fbpx
L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

Sharing Our Wisdom with the Next Generation

Wise senior women of the world, I call on each of you to help your daughters, granddaughters, and even your great-granddaughters, to be healthier and happier, and to live longer and more vibrantly. Will they listen to our words of wisdom? Some will heed our advice — the ones who see clearly the effects of decades of lifestyle choices, good and bad, on our bodies, minds, and spirits.

More and more research emerges every month supporting this fact: The sooner we adopt healthier lifestyle choices the better our mid-life and senior years will be. All is not lost for us seniors, as the human body is the most miraculous healing machine on the planet. Every single positive change we make reaps benefits, no matter if we are thirty-two or eighty-two. However, the climb becomes steeper when chronic issues and limitations add rust and corrosion to the workings of the gears.

Our mission: to help our daughters and granddaughters retool their lifestyles to include life-affirming choices to free them from some of the challenges we live with as seniors because we didn’t know differently.

Gerontologists look at how circumstances and choices we made when we were young and bulletproof, come back at mid-life to express themselves in our joints, brains, and hearts.  Drawing from the latest science, we can encourage the younger women, and men, in our lives to consider choosing some, or all, of these six life-enhancing changes which will profoundly influence the course of their aging.

My Top Six Choices

Exercise

Exercise is THE game changer, maybe even the magic bullet against premature aging. Our bodies are made to move, and the more we do, the more vibrant we will be. We now know if we exercise at a moderate intensity—85% of our suggested heart rate (https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/heartrate.htm) for one hour most days– mixing up our workouts with repetitive aerobics (biking, swimming, walking) and non-repetitive aerobics (tennis, Zumba, jazzercise, or other dance classes, badminton, basketball); adding in weight/resistance training and some stretching/yoga, we will be doing the single most important thing to keep our bodies strong and finely tuned. A mix of these exercises prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s by laying new track in our brains, which keeps our memory circuits strong and long (our telomeres). Routine exercise lifts our mood, helps us sleep soundly, and makes our skin glow.

Sleep

When we exercise regularly, our sleep improves, but not getting enough sleep can short-circuit the benefits we gain from all that exertion. Getting enough sleep has risen to the top of the list in the last few years, and will likely stay there as we continue to learn about the benefits and detriments of getting, or not getting, enough sleep. The bottom line? Sleep allows our bodies to rejuvenate. It restores and replenishes the energy in all our cells, repairs damage to our organs and systems we incur by living life and clears away toxins, especially memory and cognitive function-robbing plaque. We need seven to eight hours of good quality sleep. Making it a priority, not an afterthought, will be an age-defying decision.

Sugar

The Achilles’ heel for so many of us is sugar. I know I struggle with staying on the low-sugar wagon every single day. Sugar creates inflammation in our body, and inflammation is the source of all disease. A sugar-free life is an admirable goal, and for some, over time, achievable and maintainable. For many of us, eliminating sweets would be the same as a sentence in solitary confinement; please just shoot me. To be realistic, cutting out half the sugar in our diets is a great place to start. Give it a year. After a year, try to cut the amount by half, again. By the end of the first year, the craving for sugar will be less, and by the end of the second year, the addiction could well be broken. This choice might need the help of a health-care professional (doctor, therapist, RN). These professionals can help break this addiction.

Eating Whole Foods

Leaving behind processed foods—crackers, cookies, lunch meat, anything made with wheat flour in favor of whole, unprocessed foods—fresh vegetables, nuts, low-sugar fruits, small amounts of lean meat, healthy fats and legumes, gives the body the optimum fuel to function—physically and mentally. If possible, going one step further, and choosing organic will help even more. Again, this is a tall order, one that takes time, but by cutting out a few unhealthy things over time our body begins to function at a higher level and heal the damage of bad food choices. Like giving up sugar, take this slowly. Add and eliminate systematically and consistently over a year. The change in one year will be astounding.

Quiet Time/Contemplation

2020 was a year that “tried men’s souls,” the old adage goes, yet it did allow us to slow down and have more quiet time—sometimes bordering on too much. However, I sincerely hope we gained a new appreciation for less hectic schedules. Many of us began meditating, and that is a habit to continue. Adding meditation, in whatever form feels right, reconnects us to our inner selves; some say our higher selves. From this place we find greater peace, balance, and a sense of calm. When the world returns to full speed—as we know it will eventually– we need to keep our fingers on the reset button that meditation offers us each time we sit in quiet.

