Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How to Escape the New Year's Resolution Rut


An Alternate Approach

          Are you busy today, between getting ready for tonight’s festivities and making the ritual list of resolutions – you know, those things you’re either going to start or stop doing tomorrow? Is this year going to be like all the others when, after a week into it, those resolutions start to get lost in old patterns and habits?


Christine Paintner
          This alternate approach to the New Year is excerpted from Christine Paintner’s “Crossing the Threshold: New Year, New Beginnings” article in her Reflective Art Journal from the Abbey of the Arts in 2009. I found her method for creating a meaningful New Year ritual refreshing and certainly worth considering.

          "January 1st brings out our fervent desires for the future and our commitments to change, whatever that change entails. Our inclination is usually a set of “resolutions” aimed at working harder for whatever it is we want or fixing our self-perceived flaws. There is nothing wrong with making resolutions. However they often aim so high without first cultivating the change of heart necessary to prepare space for these new possibilities to take root.

          More and more often now people are taking the celebration of New Year’s as a time for reflection on what has gone before and to listen to their longing for what lies ahead. Each year I see retreat centers and other groups offering options for meaningful ritual and practice. While celebrating with friends can be a very joyful thing, the late night party on December 31st with its endless supply of alcohol has become far less satisfying for many. People are hungering for more depth to this time of transition. We are recognizing the opportunity of a threshold.

Suggestions for Ways to Celebrate the New Year in Meaningful Ways:
          Practice: Preparing
           We begin the year full of resolutions and promises to ourselves to perhaps eat better, exercise more, work less, find more time for friends or for ourselves. But these resolutions often rise up out of our sense of scarcity and the busyness and immediate desires we feel at the surface of our lives. Consider taking some time to prepare – even if only for an hour or two – to really listen for the deeper longings pulsing within you. What emerges from that place of stillness and grounding in your holiness and goodness, rather than from a list of your shortcomings? What new doors are waiting within you to be opened?

          Practice: Reconciliation
          In Jewish tradition, the New Year begins with the ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in autumn. During this time, Jews reflect on those relationships during the past year that need reconciliation, recognizing that the way to move forward in more fullness, is by acknowledging those places where we have failed another person in the past and then making amends. Is there someone you have hurt this past year through your words or actions? Is it possible to ask for their forgiveness? Is there someone who has hurt you this past year through their words or actions? Can you offer them forgiveness?

          Practice: Dream-Tending
          In Christian tradition, the New Year begins with the season of Advent four weeks before Christmas. There is wisdom in beginning the year during this darkest season, offering us the image of being in the dark and fertile womb of creation anticipating new birth. In the days leading up to your celebration of the New Year, honor the language of nighttime and darkness by recording your dreams. Keep paper and a pen by your bed and before going to sleep ask to receive dreams with wisdom for the year ahead. When you awaken, try to jot down some notes about images and feelings you notice before you get up and lose those threads that connect you to the dream’s story. Honor the way dreams speak in non-linear and intuitive language. As a part of your New Year ritual, consider spending time with your dreams, perhaps making a collage of images that have appeared to you and reflect on what these have to say to you about what lies ahead. Dreams often reveal the hidden rooms of our soul and invite us inside for exploration.

          Practice: Walking into the New Year          On New Year's Day take a contemplative walk at a labyrinth if you have one near you, or in a peaceful, wooded place. As you take each step ask yourself how you want to walk in the year ahead. Pay attention to what responses rise up in you and embody this in the pace and movement of your body. As you continue to walk imagine yourself stepping across the threshold of something new and notice how your body feels.

          Practice: Doing What You Love
          Consider spending New Year’s Day doing all of the things with which you want your year ahead to be filled. Make a list of the five most important and soul-nourishing activities of your life and spend a day savoring these experiences.

          May you make friends with newness and know deep within that the God who keeps revealing new things to us, also fills us with hope for a future of peace.”

          What are your suggestions for a meaningful New Year practice?
        

You may find out more about Christine and her work here.

