Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Talking to Each Other

Isn’t this just the best picture? I gotta get me one of those shirts! Sometimes we make the simplest things difficult – like building up the mystique of another age group until we find it impossible to interact with them.

I’m off to visit my daughter next month for 8 days for Christmas. Every time I visit her I insist that we listen to what she’s listening to on the radio. Why? Well, for one, it helps me keep current on what’s going on culturally for her generation.  But probably more importantly, it gives us a conversation to have. 

I think many older people are actually intimidated by the young, afraid of being viewed as a dinosaur and so we fulfill our own prophecy. After all, if we’re not actively “being” in their world – which runs parallel to our own – we do become archaic. 

It’s been my experience that most of the young will cut you a break, especially if they sense that you are sincerely interested in what they think and what they’re doing, AND if they feel comfortable that you are not going to make judgments or try to tell them what to do. 

Next time you have an opportunity to start up a conversation with someone significantly younger than you, try listening.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Don’t be a Know-It-All

Probably the best thing you can do for yourself as a “person of age” is to embrace the idea that you don’t know everything.  What’s the point of life if there’s nothing new to learn?

I had an experience today that shocked me into realizing I hadn’t written for this blog in far too long a time. I was at a wonderful local library, where they provide little enclosed booths to work in. Each is equipped with a bank of electrical outlets so you can bring multiple devices and work there for hours if you like. I packed two drinks, some food and my laptop for the duration. I had arranged my purse on the workspace too so that I could take a picture of all my trappings for posterity. After all, it was an important day. I was starting my first ever attempt at the National Novel Writing Month – an annually organized group of thousands of people attempting to get 50,000 words of a novel written in the 30 days of November. This was a big deal for me.

I got set up and took out my camera, snapping a shot of the workspace then turned around to find someone to take a picture of me hard at work at my station. I approached the closest woman and asked if she’d mind taking a picture of me.

“I can’t hear you!” she said, loudly. That probably should have been my first clue, but I trudged on and repeated myself. She looked at me askance but dragged herself out of her chair. I showed her that she simply needed to push the button on top of the camera and sat down.

She peered at the screen on the back of the camera. “Do you want that purse up there?”

“Yes, I’m trying to show all the stuff I brought to the library.”

Then she literally scowled at me and removed the purse, putting it on the floor.  “How about that Coke bottle? Why don’t we put it over here (where it won’t show) and the bottle of water over there. That’s much healthier and you won’t be advertising for free.” She proceeded to arrange everything the way she thought it should be. I had given up any attachment to the outcome of the picture when she picked up the Coke bottle. Please, Universe, just let it be over.

She snapped the tidy, now useless picture and happily handed the camera back to me. She leaned into me and said, “I may not know much about photography, but I know clutter in a picture doesn’t look good.” She toddled off to her workstation, happy that she had completed her task and completely unaware that she had been an ass.

Now, I admit, it was unlikely that her age was the entire problem. She had probably been a know-it-all her whole life, and that condition was simply exacerbated by the years she’d lived. What really frightened me, though, was that I doubt she was more than ten years my senior. Really? Please tell me I will not turn into that in ten years’ time.

This is the condition I have pointed out to my children as the one which should trigger them into taking me out! That’s right, I’ve made them swear to end my time on Earth should I ever become a cranky old know-it-all!

Since I put that contract out on myself, I refrain from taking over every situation and telling everyone what I think relentlessly. I actually never did that anyway. Just to be sure, I also repeat one of my sisters' mantra - "It doesn't always have to be my way."

Well...it doesn't. It really doesn't.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Doing Right by Yourself

Have you ever seen the Albert Brooks movie Mother, also starring Debbie Reynolds as the mom? It’s a real favorite of mine. It explores the messed up relationship Brooks has with him mother and ends up revealing the family dynamics are a lot more dysfunctional than he had imaged.

One of the battles he has with his mother is over the “cheap” way she treats herself. For instance, she always buys the off-brand of everything and refuses to allow herself something she’d actually enjoy.  Brooks tells Reynolds that he hates the way she behaves towards herself.

He has a good point. It is a tendency of the Depression Era generation and even some their off-spring, mainly us Baby Boomers, to have to talk ourselves into things like pedicures, rock-climbing classes, art we love for our homes, etc.  If it isn't necessary but simply desired, there is a whole justification process most of us go through, often out-loud and to other people.

Here’s what it boils down to: we need to be responsible – within reason – but there’s no good reason to constantly deny ourselves. If it’s an extravagance that truly doesn’t fit into your monthly budget (as it currently exists) then save towards it. Or like my dad used to say, go mow someone’s lawn to earn the money for it. Not literally, of course but there are always ways to earn extra income so that you can live a little better.

