Kick up your heels

As a three-year-old, I used to skip and run the distance of half a city block to our country school every morning and every afternoon at recess time.
I’m not sure the older kids appreciated my intrusion, but I had fun anyway!
Then a few years later, I meandered through the snow during sugaring time on my way to the sugar shanty, where my parents were making maple syrup.
As I walked, I dreamed of owning a candy factory when I grew up—a factory that would make all kinds of chocolate-covered Easter goodies.
Next, I remember with pleasure walking with friends around the green on a Virginia campus after meal times. Then, a few years later, taking in the beautiful scenery by “the old mill stream” on an Indiana campus.
And more recently, what fun it was to kick up my heels during 25 years of square dancing!
But that’s all in the past. Since my stroke seven years ago, I feel very fortunate to be able to walk again, but I rarely “kick up my heels” anymore.
That’s why I was interested in the book “Kick up Your Heels . . . Before You’re Too Short to Wear Them—How to Live a Long, Healthy, Juicy Life” by Loretta LaRoche.
LaRoche is known for her entertaining and wise insights about life. In fact, someone has called her “the jolly-lama.” Among her books are “Life Is Short, Wear Your Party Pants” and “Making the Most Out of Life Before You Run Out of It.”
In “Kick Up Your Heels,” she addresses the question of how we can age well.
LaRoche had a personal reason for writing this particular book. She begins the book with, “When I reached my 60th birthday, I panicked at the thought that I had less time ahead of me than I had behind me.”
As a result, she decided to discover as much as she could about the aging process—both negative and positive—and made up her mind to have a healthy, juicy aging life.
If you don’t want a healthy, juicy life, LaRoche has a list of WAYS TO WITHER: Never change! Stay predictable. Don’t do anything physical. Complain a lot about everyone and everything without doing anything about it. Wait to enjoy yourself. Don’t sit down to eat.
After one of these lists, LaRoche writes, “I love to laugh, and I hope you’ll see the humour in many of my messages. You get juicier the more you chuckle!”
And she reminds us that researchers tell us laughter actually may lower your risk of heart disease.
She recommends a fun-packed life that includes dancing, solving puzzles, playing a musical instrument, or learning a foreign language. Most of us are too serious. “Lighten up!” is LaRoche’s advice.
“Kick Up Your Heels” is a fun and helpful book. It ends with 22 pages of “Kickin’ Resources,” including books and websites about aging and how to get more fun and adventure in your life.
So why not kick up your heels—actually or symbolically—and lighten up as LaRoche recommends. It will certainly be more fun than WITHERING!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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