Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Do You Suffer From Action≠wordophobia?

Action≠wordophobia is the fear of not being able to match your words with your actions.

It goes something like this:

I’m “healthy,” but my diet is crap. I’m “nonjudgmental,” but I share my opinion like it’s the word of God. I think I live in integrity by not initiating gossip, but when it’s laid before me, I partake. 

And I’m always making suggestions for things my husband could do better but that I never do myself. Bazinga!

My actions don’t always match my words. 

That’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.

It’s easy to call out someone whose actions contradict their words. Parents are the worst. I remember my mom and dad castigating me not to smoke, but they both smoked like chimneys their entire lives. They’d tell me not to “yell at my sister,” even as they argued fervently night after night. It makes for confusing messages. What’s the old saying:  Do I say, not as I do?

Okay, but what’s the big deal?

Your husband tells you he loves you, and that you’re the most important person in his life. But, he’s late for dinner, changes your plans with him at the last moment and takes calls or texts during meals and other times with you. See the problem here?

When actions don’t match words, credibility is ruined. This is obvious in the business world where failing to follow through on a promise can make the difference between keeping and losing clients.

Your reputation at home is equally precious. It’s trashed when you, for instance, say you’re sorry but continue to behave badly. Kids pick up on this quickly and learn to disconnect words and actions as they grow into adults. Without stellar credibility, children and spouses will have a difficult time trusting you.

How much of what you say is, in fact, what you do?

I don’t believe people, including myself, say one thing and do another out of a conscious intention. It’s more likely a lack of awareness that our doing and saying aren’t jiving. So, don’t be too harsh on yourself right off the bat.

Take a moment -- heck, take a week -- and see if what you say coincides with what you do, both with yourself and others, at home and at work. I guarantee it’s worth it.

How to change.

Assuming you find that you need to work at doing more of what you say, there are things you can change. It’s safe to say that if any of our actions are going the opposite direction of our words, it’s likely we’re cultivating a well-embedded habit.

My first suggestion is to be honest with yourself. If your diet is crap, quit kidding yourself that you’re doing all you can to be healthy. Take a good hard look at places in your life where you give knee-jerk responses about what you do without really checking to see if you’re making an honest statement.  What about times when you say you’ve done something you really haven’t done completely? Being honest about what you say will help bring your words and actions into alignment.

Along the honesty lines, my next suggestion is to read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements.  One of the four agreements is to “be impeccable in your word.” When you learn to be more honest with yourself and others, your voice will automatically flow into your actions. It takes practice.

Finally, a way to break this bad habit is to just share your word less often … period. You don’t have to make any statements about how healthy you are. Zip it! Take the time to just be a listener. The integrity of both your personal and professional lives are at stake. Don’t risk it. Be sure your actions match your words. 

As seniors in our communities, we are role models. Be sure those coming behind us see the value of what we say and that it matches what we do.

Contact Antonia at thejoyofaginggratefully@gmail.com or
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Looking Ahead With Glory Every Day

Sally Patterson
The minute I met Sally Patterson three years ago, I knew I was in the company of a genuinely trustworthy, compassionate and happy person. She exudes joy and easily says about herself “I wake up happy!” I was pleased that she took a moment from her busy life to sit down with me to share some of how she got to where she is today.

Antonia:  Hi Sally. Thank you very much for being here. Let’s start with you telling me when and where you were born.

Sally:  I was born in Los Angeles in 1936. That makes me just barely 79.

Antonia:  Tell me about your family.

Sally:  I met my husband, Hank, right after graduating from high school. We both fell head over heels and knew instantly that that was it for us. We’ve been married 58 years.

Hank and I have six children; three boys and three girls. And they’re fantastic! All really likeable! They range in age from 56 down to the youngest at 44.  I have ten grandchildren; a monopoly of boys, and there are three great-grandchildren; two boys and a girl. I had a brother and a sister, both of whom have passed away.

Antonia:  You say you grew up in Southern California. How did you get from there to here in Santa Rosa?

Sally:  After finishing college Hank was recruited for a teaching job with the L.A. City Schools. We knew we wanted a lot of kids and always talked about great places to raise a family. When one of our kids got pneumonia, the doctor said we should move out of smoggy L.A. A friend told us about Santa Rosa and what a perfect family community it was. Hank put in his teaching application and in 1964 we moved here. I worked in accounting here for the County. After 16 years I retired and Hank retired after 41 years.

