So I just had another birthday.  How do I feel about that? Since you only stop having them after you’re dead, I guess I feel pretty good.  In fact, I’ve recently made some serious investments in the future by electing to renew my car registration for two years instead of one, and my membership in AARP for another five.  How’s that for a burst of optimism? 

But birthdays do tend to make one pause and take inventory.  Body parts, for instance.  All in all, I’m not doing too badly.   My knees still bend and I am able to navigate a staircase.  Which is handy as my bedroom is on the second floor.   My hips remain, as always, too wide, but the joints are articulating.    My back?  I’d rather not discuss it.  Let’s just say it’s no worse.  And I’m grateful that during the past year gravity has not been too unkind to those anatomical structures that tend to obey Newton’s law.

There has, however, been a slight change in my vision.  My annual visit to my eye doctor resulted, for the first time, in a prescription for distance glasses, which he suggested I use for driving.  In an attempt at myopic humor, he also remarked that I wouldn’t be able to fly an airplane without them.  I dutifully laughed, and commented that this would not have a significant impact on my life.   Nevertheless, just in case, I make sure to include them in my carry-on bag.

So really, I can’t complain.  (Well, I can.  One can always complain.)  I think I’m doing pretty well.  For my age.

There is, however, something I would like to accomplish before another year flies by.  Something that has thus far eluded me.  Something that would add significantly to my quality of life.  Or so I’m told.  I would really like to learn how to relax.

After all, isn’t this the time of my life when I’m supposed to be smelling the roses? Watching sunsets?  Taking the time to let the dough rise?  Yet I’m still telling myself that matzoh is just as good!

I envy my husband, who eases into the day by reading the entire newspaper.   I tried that once.  I think I got to Page 2 of the first section, before I was overcome with restless body syndrome.

I would like to be able to sit outside on a beautiful day and read a book without noticing a plant that needed water, a weed that should be pulled, or dog poop that I neglected to pick up.  And there I am again, a body in motion.

Perhaps I should try reading at someone else’s house, sitting by someone else’s pool.  Maybe if it was my neighbor’s plant, I could just let it be.  I doubt it.

Do you find manicures and pedicures stressful? I do.  Although I’m embarrassed by my frequently naked toe nails, I am prevented from regular trips to the nail salon due to the fact that it requires me to actually sit still for a seemingly endless period of time.  I barely manage to get through the soaking, scraping, sticking, trimming, enameling phases.  By the time I’m required to place my toes under that little dryer and sit for ten minutes more, I feel like a hyperactive child who’s just been given an extended time out.  (Perhaps I am a hyperactive child.)

Massages are definitely out of the question.  Unless I find a masseuse who is willing to follow me around the room.   Laying face down on a table with my head in a little circle for an hour or more is just not in my DNA.  In spite of the dim lights, scented candles, and music that simulates water gently flowing from rocks into a beautiful, deep pool, I’m still dancing a jitterbug in my head.  And all those water sounds do not do my bladder any favors.

I’ve already tried yoga and meditation.  I was warned by the instructor that my constant wriggling was ruining the asanas for the entire class.  Far be it from me to ruin anyone’s asana. Besides, I’m not all that crazy about yoga pants.

Visualization was a disaster.  I couldn’t stop myself from conjuring dog poop.  And when my mantra became “gotta go,” I knew that I was licked.

I realize that I’m in serious need of reprogramming.  Some type of behavior modification that will allow me to more fully enjoy the moment. So here’s my plan.

I’m going outside with a kitchen timer.  I will set it for fifteen minutes and force myself to sit in a lounge chair until the timer dings.  I will have a magazine and a glass of iced tea.  I will read the article about 73 ways to look great after 60.  And no quitting after 59.  All 73!   I can do this.  I have discipline.  Self-control.  And I did not see that plastic bottle next to the tree that belongs in the recycle bin.

I will gradually increase my sitting time every day.    I will abandon magazines and read a book.  I will have a second glass of iced tea.  I will not leave my chair to answer the phone or fold the laundry.   I will sit still!

Why didn’t anyone tell me that relaxing was such hard work?

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