The Best is Yet to Be

Grace on Delray the Wonder Pony

Grace on Delray the Wonder Pony

I stopped riding horses about six years ago, purely as a function of economics, and bad things started happening to me immediately. I was lonely for my riding buddies, I gained weight, my joints hurt worse than when I’d been riding, my outlook became less sanguine. I was no longer a horse girl, and I’d loved that part of my life.

I wrote, which I also love. I lawyered, and when the finances picked up, I started visiting the UK. But my health took a hit when I stopped riding that I still haven’t recovered from…. Sitting for long periods is lethal, I’m an overweight, post-menopausal, hypothryoid poster granny, and my jobs involve a lot of sitting.

This is a problem.

blogXrunningXshoesWhen it comes to my wellbeing, the stakes go up from here on out. If you’ve seen this short video by fitness coach Mike Vicanti, you know what I mean. At my age, flexibility, strength, and aerobic endurance, become life or death, and certainly quality of life, matters. If you can’t get in and out of the tub on your own, if you can’t touch your toes, you’re not that far from assisted living. Yikes!!!

blogXlavenderI am determined to be healthier at sixty than I was at fifty-three, and you know what? It’s looking good so far. I am getting on that stupid, dratted, perishing, rotten tread desk. I’m more conscious of what I eat, I have less work stress (buh-bye courthouse!), and all along the way, I keep an eye out for wisdom that fits my circumstances.

The scent of lavender helps us sleep better–I’ll try that!

The benefits of exercise are cumulative–I’ll try walking in fifteen minutes sets!

Quiet helps the brain recharge and even grow new cells–I’m good at quiet!

The older I get, the larger my collection becomes of insights and information that boost me in the right direction. The older I get, the less I’m plagued by other people’s expectations for me, and the more I can fashion a life that works on my terms. The older I get, the less I’m willing to let anybody steal my fire.

blogXmaggieI don’t much care what I weigh or how I look–though I’d rather not scare small children with my appearance. I care that I have good enough health to look after myself and do the things I love with the people I love. I have little energy compared to many, and time will take a toll. But I’m determined as all get out, creative, persistent, and motivated.

Better, healthier days coming–wish me luck!

In what ways are you in a better place than you were a few years ago? In what directions do you aspire to make more progress? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, a story about a lady who thought she was all out of options–when the fun part was just about to begin.




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53 comments on “The Best is Yet to Be

  1. Boy, I can identify with a lot in this post. I’ll be 72 in a few months. I’ve gone from dance aerobics in my younger days to “senior” water exercises – which I do love, by the way. One of the few physical activities that I always enjoyed was walking. I can still walk (thank you Lord), but when you ache with every step you take, it just sucks the joy right out of it.

    Well – enough whining! I do work at keeping a good attitude. Counting my blessings and finding things to laugh and smile about.

    I just finished the two novellas that you and Mary Balogh wrote. Loved it. I’m not normally a fan of novellas, but I loved them both. It was a sweet gift for your fans.

    • My mom was a walker–in San Diego, there aren’t many bad days for walking. In addition to getting her out of the house socially, I think she also benefited from a daily dose of vitamin D–the real kind, not the supplement.

      I commend you for doing what you can when you can. Susan Elizabeth Phillips made the point not long ago, “So you don’t do 10,000 steps a day? Do something. Do anything. Do five steps, then six, but keep moving.”

      Good words from a good lady.

  2. I sure can identify with these observations. Like you my job is sedentary, and when I get home I tend to decmpress in front of the TV. My best canine walking companion developed nerve issues, so now he struggles to reach the back yard much less around the block. After a bout of plantars fasciitis I am cleared for anything but treadmills, so no walking desk for me. I sure don’t want to age like my 89 year old mother though, a pain ridden querulous woman with a dowagers’s hump who depends on us for everything. So what’s the answer? I’m hoping a new puppy will help get me moving.

    • A new puppy, or a new old puppy, can solve an awful lot of problems. One of my cats has developed a routine whereby for about an hour every morning, and again at the end of the day, she’ll sit in my lap, purring like a nuclear reactor. It’s LOVELY.