Meaningful Connection

Again, in this unprecedented year, we have all experienced a degree of isolation not known for many decades. What became clear for all of us is the importance of meaningful connections with others. When we are young it is easier to make those connections, and so this piece of aging vibrantly advice might go unheeded at the moment, but keep reminding your daughter to nurture her friendships now, to ensure she continues to have those strong bonds as she reaches her senior years. She will thank you then, for sure.

You, with your hard-earned knowledge and wisdom, will know the right time to broach each of these topics. Everyone is different and takes in information in her unique way. I offer these choices with my sincere and heartfelt hope that they will help our young, and even yet unborn, women live joyfully, more healthfully, and more vibrantly until they are well past one hundred!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is websiter-banner-draft.jpg
Read More

FOURTH QUARTER ARTICLE RECAP

December 21, 2020– ‘Twas the Year Our Pets Saved Us

The writers at Chewy have written this perfect poem about our pet’s role over the last year, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. *The writer has a Havenese puppy, like George.*

 2020 was not the year that any of us expected, or wanted.

BUT, having our furry friends by our side this year has helped us find happiness even when it seemed impossible.

December 14, 2020The Power of Forgiveness

YOU are the prime beneficiary when you forgive someone.

When you practice Forgiveness Therapy, you free up huge vats of energy that were previously being

utilized to keep those anger knots solidly in place. Forgiveness makes you feel lighter,

happier, and more at peace than you thought possible.

December 7, 2020With Age Comes Wisdom

Growing older and gaining wisdom, means understanding that being right is never as important as being kind.

November 30, 2020Who Draws George and L.J.?

People ALWAYS ask me if I do the drawings for my page. My answer is a resounding, I wish!

But who is the person behind the drawings?

I collaborate with the wonderfully talented artist Alex Mikev.

Together we create a weekly cartoon about the journey of aging, and we have even been able to put together a collection in print.

November 23, 2020– Spread a Little Gratitude All Year Long

Showing gratitude in all areas of our lives helps us be happier and HEALTHIER. Now I’ll share another way that I have found to have a positive impact on my attitude of gratitude.

November 16, 2020Raising Your Gratitude Quotient

Do you want to feel better right now, and super-charge some powerful immune-boosting hormones this red-hot minute?

Finding things to appreciate and be grateful for will make these shifts a reality. Extensive research finds this all to be true, and today, I offer you some concrete ways to raise your spirits.

November 9, 2020– Aging Well in 12 Steps!

As a Gerontologist, I’m asked every day what I do to age more vibrantly.

In this blog, I lay out the 12 steps I try to follow on my vibrant aging journey.

November 2, 2020-Gut-Brain Connection

Inflammation in the colon from poor food choices allows “bad” bacteria to float off and take residence in other organs, causing them to be inflamed.

The brain isn’t equipped to deal with inflammation and results in aging of the brain and impaired brain health.

The good news: When we cut down or eliminate sugar and refined carbs, adhere to a suggested regime of vitamins, and make a few lifestyle changes; we can begin to rebuild our gut’s health.

October 26, 2020More Answers From Dr. Claudia Harsh

I am back with 6 more questions for Dr. Claudia Harsh:

-Can breast cancer be cured? What is the percentage of return if contracted before menopause? After menopause?

-Are there any symptoms to watch for?

-Does contracting breast cancer before menopause increase the risk of getting it again after menopause?

-Breast cancer rates are increasing. Why? Is that for pre-or post-menopause?

-Is post-menopausal breast cancer hereditary?

October 19, 2020– Today Start Some Emotional Self-Care

Positive thinking CAN change your life!

Our beliefs have 5 times more influence on our health than genetics.

This article outlines the benefits of Emotional Self Care, and the benefits of giving yourself hope for the future.

Read More

‘Twas the Year Our Pets Saved Us

For this week’s blog I’m sharing an original poem from Chewy. I read it and knew I couldn’t have said it better myself. Enjoy!

