Bill and I were sitting on the patio, watching the light fade, and talking about recent nightmares. [Read more…]
The way we talk about ourselves can be unhealthful, and we don’t even realize it. Even when we celebrate aging, we put ourselves down. Look at this statement from Jane Fonda:
“Staying involved and passionate and curious helps one remain youthful for sure…but spiritually and energetically, I feel younger than when I was 20 and 30.”
What is “youthful” about involvement, passion, and curiosity? Those are the attributes of a good life at any age. Let’s rewrite Jane’s statement.
“As I’ve aged, I’ve become ever more involved and passionate and curious…at almost 80, I feel more spiritual and energetic than ever before.”
Dear Reader, how do you feel now? Invigorating, isn’t it?
When we classify ageless qualities like passion and curiosity as “youthful,” we hurt ourselves. Among other things, negative beliefs about aging can shorten your life by 7.5 years.
Second–(jeez, we just had a 4.8 earthquake and I forgot what I was saying! Whew. Calm down, heart.) Second, be aware that positive human attributes aren’t often age-related. Here are the qualities I admire in my friends and family. Guess what ages they are? Three to ninety-two.
- vibrant, vital, vigorous
- mentally healthy
- happy, strong, colorful
- energetic, vivacious
- dynamic, bold
- fiery, exciting, spirited
- insightful, wise, confident
You can be any of the above at any age. Learn to strip away the age-relatedness from the descriptor. You’ll feel empowered, and maybe live longer, too!
There’s good news in this article as well:
When you read it, be mindful of the derogatory way they use the word “old.” They mean well, but awareness is slow in coming. As with Fonda, it’s a habit. We need to be aware of what we do in order to change it. And here’s another reason to try:
Happy New You!
It’s 2016, I’m 61 years old, and I’ve never felt so empowered, motivated, and excited about my future. Why is this happening? [Read more…]
What would you do if you had to choose between your family and one last shot at following your dreams? [Read more…]
Research says older people are happier after fifty, that there’s an upswing starting there and going up until forever. I wonder if there’s a moment when you start to notice it? [Read more…]
As a writer, I occasionally come out of my cave to interact with actual live people. That’s partly why I attend the monthly meetings at the Palm Springs Writers’ Guild. Last Saturday was especially enjoyable. [Read more…]
Writing was my dream, but I had to delay it for almost forty years as I worked and raised a family. [Read more…]
At this age, many of us are evaluating our lives, wondering why we made so many bad choices.
In her brand-new memoir, my friend Kathy Pooler, nurse, cancer survivor, and all-around-good girl, comes to understand why she married two abusive and borderline-dangerous men. It’s a great narrative which reads like a novel. As I read, I felt like screaming “NO!” Of course, it’s easy to say that now, having earned better judgment after living through my own bad decisions.
In the following interview, edited for brevity, Kathy refers to “magical thinking,” a phrase popularized by the great Joan Didion. In general, this is when you cling to the hope that something will happen to magically change your spouse from, say, a philanderer to faithful, or an addict to drug-or-alcohol-free, if only we love them enough. If only we put up with enough. If only…
Why did you write Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse?
I started out writing a different story about a cancer diagnosis and watching a beloved son spiral downward into substance abuse but realized I could not write about that until I wrote about getting into and out of two abusive marriages…It is possible to climb out of the abyss of poor decisions and go on to live life on your own terms.
Was there any one person who was your inspiration for your main character?
Me. I was driven by the question: “How does a young woman from a loving Catholic family make so many wise choices about career, yet so many poor choices about love, that she and her two children end up escaping from her second husband for fear of physical abuse?” It was time to answer the question that had been asked of me my entire life by those who loved me.
In the book, you say “a loving family, a solid career and a strong faith cannot rescue her until she decides to rescue herself.” Why do you feel that way?
One of the lessons I learned when I wrote this book is that…I only needed to claim and honor my own inner strength. I was the only one who could do it for myself. It sounds so simple, but it took me years to realize this.
What’s the most important thing readers will learn from Ever Faithful to His Lead?
Three things come to mind:
- One does not have to sustain broken bones or bruises to be abused. Emotional abuse is harmful and the impact on the children of mothers who are in abusive relationships is far-reaching and damaging.
- Abuse impacts all socioeconomic groups. I was a masters-prepared nurse from a loving family and yet I got into two emotionally abusive marriages.
- Denial and magical thinking can keep one from recognizing abusive behavior and taking action.
Lynne here. Whew. I’m no stranger to domestic abuse – grew up with it and married into it, twice (but I must clarify that, as with Kathy, we are now in loving, gratifying marriages). But this memoir took me back. On a lighter note, I enjoyed the references to Growing Up Boomer, since Kathy and I are the same age. Ever Faithful is an enlightening book, one that younger women would benefit from reading – before they choose life partners.
Let’s switch gears and talk about the writing life. I asked Kathy:
When do you write? Is it easier to write in the morning or at night?