Antonia:  I know that you currently volunteer your time at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. Why do you enjoy that work?

Sally:  Yes, this is my fourteenth year volunteering at the front desk. I love it because I like the people and I like helping them.
Also, after surviving breast cancer, I also volunteered for the American Cancer Society through their “Reach to Recovery” program for patients recovering from surgery. I was bound and determined not to let cancer take over my life. It felt good to give back something positive after a negative experience. I did that for 20 years.

A little over a year ago, I had a cancer relapse but I found a great doctor and received good treatment that removed it all, so now the prognosis is good.

Antonia:  You’re a survivor! Your positive attitude shines through, Sally. Tell me how you feel about getting older.

Sally:  Well, I feel it’s inevitable (laughs). The alternative isn’t great. I’ve had a few setbacks but life goes on. You make the best of it. There’s no perfect life without bumps.

I’m so fortunate to have a partner in life who believes as I do that we do the best we can while we’re here. My personal faith, which has been developed over the years, also plays a role in my life.

Antonia:  What kind of advice would you give those of us coming behind you in terms of age?

Sally: Because you’re looking at the shorter end of your life at this point, I’d say you should have a very forward-looking thing about each day you wake up…that you should see the glory in the way the sun’s coming up, if there’s some pink in the sky. My husband laughs at me about this, but I’ll run out the door just to see a beautiful day. It excites me.

I appreciate everything outside of myself. It’s a glorious planet and we live in a beautiful place. It’s one of the most fulfilling things to see the beauty of where we are. I look ahead with glory every day.

Antonia:  Thank you for talking with me today, Sally.

After I turned off the recorder Sally said the most succinct thing about herself: “If you want to understand me, it’s that I’m happy.”I was struck by this aspect of her from the first day I met her. Her happiness draws people closer to her. It’s contagious.

Sally’s attitude and approach to life as an elder in our community serves as a role model to me. 

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Brush with "Les Beatles"! - Looking Back

It was my first experience with pandemonium.

When a girl started to sink down in the sea of hysterical humanity, someone caught her and helped her stay afloat. No one shared her picture on Instagram or Facebook. It was long before cell phones and social media, so it didn’t occur to us to worry about documenting our experience.

This was 1964, the day after my sixteenth birthday, and the event was one of the Beatles first performances ever, soon to be worldwide famous.

It was in Paris, France, and I had never even heard a Beatles song before.

Me and my hair in 1964

As an historian for NATO, my father and our family were stationed in Fontainebleau, France. Along with about sixty or so Americans, I attended boarding school in Paris, and every Wednesday evening we would be taken to a cultural or historical venue that would “broaden our European experience,” typically a museum or chateau. As it turns out, the Beatles concert overshadowed nearly all other culture I rubbed up against during my three years in France.

Supervision for the thirty of us American high schoolers who went to the concert was in the form of matronly dorm counselors. They were ill-prepared for the unique experience we were a part of that night, and security for the concert at the Olympia Theater was less than stringent.

The opening acts were French pop singer, Sylvie Vartan, and twenty-six-year-old, Texas-born Trini Lopez, who performed “If I Had a Hammer.” Our group loved Trini so much we would have been happy if he’d been the headliner. By the way, both Sylvie and Trini are still performing today.

Because we didn’t know a thing about the Beatles, we acted slightly less wild than the French teens. We listened and clapped and laughed at their jokes, but no one fainted or made themselves sick screaming. I believe we were more excited about seeing a band – any band – that spoke English.

The Beatles played eight songs that night: “From Me to You,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “She Loves You,” “This Boy,” “Boys,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Twist and Shout” and “Long Tall Sally.” At one point, Paul, who could hear us yelling (the venue was small), acknowledged our presence by asking if we spoke English and where we were from. We were beyond thrilled to be singled out.

It wasn’t until long after this experience that I began to understand the impact of an evening with “Les Beatles.” We were a bunch of American kids longing for anything outside the military lifestyle. We needed – and got! – the perfect thing for us to love and our parents to misunderstand. All of a sudden, we had a secret desire and un beau (in the form of George, John, Paul, and Ringo), a special song, a powerful shared experience, and a memory to carry throughout our entire lives.

[Surprisingly there exists a very short and not-so-great-quality You-Tube video of this performance on Jan. 16, 1964. Notice the suits and dresses worn by many concert-goers. My gang also was dressed up but not looking as sharp as these Frenchies. Check it out here.]

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