‘Twas the Year Our Pets Saved Us

A Chewy Original Poem

‘Twas the year full of questions, COVID, and doubt. For months we wore masks, indoors and out. 
Social distancing made us feel safe, but alone. Even our weddings were remote or postponed. While our kids went to school in ways unfamiliar, our own days and nights felt strained and peculiar. We binge-watched TV – the good, bad, and terrible.  In short;  this past year was barely bearable.

Yet each time we felt at the end of our ropes – Lo and behold! – our pets raised our hopes.  They offered relief for our cares and our worry, relief that was feathered, or scaly, or furry, or swam ‘round and ‘round in a tank without sinking, or sat by a heat lamp, unmoving, unblinking.

Some of these critters are new family members. Some have been with us for days without number. Some were adopted as pandemic puppies. Some are ball pythons, or bunnies, or guppies. Honestly, though, species don’t matter – the point is that pets make everything better.

So yes, while we must also sadly attest that at times, this year, we were not at our best, acting crabby and sullen and often cantankerous, (Pets: You have the pandemic to thank for this!) again and again, for reasons inscrutable, we got back to booping those dogs snoots so boopable. We treated our cats to special cat treats. We taught new limericks to our old parakeets. We gave extra crickets to our cute bearded dragons. Even our fishes’ tails started waggin’.

We care for our pets – they need us, it’s true. But deep down we know that we need our pets, too. Their antics make us laugh when we’re tearful. They comfort the anxious, lonesome, and fearful. We need the sense that their presence provides us: The feeling that loved ones are always beside us.

2020 tested us in myriad ways. Weeks felt like months, and hours felt like days. A new year approaches. Who knows what’s in store? Who knows that fresh weirdness will barge through the door? But whatever may come, let’s all take a minute to celebrate our world and the animals in it. A world without pets would be a cold, dreary place, like the ocean’s dark floor, or the far depths of space. We have it in ourselves to shift our attitude and close our the year with a sense of gratitude.

So in that spirit, friends, let’s raise our voices, all: “Happiest of holidays – to creatures great and small!”

In a year of challenge and change, one thing that has never wavered is the mad love we have for ourpets – an they have for us. We hope this original poem makes you smile, knowing that whatever 2021 brings, our pets will always be by our side.

Source: https://be.chewy.com/twas-the-year-our-pets-saved-us-a-chewy-original-poem/

Read More

The Power of Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart; forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” 

Hannah More, English writer

At this moment, no matter what storms rage in our reality, each of us has the power to let go of old grievances that hold us back from a more vibrant life. The toughest things to consider are those hard little knots of anger lodged in our hearts that keep our desire for peace of mind just beyond actualization. Once we drag these gnarls of petrified resentment from the closet of old wounds and expose them to the air, we create more space in our hearts for happiness and catapult our chances for living a more joy-filled life straight into today.

Try this forgiveness therapy: Each night as you lie down, drop into your heart and focus on the hardest knots—your feelings and images of those people who have committed a crime against you so heinous you almost believe that a hundred lifetimes reincarnated as a microbe on the belly of a snake would be too good a life for them. When you have these capital offenders clearly lined up in your mind, from the space of your heart say:

“I forgive_____________” (Mom, the teacher who turned you in for smoking, your ex, whomever.)

Then say:

“I forgive myself.”

Notice how you feel after doing this exercise. Sometime in the next few days, or perhaps weeks, new insights, new sensibilities will emerge. You begin experiencing the steps to forgiveness. You may come to understand that each of those people was doing the best they could manage at the time. You just got caught in their interior melodrama. To help you get to the place of forgiveness, ask yourself this question, “Do I, or anyone else, ever get up in the morning and say, ‘I am going to make a half-hearted effort today?’ ”

I don’t think so. Consciously, or unconsciously, we do the best we can every day with the mental, physical, and emotional faculties available to us right then. Absorbing this truth stopped me from judging myself and other people quite so much, and now I downshift into forgiveness far easier than I ever could before.

I don’t ask myself whether these people actually deserve to be forgiven. They probably aren’t even seeking forgiveness, because apparently, they are happy with the way their lives are right now. That’s not important. What IS important is what forgiving them does for me.  Forgiving someone, as Doc Childre and Dr. Rollin McCraty and their team at the HeartMath Institute have shown, frees up huge vats of energy previously being utilized to keep those anger knots solidly in place. Afterward, you feel lighter, happier, and more at peace than you thought possible. You are the prime beneficiary of this gift. The gift you bestow on those you forgive? Extra gravy.