I don’t have a specific routine. The muse can strike early in the morning, in the afternoon or late at night. I’ve had times when I’ve awakened up in the middle of the night to write because the thoughts swirling in my head would not let me rest until they found a place on the page. I do know that if I do not get my quota of writing done during the day, I often end up staying up late.
Who’s your favorite author?
That’s a tough question because I read a variety of authors. But two of my favorites are James Michener for the rich detail of his historical novels and Ernest Hemingway for his sparse prose that says so much. And of course, Lynne Spreen! I mean, if Jim and Ernie were alive today, they’d want to know her secret for slapping a novel together.
Okay, I wrote that. – LMS
Where can we buy the book? Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, my website, Pen & Publish Press.
10% of the proceeds of the sale of Ever Faithful to His Lead will go toward the National Coalition for the Awareness of Domestic Violence.
“For 20 years, we packed lunches, helped with homework, and paid too many bills…” [Read more…]
July is a poignant month for my family. My dad died in July, 2008. He and mom had just celebrated their 59th anniversary, on July 17. Three years after he died, Mom broke her leg and, in July, had to move from their beloved home in the high desert of Hesperia, California. That was in 2011. She just celebrated her 89th birthday last month. In spite of leg pain and other challenges, she’s doing great (I know many of you will remember my posts about her resisting the move.)
Just before she moved, three years ago, I wrote a post that reflects our aging experience: us, and caring for our elders, and the drive to be independent. I’m reposting it here in honor of my family. I hope you enjoy it.
I spent several hours at Mom’s house today. I alternate weekends with my SoCal sister. We get Mom’s mail, water her plants, check her phone messages, and just generally make sure all is well while she’s in the rehab hospital.
Yes, it’s inconvenient (it’s a 90-minute drive), but it’s short-term because she has agreed to sell her house, and this time I believe she will follow through. I’m glad, but also heartbroken. To think of them – them! but it isn’t “them” anymore, is it? It’s just her – not living up there ever again. Well, I’ve held off the tears all day but I guess I can’t forever. Time moves on, and we all get old and die.
I feel conflicted. I want her to move down by me (“up” and “down” relate to land elevation) for all the logical reasons, and then all of a sudden, like right now, I don’t want her to move at all. I want her to risk it, to inconvenience and vex and terrify us with her dogged determination to stay as long as she can in the house that she and Dad built. For me to yank her away from that – and then add in the heartbreaking, elegiac, mind-numbing beauty of the high desert – I can hardly bear the thought.
It’s an end. I’d like to think it’s a beginning, too, but who can say? Mom is healthy and vibrant for almost-86, there’s no reason she can’t have a great ten more years. But will she have the courage to start over, to walk away from that place?
It hurts to think of losing it, because for ten years, Hesperia was my home, too. It was a difficult time, when I worked harder than any human should have to, and delayed my dreams, and saved everybody.
The memories are good and bad.
As a young single mother, I took my son Danny (now 33) on his paper route some weekend mornings when the snow made it impossible for him to ride his bike. One morning I ran over his foot, but the deep sand saved him and after we got over the shock, we laughed. And then newspapers stopped hiring kids and kids stopped getting up early and riding bikes and getting their first paychecks.
On the negative end, my previous marriage ended there. And Dad died up there! I wouldn’t live there now. Couldn’t. But I miss it.
But I digress. Today I worked my butt off, getting Mom’s house all spiffed-up for Amber to look at next Saturday. Amber might buy it. That would be nice, to know it’s still in the family. Amber is a dear friend of my step-daughter. So we would know the house that Dad and Mom built in the ’80s would be well cared for.
It was so beautiful up there today! I swear, when you live in such a place as the high desert, and especially on a spring day like today, you feel a sense of hope and optimism about rearing kids, growing your own food, having quiet and privacy and clean air and astounding skyscapes. You can pretend that you’re living life on your own terms. I imagine this is what people seek when they move to Idaho or Montana or the Dakotas.
Mom’s coming home to my house tomorrow. I started out being excited, and I still am, but we’ve had a couple of conversations since the hospital said they’d cut her loose, and I realize I’m a bloomin’ amateur. I see that Mom’s looking for ways (already) to cut corners and speed things up; and now I understand it’s not about reveling in the relative luxury of my house as compared to a rehab hospital. It’s about my house as stepping stone to – you guessed it – her house. I think she’s just biding her time until she can go home, and once she’s there, who knows? And my other sister, the one who hasn’t yet adapted to her new home near Canada, would do almost anything, including promising to take care of Mom, to be able to come south and thaw out for a couple of months.
So I rearrange furniture at my house to make Mom comfortable, to encourage her to stay, but like an inadequately compelling acquaintance, I know I don’t have much pull. Because I suspect she’s going home for good, even if she doesn’t yet say it. And the tears and frustration and anger of her children and grandchildren are nothing compared to the incense of creosote and sage calling to her from the high desert.
Turn up the volume and you’ll hear the wind chimes in her back yard.