Tuesday, September 25, 2018

EMBRACING AGEING - NATURALLY


Back in 2013, I was asked if I would like to volunteer for a non-invasive anti-ageing procedure. Some doctors were doing a short training course in this field and needed volunteers to practice on. The idea of looking years younger than my chronological age (I was 65 then) was tempting, especially as it wouldn't cost me a cent.

But I declined. I was nursing a bad cough at the time. That was the excuse I gave, but the real reason was my aversion to anything that is labeled 'anti-ageing', whether it's anti-ageing procedures, supplements or cosmetics.

The only exception for me at the time was getting my hair colored black. It had turned almost all grey within a short span of six months, brought on mainly by the stress of caring for my mom after her hip surgery in March 2011. She was also diagnosed with dementia at the same time. I was her sole caregiver.

I would have happily left my hair that shade of grey had it not been for well-meaning young people offering me their seats on trains, or helping me with my bags. It made me feel frail, old and decrepit when the reality was I probably had more energy than those nice young people.

Anyway, since then I have vowed that once I reached my 70s, that's it. No more coloring my hair black. Maybe shades of brown or blonde! Well, I am 70 now, and have kept my vow.

I mean why go against nature? Physical ageing is inevitable. Some are born blessed with great genes that slow down the ageing process. They look terrific for their age, whatever it is. We have all met such blessed individuals and secretly admire or envy them.

Less is always more when it comes to make-up for older women. Unless we know how to apply make-up to look younger and more natural, we may end up looking like a painted Chinese opera performer! Branded cosmetics are expensive. Some of them are meant to help us look natural. The irony of it! Wearing make-up is addictive too. Once we are used to having our face all made up whenever we go out, or when we have company, we will feel naked to be seen sans make-up.

Confident women don't mind being seen in public without a trace of make-up on their face. They know outer beauty is only skin-deep. It is what's inside that makes them glow - inner strength of character and a positive attitude towards life. A light touch of lipstick should suffice. The best face-lift is a genuine smile. It works. Try it.

Ali MacGraw, 79, and Robert Redford. 82, still looking great despite the silver hair and age lines 
Men are lucky - they don't need make-up to cover the wrinkles or color their hair to pass off as younger than they are. However, a word of advice - if you are balding on top, please don't drag some strands of hair to cover up the shiny pate. It's a huge turn-off for the ladies. Better to go a la Sean Connery, or go completely bald a la Bruce Willis. Some women do find bald men sexy!

Source: Daily Mail
From face lifts to breast implants, tummy tucks and more, older women are resorting to whatever means they can afford to reverse the ageing process. More men are now chasing that elixir of youth too, as evident from the rising demand for anti-ageing products for men in the market.

Alicia Douvall is the world's most surgically enhanced woman. At only 33 (in 2013), she already had 71 operations and 260 cosmetic procedures, with her first one done when she was only 17. At this rate, by the time she turns 50, her entire body would have been re-molded. She readily admits to being an enhancement addict. Surely this can't be considered effectively turning back the clock?

If going under the knife to look good makes you feel confident about yourself, or if you are doing it for functional reasons rather than aesthetic like dental implants, for instance, by all means go for it. Just don't overdo it or you might end up looking really plastic with all that plastic surgery. Make sure you get an experienced doctor. And if you are prepared to spend on costly anti-ageing products, make sure you do the research and find out if the products are genuine and effective.

With the world's population ageing at an alarming rate, the anti-ageing industry can only go from strength to strength in terms of revenue generated. Cosmetic surgeons will likely be the most sought after of all medical professionals, as there will always be men and women who refuse to grow old gracefully.

For the rest of us who prefer to let nature take its course, just remember that growing older isn't all that dreadful if we still enjoy good health, have plenty of good friends and a family that loves us and cares about us. Think of wrinkles as lines that reflect our wealth of life experiences.

Baby boomers all. With my cousin Henry (centre) and Antares after a dip in the river at Kampung Pertak. Staying forever young-at-heart and only slightly older in other places :-) (Photo taken in 2013).



Thursday, August 30, 2018

A WEEKEND OF MUSIC AND LAUGHTER WITH THE PHIL


Last weekend was one of the best I had in a long time - two whole days filled with music and laughter that can be described as truly uplifting - music that warms the heart, and laughter that heals the soul. It was as if every song was deliberately chosen to reflect this twin purpose, from the opening song 'Getting to know you' at the Sunday concert to the fitting finale 'Thank you for the music'.

