Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Isn't There An App For That?

A Review
         When I’m not sure exactly where I want to go, I just Map Quest or Google Earth the location and I’m given step-by-step directions how to get there – go 0.3 mi and turn left on Happiness Street; at  the next stoplight bear right as the road forks at Memory Lane; your destination is on the left. Pretty nifty, even if the directions aren’t always the most direct route.

          When I run out of resources in my wallet I just log on to my bank’s website and move some money around so I can survive until payday. When I don’t know how to spell a word or when I need to find out where I can buy little umbrellas for drinks at my next patio party, I ask my loyal computer for a clue.

          When I have a medical question or need to find out how physically healthy I am I send a quick e-mail to my doctor and she gets back to me within a couple of hours, even if it’s 10 p.m. at night. When I crave a hit of spirituality I can receive an online injection by watching my minister speak a thousand of his weekly inspirational and spot on messages or by reading his informative and touching blog posts.

          If you're a regular reader, you've heard me say most of the above before.

The New Stuff

          So, why is it I can’t do the same with the emotional side of my life? Real life and the work involved in it requires real participation, real touching, face-to-face interaction and solving problems in the presence of others. Isn’t there an app for that?  It can be pretty difficult to celebrate all that life has to offer with a computer, even one with a talented program that simulates real life events.

          On the other hand, when I can’t be there to see my girlfriend’s new baby or when my great nephew sprints ahead of the pack at his track meet, the computer and its attached pictures and social applications do indeed stand in. But I have still missed out on a part of the experience, a rather large part, in fact. I didn’t see the sweat of all his labor as he crossed the finish line, and I didn’t smell the red dirt track that was trampled by lots of other competing teenager feet. And he also doesn't get to see me smiling and thumbing up his great work. The limitations are obvious.

          But, when I’m frustrated and need some insight into how I might improve the well being of a couple of my relationships or certain things that have happened in those relationships, I look for a quick reference for an answer.  I have to admit I’ve Googled “How to be a better friend” and “How to express disappointment without getting angry.”  I also like to look up what my role models, such as Ernest Holmes or Emma Curtis Hopkins, might have to say about the spiritual side of my query. I’ve come to rely on my computer for so many things but solving real people problems/issues/questions can’t be accomplished entirely with a connection to the internet.

          I can’t applaud my relationship with my computer enough when it comes to quickly learning what to do when my generous neighbor delivers a freshly caught and very much still alive and kicking Dungeness crab to my door (I put it in the freezer to put it to sleep but then needed to check online again to learn how to clean it after I cooked it.).

          Access to almost all the information you’d ever need in a flash is nice, but it’s not the complete solution to what ails us/me. I wonder sometimes if I’m getting out of practice with real people-to-people interactions because of my over use of computerized devices such as iPads, tablets, smart phones, etc. Admittedly, I’ve sometimes chosen those forms of communication over the face-to-face kind because I could edit what I say several times before spewing forth.

          If I didn’t have my connection to all the information on the internet, what would I do? I wouldn’t give up trying to improve my interpersonal relationships; I might flounder a bit more and make bigger mistakes. Hey, I make pretty big ones already! I might have to call someone who could advise me about how to handle a live crab. I would have to wait and call my doctor’s office to get medical information, and I’d have to put on my pantyhose (just a saying, people) and actually go to The Center for Spiritual Living in person, which wouldn’t be so bad.

          There are those of my friends who, after having read this, will scoff, “See, I told you I could live my life just fine without learning how to work one of them there computer thingies.” Okay, they don’t really talk like that! But I have mixed feelings. While their lives are lived in the purest connection of people reaching out and connecting with other people, isn’t it limited extensively by time, energy, money and availability?

Why Talk About This at All?

     What has prompted this banal conversation in the first place you may wonder? Recently my computer experienced some significant problems. It had to do with the mouse and cursor having wildly divergent ideas about where to go on the screen, neither of which was governed by my participation. It was costly and inconvenient. I became very involved in the life of my Dell tech from the Philippines, Raymund.  During this period of downtime I was able to reflect about the difference between mechanical problems versus ‘people’ difficulties. Both have their good and bad points.

          One of the best things to occur as a result of this computer problem was a dear friend recommending I read Patience, The Art of Peaceful Living  by Allan Lokos. I highly recommend it. Hop on over to the movie and book review section of this blog for a more in depth review. After having read it, I’m sure what I learned will help me with both computer problems and the foibles of living with and loving real live humans.

