Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is an acclaimed keynote and kickoff speaker as well as "Motivational Humorist ...Read More
As a Baby Boomer I’m aware of changing energy levels over the course of a lifetime. Hey, just the other day my girlfriend’s three year-old granddaughter ran rings around me as we held hands, pulling each other while running and whirling in circles. She’s the Energizer Bunny; I was the one who needed to take a break from the dizziness and exhaustion. (And I’m not a slouch or couch potato; nearly every day, I get in at least a mile power walk, trekking with computer backpack to the coffeehouse. FYI, I’m a tea drinker.)
Then there’s little Charlotte’s mom, working full-time in NYC (“the city that never sleeps”); she’s grappling with the time and energy to be a loving spouse and devoted parent (and step-parent). M is also developing a life coaching business, every week or two sharing ideas in her “Loving Your Life” blog…her yoga classes are hardly a mind-body luxury. Perhaps it’s time for the Stress Doc ™ to write a cross-generational tract: A Boomers’ Guide to the Joys of Power Napping! (Btw, Charlotte still takes a restorative nap; didn’t someone say, “And the children shall lead them”?)
Alas, it seems like a lot of folks are jolting their alertness levels by mainlining coffee, sodas, and energy drinks; many go for that quick “sugar high,” while others use and abuse amphetamines and other highly questionable stimulants. And it’s pretty easy to become dependent if not outright addicted. Maybe folks are mostly trying to keep up with if not survive these “always on,” “TNT – Time-Numbers-Technology – Driven- and Distracted, Everything Happens NOW Times.”
When the Energy Crisis Hits Close to Health and Home
So why is this Boomer giving undivided attention to the subject of “energy?” As a 60 +, perhaps my generational energy sample is skewed by the number of Baby Boomers I know personally grappling with (or trying to postpone) the aging-energy process. Then there are the TV ads. You think all those Viagra and Cialis commercials, including 60 somethings taking up surfing speak to this point? Let’s call this pursuit “the fountain of sexual energy and the fixation of youth.” (Of course, healthy sensuality and sexuality need not be constrained by age. Hey, with my partner/girlfriend, I’m ready to co-star in a hit series – “Sex and the Sixties” – that has nothing to do with 20th c. culture or lifestyle.)
However, closer to home and to reality,
a) I myself had a recent “out of the blue” health scare: One morning I woke with double vision. After a series of tests at the ER and a neurologist waving his pencil in my field of vision, (talk about low-tech assessment), the diagnosis was clear: blockage caused by plaque in a cervical (neck area) nerve led to palsy-induced “diplopia” or double vision. The condition lasted three months; recovery was mostly gradual, sometimes sporadic. At times, objects looked like fragmented glass or a Cubistic-style painting. Finally, one morning the ceiling fan above my bed no longer had ten blades. Hallelujah!
Day-to-day, the attack was more frustrating than disorienting or dizzying; I even managed to do a couple of speaking programs during this purgatory. As a speaker, I get pretty focused mentally, even when not sharp visually. (Regarding the purgatory label, the scary part was that no one was quite sure of the recovery timeline or final outcome.) Fortunately, there was no damage done to brain or heart; vision has completely cleared; mostly a sobering wake-up call. Message sent was received: have increased dosage on daily Lipitor and aspirin and am exercising “disciplined moderation” in food consumption, especially salt and sugar intake; oh yes, no more nightly pastry ;-(. I’m now eating avocado regularly and cooking with canola oil. P.S. In a discussion with my cousin, I learned my uncle, at a similar age, had the same condition (more than once, alas), and
b) a friend and training partner, a high energy nurse who just last year got her doctorate at 61, also had to face some hard truths: her mind-body recently told her loud and clear that she no longer can get up at four in the morning and drive 1.5 hours to the clinic and job to which she’s been devoted; while not quite working the graveyard shift (which statistically does affect longevity), it’s close enough.
Health issues definitely sharpen your focus and perspective, sorting wheat from chaff regarding life’s priorities and plans!
Stay tuned for Part II.