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I am what society simply terms an “old lady”. One day last year (2003), without warning, I suddenly became a senior citizen, simply by celebrating my 65th birthday. This one fact entitles me to collect pensions from the Canadian government and to leave my place of employment, receiving another small pension created by my employer (University of Toronto) with the help of my own contributions over the years I had worked there. I also get slightly cheaper rates at some business establishments and can buy very inexpensive tickets for public transit. Although I can sleep in every day if I choose, I don’t.
Retirement has created a place from which I observe my life as a whole and look into the future in a very different way than has been possible before reaching this pinnacle. Although 65 years may seem to be a long period of time when one is a child, it has passed quickly (though not painlessly). I look into the mirror to see the face of an aging woman that somewhat resembles the face of my mother before she died, a long time ago, but away from the mirror I experience the body and mind of a much younger person, full of interests, vitality and enthusiasms, which yet sometimes crashes mysteriously, beyond my control.
Fortunately for me, the road less travelled has been a part of my life since I was born. Nothing about my life has been normal or regular, despite the obvious facts – I am a human being, with parents of flesh and bone. They came to live in Canada at the beginning of the 20th century to escape the incredible poverty and privation rampant at the time in Ukraine, their country of origin. Their peasant stock gave them the strength and ability to adapt to a harsh world they did not expect before their arrival, and they survived. I grew up, completed high school, worked in a law office, married, raised three wonderful children, divorced, remarried, and became somewhat of a gypsy, pursuing spiritual goals that had never been important until the age of 40. These goals carried me from Southwestern Ontario to Quebec to California to British Columbia and back to Ontario again, this time to Toronto. I have occupied my time with pottery, cooking (both in a small granola bakery I started and managing the kitchen of a yoga ashram for several years), typesetting, secretarial work, taking classes of various descriptions, teaching pottery and yoga classes, working with undergraduate students, and following various disciplines such as practicing yoga postures, meditation, t’ai chi, etc. I have the undisciplined soul of an artist – which means I have never followed up seriously on any of the art efforts – such as drawing - that I’ve been involved in, but I do see the beauty of so many things that surround me, even when they are not considered to be beautiful in the classical sense. Since my return to Toronto I have had a deep romance with photography which has yielded great personal satisfaction. With all of these activities, it seemed natural enough, when a friend showed me a copy of Eat Right For Your Type almost seven years ago, that I should investigate what it held for me, and another new life began. Literally. My body was struggling with the effects of eating wrong foods (often accompanied by the strength of conviction that it was the best possible way to eat), and I needed help, desperately. The book, the diet and the web site gave that to me. I discovered that my chronic headaches gradually disappeared, that vegetarianism (for a B+ non-secretor) was a poor idea, and that several habits my body had settled into could actually reverse, to some extent, even at this late stage of life. These body corrections have allowed me to write poetry at various times with a clarity of mind not available when stresses created by toxins exist.
Who I am is a huge question at the moment. Identification no longer exists through my occupation or status. I feel like a secret agent, someone in disguise. Strangers observe my graying hair and offer seats on public transit with respect, which I often refuse because I’m not really tired. I know I’m not old (at least, not ancient old), because I don’t feel old, at least most days. I also know I’m not young, because the mirror doesn’t lie to me, nor do my pensions. I no longer work to generate an income. I read, sing, write, think, meditate, dance, walk, explore, celebrate the seasons and the lives of those close to me. Perhaps the simple answer to the incredibly complex question stated above is – I am a human being, still very much alive in spite of the occasional glimpses of mortality afforded when my body rebels against something I’ve done, either in the past or in the moment. I feel enriched by living in this period of time, by living my life, by all I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, all my adventures, and incredibly grateful for the many opportunities that continue to come forward to me, even now, in what is called “old age”.