          I'm no where near setting aside my computer and all that it does for me, but I feel a stronger sense of being able to handle things without the aide of anything electronic.

My computer/companion/counselor/cartographer

If you receive this blog post via e-mail and wish to comment or contact me, please do so at:
     Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook or antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why Am I Thinking of Christmas in July?

          Now that it’s July and I’m back to healthy eating and have returned to my fighting weight, I can confess that I was one of those millions of people who ate horribly from Thanksgiving to the New Year this past holiday season.

The Struggle

          Six days before Christmas I got an e-mail from Kaiser saying I had missed my usual three-month blood test confirming type-2 diabetes was still at bay and that my cholesterol continued to be well under 200. Of course I missed getting the tests because I had eaten everything in sight from November 22nd through the last drop of crab dip on New Year ’s Day. With the exception of some fish and some cheese, I had stuck to my more usual vegan path until that Thursday in November. Beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, I ate chips and bread and veggies dripping in butter with sour cream on top of practically everything and it seemed like I siphoned a barrel of wine and champagne during that time period. Even when I managed a total day of only vegan food, it was stuff that was processed or fried, foods considered strictly vegan but with a ton of oil and calories. Did you know you can eat a plate of French fries and wash them down with a Coke and still have consumed a vegan meal? Crazy, huh? And I’m not recommending it!

          I e-mailed my doctor saying I wouldn’t be coming in for the tests until I’d gotten things under control. When I sent the e-mail, I was relieved that I immediately received an automated response saying she was on vacation for a couple of weeks. Phew! I could gobble up the last decadent unhealthy pieces of  homemade Almond Roca without fear of receiving an electronic castigation from her!

          But, as we all know, what goes around, comes around, and those last morsels of artery-clogging and very familiar tidbits of sin had a huge effect on my journey along the narrow but healthy path of consuming a plant-based diet. At 65 years of age, I shouldn’t be dealing with this level of shame. I felt like a kindergartener sneaking and cheating and maintaining a dual personality of eating virtuously versus pigging out. And I felt like crap physically.


          Within two hours of the automated e-mail reply, I was surprised by a call from my doctor’s assistant. Dang! I couldn’t catch a break – well, except for the one that allowed me to mindlessly eat off my desired path for nearly two months! Anyway, she called to see if I needed help and did I want my doctor to call me as soon as she got back in town. "No," I practically screamed and, more calmly,  "Thank you but, no." I could get back to better eating on my own. As it turns out, I couldn’t. I continued to postpone getting my lab work done. And finally my doctor, bless her heart, called me on her own.

          To make a long story short, we talked. And we negotiated. In order to establish just where I was physically, I agreed to get the tests, but I didn’t have to see the results myself, and she promised not to chastise me, thus avoiding more kindergarten feelings. And that worked. I got back on the best eating program for me and I feel much better.

          I do want to say, for some people, it isn't always easy eating the best way in order to maintain health. Sure, staying on a plant-based program while avoiding animal products is pretty straightforward, but even some vegetables and fruits can cause problems for people too. If you're gluten intolerant you have to seek out non-wheat products, and inflammatory foods such as delicious tomatoes, potatoes and green peppers are not the best for people who experience arthritis, if you believe that sort of information. In any case, I empathize if you're trying to do better in the health department.

Is There a Moral?

           So, what is the moral of this story? Well, there really isn’t one, except to say I hope you can learn from me if you’re putting off doing something that’s good for you; it doesn’t have to be eating properly; it can be starting a postponed project or reaching out to a long-lost friend or relative. Because I kept putting things off, the overall experience was long and arduous. Perhaps you can learn from my less than stellar experience.

          Personally, by talking about this now instead of next Thanksgiving weekend, hopefully I can put into place a plan that will include what to do in case I start to veer off my chosen path.

          Finally, I hope you (and me) can see the value in reaching out for help, even if you’re a senior citizen who feels s/he should be able to do it all on your own.

You might also enjoy:
     Christmas:  Is It Really Just for Kids?

If you receive this blog post via e-mail, you may comment or contact me here:
     antoniasseniormoments@hotmail.com  or
     Antonia's Senior Moments on Facebook 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Are You Being Served?

