to this group about Finding Joy in Life, take time to do just that on your upcoming trip to Bear Lake, and with your Inversion Table.  I can hardly believe what you have been through thus far, but your approach to life and suffering is admirable.

I will spend some time getting familiar with the Oura ring when it arrive this coming week, if it does not get delayed.  Bear in mind that my introductory comments will be just that and subject to change, as I learn more about this useful tool.

Robin R
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Thank you very much Robin. Do know I am very upbeat about my full time job. I do find joy in everything I can do to improve or maintain my life. Sometimes when I see all I do it gets a little overwhelming, but always feel gratitude and joy that I have the freedom to do the things I need to. I cannot imagine where I might be had I not retired at 55 and applied for SSDI, it was desperation and a leap of faith that has paid off in opportunity and blessings. I will you well till I hear from you again and deeply appreciate your understanding to my challenges. Each day is truly an opportunity for joy and growth💗

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God bless you Janna.  Yes, taking care of ourselves can be a full-time job, and I think it's wonderful that you have resources and you are using them.  I have arthritis too, and used the therapy pool at the gym, but it hasn't been available this past year, and now I realize how bad my osteoarthritis is.  Today doesn't happen to be one of my better days, don't know why, but I am looking for the joy in my life - my cats, where I live, the beauty of nature, healthy meals, music, etc.  Take care. 🤗

Periodic Contributor

Good for you.  I feel pretty much the same and I thank God everyday that I can be retired and simply enjoy the day exactly as I wish!

Silver Conversationalist

@DavidF624922  Love the spontaneity and living in the moment!  Christine

Periodic Contributor

You are correct, Christine.  I do enjoy the spontaneity of living in the moment, but it is a challenge for me.  Being someone who likes to be organized and involved with many ministries, I am almost continuously thinking ahead of what comes next.  I then ensure that I am prepared in advance and have a Plan B, just in case....  I do worry about something not going according to "plan" and need to live in the moment, trust that I have done my homework and leave the rest in the Lord's hands.

Robin R
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I enjoy doing crossword puzzles. I find that filling in the puzzles help me with words and improve my memory. I also love to read and I find this help me with solving crossword puzzles.

Periodic Contributor

I find joy watching my cats play, or my view out my kitchen window into the pasture with two old retired mules.  I also read, and crochet blankets to give to family & friends while watching British Mysteries, or Movies.  This year I'm committing more to my yard - making it more beautiful and not neglecting it as much.  I also love to visit with family and friends on Zoom. 

 

 

Super Contributor

Reading.  Getting calls from friends.  Making craft-type stuff and giving it away.  Watching videos.  Giving compliments.  Making someone laugh.

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Community Manager

I've been trying new things lately to challenge my brain and improve my mental health. One thing I've found that I really enjoy is watercoloring. It's relaxing and fun, and it allows me to be creative and express my feelings.

 

I'm also a fan of gardening and plants. Are you growing anything new or fun this year @AARPMaggie?