Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On Being Human

        Oh, how I wish I could get it right. How I wish I could just wake up one morning and not do anything to hurt another, or frustrate them or make them roll their eyes. Have you ever had these wishes? It’s like waking up the morning of a new diet. “Today, I’m going to get it!” But I’m not talking about dieting. I’m talking about containing, managing and corralling my human side.

          My spiritual side is always perfect…whole….open….just the way it is. My human side, on the other hand, speaks without listening and, in an effort to be cute…or knowledgeable…or correct, says hurtful things to others. Why? Why am I not able to just keep my mouth shut? Why can’t I let another say and feel and do what they want, even if I know a better way, or even if I disagree with their process?  I’m pretty smart. You’d think I know to just listen.

          Intellectually I know that my spiritual and human sides are one, that my angst about being imperfect is just where I’m supposed to be. Knowing this, however, doesn’t raise me up, at least not today. I want to stop saying and doing hurtful things. I want to be that person that others emulate, that person people want to be with because it’s pretty predictable that I’m NOT going to be a jerk.

          Sound like a pity party? Perhaps so. But I know you’ve been where I am. I know that as we evolve and grow, moments like this feel harsh and a million steps backward.

          I guess that’s all part of the process of being human.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Do You Deserve an "F" in Retirement?

          I have failed to live up to the basic standards for retirement living.

          There is a well-marketed attitude that we should feel “less than” if we don’t pursue something productive every day….and yet, isn’t the definition of retirement exactly to feel okay about kicking back more often than not and enjoying the little things or the nothingness of a luxuriously loaming afternoon with a expansive blank agenda?

          Who sets these standards for us? “They” do, that’s who. You know, it’s the proverbial “they” that set the guidelines for a lot of what we say, do, buy, feel and express. I hate to admit it, but I am often gullible enough to accept what “they” say.  For example, I feel proud when described as “She’s busier now that she ever  was before retirement.” I wear this comment like a badge of creative and life-fulfilling honor. I’m no goof off, no slacker retiree who is relaxed, mellow and contented! Say what?????

          When people ask you how you are, do you respond rapid fire with a litany of all that you are doing in your busy weeks? A friend of mine would do this all the time but, once when I asked her again, more seriously, “Yeah, but how are you REALLY doing?” she’d almost burst into tears. She hadn't slowed down long enough to feel much of anything.

          Is your schedule always filled but your life isn’t fulfilling? Perhaps, like me, you’re buying into what “they” say we should be doing during retirement. To get a better handle on how my retirement is going I looked at the following seven benchmarks:

1)      Do I wake with enthusiasm, eager to enjoy what
             the day has to offer?

2)      Is there enough white space on my monthly calendar
             to make room for some serious goof-off time?

3)      Do I feel fulfilled for the most part with friendships
             and family fellowship?

4)      Do acquaintances feel I’m available for a spur-of-the-
             moment coffee date?

5)      Do I spend the majority of my time talking about positive
             things in life rather than the aches and pains, the
             weather or the economy?

6)      Do I feel like I'm living my  life based on what I want to
             do rather than what others expect me to be doing?

7)       At the end of the day, do I feel  okay about
              myself even if I don’t have something
              tangible to show for my day, like piles
              of clean laundry, pages of written text
              or a garden free of weeds?

          If I can answer “yes” to a majority of these, I’m on the right track in my retirement.  Hey, don’t get me wrong. I can feel like a real slug that has nothing to show for my time if I spend the entire day reading – even if it’s for research. I’m not always doing the best at retirement, but I keep trying to keep things in balance.
          I believe the best way to determine if you’re doing retirement right is to ask yourself if you are living a meaningful life. If the answer is “yes,” like it is for me most of the time, that’s all we can ask for. Like everything else, it’s a process.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What If ... ?

          What would it be like if for one day, one 24-hour period, you only allowed goodness in your life? What if, during that day, every single situation, thought, conversation, and action was viewed by you as positive?

          What if when you were cut off in traffic you gave thanks for no accident or for it not slowing you down? What if it DID slow you down and you acknowledged it as a reminder to make more for time for travel or to slow down in general?

          What if you didn’t take personally any off-the-cuff or out-wardly snotty remark that a friend, family member or co-worker made thinking they were just being cute? What if, when you didn’t meet your deadline, you were able to acknowledge yourself for being diligent and trying hard to do so, instead of kicking yourself and letting it ruin your day?

          What if for just one day, the goodness and abundance of life filled you to overflowing? How might your life be changed?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's Not Over 'Til the Centenarian Sings

          UnitedHealthCare recently conducted a study with centenarians, those people 100 years and older, along with a companion survey of baby boomers. The centenarians said that, on average, they felt like they were 83 years old, while the 65-year-old baby boomers felt a full 10 years younger at 55. 

My friend Judy's Aunt Rose. Closing in on 100.
          Expressing how centenarians felt about being 100, 35% felt “blessed,” 31% “happy” and  12% “surprised.” No one expressed feelings of sadness or of being burdened; only 3% said they felt lonely.  I found it very encouraging that 53% of centenarians lived independently without daily caregiver support.

          I’m cheered by these numbers and a little bit surprised about the positive outlook of older people who face more loss than any other group of aging adults. In spite of more significant and debilitating health restrictions and a greater loss of friends, family members, and spouses, centenarians remain upbeat and very much wanting to participate in life – “I can’t get around much anymore, but I’m still alive and that’s a very good thing,” is a point of view expressed often by these elders.

          I wonder how I’d feel about being a centenarian. It looks like a lot depends on attitude. Our youth-oriented culture paints a fairly drab and discouraging picture of old age. Heck, old age for many is anything 40 and older. That’s not even middle age for a centenarian.

          Whether I live to be 100 or not I know I better beef up my positive attitude, preserve relationships with friends and family, participate is healthy practices (my nemesis), and be as active as I can be.

          It’s not over ‘til it’s over and there is a possibility of you becoming a centenarian. What will your tune be if you make it to this ripe old age?

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