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Getting older

March 20, 2013
By Pat Jensen , Marshall Independent

My mother shared an interesting piece (author unknown) with me when I turned 60. That was three years ago. Becoming another year older this month prompted me to read the article again and write some revisions to better reflect my personal journey. Since this is my birthday month, it seems appropriate to share these thoughts with you.

Old age is a gift ... I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! Body excluded. I sometimes despair over my body - the wrinkles, the baggy eyes and the bony knees. And often I am taken aback by that older person that lives in my mirror, but I don't fret over these things for long.

I would never trade my friends, my active life, or my caring family for fewer wrinkles or a flatter tummy. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself and less critical of my imperfections.

I've become my own friend. I even talk to myself. I don't beat myself up for eating that extra slice of pie, or for not making the bed, or for buying that cute cement squirrel that I didn't need but looks so at home on the old tree stump in our yard. I am entitled to treat myself, to be lazy, to be impulsive.

I have seen many people leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or watch TV until 2 a.m. and sleep until 10? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the '60s, and if I at the same time wish to weep over a lost love ... I will. I shall take walks wearing a pair of shorts, faded T-shirt and a floppy hat - despite the stares from the teenagers. They too, will get old. Much faster than they think.

I know I am sometimes forgetful, but then again, some of life is just as well forgotten, and I eventually remember the important things. It helps to write things down and with any luck at all, I will be able to locate the notes again.

Sure, throughout the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet has to be put to sleep, never to awaken? But broken hearts are what give us strength, understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to discover gray hairs and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched in shallow grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair showed a single streak of silver.

I can say "no" and mean it. I can say "yes" and mean it. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong. I like being older; it has set me free. I think I like the person I have become.

I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I shall remain enthusiastic. I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.

I will use a bit of make-up and will color my hair to blend away the gray. And I shall eat dessert every single day if I feel like it.

My hubby didn't really miss the meat ... that says a lot!


1 tsp. veg. oil

1 sm. clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 rib celery, chopped

In a large saucepan, saute garlic, onion and celery in veg. oil.


1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1-1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn

1 (14-15 oz) can beef broth

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drain and rinse

1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drain and rinse

1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drain and rinse

1-1/2 tsp. chili powder (or to taste)

Scant 1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. salt

Black pepper, to taste

Simmer uncovered at least 30 min. Taste and adjust seasonings if need be.

Notes: I added just a bit more chili powder. May serve with chopped onion and shredded cheese on the side. We saw no need for the extras; but I did make corn muffins.

Don't toss those stale hot dog buns

For quick and easy garlic breadsticks, split a hot dog bun down the middle and then cut each one in half lengthwise. Butter each strip and sprinkle with garlic salt or powder. Place on baking sheet and broil until lightly browned.

Food for thought: The great challenge of life is to decide what's important and to disregard everything else.



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