Contact Antonia at antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com or
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Celebrate What? A Gift for You at Christmas

          It’s very simple. Nothing to research, nothing to buy.  Nothing to prepare to do. Nothing to cook or wrap or save up for. Nothing to share, nothing to worry about. It’s free. It’s a gift to yourself. Ready for it? Here it is:
          Celebrate. That’s it, just celebrate. Celebrate what, you say? This is a good place to start:
          Celebrate the breath that sustains you, that keeps
          your whole being moving and growing and feeling

          Celebrate the simplicity of life and the humor when
          we turn that simplicity into a tight clutch of discord

          Celebrate the diversity of people around the world
          that broadens our spectrum of color and experiences


          Celebrate how calm you instantly become when
          you close your eyes and sink into the loving arms
         
of solitude


          Celebrate the color of the water on that special day
         
last spring when you thought you’d never seen a
          more sparkling periwinkle blue 


         
Celebrate the bounty that floats you through life,
         
the abundance that surrounds you and brings you
          contentment

         
Celebrate the wet nose poke of a pet seeking your
         
touch of love

         
Celebrate the seasons with all their good and not so
         
good parts. They are the continuation of life and
         
death

         
Celebrate friendship, that soft place to fall, that
         
place without envy, jealousy or upset

         
Celebrate family, its imperfections and its purity,
         
whether its biological or created

         
Celebrate spirit and the joy of ALL seasons.
 
          I join you in all these celebrations and many more, for you and your loved ones.
 
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
 
 
Contact me at:
     antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com



 

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“See” You on Facebook: The Impact of Social Media on Our Lives

          I’ve been moping around the last few years blithering about being the only member left of my family of origin and about not having any children of my own. In addition, my spouse of 24 years passed away a couple years ago, which obviously left me feeling alone and lonely. With these circumstances, I can paint a fairly desolate picture of this life as a senior citizen if I want. Most of my friends, however, just aren’t buying it. They know I’m, if anything, more plugged into a large circle of interested and interesting friends who love and support me in real time and via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Electronic Age

         Most seniors have seen an entire electronic revolution erupt during their lives. We didn’t have things such as garage door openers, phone extensions within the home or remote TV controls when I was in my single digits let alone not having high speed information available via computers.

          More seniors are tackling classes at junior colleges, senior centers or private one-on-one instruction in order to learn what is necessary to get and stay connected. Social media connections are helping to alleviate isolation, loneliness and depression brought on by having family and friends move away and become less accessible, and as individual mobility and independence start to decline.

       
   Social networking via the computer has created a new ‘community’ for elders, especially those who physically are unable to leave their homes. Increasing numbers of older people are going online, with the latest statistics from the Pew Research Centre, a U.S. think-tank, showing that one-third of people over 65 use social networking sites, compared with six percent three years ago.

A Downside

          Most seniors, once trained, glom onto social media and the internet in general, however, a significant segment of the older population expresses stress and anxiety about using it. Some seniors find it difficult to grasp the mechanics of navigating the computer itself as well as the intangible world wide web. In addition, having so much information available points out to some just how much they don’t know. That can be depressing!

Thoughts?

          While you know how I feel – how my every day and my life in general is greatly enhanced by social media and the internet, I wonder about others. Somehow I think it would be worthwhile doing intense small group or one-on-one trainings for those elders who are receptive to learning about a whole new way to acquire and maintain friendships. If you’re reading this, you’re already there, but I bet you know others who might benefit from this connection. If you do, how can you help them widen their world?




You might also enjoy:
  Technology:  Friend or Foe? Part 1

  Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Icing or the Cake?


          I was talking to Nancy recently. She’s the 40 year old daughter of a friend of mine and is a woman who is  beginning the process to end her second marriage. Nancy is creative and smart and independent. She has always supported herself. She likes men who give her lots of freedom and time and space to pursue not only her work but her hobbies as well, which include singing and garden landscaping.
          In our conversation Nancy was lamenting the fact that she yet again finds herself in a relationship with a man who hooked all his reasons for being on her. He would say he only wanted to help her by doing for her or that his joy was in supporting her and making life easy for her. What he was saying, in fact, was that Nancy was his ‘cake.’

          The ‘cake’ is the main deal. It’s the core of a person, their ability to be creative, to grow, to be happy with themselves; it’s the thing we look to within ourselves in order to survive in the world. You can’t be someone else’s ‘cake,’  because that means they put you ahead of themselves, which is just plain unhealthy and  puts pressure on you to be and do for them, which is not good for either of you. While you can’t be someone’s cake, you can be their ‘icing.’

          The ‘icing’ is the thing that makes everything better. It’s returning home after a long day and being excited because that other person is there. It’s about having someone to share troubles and difficulties with, knowing that that person won’t judge you and will really listen and try very hard to see your point of view. It’s knowing that going to the party, movie, play or vacation is enhanced by that person’s presence with you.
          Nancy feels suffocated and tied down and responsible for the entire happiness of her partner. She feels like a delicate butterfly who wants to experience all the world has to offer but is being restrained by an ever-tightening grip of a partner who needs her to define him.
          Trying to be someone’s cake is suffocating and unhealthy. Being the icing is joyous and exciting and uplifting for all involved. It gives space and freedom to both parties to grow and expand their own cake. While Nancy has lots of work to do around  her choices, we all can learn about the ‘cake’ and the ‘icing.’ Are you allowing your partner, family member, child, etc., to experience their own ‘cake’? Do you demand to be a part of that ‘cake’ or do you just want to share your ‘icing’?
 
