Monday, August 7, 2017

Chronologically Gifted - Happy and Uplifted

I receive many magazines in the mail. Most are the promotional type from my healthcare provider, retirement organizations, and senior centers, but a few are health and fitness magazines I subscribe to monthly. I find many have great articles that are relevant and helpful on topics of food, exercise, and even travel.
Recently, I have become aware of many articles they contain on how to make our homes safe as we age. There are recommendations to put up safety bars everywhere; remove area rugs, no, do not remove a rug if the floor is slippery (i.e.; ceramic); do not store things where they are hard to reach and so on. We do everything possible to prevent having an accident of some kind in a home that is temporary. Temporary because on average Americans move once every five years.

Interestingly enough, precious little is written about how to prepare ahead of time the only permanent “house” we will ever have - our bodies. This is one house we live in as long as we are alive, and do not get to move out of.
I agree with safety measures. It is good to make our environment and homes safe, but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. What do I mean by that? I mean don’t make your life so easy that you eliminate the need for any activity. Movement is good for you. Stretching is healthy and vital for your muscles. All these articles I see about moving everything within easy reach and eliminating the need for all reaching seems excessive. I agree that it’s not a good idea to store things so high that you need a stepstool to reach, but what’s wrong with reaching to the lower shelf rather than storing something on the counter? Leaning down is good too - not bending over and hurting your back, but if your legs and knees are good, bend and the knees and retrieve something from a lower shelf. Many of you may remember the old days in gym class we used to do knee bends. They are still good for you - they work your quads, glutes, hip abductors, hamstrings and calves.

Before considering anything, talk with your doctor to discuss what would be beneficial. My doctor told me to stop jumping rope on a hard surface but working on balance is good. Myself, I have found I can strengthen my leg muscles by standing on one foot for count of twenty, then I switch and do the same on the other foot, some days I might hold onto a chair if I need. I find the perfect time to do this is when I’m using the microwave. It’s anywhere from 30 seconds to three or four minutes when I am just waiting for the beep.  My kitchen is a great place for many little exercise moves, even a little happy dance.

To stretch for something stored somewhat high is good, to bend down and get to an item stored low is also good, remembering there’s a right way – bending the knees is good for the hamstring muscles – and the wrong way - bending from the waist and stressing your back is a bad move. I know the trend is to move everything for easy reach, but that is really defeating the purpose of mobility. You don’t have to accept that when you get old, you will automatically cease to be able to move. I say don’t let that ageism nonsense rule you. If you have an injury or physical limitation, be smart and know your limits, but don’t restrict yourself if there’s nothing wrong. I don’t!

Many times, I meet someone new and shake their hand. You’d be surprised how often I hear “Wow, you’ve got strong grip there.” I guess it’s not expected from a 92+ nonagenarian! But, that hand strength is because I did not want to lose my dexterity and based on what my doctor advised, I added to my routine. To strengthen my arms and hands I squeeze rubber balls, the size of tennis balls. I don’t do this every day, but I keep them on my nightstand and squeeze them now and then as I think of it.  Years ago, I learned to juggle so now, throwing just one ball in the air and catching is great exercise in dexterity. I am always happy if I can add the second juggle a little.
There is so much in life that I can still do - even at my chronologically-gifted age. I intend to keep doing as much as I can, and not give in to the notion that I can’t do something, or I’m not supposed to because I’m “too old”.

I’m reminded of a ditty I heard a least a half a century ago;

              Don’t do this, and don’t do that.
              Don’t you dare tease the cat.
              Don’t sit down and don’t you fall
              Don’t do anything at all.

It seems that the older I get, the more people tell me of all the things I can’t do. I’ve lived in this body a long time, and I already know the things I can’t do. To dwell on those is too negative. I’d rather focus on that I still can do.
Instead of this negative “Don’t” stuff, how about let’s focus on some positive “Do” in our lives. I would like to think it’s never too late to start and no, I am not too old.

As I wrote this article, I researched the ditty that came to mind, so that I could give proper credit to the author. I was surprised and delighted that it was part of a much longer poem and the words were a little different than I had remembered. I couldn’t resist sharing the entire thing:
Always Saying "Don't!"
by Edgar Albert Guest

Folks are queer as they can be,

Always sayin' " don't" to me;

Don't do this an' don't do that.

Don't annoy or tease the cat,

Don't throw stones, or climb a tree,

Don't play in the road. Oh, Gee!

Seems like when I want to play

"Don't" is all that they can say.