  3. This blog hit home!
    I am on a low carb, low sugar diet…well I am supposed to be following it!
    Working two jobs over the holidays and through the first three months of the year has been stressful. I make poor meal choices when I am tired. Need to plan my meals. I have lost over 20 pounds and need to keep on task.

    I bought a new pair of sneakers and have been walking the dogs most mornings. I need to walk them in the morning or it doesn’t them to get done. I love to walk and it’s a win win for the dogs and I.

    Understand what you wrote about missing your horse friends. I missed my corgi friends. Realized that I needed to train and show my dogs to be with my friends. I bought Greg to show and Celeste went to obedience school. I like getting out and having some me time.

    Thank you for blogging about making better choices. I am going to call the nutritionist and make an appointment. And…set the alarm 30 minutes early for a walk. I am in a better place than I was last year, I need to focus and be committed to my health.

    Loved Segemere’s story!
    Am reading Thomas now. He’s surprised me!

    • Working two jobs seems to be our solution to a lot of challenges, but I know your daughter appreciates all the extra effort. Time to Corgi-up, though! Especially now that you’ve got an obedience princess in the show string.

  4. I celebrated a birthday with an *0* at the end in October and immediately, my body was like “we’ll get you for mistreating us!” I’m a very healthy person so it may not seem like much but it’s enough for me to be uncomfortable.

    I suddenly developed calcium deposits on the ball of my left foot. Thought was, after being a ballet dancer/choreographer in my early life, this was purely stress-related (jumping repeatedly–though why it’s only on one side, we’ll never know!) injury which was exacerbated over time. I have a gel foot ball pad I wear under socks and that has helped mightily. But I am weighing options of having it dissolved by injection this summer when I have time to heal without having to perform or conduct. In the meantime, I’ve gained weight and feel crummy.

    With the sun out here in the Midwest, I am hopeful to go back (probably slowly or that dratted foot will flare up) to my four times a week power walking. I know I’ll feel better and can eat without thinking I have to starve myself like I did *back in the day*!

    Loved that latest Dreamy Duke of yours…he really might be my favorite!

    • I’ll wish you cushy insoles, and slow and steady progress, and yes, Sedgemere–all duke, all the time. I met him when I wrote Hardcastle’s story for Dancing in the Duke’s Arms, and thought, “Who IS this guy? What’s his story, and why does Anna put up with him?”

      Now we all know. A darling pair of dukes!

    • NEVER a bad idea! I do read every night before bed. That’s also supposed to improve sleep, and reading has a ton of other benefits too (lower blood pressure, better liver function, greater tolerance… good stuff!).

  5. Best of luck to you! I’m trying to do the same, walking on breaks at work, doing stair laps at home, etc., but I have to admit, I am taking advantage of a counseling service through work because of health issues. Need to get back into a productive writing and editing routine. Know you miss the horses and keep up the great work!

    • We’ll go for the slow and steady approach. I was married to a distance runner for a few years, and he was fond of quoting, “Rest is a part of conditioning.” The most neglected part of adult fitness is stretching… I can do some of that even on my no-energy days.

  6. Check with a reliable doctor for orthotics in your shoes. You may remember me in surgical stockings at RWA14. 5 surgeries later, I’m up, bouncing around on these (covered by my insurance), and my health and weight are drastically improved.

    As soon as this house sells and I’m settled in my writing castle, I’ll be on the tread desk as well with the full blessing of the doc who got me back on my feet.

    Pull back on the amount of meat, processed foods, and GMO grain products (bread, pasta, flour) you eat and the pounds will melt off but you won’t be hungry and your energy levels will go through the roof! Promise!

    I’ll see you at RWA17 and you’ll see the proof. Getting back in motion and switching the eating around (Whole Paycheck is worth it if you stick to the perimeter aisles of the store) is peeling over a decade off my body’s test results.

    • Beth, for you I’m wishing a quick sale at the price of your dreams. A writing castle is probably the equivalent of orthotics for your creativity, and good on ya for finding a doc that knows how to doc.

      As for the meat and grains… haven’t eaten either one for years, except an occasional rice cracker. No potatoes, no flour tortillas. No pasta, no bread.

      In those years, I’ve gained twenty pounds, while walking fairly regularly, using no refined sugar, and taking my thyroid meds. That’s a special skill, I’m sure. As my dad once said, “When the next ice age comes, everybody will wish they had your metabolism.”

