Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Must We Always Act Our Age?

          I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life. George Burns

          Age is a state of mind. If that is true, must we always act our age? I don't think so!

          “What? Didn’t she just go over this age thing a couple of weeks ago?”

          Yes, I was thrilled to celebrate my 65th birthday earlier this month. I spoke of sharing the birth date with Martin Luther King and shifting my ‘Use by…’ date to 81 years old. But I didn’t talk about how our attitudes about getting older age us. I didn’t talk about those little habits of things we say and do that scoot us into walkers much faster than necessary.

          The Handbook of Religion and Health by Koenig, et al, indicates that people who have a regular religious attendance or practice live, on average, 7 years longer than those who don’t. There are things we can do to make the best use of those extra years.

          I was pleased last fall to attend a workshop at the Center for Spiritual Living . The speaker was Rev. Chris Michaels from the Kansas City Center for Spiritual Living.  Our two Centers are closely aligned and  Rev. Chris visits us often. He sometimes travels with us to foreign countries when our Center organizes spiritual excursions to places like Bali. I have spent some time with him on one of these trips and he is a cool guy. He tells it like he sees it and people listen because he’s right on. He is not even close to being a senior citizen but he isn’t a young pup either.

          A friend and I attended his workshop entitled “Aging as a Spiritual Practice” and found Chris’ perceptions and his take on how our ways of thinking can age us faster than the clock. Chris points out that our spirits are the true essence of who we are, not our bodies. Spirit is ageless, timeless and deathless. Yet we continually remind ourselves and others that we are becoming more limited physically and/or mentally as time goes on. How many times have you said, as I have, “Oh, I forgot that because I’m having a senior moment,” or “I used to be able to do that longer…or faster…or better….”? How often do we buy into a youthful society’s message that says if you’re over 30 you’re not worth very much? We’re the first people to limit ourselves by believing and integrating these attitudes as we get older.

          Yes, our bodies are flesh that does deteriorate over time, but there’s nothing more limiting than

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


          Have you ever heard of Pinterest? If so, do you think it’s just one more thing that you lack time and interest in pursuing? I like it partly because I have time to like it. Some of the enjoyment of being a senior citizen is to have time for things like Pinterest. Sure, if you abhor the computer, then you probably won’t free up the time to find your way to this excellent bulletin board.

          My much younger friends, Cheri and Christi, first raved about Pinterest to me last year and, at the time, it seemed a bit overwhelming. What could an internet bulletin board offer that would be fun and interesting? [Sidebar: By now you see the word ‘interesting’ keeps coming up. Think of Pinterest as an online bulletin board where you can pin interesting things.] What the name doesn’t hint at is that the site compiles and presents a cabillion ‘interesting’ things you might want to save for future reference. Instead of printing out something interesting and putting that piece of paper in a drawer, folder or instead of pinning it to the bulletin board above your desk, you ‘Pin’ the item and it is saved to your own virtual bulletin board.

          Your big bulletin board is then broken down into as many smaller sub-bulletin boards as you want or need. For instance, attached to my board I have 18 topic specific boards with interests which include: cats, books worth reading, men I like, gingko, veggie sushi, style, for the home, and miscellaneous. Each item pinned under one of these boards leads to a picture and a recipe, website, blog or some other avenue to get the information you need. There are thousands of pin possibilities for how to get your clothes whiter, or pack better for a trip or make the ideal Halloween costume, or tie a scarf or where to buy something or how to make something. All the users contribute thousands of new pins daily.

          Pinterest is like being able to view the entire web and select and store those items that interest you. Recently I became interested in altered books, where decorative art is made from old books. I searched on Pinterest and found hundreds of examples of different altered book projects and displays. I ‘pinned’ them and then later, when I had more time, I went back and looked at them individually. By doing this I was exposed to websites that showed where altered books classes or exhibits are taking place. I was exposed to other people who shared my interest and to instructions on how to reproduce some exhibited work.

          And don’t EVEN talk about food and recipes. Pinterest recipes have a life of their own, and well known jokes have been published about how much time, energy and ingredients have been taken up with tried and true or tried and not true cooking. Three of my 18 Pinterest bulletin boards deal with food alone.

          Pinterest isn’t a game. It’s a huge conglomeration of information. Granted, like Wikipedia, most of the info is viewer input, and I generally double check things that sound wacko.

          There is no obligation with Pinterest. There is no advertising, no possibility of spam unless you travel down a path to a dubious website (and Pinterest is very good about ferreting those out ahead of time) and no social interaction per se. Yes, you may comment on a pin in the public arena but you don’t need to chat or talk or email with anyone else there. No one is going to bother or poke you if you don’t pin for weeks or months. It truly is there for you, to use as you see fit.

          I think it’s definitely worth checking out. Find it out here http://pinterest.com/

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Turning 65

           It seems fortuitous that I chose Tuesdays as the day of the week I would publish new posts here at Antonia’s Senior Moments. Both Christmas and New Years fell on Tuesdays and today, a couple of weeks into the New Year, I’m writing my Tuesday post on my 65th birthday.

          I share my birthday with a wonderful and truly inspirational man, Martin Luther King. He would have been 84 today. I feel honored to share this day with King, who opened the door and brought the fresh air of “all people created equal” into our current society. Sure, the ideology hasn’t stuck for everyone, but some people don’t have the education to be that open and accepting, let alone the experience to know what it feels like to be discriminated against. So, here’s to a noble countryman who gave of his ideology and his life so the lives of black people everywhere could be better. In my opinion, us white folks are better for it too!

          So, its official: I’m a legitimate, card-carrying Medicare recipient and I’m entitled to social security, which I’ve been receiving since I was 62 (a story for another day). When I turned 55, many establishments (movie theaters, some restaurants and retail stores), would give me a senior discount. I had to chuckle though at those places where the 20-year-old clerks were required to ask if I wanted the senior rate or not. At first I felt super old. They must be asking because I looked old. That wasn’t the case, however, when I pressed the issue. It was similar to being carded; if you even remotely looked like you could be 55, the clerks were required to ask. They always asked with down-cast eyes.

          I’m thrilled to be 65; no, seriously I am.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


          All the presents have been opened and are currently claiming space on cleared shelves, in organized closets, on table tops or in drawers. The decorations are down and stowed until next year and some of the leftovers from delicious meals have been pushed into the freezer to be used for soup fixings during the coming chilly weeks.

          I’m reflecting; reflecting on what the holidays meant as a whole and how grateful I feel for the bounty of this time with loved ones. The lingering thought at the end of this reflection is about this black, furry, three-legged, slightly skittish present I received nearly three years ago.

          One major thing you need to know about me in this, our blog ‘relationship,’ is how I feel about my cat, Kali. It’s pretty unreasonable and can make some of my closest friends uncomfortable. My love for Kali is over the top. I can just look at her and burst into tears. Is this the way it is with children? I don’t know as I never had any. And, come to think of it, it’s not like I birthed her or anything. So why do I feel this hyper level of care and devotion?

          About three years ago my friend/neighbor/realtor Robert and I both were in the market for pets. He wanted a doggie and I wanted an indoor cat. We took getting these animals on as a major project visiting every single shelter and Humane Society in two local counties multiple times. Every weekend we’d head out and see who might be out there waiting for us. We did this for two complete months. We each came close to getting a particular animal but, for some reason, never completed the process. Then it happened.

          One day Robert found his doggie, Princess, a white bichon frise mix, at the local pound, and two days later I found Ali at the local Humane Society. She was hidden in the back of a small room crowded with outgoing cats. The moment I sat down on the floor, she boldly popped out of the corner and began rubbing against my thigh. It was then I noticed she hopped on three legs. Her rear left flank was shaved where her leg had recently been amputated.

          She seemed starved for attention. Although somewhat shy about letting me get too close, she obviously couldn’t get enough of the feel of my thigh smashed up against her sweet face, as she rubbed and purred against me. I found out she had been attacked by a dog and her leg hung lifeless for several days before the young couple who owned her brought her to the Sonoma County Humane Society where they gave her up because they couldn’t afford the cost of surgery.  As a one-year-old, she was in good health in spite of this trauma, so the doctors operated to remove the dead limb and neutered and micro chipped her at the same time.

          Ali was two weeks out from that surgery when I met her. From that first meeting, I knew she was mine and I went home immediately to make the necessary plans for her arrival the next day. The first thing I did was change her name to Kali, which means black in India. My spouse’s ex-wife’s name was Ali, and that just wouldn’t work, either for me or her.

          Kali couldn’t survive outside with only one back leg, so she’s content to consider the inside of my home her entire world. She only once tried and succeeded in dashing out the front door. She scooted around the house and wound up in a parking area, bawling loudly. I lured her out into the open with wet cat food, and scooped her up into tightly clenched arms. She and I both were trembling. Ever since that day, she’s never been interested in going outside. I could leave the front door wide open and she’d just sit and stare at it.

          Even now she’s quite skittish…hates loud noises, ice cubes rattling around in the ice tray, the sound of tinfoil being ripping off the roll, any sudden movements, boisterous guests, the door on the dishwasher being opened or closed or doing ANYTHING with plastic bags.  I gladly tolerate this behavior from her. She’s been through quite enough trauma. 

          But if I don’t shower or put my makeup on, if I have a grumpy day with nothing good to say or do, if I get too busy and ignore her or if I go on vacation and leave her for two weeks in the care of others, she’s always loving to me, happy to curl onto my lap, or lick my leg or (gulp) reach out a tiny paw to my cheek when I cry (seriously!).

          I’d like to think I saved her, but when I look into her soft kitty eyes and feel she’s seeing into my soul, I realize she saved me. She saved me from never having felt that level of love from an animal friend.

          She must know I’m talking about her. She just rubbed up against my legs. Then again, it IS dinnertime. Maybe that’s all it is.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year: Fresh Starts

          It’s not so much about making resolutions, resolutions which I’ve historically only been able to keep for about a week at the most. It’s not about sincere yet vaporous agreements with myself to eat better and exercise more. Okay, it used to be, but, now that I’m officially a senior citizen, I’ve cut way back on being na├»ve about such promises.

          It’s about new beginnings. Today is the first day of a new year and the first day of the rest of my life (gag). In spite of the saccharine nature of the latter part of that statement, I take a moment and wonder what the New Year will bring. During the last month, many of my friends have repeatedly said something like, “The new year has got be better. It can’t be any worse than this last one.” Doesn't it seem we’ve been saying that for several New Years?

         While that’s a fairly negative stance on 2012, the sentiment is borne out of many years of publicized and/or personally experienced economic turmoil, joblessness, foreclosures, rollercoaster gas prices and general uncertainty.

          And we have a new president. Not a new, new president, but a new term for President Obama. Hope springs eternal, in spite of the fiscal cliff fiasco! I promised myself, however, I’d never talk politics per se in this blog, so I divert away from any of that prickliness right now.

          January 1 is similar to the first day of spring:  it’s a fresh start. To me, having a fresh start, be it big or small, is always a good thing. It’s that moment when I take stock, about a single issue or about life in general. (If I had a dollar for every Monday morning fresh start I attempted!) In this way, fresh starts are a gift. They are always there giving us hope and not slapping us in the face if we’re not entirely successful in incorporating new and better things into our lives.

          New beginnings are age blind and economically resistant, and there are an unlimited number available to each and every one of us. What we do with them is our choice.