Drama Kings and Queens

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

king-queen-cardsDo you have someone in your life who is a drama king or queen?  Are you one? You know the type. They always seem to have a crisis, event, happening, etc. that is the most urgent, horrible, fantastic, important (add your own adjective) thing in the world. If their current focus is on solving their problem du jour, preferably with your help, angst, time and attention, once it is over, a new one usually pops up. What’s going on?

Everyone wants attention; it is normal. We take steps to achieve it such as talking about interesting things, excelling at something, etc. However, many people with drama king/queen traits hunger for attention and never seem to get enough to satisfy them. To that end, they have figured out how well it works to be hyper-vigilant about a multitude of matters. The logical segue, of course, is to make a big deal about the goings-on in their life to anyone who will listen and jump into the fray. They are drawn to those who will play the game. Their approach can be to an individual or group and often starts with openings such as: “I really need your advice on this,” or “Let me tell you what happened to me today (yesterday, last night, week, year, century, etc).”

Are you tired of being sucked into this type of interaction? If so, how do you protect yourself from the ravages of being on the receiving end of someone else’s hyped-up drama? It’s hard, especially if that someone is significant in your life such as a spouse, child, parent, co-worker, boss, etc. However, playing the co-dependent doesn’t help them or you.

Here is one approach: when the next performance starts and becomes too much to bear, make an excuse to get out of their presence. Feel free to use the following phrases and add to them:

  1.  “Excuse me, but I have to go to the bathroom.”  (Positioning yourself as having weak bladder and/or bowel control is a convenient deflector.)
  2. “Oh, I have to rush off now to get to my appointment with my doctor (dentist, therapist, dog groomer, astrologer, guru, your service professional of choice).”

Remember, it’s only fun being a drama king/queen if you have an audience.

***

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Learning the Ropes

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Subway Train

This is a continuation of my three previous blogs about moving from my house of forty-five years:

In my new life, I am striving to drive an automobile less often. Having previously lived in Los Angeles since childhood, I drove my car everywhere. Yes, there is public transportation available there, but because of that city’s greater distances and its being a commuter way of life, the majority of people drive. I’m sick of driving, of fighting rush hour traffic, of the stress of trying not to kill myself or others as I speed along, a lone driver leaving a carbon footprint that could be shared by many as a gentler impact on our stressed planet. So, yes, I’m learning to use public transportation.

I braved the local subway yesterday for the first time armed with my senior pass. Even applying for it was one of many in a very long list of new learning curves. I entered the train, positioned myself directly in front of the map on the wall, and compared it with the plans I had sketched out before beginning the undertaking. As the train stopped at each station, I peeked out of the open door and read the station sign to be sure I was where I thought I was. No one else was doing so. They all seemed comfortable with where they were located in space.

What a strange experience sharing a car with multitudes, most engrossed with their IT devices. I saw young professional types dressed in power suits presumably on their way to important business activities. I saw backpack wearers, some with predictable bicycles which they leaned against a railing installed for such gear. I saw mothers with their children, twosomes or threesomes engaged in chitchat, and homeless or almost homeless.

Mass public transportation seems to have its own protocol and mores, just like most activities. I was fascinated by a woman who entered the car wearing a spaghetti strap, camisole shirt. She seated herself, opened her purse, pulled out a small jar, and balanced it on her knee. Then, using a fingertip, she scooped out a dab of the glop it contained and applied it to one armpit, switched hands, and did the same to the other one. All this was accomplished without missing a beat of her ongoing cellphone conversation. And to think I’ve always been timid about putting on lipstick with strangers nearby.

Once I realized that it was acceptable to groom oneself on public transportation, I took out the only thing I had to compete with her: a nail file. For the rest of the trip, I gave myself a manicure sans nail polish. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have to obey the hands-free rule. Next time I ride the metro, I might just arrive in my pajamas tugging my daytime garb along in a rolling suitcase. I’m sure it won’t faze the other passengers as I change my clothes since most of them have their heads buried in their cell phones anyway.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/53255320@N07/4920904305/”>16:9clue</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>Visual hunt</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

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Settling In

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at http://Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Leaning agnst Moving Van 7-'16

This is a continuation of my two previous blogs about moving from my house of forty-five years:

I arrived at my new, empty condo and settled down for the night on a mat on the floor which I’d brought tied to the top of my car. To put a positive spin on a bleak experience, I chose to view it as camping out complete with dinner by flashlight.