If I start to have some fun,

Someone hollers, " Don't you run! "

If I want to go an' play

Mother says: "Don't go away. "

Seems my life is filled clear through

With the things I mustn't do.

All the time I'm shouted at

"No, no, Sonny, don't do that!"

Don't shout so an' make a noise,

Don't play with those naughty boys,

Don't eat candy, don't eat pie,

Don't you laugh and don't you cry,

Don't stand up and don't you fall,

Don't do anything at all.

Seems to me both night an' day

"Don't" is all that they can say.

When I'm older in my ways

An' have little boys to raise,

Bet I'll let 'em race an' run

An' not always spoil their fun;

I'll not tell 'em all along

Everything they like is wrong;

An' you bet your life I won't

All the time be sayin' "don't. "



Ieda Jónasdóttir Herman, 92, is an author and motivational speaker based out of Illinois. At the age of 88, she wrote and published her first book, a memoir of growing up in Iceland. She has since published two fiction works for children. Following a stroke in 2016, she had dedicated her time to education of stroke awareness and encouraging seniors to become more active in life.

Visit her site for photos, contact, and social media links:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

TENACITY: Keeping a Firm Hold on Life

I am sitting out on the deck enjoying the beautiful day. Birds are singing, butterflies fluttering, flowers blooming...Wait a minute..No flowers were planted there.

I walk up to this plant: A blooming (I mean literally blooming!) weed growing that no one planted. There it was just as sturdy an healthy as if it had been watered and tended to like a rose instead of pulled up, cut down, stomped on.

The tenacious weed is everywhere in the world; dry desert, up in the mountains, down in the valley, and even blooming in the black volcanic sands in Iceland the tenacious weed just keeps on holding.

I was curious, what made the weeds stronger than well tended flowers like the rose?  This time I did not Google it but went to my good old Complete Wordfinder.

Tenacity - Tenacious...Keeping a firm hold on principles, life.

Holding fast, persistent, resolute, maintaining, keep up, firm, strong, secure, tight, tough, dogged (love this), unfaltering, pertinacious (lovely word!) unswerving, determined (I've made up my mind!) diligent, resolute, staunch, stalwart, steadfast, unshaken, unshakable, obstinate (hmm), intransigent, stubborn (ouch), adamant, obdurate, refractory - you got to love reading a dictionary - immovable, inflexible, firm, and so much more!

Ah, if we could have a fraction of the tenacity of a humble weed to just hang in there, and keep blooming no matter where we happen to be planted.

Personally, when I've come to the end of my rope I pertinaciously (couldn't resist) tie another knot and keep on swinging. Enjoy life, it has an expiration date on it.


Ieda Jónasdóttir Herman is an author and motivational speaker based out of Illinois. At the age of 88, she wrote and published her first book, a memoir of growing up in Iceland. She has since published two fiction works for children. Following a stroke in 2016, she had dedicated her time to education of stroke awareness and encouraging seniors to become more active in life.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just Thinking...

Recently I enjoyed watching a video of a 102-year-old gentleman go skydiving, he did not walk well and had to have help. He could have said "I'm to old" and "I can't...I can't..." but he went and DID AND BROKE A RECORD!

I'm 92 so I have a few years to beat that :-) but if I am given those years...Watch out here I come!

It's so easy to stay in our comfort zone, just sitting. Not only not exercising the body but not stretching the mind, not bothering to learn anything new. Not sharpening nor increasing whatever skills we may have.

It has been said that "it is not the years in our lives that matter, but the life in our years"...How true that is.

We should find our passion; always keep it growing, keep it moving forward...

Keep stretching into life.

There is so much to see, so much to experience, so much to enjoy, it is a wonderful world we live in. This photo was taken when I was visiting my daughter in Arizona last year, a cool place I did my stretches one day.  There is an underground  river that flows for over 100 miles under the Arizona desert. Just outside Phoenix, it comes above ground and all these wonderful trees and grass grow up around it, making a beautiful green oasis in the middle of the desert. If you don't know where it is, you will drive right by. But .. stop..  take a look and you will be awed.

Be awed! Be amazed! And always keep growing and learning. This also got me thinking about what I'd read:  People only use 11% of their brain...Really? Hmm...

