by Mary Gulivindala
I have been renting a house for the last three years. During this time I often receive mail addressed to previous tenants who used to live here, so Joan Lutz, if you’re out there, your mail is still coming here years later. It is not uncommon that junk mail and letters addressed to others are mistakenly found on my floor when I walk in the door daily.

The fact that Mary, a Chestnut Hill “life coach,” just discovered her senior citizenship at the non-senior age of 45 has not stopped her from expressing “joyful abundance” (her phrase) at being alive and healthy. (Photo by Timothi Jane Graham)

Recently I had a rude awakening. As I was bending down to pick up the bulk mass mailings of weekly supermarket fliers, along with my monthly State Farm solicitation, and the weekly Land’s End and L.L. Bean catalogues, which increased during the holiday season, I saw an unfamiliar magazine. Immediately I thought Joan Lutz. But no, it was addressed to ME, and it was AARP! AARP is the acronym for the American Association of Retired Persons!!

Well, after the initial shock, I went on an emotional roller coaster ride which lasted at least a long 15 minutes. First came denial. This is a mistake. I am not old enough to be a member of AARP. That’s the magazine for old people; senior citizens are age 65 and up, and I’m only 45. At this point I don’t even accept or identify myself as being middle age, so you can imagine my ego’s horror of being on a senior citizens’ mailing list.

Next came anger. How could they possible get my name and address? Who does the fact checking to see just how old someone is? I have a current valid driver’s license and a Social Security card. Google those or just my name, and all kinds of facts appear confirming my age, which once again does not fall into the senior citizen population.

After taking a breath and finding my way to the couch to sit down before I slumped my way down the wall to sit on the floor surrounded by my bulk junk mail, I began to bargain with the Almighty. “Dear God, I know I’m a sugar addict, and Oreos are not a proper breakfast meal. I don’t sleep enough, but how can I when you put all the funny Comedy Central shows on late at night?

“I know I rarely exercise, (no excuse), but I will start to eat properly, get eight hours of sleep nightly and start to run three miles a day, even outside in the cold, AND be a better person in all areas of my life if you would please not allow premature literature to cross my path again, spiraling me into an insecure, vain, Botox-wanting desperate woman. Please, God; I promise.”

So I sat on my couch in a  stupor. While sitting there, I noticed a feeling of heaviness entering my spirit. The best description would be that a gray cloud floated into my mind and soul. The feeling of “why bother?” The “it’s all down here from now” went creeping into my psyche, and I realized I wanted to close the blinds, turn off the phone, pull the covers up over my head and grab the Oreos. Depression was seducing me. I know depression; it’s friends with the Oreos.

In the AARP magazine, I expected to see ads for old age retirement homes, discount coupons for eye glasses, definitely Ibuprofen advertisements and perhaps and article on ballroom dancing. So as I was sitting on the couch, I decided to take a look at the magazine. Michelle Obama was on the cover, and she looks great, not a wrinkle. (Oh, maybe there will be coupons for Botox inside.) An article, “2011’s Best Places; the GOOD LIFE FOR LESS! Page 46” and “6 Months to a New Job — and a Fat Paycheck,” which confused me because I thought the whole idea of retirement was NOT to work, but my interest was piqued. I like those topics, and I want that information, so I looked inside the magazine. The first picture I saw was a beach at sunrise with three surfers headed to the water and a bowl of raisin bran, my favorite cereal, with the slogan, “I am taking the board out of retirement.” WHAT?

There were articles on “ Have Fun, HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT PANCAKES,” “Save Money, THE CHEAPEST TIME TO FLY IS” and “Feel Great, IF YOU WANT TO LIVE LONGER,” and this was only page eight! Flipping through, I was shocked to see articles on actors I love, such as Jane Lynch, Gene Hackman and Viola Davis. Not quite my peers but identifiable. And then reality hit. The Miralax advertisement, an article, “Save Your Eyesight,” and an ad to “Fight Advanced Prostate Cancer.” This was scary stuff for me. Unfamiliar territory, but I reminded myself that’s life.

So I read on and decided I liked this magazine. This is good stuff. This is living. These Seniors have it going on. A few health hurdles, but they don’t act like victims, as I do. I ruminated for a bit, looking at the big picture, and came to the conclusion that this was a wake-up call, an opportunity to take care of myself . Now sitting up with an attitude adjustment, acceptance entered my thinking.

I am on my way to AARP land. It doesn’t seem like a bad place to be. I felt encouraged, even excited, about making healthy changes in my life. After the emotional roller coaster ride, I realized I went through the Kubler-Ross model of the “Five Stages of Grief.” I experienced them all and actually have extra pep in my step, a new attitude, a banana in my purse and a smile on my face.

“Life coach” Mary Gulivindala is the founder of Blue Print Life & Wellness Coaching in Chestnut Hill.