          Current events have enabled us to view the depths to which people are willing to go for the good of others. On the surface, you might think the firefighters in Arizona who perished doing their job and Nelson Mandela from South Africa wouldn’t have very much in common. In reality, their connection in an attitude of giving to others is huge. 


          The spiritual practice this month at the Center for Spiritual Living, which is my metaphysical home, has been Seva, the ancient Sanskrit word for “selfless service.” Seva can be thought of as those acts of kindness we do for other people with no personal gain in mind. While on the surface, Seva includes our acts of volunteerism or doing things for the benefit of others, it actually goes deeper than just the acts themselves. Seva encompasses an attitude of selflessness, whether we’re in the act of providing for others or just going about our daily routine.

           In my opinion, both the firefighters in Arizona and Nelson Mandela in South Africa symbolize that attitude of selflessness which extends beyond their heroic acts of giving. Who better to embrace this selfless attitude than the 19 firemen who gave their lives so that the lives and property of others would be saved or who better than an impassioned anti-apartheid activist who sacrificed 27 years of his life in jail so the lives of others could be freer? Somehow I don’t think their selfless acts were isolated but rather included years of putting others ahead of themselves in all things – big and small. They exemplified the attitude of selflessness.

          Seva is an art form; it’s something to practice, not only for the benefit of others but also for the benefit of ourselves. What do we get out of being selfless? For myself, I like to think it’s an opportunity for me to get over myself. It’s a time for me to practice getting out of my own way in order to serve others. It’s my chance to really let go of being needy or pushy or impatient. I can place myself in the shoes of others without consideration of what my desires or expectations are.

Are You Being Served by Your Seva?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Senior Moments Aren't Just for Seniors!

          Read these funny examples of momentary memory lapses and see if you can relate to any of them:

          - While sorting out the garage, a man spent 10 minutes looking for something
                    to tie a bunch of tie-wraps together.

          - A woman making chicken soup simmered the carcass for hours with lots of
                    vegetables. Then, when it was all nice and tasty, she grabbed a colander
                    and poured all the liquid down the sink. She just stood there for about
                    5 minutes, staring at the bones trying to remember what the next step in
                    soup-making was.

          - Sam recently went to a gas station near his apartment with the intention of
                    buying gas. It was a rare occasion, as he actually had cash (he normally
                    paid for everything on debit). He walked up to the station and gave the
                    man $10. Sam then proceeded to walk back to his car, get inside, and
                    drive away. It was several minutes later, on the highway, that he
                    realized that he hadn't actually pumped any gas. Sam was too ashamed
                    to go back.

          - A harried mom went to the bank and tried to make a deposit. The teller in
                    training said she couldn’t find the account. The mom began to get
                    irritated. I always seem to get the new guy, she thought. The mom
                    asked them to search by her name. Still nothing. Then the mom realized
                    she was at the wrong bank.

          I don’t think any of these hilarious incidents happened to senior citizens. Yet, more often than not, they’re characterized as “senior moments.”

It Can Happen to Anyone

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to Celebrate the American Way

Growing Up Patriotic

          When I was 11, we lived in Hampton, Virginia. My father was a major in the Air Force and he was stationed at Langley Air Force Base. I came into the kitchen one afternoon to find my mother at the sink, her shoulders bobbing slightly from her sobs, her head hung over her work of peeling carrots, I think. In the background, from the old stained Bakelite radio on the counter, the strains of God Bless America were playing.

          I was stunned to crash this intimate and moving scene of my mother. I was speechless as she turned to reassure me. “I always get emotional when I hear this song,” she said. Being in a military family, around this anthem a lot, I wondered why I never knew this about her. My mother was pretty reserved, so to see this side of her was huge. I appreciated being a part of this touching moment. It pierced my heart with a lasting memory of her patriotism and love of country. To this day I get emotional when I hear that song or the Star Spangled Banner, whether it’s because of patriotism or because it reminds me of an infrequently occurring dear moment from my childhood.

Patriotism Defined

          Webster’s defines patriotism as “love or devotion to one’s country.” I certainly feel this toward my country. We’ve always been the most free and democratic nation in the world. We’ve been the greatest super power and the country that offers the most to people from anywhere else who might be seeking a safe haven. But that is changing. Trying times have altered that generosity; hopefully this shift won’t be permanent.

          I’m thrilled