The moving van arrived with my furniture the next day. Aside from some minor damage to a few things, most of my belongings were intact.

It’s strange to accept that this is my new home and not just a vacation rental—temporary digs until returning to my real life. It’s strange to realize that there are new people living in my old house now. They are cooking in my kitchen, showering in my bathroom, storing their possessions in my closets, and generally displacing me. Will my old house remember me and all the years I spent painting her, repairing her, gentling her as she broke down?  We aged together, my old house and I, our parts wearing out and needing fixing.

My condo is becoming a home. It’s an adjustment, but I’m slowly personalizing it. I’ve installed my own furniture, tchotchkes, and even some beloved plants which accompanied me in my car, gently covered to shade them from the harsh sun. Pictures and other touches brought from my former life to make me feel comfortable are coming out of boxes. Oh, the boxes—daunting as they stare at me, tease me. They are slowly disappearing as I tackle them, sift through their contents I so carefully packed, rediscover my possessions, and make decisions where to install them.

I’m arranging, rearranging, and learning how things work. There are so many decisions to make—big ones, small ones, and all sizes in between. Where’s the light switch? Okay, I found it. Now, how do I turn it on? In my new abode, the refrigerator opens on the opposite side from my old one. My kitchen sink is a double like before, but the garbage disposal is on the right, not on the left—grrrr. I concentrate hard on everything; nothing comes automatically—tiring, very tiring. I need a vacation from decision making.

There are lots of problems to solve: the toilet that leaks when flushed, the air conditioning that doesn’t properly condition the air to name a few. Yes, my home warranty covers them.  But, it still means I have to figure out who to call, be there for an appointment, live with the problem until the problem solver arrives, etc. I remind myself that they are only bumps in the road—first world problems as I’ve blogged about before.

My son mentioned how unsettling it felt when he called my old telephone number, the only land line he ever knew for me, to find a mechanical voice referral to another number. I’ve spent hours on that new phone calling all the enterprises that define my life: credit card companies, insurance companies, utilities, my HMO, and on and on, to inform them of this major, traumatic change in my life and to give them my new address. Oddly, they were only interested in the latter.

I’m making almost daily trips to such establishments as Target; Bed, Bath and Beyond; hardware stores and the like to purchase anew the things I left behind and, of course, now need.

Deer from my Condo

On the flip side, I love my new condo; it’s everything I wanted. Deer and wild turkeys stroll through my backyard from time to time, and I watch them from my office window. I can’t get enough of that.

Wild turkey w chick 7-'16

Wild Turkey & Chick

My son  came over with his tools to help me set up a few things. This is the first time I have lived close to him since he left for college twenty-five years ago. He’s coming over again next weekend to do  more and just generally hang out. He’ll bring over his wife and children soon so everyone can see grandma’s new place.

My neighbor stopped over a few days ago to introduce herself and bring me a box of candy and a sweet note. Friends I made when I rented for a few months in this community last year to try it on for size have reached out to me and are eager to reconnect.  It makes me feel welcome, like coming home again—back in a comfort zone.

I have downsized and aim for a slower, less stressful life. I love it here and don’t regret my move. Yes, this was the right decision for me. It’s hard to admit when something has run its course. We hang on, hoping to return to a time of contentment, refusing to admit that “you can’t go home again.” Change is frightening, but we must forge on when life gets stale. It’s calming and soothing when you know you’ve gotten it right.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

 

 

 

 

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Driving to My New Life

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Tomato Truck w Army Convoy

This is a continuation of my previous blog about moving from my house of forty-five years:

The moving van left an hour ago carrying the majority of my possessions—so significant to me yet filling only a third of the huge transport. One last surreal glance back at the old house which sheltered me for almost half a century before I, too, leave.

I’m driving up the interstate next to tomato trucks, their trailers piled high with the red fruit. I pass them as I hurry on to my new life. A short time later, they pass me parked on the shoulder eating my lunch. They’re like old friends, marking my progress.