You might also enjoy:
  On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

 

 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Do You Ever Cringe When You Open Your E-Mail?


          I’m on so many lists and receive so many e-mails about important social and civic activities. When General Foods refuses to label GMOs in any its products, I get an e-mail, a call to action. When one political party or another throws roadblocks in the path of progress or makes the issues personal rather than about positive change, I get several e-mails and am asked to sign petitions, write letters or share a point of view with all my Facebook friends. I even have an app on my phone that allows me to scan the purchase tags of items I may want to purchase allowing me to find out if the company has ever supported apartheid or been associated with controversial activities, like having its workers housed in sweatshops.

Access to Info Versus Lingering Toxicity

          I love having this information so effortlessly at my disposal and appreciate my initial contact with many of these ‘causes.’ Of course I’m going to stand up and acknowledge that I want a government shutdown to end now. Of course I’m going to say I abhor underage workers slaving away in unhealthy work environments for pennies a day. It’s what happens after these initial contacts that has left a slightly toxic feeling in my soul.

Morning e-mail

The more I became involved and enlightened, the more my mailboxes, both real and virtual, became filled with negative messages of all that is wrong in the world. It could be people, politicians (because we know they’re not people), companies, both here and abroad and the environment that evidently acts alone to bring about things like global warming and shockingly aberrant weather in the form of storms like Hurricane Sandy or a super typhoon in the Philippines. I would cringe when I logged on each morning, afraid to see what terrible activity or person was plotting to ruin the world. I felt nervous, afraid, na├»ve, and pessimistic about having a safe and abundant place to spend my glorious days in fulfilling activities.

It Sticks With Me

          Some people can see this daily barrage and let it float right through them – not me. It bores into my heart and robs me of the assurance I create daily to be able to live and love fully. It beats me down, more rapidly than most people I admit. But I’m determined, so I swept through my e-mails and unsubscribed from all those organizations who are probably just trying to do good with their notifications. I’m sure this purging won’t entirely solve the build-up of negative input, and I know it’ll accumulate again, but I feel relieved.

Open to Goodness

 
          This cleansing reminds me that I’m in control of my happiness, regardless of what is happening out there and regardless of what I ‘should’ being doing about it. My wellbeing is tied to a good and generous world that supports fellowship and love, but I have to choose activities that reflect that attitude. For me, I can’t be open to a lot of negative and turn around and project the positive. This doesn’t mean I’m giving up learning about and supporting the good cause, it just means I need to step back and reclaim my peace and prosperity periodically in order to more fully live a well-rounded life.



You might also enjoy:  Complaints 101
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A No-Cost Way To Improve Your Life - Thanksgiving

          Wayne Dyer speaks of abundance. Oprah also has expounded on the subject over the years. These two as well as thousands of other well known personalities have written tomes about abundance and its role in life. Within my own spiritual community, abundance is a cornerstone of a joyous life. Acknowledging abundance around us is a powerful and no-cost way to improve your life. I’m all for inexpensive ways to improve my life, and I never get tired of being reminded of the goodness that comes from creating prosperity and celebrating all the abundance that already exists.

Negative Issues

          A practice of acknowledging abundance helps mold a more positive and upbeat lifestyle. After all, it’s an uphill battle to focus on negative issues all the time when you see and celebrate all that is available to you daily. I can see your eyebrows crinkle together when you read that last sentence. Is that a true statement, you ponder? Actually, with all the reports of crime, destruction, poor economic forecasts, and war, to name a few pessimistic talking points, it’s quite easy to wallow in the negative in spite of all the wonderment in the universe.

          Just look at an hour of the news every night for a week and feel the sadness left in your soul. We’re bombarded with messages that say things aren’t good out there and if they are good, it’s only temporary. There’ll be a shooting, tornado, financial crisis or political scandal to rob you of the true joys in life.

Describe Your Abundance

          What does abundance look and feel like to you? To me, I don’t focus on what I want when I think of abundance, I think about what I already have, and that doesn’t change with the stock market, the weather or with what so-and-so said about me to someone else. To many people abundance is defined as freedom, happiness, health, love, peace.