      (Thanks, Dad.)

  7. I’m 5 years younger, but in the exact same place. Sitting too long and starting to feel it. I KNOW it’s not healthy for me. This year I am trying to pay more attention to what I eat, and making more effort to get up and move around. I want to be able to keep up with the group in Scotland!

    • Don’t worry about keeping up with us, Gretchen. We’re there to see Scotland and have fun, not set land-speed records. There are footpaths and hiking trails all over Scotland… but that’s for another trip, aye?

  8. I started yoga again two years ago, after a ten years break. It has increased my flexibility, helped me to sleep better, and I can meditate without compiling my to do list in my head. It took eighteen months for a persistent tight muscle to fully loosen up on my one side. I can touch my toes and have no problem getting in and out of the bathtub. Around the time just before that stubborn muscle loosened up, a woman at my church gave a seminar on the occult. Yoga was given as an occult activity and was to be avoided. Had I listened to her, that muscle would still be bothering me, and I probably wouldn’t have the same level of flexibility. The entire time I wasn’t doing yoga, I was doing water aerobics. Adding the yoga emphasized the importance of cross training and varying your fitness routines. I feel better than before the yoga. I hope to spend the summer biking with a goal of a fifty mile bike ride in the fall.

    • I’m glad you make up your own mind about what works for you, and you make an excellent point. Anything we do too much of can result in injury. That stretching is a part of your routine is brilliant–an metaphor for all the good things.

  9. I hope your finances improve to the point you can take up riding and horses again. I know from observation only that they can take up a good part of one’s life. Thank you for this uplifting blog!

    • I’m looking around Marilyn. Even if I just go back to up-downs twice a week, that’s two hours a week I’ll be in another one of my happy places. Somewhere within a reasonable distance of the house, there has to be a lesson pony with my name on his schedule.

  10. Thank you for this Best is Yet to Be blog! You spoke right to me – if you know what I mean. But this is something all writers need to hear so I’m going to tweet it. Loved the links, too.
    Thanks, you are such a guide to so many.

    • I’ve had to say good-bye to many equine friends, and each time I think, “There will never another one like that…” Another one comes along who’s wonderful in a whole different way.
      You know what I mean. Happy riding!

  11. I don’t recommend my diet plan, but I lost a lot of weight recently. I started yoga 2 years ago and have found a lot of peace and flexibility. I’m looking for a new career. My next goal is to find a fufilling way to earn an income and leave my soul sucking job.

    • Congrats on ditching the extra avoirdupois, and here’s hoping it stays the heck off. Maybe the new job will help with that? I’ve often told my daughter, “What is the thing you love so much, you can’t believe you’d get paid to do it? The thing that when you’re doing it, you resent having to stop and answer the phone, go to the bathroom, or eat? THAT’S what you’re supposed to do.”
      She thinks I’m nuts, but then, she’s never seen me when the writing is going well. Wheeee!

  12. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read, “…perishing rotten tread desk.”! I would have spewed on my keyboard! But I’m mightily impressed that you’re using one.

    I became very (my relatives say obsessively) interested in nutrition several years ago when I taught Jazzercise and their diet/nutrition program. For me after years and years of study, it’s boiled down to 1)If it doesn’t rot in a week, don’t eat it (i.e. canned, packaged, boxed, etc.) and 2)If it has an ingredient list, don’t eat it. I’ve added a couple of corollaries over time – eat raw fat and don’t eat grain and sugar.

    Even with all of that, it was only a month ago that I gave up milk or cream in my tea. For me that amounted to heresy, but I’ve stuck with it and am *almost* used to it.

    I still need to spend more time doing yoga though.

    Gorgeous horse!

    • Delray the Wonder Pony was a lovely guy in many ways.

      I don’t think I could give up a splash of milk in my tea… I’ve tried, and I think that’s going to be the “one last thing,” when every other self-indulgence has been dumped over the side.

  13. Boy did this post hit home with me, too.

    After my husband died, I moved to Florida to help my Mom care for my Dad who had Alzheimers. When I arrived, I took up ballroom dancing. Through it I met a wonderful man and we continue to dance. This is a lot of fun as well as good exercise.