Photo: Hassayampa River Preserve

Ieda Jónasdóttir Herman is an author and motivational speaker based out of Illinois. At the age of 88, she wrote and published her first book, a memoir of growing up in Iceland. She has since published two fiction works for children. Following a stroke in 2016, she had dedicated her time to education of stroke awareness and encouraging seniors to become more active in life.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Fjord

I watched the white-capped waves play tag with the twirling patches of misty grey fog hovering over the formidable northern fjord. I stood on the edge of the lava cliff and felt the grounds tremble and heard the powerful ocean crashing and rumbling up the gorge. Swooshing, sucking sounds came from deep within the cave the ocean waves had carved eons past.  

Scrambling down a gravelly crevasse I dug in my heels, and my fingers gripped the gritty, sharp lava ledges. The racket of rolling stones alarmed the nesting puffins, warily they pointed towards me with their red, yellow and black striped huge beaks, then shook their short wings and waddled off on their fiery-red feet.

I touched a moss-lined seagull's nest, which promptly came alive with stretching and twitching, hungry mouths wide open. I jerked my hand back as the angry mama bird streaked down like a meteorite, yellow beak wide open, fiercely screeching. Carefully avoiding white streaks of yucky bird droppings, I inched my way to the bottom of the cliff and started walking on the narrow strip of volcanic sand. My sheepskin shoes made squishy, slushy sounds as small waves wet my feet. Gross smell arose when I kicked away slimy brown algae and tip-toed around carcass of birds, crabs, brittle fish bones and blue seashells.

I leaned on the half-buried relic of a rowboat and pulled at the coarse brown fishnet that hung over the rotted bulwark, disturbing five napping Harbors seals. They looked at me for a moment,t hey moaned, groaned, grumbled then closed their eyes. Tugging the yellow seaman's rain-hat tight over my hair I tried to avoid "calling" cards (bird droppings). as a gazillion seagulls swept overhead.

The wispy shreds of fog across the water were slowly dissipating in the sun. Brilliant colored rainbow curved over a tall waterfall cascading down the snow-capped craggy mountain sheltering the fjord.

I climbed to my favorite place, the top of a barnacle-crusted lava rock accessible on one side in the out-going tide. Waves caused spray to slosh on my face, and when I licked my lips I tasted brine

A fog-shrouded steamship made its way across the mouth of the fjord, and the warning blast of the ship's horn boomed between the basalt-black towering cliffs. Powerful spouts from Humpback whales dotted the sea, they slapped their long flippers roiling the waters.

Gray seals, also called Horse Head Seals shot up by my rock and grabbed small squirming fish from the beaks of diving gulls. The seals' backs  glistened and shone like well-polished whale bone as they leaped up and then dove back into the waves.

A virtual blizzard of sea gulls and puffins floated below the fluffy clouds in the blue sky above my head as I climbed up the bird-filled lava cliff and headed back home.                    

Photo: Iceland

Ieda Jónasdóttir Herman is an author and motivational speaker based out of Illinois. At the age of 88, she wrote and published her first book, a memoir of growing up in Iceland. She has since published two fiction works for children. Following a stroke in 2016, she had dedicated her time to education of stroke awareness and encouraging seniors to become more active in life.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Ieda Jonasdottir Herman: The Fire Giant Strikes Again.

Ieda Jonasdottir Herman: The Fire Giant Strikes Again.:                                    January 23rd. 1973. Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland. Wave after wave crashed against the blue...

The Fire Giant Strikes Again.

                                   January 23rd. 1973. Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland.