          I think you have to live an abundant life to have an abundant life. And here I’m not talking about what possessions you have but rather what you truly believe about having abundance. You can't truly believe in lack, want, violence and be worried and fearful or angry all the time and, in the same breath, believe that there is enough in the world to meet all your needs. You have to let go of the negative to allow room for the positive to live in your soul.

Celebrate

          This Thanksgiving when you’re sharing all that you’re grateful for, toss in a few affirmations about the abundance currently in your life. Celebrate and declare all the abundance that you have manifested. It’s your choice. Choose abundance, choose the celebration of all there is, choose the affirmation of all that the Universe currently provides for you.
 
Kali, some of my abundance

 
You might also enjoy:
 
How to be Wealthy
 
 

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

One of Those Moments: The End of Camelot


          Fifty years ago today John F. Kennedy was assassinated. His death put in motion a chain reaction of several factors that continue to affect our society today – indeed, affect many societies around the world. The upbeat, optimistic and hopeful times following the end of the second World War, all through the end of the Vietnam War, came to an end. JFK’s death signaled a slow migration toward cynicism and fear as well as a distrust in our government and each other.
          At the time of this crisis, I was a 15-year-old living in  France. All these years later, I feel privileged to have experienced this event while living among military families residing abroad. I got to see firsthand the heartfelt pain and anguish from neighboring nationalities that reassured me in that moment that we reigned as the world’s most powerful and revered nation. JFK stood for that power. He was not perfect, but who is. I miss him. I miss his message.  I miss what he represented to a enthusiastic nation that still believed … in itself and in others.

         
It is my hope and prayer that it doesn't take us 50 years to swing back to a nation united and standing strong in the belief of all peoples coming together to make an indivisible and stellar future for the benefit of everyone.
 
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Be the Best "I" You Can Be

The Subject of I

          I read somewhere that the first-person pronoun is a mighty tool, and that I should use it. Earlier this year, in the Wall Street Journal, the author Lacy Crawford wrote, “Claim the ‘I’ and write the hell out of it.”

           It’s too bad this subject of focusing on the “I” isn’t taught in schools starting at an early age. I don’t mean classes in how to love yourself narcissistically while putting the welfare of others behind your own. I’m talking about trusting yourself, listening to your inner voice, sharing your feelings and speaking honestly from your heart. Isn't it unfortunate that we're taught relentlessly how to be tough, fierce negotiators ever mindful of which side we’re fighting for? Isn’t stoic unbending behavior modeled in the world all the time?

Taking Control

          I hope a shift is coming; a shift toward being open to creative problem solving that doesn’t pit us against each other. After all, you only have control over yourself. Being yourself is the only unique thing you will ever experience, and both our personal and business lives can benefit from that uniqueness.

          Coming out on top is cold comfort when the chips are really down, when you are staring adversity in its face. So, it might be beneficial to develop a strong relationship with yourself. You spend all that time, money and energy on developing the outside of yourself. Spend as much time as you can working on the parts that make you unique: your heart, your soul and what makes you sing inside.

          Stop with the arguments, the upsets, the problems, the disappointments. Stop letting others characterize you incorrectly. Get a life. Smell the roses. There is always time to appreciate the simpler things in life - how the sunlight filters through the living room window and frames the kitty in its warmth, for instance.

          You are a mother, brother, student, teacher, friend, lover. You are many things to many people in this world, but you are only you to yourself. No one will ever fully get and appreciate all your idiosyncrasies and foibles. NO ONE, seriously!

          We don’t have enough time to waste on things out of our control, things that don’t bring us joy, and things that deplete us of the love and compassion as we strive to grow and expand. This isn’t a dress rehearsal; this is opening night, the real deal.


          This is my lesson in life to learn also.

What Moves Me

          I took a long hard look recently and contemplated what moves me, incites me, and enrages me, about what is important enough to speak up for or not compromise about. For me I want to:

            -stare at the brilliant ocean waves crashing in

                front of me from the beach, memorizing the
                glaring white foam

            -inhale the sweet scent of the folds of a precious
                baby’s neck

            -take a mental snapshot when Kali twists her
                head back from my lap to stare lovingly into
                my eyes

           -listen for the umpteenth time to that piece
                of classical music that moves me to swoon

          -feel the soothing caress of comfort from a friend
               or loved one

          -recreate that event or retell that story that made
               me laugh so hard I nearly cried

           This is my list today and it’ll probably change or grow in the future. That’s okay. It is, after all, not the list so much as the process of being the best “I” can be. What about you?

 
 
 
You might also enjoy:
      When Bad Things Happen:  Five Ways I Cope
Contact me here: 
      antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com
 
 
 

Friday, November 15, 2013

One of Those Moments: Elder Haiku

 
 
Elder Haiku
 
Lunch time,
calls from kids,
game to start,
happy hour,
bedtime.
 
Always waiting.


Elder Haiku II

Stuff to do,
then again,
What's the rush?
I can wait

for my final task.
 
 
 
Sunset in Bali.
 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How Doing Nothing Can Help You Do Everything

          Once a month I have what I call a 'No Tech’ Day. During this 24-hour period, I don’t turn on my computer or my cell phone. I don’t drive my car or watch TV, Netflix or videos and I don't listen to music. I don’t text, Tweet or use my landline to reach out. I don’t microwave or do laundry. I do turn on the heater if necessary and will use electricity for lights in the evening. It’s a cathodic fasting of sorts, and it juices me up to do more and be more productive in the days that follow this break in my routine.

          What do I do if I’m not doing all that? I sit in silence, I walk, I read, I feel the sun on my body as I contemplate my garden and I meditate. I visit with friends if something is pre-arranged. I play with my cat; Kali loves these days when it seems I never stop tossing the ball or pulling the string throughout the house for her entertainment. I eat salads, and I miss having my morning coffee. But I remind myself that it’s only for 24 hours.

           Like a lot of people, I can get overwhelmed with the fast-paced world of technology that, for the most part, enhances our lives. We communicate, problem solve, create new ideas and develop systems at breakneck speed. We have trained ourselves to think on our feet, to multi-task and to make decisions on the fly instead of mulling over our reactions and responses in contemplative repose.

          At the Center for Spiritual Living, my metaphysical abode, our practice for this and next month is silence and retreat. We’ve been talking about ways to question if you’d benefit from spending time in silence and some ideas for ways to create that for yourself. If it's been forever since you've taken a whole day to be alone or if you can't go for an hour without checking e-mail, Facebook, etc., you might be prime for a 'No Tech' Day. For me, I participate daily in a snippet of silence when I meditate. On a No Tech Day, I meditate several times: upon waking and later in the day, sometimes leading to a delicious nap.
 

          One of the main rewards I get out of taking a break from a fast-paced life is being reminded how the simplicity of a quiet day enhances my appreciation of all that surrounds me without fanfare. I remember what silence sounds like, I become aware of what outside noises I live with daily, and I stop to smell the flowers both in reality and metaphorically speaking. While I’m embarrassed to say sometimes it takes one of these retreat days to get me back in touch with the simple things in life, I’d rather own up to it and gain the benefits instead of just plugging along without nurturing my soul.

          It’s pretty simple but it can be challenging if you’ve never lived without electronics for a day. You can do it. You can improve the more you do it. Don’t get discouraged. Try it for an hour at a time at first. I promise you it’ll be worth it.




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Find me at:  Antonia's Senior Moment on Facebook or
leave a message at:  antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com

Friday, November 8, 2013

One of Those Moments: In a Flash

          Chances are if you read blogs, you’re a reader of other stuff and perhaps you’re also a writer. Today in my brief moment with you I’m sharing some opportunities to think differently about the stories and novels you read.

          As some of you know, I’m a big fan of flash fiction, stories or memories usually 500 words or less. But there are some outstanding stories told in much fewer words. My iPhone stories (see tab above) with words and pictures come from trying to convey the biggest story with few words. The shortest stories I’ve read were only six words, yes only six. That’s a challenge to write a complete story in only six words. Think you could do it?

          Here are some examples of six word stories:

                     Buried in a steel casket. Immortal. – Gen
                     Two wives, one funeral, no tears. – Desrio
                     For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn. – Ernest      
                             Hemingway

           On Twitter you can post your six word stories at:
                        @sixwordstories


           Here are some 12 word stories:

           Over time, watered by the tears of war, lasting
                     peace eventually blossomed. -- Lisa HW
            Ivy launched its assault: climbing, reaching, and
                     photosynthesizing. Triumph! Fence is        
                     invisible. -- Heuchera
           A man walking in the desert diving into a mirage
                     visits China. -- Joyce R.

           Listed below are websites that share stories written in six, 12, 50 and 100 words. There are lots more websites out there. Check them out. I think they’re fascinating.


          6 words:
               http://sixwordstoryeveryday.com/
          12 words:
               
http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/45991
          50 words:
               
http://fiftywordstories.com
          100 words:
               
http://www.100wordstory.com/






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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rules/Suggestions for Seniors Communicating in the 21st Century

          “You don’t write, you don’t call.” To this statement you can now add “you don’t e-mail, you don’t text, you don’t Tweet.” When learning about and using new forms of communication, we’re now asked to learn the new guidelines of communicating that go along with them. I’ll get to those in a minute.
    
          As we’re all aware, communicating has changed significantly in the last several years. It’s easy to communicate and do it quite effectively if you’re standing in front of the person. You’re able to speak and use hand gestures, facial expressions and intonation to get your point across. “I don’t think so,” can be a straightforward response to a question, a flip remark to a comical situation or a sharp retort to a perceived injustice. The meaning is identified by all the other ‘stuff’ that goes along with the words.

Back then ...

          Remember when we used to write thank you notes with fountain pens and Eaton stationary? You do if you’re a senior like me. After Christmas and birthdays, it was required in my household to create these little expressions of gratitude for grandmothers and other relatives. I hated writing them, but I loved receiving them when I was the gift giver. I still have friends who have taken the written “Thank You” to an art form and send them out for much lesser reasons including a dinner or a party. But I tell the nephews and the step-kids not to bother having their little ones send these laborious cards. It’s sufficient to just shoot me an e-mail saying that they got the whatever.

Communication These Days ...

          I recently attended a Senior Expo in my community where I shared information about this blog. To get this page where you see these words, you have to be plugged in, have access to the Internet and be savvy enough to navigate your way in and out. I tried guessing before the event what percentage of seniors who came by my table would claim, proudly or otherwise, a solid lack of interest and even a distain for all things computer-related. I thought it might be 50-50. But I was wrong.

          The vast majority of seniors I spoke with that day embrace, to various degrees, this electronic form of communication. Some people said they squeak by just using e-mail and others said they, like me, live in e-mail, Facebook and the Internet throughout most days. The minority of seniors who stay as far away from the Internet as possible are also not going to even dip a toe into e-mail. Evidently that fact frustrates their families and friends who routinely rely on electronic mail to connect and to inform. The same goes for tweeting; if you’re not on line, you’re not connecting via Twitter.

          My experience has been that the seniors who are likely to use text messages are among the computer literate group even though texting is done via a Smartphone or iPhone and not a computer per se. I love text messages to quickly inform rather than to engage in a protracted conversation. “See you at 5” is more likely a text message rather than a question like “How was your day?”

Rules, Suggestions, Guidelines...call them what you like

          Over the years, new practices have been developed to accompany the various forms of electronic communication. Some people refer to them as rules. I think of them as suggestions or guidelines. You won’t be dropped from the social registry for doing things incorrectly in the e-communication venue, but you may not send the message you intended to your audience if you don’t at least pay attention to the major guidelines.

          First and foremost, remember this:  typing words via an e-mail, Twitter or text messages excludes all those wonderful, and, yes, sometimes irritating, body and facial gestures that almost always enhance the meaning of the spoken word. Written messages, in general, are flat words and their meaning, without hand movement, facial expressions and voice intonation, can be misread. Be careful with humor and sarcasm. Many arguments are started and feelings get hurt when words are not interpreted correctly by the receiver. Better to save any message that might be misunderstood for the face-to-face meetings, if possible.

          Along these same lines, never use an e-mail or other electronic messaging to communicate something that needs to be said in person. We’ve all heard about getting a “Dear John” message via e-mail. Confrontation can be uncomfortable and the tendency may be to hide behind a non-personal e-mail. Don’t do it. It can be rude, hurtful, and confusing at best. I've learned this the hard way myself.

          Other suggestions for the best electronic communication:

           -TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS THE SAME AS YELLING
                    and is considered to be annoying.

                      
           -Many people feel it’s ok to forego proper grammar and
                   any letter formatting in
e-communications. While
                   I may not always start my e-mails with "Dear So  
                   and So,” I do use correct grammar and punctuation                     throughout. But then I'm a writer, so I must, no??
                     
           -Be sure to use the Subject line to let the reader know
                  what the message is about.

           -Keep it short and simple. Reread your message before
                  sending and delete any unnecessary verbiage.

 
           -Don’t forget to Spell Check.

          A personal pet peeve is when I get an e-mail that has been forwarded from the sender’s brother’s niece’s secretary’s father. There are so many addresses and messages of the previous receivers to wade through before I get to the cartoon, joke or kitty montage that the sender thought I might enjoy. You can delete all those forwarded messages and e-mail addresses before you send it to your crowd and delete the RE: in the subject line. If you can't figure out how to streamline these kinds of messages, let me know, and I'll walk you through it. Deleting all the previous addresses and comments makes the receiver feel special -- that you intended the cute/funny/informational thing just for them!