    After my husband died, I lost 20 pounds probably because I had no interest in food and was simply moving about more than I did before. BUT a decided drawback to dating is eating out A LOT. I gained back those 20 pounds and an additional 10.

    We’re still dancing and I walk about 1-1/2 miles a day but that eating out is a killer, not to mention the alcohol consumed at the lounge where we dance. Plus my hobbies are all sedentary: reading, needlework and cruising the internet. LOL

    I’m just going to carry on being active and not worry too much about the weight.

  14. I know I am in a better place than where I was a few years ago. I was in an unhappy marriage and feeling like I was just going through the motions. I got divorced last year and went out and bought a house on my own. It’s just me and my son and our 2 cats and we couldn’t be happier.

    • One of the seven emotions most strongly associated with divorce (along with grief, rage, blah, blah, blah, blah), is RELIEF. When it’s not working, admitting it’s not working means you can start problem-solving. And sometimes, it’s never going to work again, so move on.

      Glad the sun has come out, for you and your son.

  15. Less stress is definitely one of the best things any of us can do for our health. My current job is easier to leave the stress at work than many jobs I’ve held – even though I often work 50+ hour weeks. However, lately I’ve been getting less exercise both at work and at home. Even worse, I’ve hit a point where my metabolism has slowed down another notch (or 2) so the weight is starting to add up and on. I’m working on watching my food and drink intake and adding in more exercise. Increasing my movement makes a huge difference in my arthritis as well as preventing more weight gain. I count stopping the weight gain as winning a battle, but it’s going to take some time before I achieve a real life style change (and hopefully weight loss).

    Things are looking up on the mom front. My son has been accepted to a graduate program at University of Colorado, Boulder. Even better, as part of the acceptance he has a job offer – so he will get paid and tuition is on massive benefit. Mom doesn’t have to worry about him having huge college loan payments. My daughter is focusing on a couple career paths (all of which will require post graduate degrees) and more importantly she seems to be getting her health problems under control.

    • You raise a good point. Sometimes I want to bellow at people: “I am NOT lazy and self-indulgent. If I were lazy and self-indulgent, I’d weigh 800 pounds or be dead. Don’t look at me like that!” because yes, simply not gaining weight is a victory over inertia, and the metabolic undertoad.

      Glad to hear the kids are doing well. Nothing stresses me like when Beloved Offspring is struggling, and kids today have it so much tougher than I did in my twenties.

  16. I understand wishing you hadn’t given up riding. I gave it up after losing my horse to colic in 2009. I didn’t go back both because of economics and a bit of heartbreak. I still have my tack and boots. I try the boots on to make sure I haven’t somehow managed to get where the don’t fit.

    I need to make myself concentrate more on the things I love. Like silver smithing or cuttings stones. I always seem to get home and have no energy. I need to stop that because I always feel bad about it.

    • I have a great big old autoimmune thyroid condition, and I’m prone to anemia (still). When I don’t have energy, it’s because there just isn’t any energy to have. The quarter has run out, and until I rest, I won’t have any more juice.

      I HATE this. I have books to write, flowers to plant, Scotlands to travel… but we only get the energy we get. It is the case, though, that when I rode regularly, I had the energy I needed to ride. I’d go from the barn to the office and collapse in a heap, but I was a pretty happy heap.

      I can’t fit into my tall boots any more, but I still have a pair of paddock boots, and that will get me started. I hope.

  17. Well Mrs. Grace it is never too late to get back on the horse. If you have friends near by go for a barn visit. My brother who is a us marine surprised us all with how much he missed the horses when he was stationed in Austria. He wasn’t a big rider but he missed their smells and noises so much he would tour the Austrian horse Academy when he could just to smell them again. Sounds like you could use some sweet equine therapy even if it’s swapping your pen for a brush a few times a week. Then I’m sure you will have worked it out with yourself on how to make leasing owning or just borrowing time from a friend work into your life again. I know I don’t have to tell you but horses are good for more than body wellness it’s a state of mind and they are so soothing. I hope to see a blog again soon as to your next riding endeavor. As always the best of wishes!

  18. I want to continue my gratitude journaling. I am planning to add a new gratitude habit every six months. In July I am going to write a thank you note everyday and begin a gratitude scrapbook. I want my appreciation for every blessing to color me in all ways.