Day 1 kicked off with a high energy session of Laughter Yoga led by Debbie Rodrigo and her team. This was followed by a workshop conducted by Dr Jonathan Welch. He was specially invited to share his vast experience in working with community choirs.


Listening with rapt attention as Dr Jonathan Welch explained the fine points about singing in parts. 'Do you know if you are soprano, alto, tenor or bass?' he asks.
There is so much more to singing than just belting out a song. I discovered this during rehearsals under the direction of Dr Jonathan Welch.
The Mass Choir at rehearsal. 
I was there on both days and can attest to how meticulous (and insistent) Dr Welch was in ensuring that the choir got the enunciation and the pitch right, down to the phonetics! He said if we got it right the first time, it would be a whole lot easier to get it right every time. Absolutely. He demonstrated the importance of proper breathing and correct posture for singing well. He had such a great sense of humor and made the rehearsals so much fun.

The choir from National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) opened the concert with 'Getting to Know You' and immediately won over the audience.
Credit goes to Cheryl Teh, chairperson and choir director of the Philharmonic Society of Selangor, (affectionately known as The Phil), and her team for the long hours of hard work in putting together such a wonderful showcase of songs and singers that not only entertained but also enlightened. True, everyone can sing, but not everyone can sing like Janet Lee, Elvira Arul or Victor Chua, if you know what I mean. Brenda James-Leong was outstanding as emcee, and so was Nish Tham who provided the musical accompaniment. All of you deserve a standing ovation!
My humble phone camera doesn't do justice to the singers above. Nothing like listening to them live and getting mesmerized by the way they delivered their song.


The Inclusion Choir made up of choir members from the University of the Third Age (U3A) and from Malaysia Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA) gave a beautiful rendition of 'Sejahtera Malaysia' under the direction of Dr Indra Selvarajah who is the Founding President of Malaysian Music Therapy Association (MMTA). She also serves on the committee of the Malaysian Society of Music in Medicine (MSMM) at Universiti Putra Malaysia.



Next up was Victor Chua. When I heard Victor sing 'There's a Dream' at the rehearsal, I was completely bowled over and was an instant fan! The song has been haunting me since then. Just can't get it out of my head. It's an original song composed by Victor. He sang it at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in KL. This updated version has new lyrics to reflect the hopes of a new Malaysia.


The Phil choir came on after Victor with three songs: 'Wind Beneath My Wings', 'The Moon Represents My Heart' (their first Mandarin song ever) and 'The Journey Continues'. A nice gesture was when the choir sang 'Happy Birthday' dedicated to all born in August.

One problem with video recording at a concert is the obstruction from people walking past or from others who are also recording. I am posting these videos below taken at the rehearsals where obstructions were minimal.


It's amazing after only a few hours of rehearsal, the Mass Choir comprising members from the U3A choir and the Phil choir gave such an impressive performance at the concert. They sang three songs: 'Freedom Train', 'Happy Together' and 'Hand in Hand'.


'Music and Laughter' was another song that I enjoyed learning. The lyrics resonated with me. I understand that the Phil had commissioned Nick Choo to compose the music and the lyrics for the song.


 'Tanah Pusaka' was a timely inclusion given that we are just days away from celebrating Merdeka Day on 31 August. It's a new dawn for the country under a new government after 61 years! So easy this time to sing the song with feeling.


Indeed, THANK YOU to The Phil for the music, the laughter and the joy we had at the concert. One audience member put it so well when she summed it up thus on the Phil's facebook page: "Enjoyed the Phil's 60th celebratory concert. Full of warmth and love."

We echo that sentiment 100%.

As part of its 60th year anniversary, The Phil has pledged to donate RM60,000 to several community organisations. Recipients include Cheshire Home, Hospis Malaysia, NASOM and Perak Women for Women. Another three more recipients will be announced in December. A round of applause for The Phil! You guys ROCK!

A pleasant surprise to see this flashed on the screen in the acknowledgements.
SeniorsAloud team with Dr Welch and with Cheryl
The Phil looks set to getting plenty of new recruits after the success of the 2-day event.
Couldn't agree more with these quotes. Hope the message goes out to everyone that music (and laughter) is the best medicine.