Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What I Learned About Life While Sitting in Traffic - guest post by Carol Fleming

Carol Fleming
I was inching along in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a 5-lane city street, 2 lanes in each direction plus a center turn lane. It was almost, but not quite, complete gridlock. The traffic light was a couple blocks before me, and traffic stretched out blocks behind me. I saw a guy trying to ease into the traffic lane from a parking lot, and decided to stop to create space for him to merge. A lady in the lane next to me saw what I was doing and she stopped as well, leaving room for him to not only merge, but cross both lanes of traffic to get into the center turn lane if that’s what he wanted.
But he didn’t look up. He was staring down at something, maybe a phone, and he would occasionally glance up to look to see if the traffic light was green, but he never looked right in front of him to see the space that had been created for him. We waited and waited, but he never looked at where he wanted to go. Eventually, as traffic picked up a bit, I looked over at the lady in the lane next to me, we both smiled and shrugged our shoulders, and started driving.  His space was gone.
I couldn’t get this guy out of my mind. I kept thinking that even though what he wanted was right in front of him, he didn’t expect it to happen. He didn’t look for it and he missed it, entirely.
I wondered if that’s happened to me, if there was a time when I really didn’t believe that I’d get what I wanted so I didn’t notice when it showed up.
I told this to several friends, and everyone had similar traffic stories of their own. One friend said that after allowing space for someone who didn’t look up, traffic started moving and she moved with it. Her guy finally looked up and starting honking his horn and making rude gestures at her. She asked m, “Was it my responsibility to honk my horn at him to alert him to that space? Wasn’t his responsibility to pay attention?”
This felt like one of those profound but practical life lessons we sometimes get. If I want something to happen, believe that it will come, keep watch out for it. Look for it. Look in all directions. If I think it will come from one certain place, look all around anyway. Don’t wait for others to show me what’s showed up. Look for myself.
A couple weeks after all this happened, once again I found myself in slow-moving traffic and a guy ahead was trying to merge into the lane from a parking lot. I decided when I got up to him, I’d stop to create a space. When I got to him, though, he had become discouraged and was backing up, presumably to find another way out of the parking lot.
I added to my earlier practical life lessons, another lesson: Don’t give up too soon.

Contact Carol at carol@LivingNJoy.com and Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Another Birthday? Bring It On!

            My birthday is in two days. It’s one of those non-distinct years; I’m not turning 65 or 70 which seem to require larger celebrations. Sixty-seven is just another year. Don’t get me wrong. I’m THRILLED to be another year older and am looking forward to lots more non-distinct years. I’m certainly not in the mood for a party, however, and there’s nothing I need, so don’t rush out and buy me a bottle of wine or flowers. (I never tire of a dinner out at my favorite sushi restaurant though. lol)

Early birthdays

          When babies have their first and second birthdays it seems they’re either shocked and scared or delighted and joyful … especially after that first taste of butter cream frosting! Once the first birthday or two have occurred, the imprinting is complete and requests for specifics begin: chocolate cake with chocolate frosting or white cake with chocolate, etc. Some of the best birthday cakes have been created by my friend Cheri when, for years, she made these over-the-top sports-related cakes for her two sons. They were so pretty and perfect, I hated to see them cut into pieces.
One of Cheri's great cakes..looks too good to eat
          After the twelfth birthday, get out your wallets for the teenage years. Forget the cake, teens want “stuff”… expensive stuff: electronics, clothes, perhaps a car, and lavish parties (only if the parents somehow disappear during it, however).

          For myself, as I moved into my 20’s and 30’s, the gift giving from my family became secondary to what boyfriends would get me. I was very materialistic and equated the magnitude of their gifts with the magnitude of their devotion to me. A gift could take on the lofty position of being the expressed symbol of their affection, and I took it very seriously.

Later birthdays

          During my 30’s and 40’s I was married and appreciated nice things for the home. Perhaps not as industrial as a new vacuum cleaner but something more sophisticated like a food torch to crystallize the sugar on top of my crème brulee (what a snob!). I appreciated nice dishware like Rosenthal and Wedgwood, and, thank goodness, I took care of it, so it has lasted me until today.

          From my 50’s to the present, if I am even slightly interested in a gift, it needs to be experiential. I don’t need stuff, I need time … time with friends and loved ones. I wish I had gotten the message that these family and friends are the true gifts of any occasion much sooner than I did. Oh, well, better late than never.

You might also enjoy Turning 65 or Must We Always Act Our Age?
Contact me at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Older Americans Act - Why Don't We Have One?

          If we can have the Farm Bill, the Work Innovation and Opportunity Act, and the Violence Against Women Act, why not the Older Americans Act? Would you be surprised to know that, in fact, we already have an Older Americans Act (OAA) that was signed into law nearly 49 years ago? 

What it does

          While the Older Americans Act name may not be familiar to you, many of the services and funds the law provides are widely recognized, such as Meals on Wheels, senior centers, elder abuse prevention and low-income community service employment. It saves Medicaid and Medicare considerable amounts of money through its services which allow older adults to remain in the community or at home while receiving medical care, choices which are also preferred by older adults. It is a job creator and job retainer program in communities.

          In 2006 Congress reauthorized the act in its entirety, effective through FY 2011.  Unfortunately, this law is four years late in being reauthorized. Congress has not updated or renewed its commitment to the programs developed under OAA. The Senate has moved the process to the point where an excellent bill, S. 1562, has been voted out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and awaits full Senate action. The House currently has two pending bills but no sign of any action.

The impact of the lack of services

          The isolation of seniors will only magnify when senior centers are no longer maintained and staffed. Some elders who depend on meal provisions will turn to the cheapest and least healthful choices as their only options.

          As with so many other programs needing aid for those who have less or who are unable to take care of themselves, the reasons are political and, personally, I’m saddened and embarrassed by this fact.

          The average age at death in 1900 was 49 and today it is 79. Additionally, the number of seniors living into their 90’s will quadruple by mid-century. These two statistics are significant because they clearly show a ballooning sector of our nation’s population. Isn’t it a slap in their collective faces to say, “Well, you got this far; now you’re on your own”? The life the rest of us live today was forged on the backs of these seniors.

          I believe the OAA has proven its value and, unfortunately, will have to limp along until lack of funding runs the various programs into the ditch. Seniors who rely on assistance provided in these programs will be silent pillars that once held up the community but now must scrape around to repair their crumbing bases.

          Let's all envision a country that supports its senior community. And so it is.

Contact me at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook.