Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ten Things to Make Your Senior Moments Happier

          Retirement and being a senior citizen is all about relaxing and enjoying life more. It’s time to quit sweating the small stuff and really sink into the goodness all around us. We’re done meeting deadlines, we’re done raising families (hopefully), and we’re done worrying about things we cannot control.

         Along those lines, I’ve identified ten things that bear remembering as we finally are able to let go and live a little. This list isn’t stagnant, it isn’t compiled of items to be checked off and never viewed again. It represents a process, a process of growing, expanding and  of looking to improve the quality of our lives, both mine and yours.

1.         Stop worrying about getting older.

           Time marches on and we can either go with the flow or fight it like a salmon struggling to get upstream. I can tell I’m fighting it when I see myself trying on age inappropriate clothes or makeup that I pour on to mask wrinkles or laugh lines. I’ve found people in general don’t want us to look or dress a certain way as we get older. They want us to be kind and gentle with them, to share our experiences and to listen. And we can do that. We’ve got the experience and the time.

2.         Stop comparing yourself to others.

          My mother used to remind me that there were others out there in the big world who would be better, smarter, prettier than me and, at the same, there’d be people with much less than me. And dang it if she hasn’t been right all these years! We are all unique and we each bring unique qualities to this life experience. This uniqueness allows us to meld ourselves with others, not to compete with them. Comparing ourselves to others is a huge waste of time.

3.         Stop thinking you have plenty of time to do what you’ve wanted to do.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Senior Moments: The Best is Yet to Come?

          For many years, society has said don’t trust anyone over 30. And even though those over thirty make up the largest segment of the population, the advertising media seems to eschew this significant baby boomer crowd. The senior population has historically been shoved aside and told “It’s all downhill now, baby! You’ve lived your best life, had the most fun, amassed your greatest wealth, enjoyed the most rewards life has to offer and had the best sex you’ll ever experience.” However, this is changing and advertisers are seeing the potential with the older crowd. More and more we hear comments like, “Sixty is the new 40 and 80 is the new 50.”

          If I ever doubted at 65 the best is yet to come, all I have to do is think about Louise Hay. This metaphysical teacher and motivational author is currently 86 years old. She was born into a poor and abusive family and ran away from home at 14. She dropped out of school and married at 15 and was pregnant at 16; she gave the baby up at its birth whereupon her husband left her for another woman. In the late 1970’s, she found she had cervical cancer but refused conventional medical treatment and began a regime of forgiveness, coupled with therapy, nutrition, and reflexology. She claimed in an interview that she rid herself of the cancer by this regime. While many would have boohoo’d that the best was nowhere in sight either then or in their future, she saw the positive and turned things around. She studied the New Thought works of authors and spiritual teachers including Ernest Holmes, who taught that positive thinking could heal the body.

          Louise Hay has, among many other things, written 27+ books on affirmations and the power of positive thinking to heal anything that needs healing, mind or body. In 1984 she established the Hay House Publishing firm and has worked with the likes of Deepak Chopra, Ester and Jerry Hicks, Oprah Winfrey and Wayne Dyer. Her bestseller, Heal Your Body, has sold more than 35 million copies around the world in over 30 languages. She loves to sing, dance, paint and sculpt, endeavors she didn’t even start until well into her 70’s. She is a true representation that the best is ALWAYS yet to come. There are many other celebrities like Louise in the news every day.

          While it’s nice to see well-known people who remind us that life can always be very fun and rewarding, I find it particularly heartening to personally know some seniors who epitomize the positive attitude that attracts more of the same, regardless of age. My friend Barbara was one of those people.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

White Knuckling Through March

          March is a tricky month for me. While spring officially starts March 20th and signals new buds on plants and trees and an increasing warmth in the morning air, there is a significant number of endings that occurred for me in March over the years. We all experience deaths in our families and amongst our friends, especially as we ourselves age. It gets a little hinky when our friends start passing. It reminds me of my own mortality.

          I don’t mean to be morbid, but I can’t help white knuckle my way through March, as I’ve experienced a concentration of significant loss during that month. First of all, it was my
mother who passed away in March 13 years ago. She had been a lifelong smoker and, fortunately for her, experienced just one episode of emphysema that hastened her death while in a coma. She did not linger in semi-consciousness nor did she have to wheel an oxygen tank around for the remainder of her life.

         Next it was my sister, Christine, who died in March 6 years ago at 62 years of age. She, too, was a smoker and passed three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. I had just retired when she got ill and I went to stay with and care for her. I tried to do it all by myself and I wasn’t successful. It was the most stressful experience of my life. Eventually her son and others from the community stepped in to assist. I miss Christine; she was my true north. Even when we squabbled like little girls, I knew I could count on her to be there like no other.

          Lastly, two years ago, Chuck died. My partner of 24 years and I weren't living together the last two years of his life but we were closer than ever before. Being able to keep our personality foibles in our respective homes allowed our love to flourish like it hadn’t in awhile. When Chuck went to the doctor on March 9th for an appointment and straight from there to the emergency room it was a shock. We had been together the night before, and our last words to each other had been “I love you.” But I didn’t get a chance to speak with him again because he had been put into a coma to stabilize him before I could get to the hospital. Less then a week after his admission, Chuck made his transition into his next life. As with anyone who has experienced the loss of a spouse, it was gut-wrenchingly painful. Because we weren’t legally married, it was his family who took care of all the things that needed to be dealt with, and it was understandably difficult for them. I will miss him always and never fully accept that I won’t get the opportunity to learn more from this gentle man who was loved by many.

          It feels really spooky having no one in my family of origin left (my father passed in February 1976). Sure, I have compiled a family made up of friends who love me, and I don’t feel alone or lonely, but when I flip that calendar page and it says “March,” I can’t help but cringe. I am, however, beginning to look at how I can change the white knuckling through March into something better. I'm interested in shifting the paradigm from acknowledging the past to embracing the future.

          I’m looking forward to a beginning when I can see it's the first of March and am able to smile and feel overwhelming warmth for shared experiences that made up the bulk of my life. Thank you to the people in my life for being my family and for allowing me to feel all that goes with that distinction. I love you all.