Whatever You Do, Don't Give Up

          I know that electronic communication can be confusing and not the easiest for those of us who spent the majority of our lives in face-to-face interaction. Sometimes, rather than learn the correct way to use e-mail and other forms, we plunge ahead and plead ignorance when we screw up. I encourage you, however, to take the time to learn the proper ways to communicate with electronic devices. I guarantee it’ll pay off in terms of being heard and, who knows, some of the younger members of your family might just be blown away by your acumen. It’s always fun to surprise kids these days.




 
One of my less than pristine forms of communication.




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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Springing Ahead or Falling Back?

[Originally published March 10, 2013)
 

           Are you one of those people whose life is completely discombobulated because of the beginning or ending of daylight saving time? One hour either way doesn’t seem like much but I have lots of friends who are in a daze and off-kilter for weeks after this one hour either magically appears or is illogically stolen away.

          Daylight saving time (DST) decreases the amount of daylight in the morning hours so that more daylight is available during the evening. It was first proposed by entomologist George Vernon Hudson, whose shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects and led him to value after-hours daylight. He presented a paper in 1895 where he cited economizing on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight and by using less heating coal as additional reasons for the one-hour change in time.

          Winston Churchill took the DST ball and ran with it in England saying it enlarged "the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country.”  People who worked in agriculture and those in the evening entertainment business dubbed it "Daylight Slaving Time.” The US adopted DST in the early 20th century in order to conserve coal during wartime along with Britain and other of Germany’s allies in WWI.

          You might be surprised to know that there is no federal mandate that US states observe daylight savings time. The only DST law that does exist is one that stipulates that states or areas that do observe it do so at the same time - from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. This is a change from what it used to be prior to 2007 when it was the first Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October.

          Today DST continues to be controversial. It certainly doesn’t benefit farmers and others who rise before dawn and may have to operate in the dark a while longer before daybreak. Its benefits include energy savings while decreasing the number of traffic accidents and incidents of crime.

          One of the minor kinks in DST is that not everyone observes it uniformly. Residents of Arizona and Hawaii, along with the US territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, do nothing for daylight saving time. Their lack of participation has been manageable over the years.

          Like many, in terms of sleep, I transition easier with the fall hour change when we get some additional snooze time. But then overnight, so to speak, it’s dark even before the evening commute. In that sense, the spring change, while taking away one of life’s most precious commodities, time, we are able to frolic or laze in longer warm afternoons.

          To me, there is also a more subtle change that seems to accompany DST and that is a feeling in the air. It doesn’t change exactly on the day of hour giving or taking away but sometime within that week. In the spring, it feels just a tad warmer in the morning when I deliver cat poop to the garbage can and I start noticing all the tiny blossoms beginning to bud. In the fall, there is a momentary crispness in the air that makes me think about hunting down the stored sweaters in preparation for cooler mornings ahead.

          Daylight saving time signifies change, a change I’m willing to embrace. It signals holidays approaching or a feeling of warmth penetrating completely into my bones. It’s a life cycle that brings change but remains unchanged from year to year.

          Our one hour come or one hour gone really is little compared to the early Romans whose daily clocks were tied to the rotation of the sun and how that rotation changed during the year…..there were more minutes in some days than others and they varied from month to month.  I guess we should be glad it’s only two hours during the entire year that we’re haggling about. Easy for me to say since I’m not one of those bothered by the DST change.

          Does DST throw you and/or your sleep patterns all out of whack? Are you cranky or spaced out in the fall or spring because of DST? Whatever your answer, DST begins next Sunday. Don’t forget to spring forward an hour!
 
 
 

Friday, November 1, 2013

One of Those Moments: Our Friends

          I'm a cat person...you know this. You might even have seen more than enough of my tripod, Kali. But I love dogs too, other people's dogs. I think they are special and way too smart for me. Dogs don't hold grudges, judge the behavior of others or let selfishness stop them from loving us. All they want to do is please us.

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     Kali

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Holiday Prep Tutorial – Indulging

          How many years have you said in October or November, “Ok, this year it’s going to be different. This year I'm not going to give up my healthy lifestyle to indulge in holiday eating debauchery."?  Well, hang on to your calorie counters; we’re headed into the holidays. I can hear recipe books everywhere opening to some of the oldest, most enthusiastically shared, richest and utterly  delicious foods we cook all year. We’re staring down the barrel of consuming in one day what we usually enjoy over an entire weekend. Remember how I slipped into the oblivion of trans fats and tannins last year? Well, I’m determined not to repeat that again this year.

Effects on Us Senior Citizens
          As older adults, we’re more susceptible to what comes with not eating and drinking right. The effects of all that fun and partying we did when we were younger now, more than ever, plays havoc with our bodies and results in longer lost days spent nursing hangovers, heartburn, and other … ahem … unmentionable ailments that bring about the need for unplanned alone time.  Alone time during the holidays is not what we need.