The Power of Forgiveness

The one catch I must warn you about is the “yes-but,” conditional forgiving gambit. The classic one goes something like, “I forgive my ex-husband, but I never want to see him again.” That is not the real thing. At the time you forgave him, you thought you were done, yet each time you have to see him, or talk to him, or hear his name, your chest tightens. The knots of anger and resentment are still there. You may think it will take forever, but the more you touch that little knot and fully feel the hurt—forgiving them in the above nightly practice– the sooner the knot will finally, completely dissolve. At the moment of sincerely knowing that you have really forgiven your ex-husband, you will beam up to the next level: inner peace. Forgiveness does not mean that you forget or condone what he did to you, or that what he did reflects acceptable behavior in any realm of this universe. It means that you no longer actively feel the anger and the hurt you once did. You don’t let the anger control you; you simply release it from your heart, because to hold it there hurts you. Then you will walk in the slippers of a forgiver.

The last thing I want you to consider is forgiving yourself. You didn’t really think that was just a line in the above exercise, did you? “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete,” the saying goes. This part of the practice may prove a bit harder. At times, it is for me.

 Often I think about poor behavioral choices I made in the past or fixate on one of a myriad of other sins I think I committed. But, now I understand that we are all worthy and so most of the time I include myself as worthy of healing too. Sometimes this is difficult to do, but. I must work on making this practice routine.  By saying, “I forgive myself” at night after offering grace to all those other “sinners,” I include myself. Acknowledging that for any of the mistakes I have ever made, I made the best choice I could at that moment, given my state of being and working from the best information available, however limited or inaccurate. With 20-20 hindsight, we see how we could have acted differently, but we cannot change the past. Learn the lesson. Let it go and move on.

If forgiving yourself, or even thinking you deserve forgiveness, is a hard concept for you to embrace right now, don’t worry. Just keep adding yourself to the list every night, or whenever you allow a little forgiveness to caress your soul.  Each time you initiate this compassion you move farther away from the darkness of pain and closer to the light of happiness. Choose forgiveness and it will set you free–today, tomorrow, and forever.

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Read More

Who Draws George and LJ?

So often I am asked if I do the drawings I share each week with my readers. My answer is a resounding, I wish! I have talent in other areas, but drawing wasn’t a skill I was encouraged to develop ever. As I defined my idea for my practice, I thought about including a visual element with my written offerings; however, I needed a trained artist to help me bring that aspect into focus.  

Several months before, Alex Mikev, then an art student at Parsons School of Design in New York, had completed a design project for me. As I looked through his portfolio, I was awed by his drawings. I knew immediately Alex could bring my vision into reality. Almost three years on, our successful collaboration continues.

It all started for Alex with a high school drawing class. Drawing gave him “more joy and purpose,” he says, “than anything else.” With passion and dedication, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Ball University. His artistic style draws on the influence of the great masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. He wants to “make things that are as jaw-dropping real as possible.” His beautiful, commissioned works reflect this intention.

Sanctuary of Opara

Alex applies the same desire for realism to our weekly illustrations, with the added consideration of “understanding the conceptual nature of how L.J. and George are relating to each other and to the setting. It’s important I understand the story L.J. wants to tell, and keep the continuity of the journey of L.J. and George Eliot in each drawing.” In his hands, my rough, stick-figure sketches, and scribbling of notes quickly evolve into a finished sketch. Over time, Alex says he has learned to intuit what I am trying to say, and so often he is right-on. Every once in a while we get out of sync, and his rough draft makes me laugh. In the end, even the misunderstood ideas end up as successful illustrations. A testament to Alex’s talent!

As I work with Alex, my first such collaboration with an illustrator, I understand just how hard creating a successful “cartoon” is. Alex makes it seem effortless, but readily admits, “Drawing cartoons is not as easy as people think. It is a process of abstraction to correctly summarize the message, because you have to distill a lot of information into a few lines.” I am grateful every week that Alex translates my ideas so perfectly into those few important lines.

Until next time… Be Vibrant!

Read More