The Maple tree outside my bedroom window puts out new leaves each year. It grows new twigs and as long as it is healthy, eventually new branches. I too make every effort to continue to grow each year as much as I can. Hopefully I'll not grow wider and certainly I won't increase in height; however, I can learn new things as well as change old ways that no longer serve me for new ones that do. I hope to do this for the rest of my life. My grandmother and my mother both lived long lives so I have a good start on longevity. I want my remaining years to be healthy ones.

It is truly said that that which does not grow begins to decay. Scientific research has confirmed that when we learn something new, we grow new pathways in the brain. I bought a harp to learn to play in order to aid that process. It has been fun and though I didn't get very far in the lessons because they got too complicated, I still enjoy playing it as often as I make the time to do so. This has also fulfilled a childhood dream to play the harp. It is a small, lap harp or Celtic harp with 19 strings, and it makes a pretty sound. I find it soothing to pluck the strings. 

It is good to learn new things at any age, however as we get older it becomes even more important. It is also a good idea to keep moving. Some form of exercise is vital to keeping the body flexible and strong. I remember watching a video of George Burns. I believe he was in his eighties when he made it. In it he detailed all the things he did to keep fit, and they must have served him well because he passed on just a short time after he reached his goal of a hundred. This is also remarkable because he loved smoking cigars.

          It is also crucial to pay attention to the messages our bodies give us. They speak to us in symptoms of discomfort and disease. While the use of medicine is important, so is avoiding the need for it by observing simple rules for good health. A good diet is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. As we get older our digestion may not work as well. There are foods we used to eat with impunity that now give us heartburn or at the least, gas. While there are lots of remedies on the drugstore shelves, it is better to avoid eating poorly, no matter how good something tastes, because the message your body is giving to you is "don’t eat this, it's not good for you."

The same is true for eating the same quantity of food as you used to. I have found I am maintaining a healthy weight by only eating two meals a day and a couple of snacks.  When I eat big meals—especially when eating out, I become uncomfortable and wish I hadn't. My goal is to age in a healthy manner, and no matter how long I live, I hope to be able to able to do this. My body is a precious vehicle, the only one I have. I need to treat it well and take good care of it so it will continue to carry me through life in a healthy way. This new year presents a potential for new growth, and I look forward to it. This year, like the Maple tree I am so fond of, I hope to continue to put out new leaves and maybe even branch out.