“As we grow, we often have more fear of failure; our comfort zone shrinks, and we take fewer risks.” The quote, attributed to Yehuda Berg, delights me. I delight in rejecting it. Although maybe I should be more careful. [Read more…]
Can you believe how aggressive online ads are getting? [Read more…]
I love reading about Boomers who retire to a houseboat or a yurt or some other oddball place that will give them a shot at fulfilling the dream. Now that the kids are gone and they have a measure of freedom, options begin to emerge.
Mom’s almost 90. She’s bright, independent and social. She’s also frail and tiny. [Read more…]
I’ve always loved Leonard Cohen’s voice and music. This tribute to love is beautiful and poignant.
So sad to think of this poor man suffering with the almost-insurmountable problems of addiction and depression (LATE ADD: and possibly also Parkinsons’.) [Read more…]
We Boomers may have tried too hard to give our kids a sense of self-esteem. We stand accused of rewarding the munchkins for all manner of nothingburger “accomplishments” and fostering a sense of entitlement in Gens X and Y. Now, the tide has turned. Self-esteem is out and resilience is in.
Resilience, which allows a person to roll with the punches, is built internally, and does not rely on external validation. I’ve been trying to develop it myself, because older age can be daunting.
When I am in a situation where somebody is driving me nuts, I enjoy being able to turn it around. I consider how this crazy situation might enhance or inform my life. How might I see it differently and laugh about it, or use it for enlightenment? When bad things happen, I try to find a different, more empowered, perspective. For example:
- One day, Bill was noticeably bummed out. He said he was missing his parents (both deceased). I said I was sorry, and he said, “I’m not. The pain reminds me that I loved them.” Way to turn it around.
- A guy flies past me on the freeway, cutting in and out. Instead of being pissed, I imagine he’s racing to the hospital, having gotten bad news about a loved one, and sympathy replaces my anger.
- Falling asleep last night, I was wracked by anxiety. Instead of buying into it, I told myself, “Your amygdala is on overdrive. Sleep will fix that.” It wasn’t me, it was a gland; a tired, overactive, mixed-up gland, which I could repair by nurturing my body.
- Standing in line at the pharmacy, I’m fixated on how annoying, and annoyingly slow, everybody in front of me is. But wait: it’s actually an opportunity. I whip out my phone and resume reading a novel I started last night on Kindle. Or check my email.
- In the same line, guy is talking loudly on his on cellphone, and I’m forced to listen. Instead of getting annoyed, I listen avidly for characters and situations I might use in my next novel. Thanks for the material, buddy!
I admit my examples are pretty lightweight, but the brain has a certain plasticity about it; what if you started small and worked your way up? Might this skill not help you when dealing with the heavier difficulties in life?
I get a real rush out of not feeling stuck, trapped, or victimized. Resilience is a powerful tool to use, and a good skill to model for our kids and grandkids.
What are some examples of resilience in your life?
Remember Gloria Steinem’s quote on my home page?
To be defiant about age may be better than despair – it’s energizing – but it is not progress. Actually, after fifty, aging can become an exciting new period; it is another country.
Many of us boomers don’t like thinking of ourselves as old. Nope, we’re in midlife (guilty – see website subhead). Age is just a number, because we “still” (fill in the blank). I mean, you can’t be old if you went hang-gliding last weekend. But if you face the reality, you’ll be happier, says Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By:
On blogs, forums, commercial websites, health-related sites and more, it is amazing how many people debate this question.
Invariably, someone will say he or she (usually she) or a friend looks and acts younger than they are (whatever that means). Or someone drags out that hoary old aphorism, you’re only as old as you feel…And the all-time favorite of everyone who refuses to acknowledge the passing years – age is only a number.
The 66-year-old writing that essay refuses to accept herself as a senior because, she reports, she and her friends are active, some “still” work, others exercise, read, play with the grandchildren and volunteer. But the people at the home where the writer volunteers “are seniors for sure,” she says with some certainty, because they are “limited in what they can do.” She doesn’t say what the limitations are but it’s not hard to guess.
What she is trying to do with that statement is separate herself, as too many healthy elders do, from people of the same age who are disabled, infirm, demented or even just a little addled, never considering that there but for the grace of God…
This defensiveness is, we know, the result of fear. Fear of aging which, if you take a step back for a longer look, is just a smoke screen for fear of dying. I understand that (but)…perhaps think awhile on how much time and effort it takes to pretend you’re not old. Surely you must be exhausted from it. Surely you can imagine what a relief it would be to just – well, be.
Me? It took me years of trying to arrive at liking my old age, liking myself as an old woman but I arrived and nowadays I look forward to enjoying that achievement for many more years…
Right now, I want you to know that it’s worth the effort to shed the pretense of youth. Shed the mistaken idea of the woman above who apparently believes being old doesn’t happen until you can’t work, cook, play tennis, volunteer, exercise or play with grandchildren any longer.
But she is wrong to define old age only as the arrival of infirmity. If we are willing to be honest, old age is the natural progression of life from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and, now, elderhood.
Why waste these years trying to be something else? Do you really believe you can rid yourself of wrinkles, gray hair, a poochy belly, mashed potato thighs, saggy skin and all the other physical manifestations old age with drug store potions and wishing? You don’t need to be a Buddhist to appreciate this next thought from Buddhist writer and teacher Lewis Richmond, from his book, Aging as a Spiritual Practice.
“As long as we keep comparing ourselves to a younger, better self (who may have been better only in hindsight), we shortchange the possibilities for becoming an older, wiser one. The wisdom of adaptation begins in the willingness to let go of who we used to be and embrace who we are now.”
Lynne here. Thank you, Ronni and Lewis, for showing us a way forward into a more peaceful, powerful mindset. This last third of our lives can be more satisfying and gratifying than we ever imagined.
Amour is a difficult film to watch, but worth it. If you’re feeling discouraged about mortality, Amour will put things in perspective.
It’s a stunning film, one that stays with you. Depressing? Actually, it didn’t hit me that way, maybe because I was a bit confused about the ending, so went online to gain clarity. There I found an essay asserting this isn’t the way most of us will end our days, and the film is ageist in painting elderhood with such despair. I hope so.
The rest of this post contains some spoilage, so you might choose to stop reading here.
Anne and Georges love each other deeply and in spite of their advanced age enjoy a rich life. Then she has a stroke, at which time both of them reveal their strength and in his case, heroism.
After the first stroke, Anne reveals to Georges that she would prefer to die. She tries and fails to refuse food and liquids. Then she has a second stroke and loses the ability to enforce her decision. This is one of the main aspects of the film that resonates with me, what most of us fear – that we’ll wait too long to make the choice, or that we’ll have no choice and will have to live out our final days (years?) regardless of the impact on our loved ones.
The upside of Amour was that it put things in perspective. My aches and pains seemed laughable and my existential fears no more than childish superstitions compared to the reality portrayed in this movie. I was also left with the determination, should I ever be struck by a horrible terminal affliction, to move immediately to a state that permits me to end my life when I chose.
Did you see Amour? What did you think, and/or how did it make you feel? If you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is.
POLL RESULTS: If you’re interested in the poll results from earlier this week, click here. Thanks again for your input.