Wave after wave crashed against the blue-black towering lava cliffs that formed Heimaey, the largest and only inhabited isle of the Vestmannaeyjar volcanic cluster. White frothy sprays shot up into the air and swirled back into eddies of receding waves, the ocean was still in heaving turmoil after a brutal winter storm the day before.
          Silvery slivers of moonlight peeked out among the dark-grey lingering storm clouds,causing eerie shadows on the strangely distorted formations of lava boulders, scattered about from a long-ago eruption of the ancient volcano, Mount Helgafell. The grounds on the top of the cliffs seemed quite calm.
          But, miles and miles deep in the ground hidden from view, a subterranean furnace boiled, crackled and groaned under incredible growing pressure of magma - molten rock -. But the people on the island didn't hear it. The unharnessed force was furiously building up in the fiery chamber, but the islanders didn't know it. Suddenly an uncontrollable pressure split the earth, as if the Icelandic fire giant, Surtur, had slashed the ground with his mighty sword and split the island from north to south. A powerful belching blast spewed forth a red-hot curtain of fire, but the islanders didn't see it.
          The new fissure opened up a few hundred yards from Mount Helgafell, quiet for over five thousand years. By the time the eruption stopped, the new mountain, Eldfell, was almost as tall as the old volcano. It was 725 feet and the old one reached 741 feet. Two volcanoes lived on this small, rocky and remote island only about three miles wide and four and half miles long.
          A radio communications operator may have been the first person to see the fiery display.  He'd stepped out after a late shift at work and saw what at first seemed to be a burning building, but when towering tongues of fire shot up like several gushing geysers and lit up the dark sky, he realized that this was a volcano eruption. He ran back inside to sound the alarm. Because of the previous days storm most of the fishing vessels were still in the cliff-sheltered harbor, so people were able to flee quickly to the Icelandic mainland.
          The molten lava ran the short distance to the ocean, where it cooled and hardened to increase the size of the island by about a half square mile. It flowed relentlessly towards the small town and threatened to close its harbor. If that happened the large supply ships would no longer be able to bring goods to the village
          Besides the police and firemen, several workers stayed on the island to sweep off roofs that were in danger of caving in under the weight of accumulating ash and cinders. Workers from the mainland brought pumps and hoses to pump ocean water on the oozing lava in frantic attempt to slow the flow. This unheard-of-method worked and the lava was stopped from ruining the harbor.
          The eruption ended on the third of July 1973. Over three hundred homes were buried under rock-hardened lava. Several homes were badly damaged. Before the eruption over five thousand people lived on Heimaey. Many moved right back right after the eruption ended and began to enjoy life again on their beloved island. Some folks had a cook-out using fiery lava bombs, and a group of Girl-Scouts baked bread in the hot ground.
          As the people began to rebuild their village they constructed a district-heating system that heats their homes with piped-in hot water heated by the same volcano that had threatened their very lives.
          The islanders will forever be remembered because of the way they used great Viking determination, heroic efforts and novel idea to save their village.

         Sidebar note.
         When a sub-marine volcano erupted in 1963 and formed a new island, the Icelanders named it SURTSEY, after the fire giant SURTUR. The people of Heimaey had a ringside view of the new island growing higher and higher, day by day, since the new island was only about seven miles west of their own island; they didn't know that just ten years later SURTUR would strike again.

          Just found this among old stuff I had written over the years. Just wanted to share a little what it is like to grow up Viking!

         Referral notes from the Surtsey Research Society; The Surtsey Eruption 1963-1967
Noel Grove, National Geographic, July 1973

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Growing up in the Land Of Fire And Ice.

This land is so moon-like that in 1965 and 1967 American moon-landing astronauts used the Krafla and Askja area - located in north-east corner of Iceland to study the geology for Lunar mission, as this barren lava field is one of the more moon-like places on earth. The Krafla caldera is Viti - the Icelandic word Viti means Hell - folks in the olden days thought that hell was under volcanoes.

Not far from this area is the fjord of Vopnafjörður is where I spent my summers until age ten.Every Spring I traveled on a ship, in and out of the fjord, south  and east. The trip was usually about 5days, in good weather. Going back to Reykjavik, and school every Fall - and again in and out of fjords, this time north and west coast.

Mostly I traveled by myself, but a crew member or a passenger would be aware, and kind of looked after me. Two of my sisters -one a year younger and  one a year older, traveled with me for couple of years...when I think of that I shake my head...To-day I wouldn't think of letting 8 and 9 year old kids of mine travel by themselves like that. And on a all kinds of weather! But it was different back then and even more so in a country as isolated as Iceland was back in the thirties.

If we traveled inland (no Ring Road then!) we used horses. Grandpa would go to the village of Vopnafjörður
to load up bags of flour, sugar and other supplies.

I remember one summer when my older sister and I were on horseback, going back to the farm and were riding across the inlet as the  tide was coming in. The water was up to our horses' bellies when I looked at my sister and teasingly said; "Sisi, don't look, but there's some kind of gruesome monster-thing at Stjarna's hoof!" I'd been better off if I'd been watching my own horse, I was sliding sideways. Suddenly I found myself with mouthful of salty water, I couldn't yell at Grandpa, but I heard Sisi screaming at the top of her lungs"Grandpa - Grandpa Íeda is drowning!" I felt Grandpa's hand pull me up. Spitting and gagging I felt chastened. I should have known better that to tease about The Monster Worm, it was a sure way to bring their wrath upon us!

Later I tried to butter up my sister by telling her how much I was looking forward to spending the summer together.She said "Oh, it will be fun to go berry-picking, milk Old Red..." She stopped and grinned...Hmm, was my sister being he nice self or was there a wicked gleam in her  eye? I was sure Old Red was the meanest cow in all of Iceland..