Tuesday, July 29, 2014

For the Love of Sammy...or Conzo...or Sweetie Pie

          I’ve heard many of my friends talk about the emotional impact pets have had on their lives, especially since those friends have become senior citizens. In most cases, the kids are gone and, unfortunately for some, the spouses have passed away. With crappy TV and often no means to get around or explore too far from home, the days loom large. Pets who depend on us and love us in return make a huge difference in the happiness of a senior's life.

Me and My Cat
I’ve admitted many times here just how over the top I am about my precious cat, Kali. Because I’ve never had children or step-children to spend time with daily, I’ve transferred many of my maternal instincts onto my pets all throughout my adult life. I’ve spoken here about how I unabashedly anthropomorphize my pets and imbue them with human feelings and emotional characteristics.

My friend Sue's dog, Toby
          And I am not alone. Go to the dog park, any dog park, and watch the pride owners have for their animals. They are proud of how Sparky or Bessy stays close by while off leash or runs away returning periodically to check in with their owners. See the love and admiration in their faces as Toby or Cosmo checks out other dogs with a friendly perked-up tail.
          And if, for some reason, our animals disappoint us by shredding the toilet paper roll, or chowing down on the corner of a kitchen cabinet during the frenzied noise of 4th of July fireworks, we manage to forgive them quickly. We know their behavior was out of boredom or fear and not meant to hurt or anger us. 

Unconditional Love
I love Kali, unconditionally. I love her without question, and I know she is attached to me as the main human in her life. I’d like to think of that as her loving me back. While Kali spends so much of her time showing devotion to me, it just makes sense that I want to show her that devotion in return.  For instance, something that may be too expensive for me may be a necessity for her.
          I wish I could love people the easy way I love Kali. I wish I could suspend all other motives and emotions and love them purely, without question ALL the time. I wish I didn’t get P.O.’d sometimes or hurt by the actions of other humans. 

          In spite of my lack of perfection in the human love department, I can learn from Kali. She can teach me to strive to love others the way she loves me. I am made better by her love.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The Sky is Falling!" Let's Scare Seniors Again!

          News Flash! Seniors are NOT responsible for the sorry state of the economy because of our use of Social Security benefits. That’s what some wealthy leaders and politicians would have the younger voting generation feel about our need and desire to retire and engage the benefits that were established for our use in 1935 under Roosevelt and for which we have contributed to our entire working careers. Personally, I have relied on these funds to support my life after leaving the work force. To withdraw or significantly reduce them after such a reliance would be devastating to many who need these funds just to make ends meet. There are millions of seniors who rely entirely on them just to stay alive and function within a bureaucracy that meagerly acknowledges the value and contribution of our elder communities across the U.S.

The impact         
As seniors, we don’t have the opportunity to earn more money to support ourselves. Thus, proposed cuts and changes trap many elders into further poverty and poor living situations without a way out. The younger generation, however…the generation being sold seniors’ selfishness…does have the opportunity to make changes now that will allow them maximum retirement benefits when their time comes. Keep in mind, Social Security is completely self-funded from contributions earned by members who have or will receive the benefits. It draws no funds from the overall federal budget.
          The closing of field offices and eliminating thousands of workers who help seniors navigate the system on a face-to-face basis is the current threat to not only seniors but to the disabled and children who also rely on these benefits. I’m not in favor of foisting our problems onto future generations, however, to significantly reduce Social Security benefits for current recipients is short sighted, politically motivated, and harmful to one of our most vulnerable groups of people. It’s bad enough that the closure of the majority of Social Security field offices forces non-techie seniors to use the Internet to communicate about their benefits with SS staff.
Lots of talk, little action
Both the government and the public have been complaining about the shortfalls associated with Social Security for well over a decade, yet no real changes have been proposed to date that would help alleviate the escalating shortages. As I’ve seen with many national issues, we’re better at complaining and scaring everyone than we are at doing the work to create viable solutions to the problem. 
          I'm confident you have or can find the resources to establish the best time for you to begin drawing on Social Security benefits. In the meantime, let's encourage the efforts of politicians and other policy makers to find solutions rather than finding someone to blame.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Get Over It" Packs a Punch

          When something goes wrong, get over it.

          When disappointment pays a massive visit, get over it.

          When emotional hurt becomes a burden upon your spirit,     
                   get over it.
          The bitterness from these situations takes root and will keep problems in your subconscious unless you get over them.
          Do you want to know what hanging on to grief, anger, stress, anxiety and general negativity REALLY does:  it kills you…. physically, emotionally and spiritually. That may sound harsh, but I truly believe it. I can just feel the life being sucked out of me when I’ve clung to something negative for well past it’s “Use By” date.
          Getting over it means really releasing all the power something – usually negative – has over you. Getting over it means moving on to the next great fun, creative, challenging, inspiring, motivating, uplifting and joyous thing life has just for you.

     I love to be reminded of what we can learn from our pets. I never see Kali (my beloved tri-pod kitty) hanging on to terror (like when a plastic bag accidently chased her because it was stuck to her one good back leg) or disappointment (“No snacks right now, missy.”). I can recall more than once when I’ve come waltzing around the corner only to smash her precious little face with my big foot. She darts off in fear and confusion but will return moments later, when I’m sitting down, for a love fest petting session. I may be anthropomorphizing just a tad but, the point is, she gets over it. It obviously does help that she’s not as highly evolved as her mom. Despite their lack of higher education, I still think we can learn from our pets’ actions.

          So, the next time:
     -          Someone cuts in front of you in traffic or
     -          Forgets to do something you asked them to do or
     -          Doesn’t invite you to the party, dinner, or other event 
     -          When your partner hurts your feelings or
     -          When you fail … at anything or
     -          Act harshly to yourself or others or
     -          If you relapse back into bad behavior

...and do yourself a favor…GET OVER IT and move on to goodness.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Celebrating Freedom, Senior Style

            As we age I believe our sense of freedom and all the implications of freedom are heightened.  Perhaps this is because our lives are not as splintered with family and/or work obligations, or a boatload of other tasks or responsibilities. The simplicity of my later years has allowed me to focus on the basics of life, and freedom is right up there at the top of my basics-of-life list.

          I  don’t generally wait until July 4th to celebrate freedom and what it means to me. I recall it every day that I am able to move about my community without fear of sniper attacks or bombings. (I’m talking about the norm and not the aberrant Newtown or Columbine here.)

My take on freedom

          I celebrate freedom every time I check out books of my choosing from the library or freely leave the U.S. for foreign travel or attend my spiritual home for prayers and learning, all without the involvement or questioning by others. These are just some of the things not afforded to everyone in the world, and I don’t take them for granted.

          My freedom includes spending my time and money and energy on people and activities of MY choosing. There are no requirements for me to do anything I don’t choose. Sure, taxes and death will always be there whether I choose them or not ... but you know what I mean.
          This coming Friday the most difficult decision I have to make is how much and what kind of calories and carbs to consume at my friends’ BBQ.

          I am grateful beyond words about the freedom that I have. I will take time this Friday for a silent prayer of  thanks for all who fought to insure my freedom and the freedom of all of us.
          I hope you have a great holiday and didn't forget to look at all that freedom does for you and for those who made possible the opportunities and liberty enjoyed by you and your family.

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