  19. I was 60 last August. It is 3 years since I was made redundant and decided to treat it as an early retirement. My physical health is so much better for not being chained to a desk;my mental health is better for leaving the deadlines behind and the demands of a micro-managing supervisor; and now I have time for crafts and to create. Ok, I don’t have much money, and yet I feel so much richer.

    • One of the social workers in my county who’s been at the foster game as long as I have said to me not long ago, “I’m taking the first retirement date I can finagle. I don’t care if I have to live on peanut butter and celery. It’s time to leave this business behind.”

      She reminded me that a small, happy life is going to last longer and feel better than big, harried life. Good words for me to hear and to remember.

  20. Hmm… Let’s see. I’ve lost 30 pounds, I would like to lose 30 more pounds. I’ve gone recently on some trips I really enjoyed. I got my hair dyed on Friday. I like it. I am excited at what the future will bring.

    • Oh, good on ya! For the weight loss, for frolicking at the hair salon, for keeping the focus forward and upward. Here’s to the next thirty pounds just sneaking away while you’re busy having fun.

  21. I’m just getting back to where I was getting a couple of years ago. Then, I was walking every day and eating well and physically doing better than I’d been since I was 45. Then I broke my ankle. And spent 9 months in PT and on the couch… thru the best part of the year– summer– and into fall (2nd best time of the year) and thru the winter… And then I hurt my back from recovering from the ankle. So really it’s been a crappy couple of years. But me and my nag (a mutt named Finn) are getting back to it now… still have some issues with my ankle and back… but I’m doing it anyway. (No need for the book, I have it already).

    Good luck with your healthy lifestyle.

    (I miss my horses too. A lot. I wasn’t a rider, I had clydesdales. Lots of lifting and hauling and stretching)

    • The last two horses I had on the property were my daughter’s old TB mare, who also taught me to jump, and the mare’s boyfriend. Prince was–I kid thee not–a twenty hand plus Belgian plough horse, the largest horse my vet had ever seen. When I leaned on Prince’s shoulder, there was a lot of horse whispering, “There, there. Just get me another bale of hay and it will be OK.”

      Wrassling that boy’s muck cart was exercise!

  22. After 40 years of playing soccer, it’s getting harder to play in a coed league with the other players getting younger and younger. I know I’ll need to stop someday, but I can’t imagine life without soccer. I have two sedentary jobs. I write and I work as an attorney for dependent kids, so I need to work out. Without soccer, I suppose I could run more, but I’ve always hated running with out some obstacle in the way.

    Maybe you can find a place to ride a bit every month. I’m starting to look for all women team so I don’t get knocked down so much.

    • I hope you do find the women’s team, and that lawyering for dependent children… hard, hard work. If you don’t have something to balance it, it can grind you up. I’ll wish you many more seasons of soccer, and in a league that doesn’t knock you down.

  23. I too have been more sendantary than i would like to be after a couple of operations and a knee problem limiting my ability to walk a lot. During the past two years i have tried to find exercise that did not cause further pain and finally have tried swimming. I had not been in a bathing suit for 30 years, so that was the first hurdle. That done I found i really liked the swimming and now have a goal of learning to do the crawl more easily. I have to say i am proud of this foray into improving my health, but with the good comes a little bad. The chlorine hurts my eyes and skin so once a week for an hour is my limit. Life is like that, nothing is without consequences so i celebrate the swimming and slather on the lotion. At 65 i know the next ten years are the best years of my life. I am retired and enjoy the lack of stress and responsibility. I saturate my life with good things and try and do only the things i want to. As the saying goes on my death bed i wont be saying i wish i had done more tidying up. I know what i am, good and less good, i like and accept myself for who I am. I enjoy trying to improve without stressing about it.. Our regular toast is to friends who are family and family who are friends. We have more parties but everyone who comes brings a dish so the work is less.

    One of the great joys i have discovered is listening to audiobooks and well written historical romance. I have loved your books especially and find your characters are exquisite and a joy to get to know. My favourites so far are The Traitor and The Captive, but absolutely love the Windhams and their offspring. I love all the audiobooks and hooe there will be more in future. Thanks for hours and hours of pleasure both past and future