Perhaps we can’t have everything we want, but we can always have SOMETHING we want. So, today, choose something that you’ve been denying yourself and grab it with gusto. Remember, it doesn’t have to cost money either. Sometimes, a whole day of doing nothing but reading a good book is what we really, really want.

Go forth and be good to yourself today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It’s Never Too Late

When I was just starting out as a serious fiction writer, my daughter gave me a bookmark with this George Elliot quote on it:  “It's never too late to become what you might have been.” I had just turned 50 and I had never heard this quotation. It meant the world to me.

What my daughter saw in me was the dreamer who was feeling a little defeated by time. She nurtured that dreamer with a simple gift and I will always be grateful.

So, hold on to your dreams, whether they are new ones or old friends. Continue to pursue them, knowing that they are possible at any age. This is, I believe, one of two secrets to staying young – continuing to learn and continuing to dream.

Here’s a little practical advice for keeping your dreams alive. Write your dreams down. Use sticky notes to post them all around your living space – mirrors are great. Journal about your aspirations. Talk about them to your treasured friends, but limit those conversations to people you know you can trust with your dreams. Don’t expose your dreams to naysayers – or as I like to call them Dreamstealers. Pick at least one small step you can take every day towards your dream.

Good luck, fellow dreamer!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

7 Ways to Feel Younger Right Now

Needing a cure for the “I’m getting older” blahs? Can’t wait another minute? Well, here you go – a few quick cures. 

  • Take a child to the playground. Actually play with it. Amazing concept, I know. Just try the swings or ride the merry-go-round, too. Don’t stand to one side watching. Participate.
  • Find somewhere to sit quietly for a few minutes. Now concentrate. Remember something you did when you were younger that was brave, fearless or just plain outrageous. Did you jump out of an airplane? Did you make a speech and kick booty? Go skinny-dipping? What? You did something that took courage. Find that something and revel in it. Write an email to your children or an old friend and tell them about it. Feel good about it. 

  • Think of an older person who makes you cringe when they start complaining. Are you like that? If not – good for you and give yourself brownie points. If you are – then resolve right here and now not to be like that anymore. Pick up the phone, call someone and tell them how much you appreciate them. Maybe it’s your doctor’s assistant or possibly your mother. Whatever and whoever – just do it right now. Pledge to break the habit of complaining.

  • Turn on a radio station that plays music you’re not familiar with. Listen for 30 minutes. It can amazing. You might find you actually like some of the “kids’ music”. Or maybe Country isn’t so bad. 

  • Buy a magazine that is age-affirming then sit down and read it. Ladies, I recommend MORE magazine and gentlemen, you might give Esquire a new look-see. Both magazines look beyond the young and beautiful. 

  • Find one really great thing about yourself and play it up. Is it your eyes? Well, rush right out and get a new makeup to try.  Are you a people person and proud of it? Well, go (yes, right now) to the grocery store and find someone who looks a little down and make them smile. You can do it. Perhaps, you’ve always loved your feet (female or male on this one) – then go get a pedicure and celebrate that fact.  

  • Do something silly. That’s right. Step out of your grownup skin and be completely and absolutely silly for a few minutes. I can almost hear you saying “Like what?” Spin around until you get dizzy. Give someone a raspberry. Stick out your tongue. Buy a balloon from a street vendor. Eat a popsicle in public. Sing along to a street musician’s song. Whatever feels fun to you that you haven’t done in a long time, because “grownups don’t do that.” Do it. Do it now.

There now, don’t you feel better?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Experts Say…

We all know what the experts say, don’t we? It’s all about exercise and eating right. That’s what will keep you young physically.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a few reminders.  So, here you go. I really like these two articles because they keep it simple.  I can’t see any reason why the second one is just for women, so guys – have at it. 

The thrust of this blog will be as much about attitude as anything else, but these two links are a good start to getting into the mindset to reach for extended youth. That’s what we’re doing here, right? We want to “LIVE YOUNG” and hopefully “DIE OLD”.  There you go!

See you at the gym or at the farmer’s market or maybe, on the walking path at the park.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Video to Feed Your Soul

This is an Indie film project which got its funding from Kickstarter. If you don’t know what that is, let me tell you it’s great. It’s an online organization that allows small (or large) contributors to help fund mostly artistic projects.

I watched this video and fell in love with the concept. In fact, it was the genesis for this blog. I thought if these ladies can embrace their age and actually make it work for them, so can every one of us.

So, watch, enjoy and comment.

Oh, and here's a link to the film maker's blog - also called Advanced Style.