When Does It Start?
          For some, the holidays and over-indulging doesn’t begin until Thanksgiving, which turns into a mere month of pigging out. For others like myself, the minute I’m shopping for Halloween candy, I start thinking about pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, Almond Roca and beef short rib stew served over polenta. Okay, okay, I need to stop already with the food description!

          If it starts for you at Halloween, that’s nearly 60 days of dealing with the push and pull of overeating, or eating the ‘wrong’ stuff or just not eating the way you normally do in order to maintain your health. That’s nearly 20% of the entire year! That’s a lot of time spent not feeling your best, taking meds to compensate for not feeling your best and then all that time it takes to get back on track. (You may recall I wrote a piece on that subject just this past July. Sadly it took me until July to get back on track!!!)

What Are You Going to Do?
           I know I’m not alone in this conundrum. I’ve hear too many groans and seen too many eye rolls when I bring up this subject. There are, however, always going to be those people who never deviate from their normal eating routines. I envy these naturally thin and focused people. I also secretly think they can sometimes be boringly in control when confronted by a lavish party spread, hot toddies or holiday stress comfort foods.  

          What about you? How do you handle the season of indulging? Does it even bother you at all? Do you just allow yourself to gain and then do damage control later? I’m curious about your strategy for making it through the holidays without tossing your whole healthy lifestyle.




Friday, October 25, 2013

Final First Year Thanks

          Before moving on to Year Two of Antonia's Senior Moments, I wanted to once again thank you, the readers, for your support:

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  antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Blogging Increased My Spirituality

Happy Anniversary         
          It was one year ago tomorrow when I posted my first piece for Antonia’s Senior Moments. The subject I spoke about in that first blog was gratitude. As I reflect on the past year, I feel a great sense of gratitude all this writing and sharing has brought into my life.  No amount of celebrating is complete without taking a moment to share what I’ve gotten out of this experience and without thanking two people who have supported and taught me more than I ever imagined I could learn at this point in my life.

Why?
          One of the main reasons I started writing here was to increase my spirituality. At the Center for Spiritual Living, my metaphysical home, we have spent this year practicing all aspects of our spiritual place in the Universe. I thought there’d be no better way to increase my spirituality than by writing about all these aspects including, as I said, gratitude, and meditating, giving/receiving, friendships, non-material wealth, attachments, affirmations, forgiveness and selfless service. All of these subjects, as well as some of the zany and highly personal other topics I discussed this past year, were written from my perspective, the senior citizen perspective. I’ve been told over and over, however, that many, many of these discussions were of interest to people of all ages, not just seniors.  That thrills me!
          Has my goal of increased spirituality been attained? Indeed it has and will only continue to expand in the future. Growth of any kind, as we all know, is a continuum; we never get to the end – hopefully. I look forward to increasing my spiritual sense of self – stumbles and all – for many years to come. And I so appreciate you accompanying me in this journey.

Big Help
          Along the way, I’ve been joined by a few knowledgeable guest bloggers who kindly agreed to share their perspective and experience in the world. Thank you Randall Friesen, Jane Beach, Edward Viljoen, Chris Michaels and Gretchen Rubin. Your input here has added a dimension and enrichment that could not have existed without your presence.

Edward Viljoen

          I  wish to give a standing O to my teacher, blog administrator, spiritual leader, mentor and friend,  Rev. Edward Viljoen. When I hesitated, you were there, encouraging and helping me realize my dream. Most of the time the technical aspects of this project made my head spin but  I'd always walk away from our meetings with a greater sense of just how simple it is to know my truth and to speak it. Thank you, Edward.


Rod Sverko
          Also, I wish to thank my dear friend, Rod Sverko, who has consistently been my biggest champion.  You let me share early drafts of nearly all posts, you “Liked” and shared on Facebook and Google+’d everything ALL the time, you kept me company at public events, you were distracted by me as I flailed around in darkened theaters to take notes for my movie reviews and you always talked up "Antonia’s Senior Moments" to everyone you knew and met.  Thank you for your love and support.


         And finally, thank you, the reader, for finding my work, whether you were with me from the beginning or only recently stumbled upon this little corner of the blogging world. You unfailingly gave me your feedback and told me when I made you laugh and when I made you cry. If I can enhance the life of only one person through this passion of mine, I will be overjoyed.

         A toast to this past year and to the  future!

My job is to find a place of truth and tell that truth ~
                                                                Jay Z

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