Friday miscellany: Campfires on my mind

Like most of the east coast, we got hit with the wildfire haze late this week. It wasn’t too bad in my neighborhood though — more just a smell that reminded me of campfires. Thankfully the air does seem to be getting better, and while one Friday activity was postponed, another still seems to be happening — the kids are glad things weren’t canceled.

We’ll be hosting my choir’s end-of-year picnic this weekend. I’m starting to have a good template for hosting — we have our card tables and I bought three standing height circular tables from a restaurant supply store. People are mostly bringing side dishes and desserts so I am just supplying the main dish. I put in a large catering order at a new-to-me fried chicken place that came well-recommended, so I just hope that all goes as it is supposed to go…

A little adventure this week: A friend and I went on a weekday afternoon hike on a nearby trail. All the leaves are really lush right now and it felt like we were in the wilderness even though we really weren’t!

Last week I jumped on the bandwagon and read Peter Attia’s Outlive book (fun fact: he, like me, was just a guest on the Ten Percent Happier podcast! Here’s the link to my episode). The part of it I’m most intrigued by (well, other than his story of surviving childhood abuse and becoming a boxer and then battling the demons that surfaced as an adult…which could really be its own separate book…) is the truth that everyone’s physical capabilities decline with age. Even very fit people! Of course, right? But if you follow this realization to its logical conclusion, that means if you want to be able to do things like carry groceries at age 80, you need to be able to carry incredibly heavy weights at age 45. If you want to be able to go up stairs and walk to the post office at age 80, you need to be able to run like an 8-minute mile at age 45. I find that more motivational than anything else I’ve come across in the fitness literature.

(Alas, this week I’ve been suffering from more achy-ness than usual…lower back, and then my entire right leg. That is not boding well for age 80! Yikes.)

Other food-for-thought reading: Sarah’s posts this week on wanting a 186-hour week, and then looking closely at the time and money math of what fits and what doesn’t.

I find this topic fascinating — how people make choices about what they do with their time. I wrote on this blog several years ago that “Busyness is the ratio of commitments to space.” If that is the case, then being less busy means either doing less stuff or creating more space to do the stuff in.

The first side of the equation (less stuff) is straightforward. But the other side has some potential too. I know that sometimes I have needed to create more space for work, either by working a weekend shift, or working at night (like 9-11 p.m.). Sometimes there might be options for creating more space in one’s personal life by offloading certain tasks (I ordered pizza the other night instead of cooking; getting the kids to take the activity bus more regularly opened up significant space.). But of course, there are always limits. There are only 168 hours in a week!

(Which is the title of my first time management book — It came out almost exactly 13 years ago.)

We keep doing TOAD time (Time Outside After Dinner or possibly Together Outside After Dinner) though Wednesday night’s in particular felt semi-disastrous. We got this giant pile of black mulch delivered and of course the little boys find a mountain of dirt absolutely irresistible. They were playing on it for a long time and getting filthier and filthier but then the 3-year-old managed to stub his bare feet (he had pulled off his shoes) on something sharp, getting his toe all bloody, so then I was carrying in a screaming child who was covered in black dirt and trying to hose the two of them off in the shower. There was a lot of scrubbing and I still didn’t get anyone completely clean. Yuck.

This week we have been doing more driving with the 16-year-old! I took him to the high school parking lot at night and then my husband took him out on the real roads a few times. His goal was to have us pick him up at school next Thursday (his last day) and have him take the wheel to drive to Starbucks. But then he was asking to go to Starbucks yesterday and my husband said he’d only take him if he drove. So he did and they made it.

We are doing a Best of Both Worlds listener meet-up in my neck of the woods on July 2. If you’d like details of the location, please email me.


5 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Campfires on my mind

  1. I dunno’…. as someone closer to 80 than to 45, and someone who has seen a lot of people, this just doesn’t seem to ring true: “that means if you want to be able to do things like carry groceries at age 80, you need to be able to carry incredibly heavy weights at age 45.” I don’t think anything about our bodies relates linearly like that. (Sorry — old math profs never stop doing math.)
    I’ve also seen very very active people who later then are struggling with knee replacement surgeries and hip replacement surgeries. Hopefully your readers will have knowledgeable trainers who can advise a realistic and healthy exercise strategy.

    1. Ann, you read my mind. This seems like a bit of a…stretch (no pun intended!).

      My grandmother walked a mile each way to work for her entire career, then continued that after retirement. She was still walking two miles a day until her death in 2020. No decline in that regard whatsoever.

      Of course a bit of a decline makes sense, but not by THAT much. Otherwise, most sedentary people would be bedridden or in wheelchairs by 80, and that just doesn’t add up.

      1. Yeah, I live in the UK where most older people seem to walk to the shops, etc. And even the people in quite poor health (smokers, walking with a walker etc) seem to manage the .5-1 mile or so, even if it requires stops.
        But my late 60s neighbour is my inspiration. She cycles everywhere and volunteers at the community garden doing proper hard work.

  2. I had a knee jerk reaction to ‘run an 8min mile at 45’, too!! That isn’t motivating to me, that’s defeating as I would have to work really really hard to get my pace down to 8 min miles! My grandma turned 100 this spring and is in excellent health. That’s a sample size of 1 of course but we have quite a bit of longevity in my family and those who lives long, rich lives were active but by active I mean walking, gardening, etc. I might not be the target audience for his book, though!

  3. The exercise stuff is interesting! Here in Norway exercise is practically the state religion but most adults are overweight and we have tons of hip fractures etc on the winter ice. It is certainly well-documented that muscle mass and bone density decline with age, so any sort of attempt to fight this is probably beneficial.

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