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Jottings contributor Kathryn Kendall is mastering the art of aging. Read on about how she is doing it.

It's a rainy Saturday morning. I am having a cup of coffee and am ruminating about ending this decade on my next birthday and then beginning a new decade. This decade had its memorial experiences: a major medical disease, retirement and moving into an independent senior apartment building.

A few years after I retired I took a course called Mastering Aging at a senior center. The course was developed by the US Department on Aging. I am feeling confident understanding the various physical, mental and emotional events that may change as I age.

My plan for healthy aging includes doing something daily for my mind, body and spirit. I like this plan. My physical and mental health is great. I have more energy to do the things I love. I am grateful for my daily meditation practice.

It took a year for me to create the habit of exercising five days a week, usually for 45 minutes. I love walking outdoors. One of my favorite parks is Roehr Park because it is shady and right along the river. In the summer I participate in AARP NeighborWalks, the City of Portland's Sunday Parkways and fly fishing. In the winter I like indoor exercise at a senior center or community pool.

I take vitamins and supplements. I believe they are an investment in my health.

A wise man told me "that your health is your wealth." I have found this to be true for me. As long I am healthy I don't need to see my doctor often. My doctor's office actually called me because they had not seen me for a while. I scheduled an appointment and we decided that I would come in once a year for my annual diabetic review.

People with diabetes should have an A1C blood tested every six months.

My A1C level was going up every six months which I knew was not a good sign. When my A1C level hit 7.0 my doctor talked to me about starting medication to combat it. I told her "No thanks." Instead I went home and made a plan to lower my A1C that included exercise, changing my diet and making better food choices. With these changes my A1C level started to go down. It took me a good two years but my last A1C was 5.8. Both of us were happy.

Making new friends has proven to be harder as I age. I recently learned that loneliness may be damaging to my health. I found it shocking to learn that it can be as harmful as drinking and smoking. In the last three years, many of my older friends have moved away to be closer to their kids, have experienced their own health issues and in several cases have passed.

Now I have more acquaintances. Hopefully some may become friends. I meet people at activities at senior centers, exercise classes and clubs. If I find out that we may have something in common, then I ask for their phone number. I call them a week later to ask they would like to meet for coffee or take a walk. Lately I have noticed many seniors now have calling cards with their name and phone number. One very clever woman lists 'conservationist' on her card as her title.

I like to go on senior van trips because I enjoy looking out the window and not driving. Many times I have started a conversation with my seat mate.

When I was in Toastmasters there would be a table topic conversation. I decided to try this at a senior dining event. Now I ask those around the table if anyone has done anything fun lately that they could recommend to me?

For years, my interest has been planning fun events or trips for myself. I read in AARP magazine that this actually helps create new pathways in your brain. Last winter, I made a three-ring binder with a monthly day trip and an overnight trip. Now I take out the current month activity and show it to people I know and ask them if they are interested in going with me.

My retirement hobby is fly fishing. It started when I was at Yellowstone and saw a man fly fishing in a stream. "I want to do that," I thought. I've tried several fly fishing clubs but have found that it is more of a "just me and the river" sport. As Martha Stewart says "it's a good thing." I've heard it takes 1,000 casts to catch your first fish on a fly.

My mom called me the most stubborn of her three kids. Thanks, Mom. I have learned that stubborn trait, in most cases has worked out for my own good.

Kathryn Kendall is a member of the Jottings group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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