Hung out for a while with an army convoy until they peeled off. Thank you guys for guarding me on this trip and in general.

Passed an industrial farm of thousands of cows crammed together with very little personal space. Makes me want to become a vegetarian.

Moseyed alongside hundreds of orange trees on the right and an equal number of almond trees on the left. Farmers had posted signs every few miles on the sides of abandoned trucks reminders such as: “No water, No jobs,” as though their concern for their low-paid workers was their only reason for being. The desert landscape abuts the orchards—not an environment meant for thirsty, cultivated trees.

I spot in the rear view mirror my two-foot high philodendron, leaves swaying gently with the motion of the road, waiting to be installed in its new home, too. Yes, I can buy a new one when I arrive, but I wanted something alive from my old life with me. It’s comforting.

A friend gave me a toy rooster as a gift last year. Each time anything moves near it, it crows three times making me want to strangle it. She insisted I place it next to my front door to warn me if anybody breaks in during the night. The rooster is ensconced in a box in the back of my car. Every time I go over a bump, it segues into crowing mode. That, too, is comforting—reminds me of home.

Snippets of the California aqueduct pass by, flowing liquid surrounded by an arid land. I come upon large mounds of dirt with giant, erector set machinery crawling over them, mining something undisclosed to passing drivers.

WindmillsAround the next turn, a windmill farm appears upon a hill, three-leaf clover blades churning out renewable energy which flows through huge cables held up by giant electrical towers nearby—environmentally friendly power for a city. Diametrically opposed to the same long line of electrical towers a few cities back holding up their non-renewable energy powered cables—a contrast of changing times.

My anticipation is growing. I’m almost there. Excitement and apprehension.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, just contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

 

 

 

 

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Moving On

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years.” Her memoir, available at Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Moving Van at Palm HseThe seventy foot moving van arrived this morning (it’s an aggregator, transporting the possessions of different people all going in the same direction.)  I’m getting ready to move from my house of forty-five years into a condo in an active, senior retirement community almost four hundred miles away.  It’s a seismic change for me—scary and exciting all rolled into one.  It’s a good thing I didn’t know how awful such an endeavor would be, or I don’t think I would have started it.

I am a hoarder—not to be confused with a clutterer.  My house is neat and clean.  But, my closets, cupboards, cabinets, drawers, garage, and anywhere else you can stuff stuff are bursting with the things I’ve been saving for decades in case I might need them.  You know what I mean; the minute you throw something away, it’s not a week later that you’ll be searching for it.

I’ve spent the last months sorting through it all, including the boxes of stuff my son dropped off when he graduated college almost twenty-five years ago. So, now I must decide what to keep, give away, donate, recycle, or throw away.  It’s been painful, exhausting, devastating, cleansing, liberating, and consuming.

These days, you can’t just carelessly discard those important papers you’ve been accumulating.  Now you must shred them as they contain sensitive information which can be retrieved from dumpsters and used to steal your identity.  I attacked those papers with my little office shredder, but when that became cumbersome and didn’t make a dent in the job, I hauled about four hundred pounds of documents to a local shredding event put on by the city.

I culled my collection of thousands of old photographs taken  before the technique became digital. I threw away snapshots of beautiful rivers, mountains, deserts, canyons, and other assorted scenery I long ago forgot the locations of. I vow I will never take another picture of anything that doesn’t have a person in it who I know and like.

You can no longer throw paint, old medications, old household cleaners, electronic devices, and the like in the garbage.  You must haul them to the toxic waste and electronic disposal sites.  Each time I tried to throw such an item in the dumpster, my good citizen guilt pulled my arm back and made me put it in the trunk of my car for recycling.

Of course, I chose to pack my own things; I’m no wimp.  To that end, I trolled alleys visiting those same dumpsters seeking cardboard cartons to pack what remained. Loading up my car, I drove home with my daily harvest.  Finding the boxes was easy. We have become an “order online” society, throwing away the wonderful containers used to deliver our purchases. Huge boxes grew in my garage to a total of twenty-nine, waiting patiently for the moving van to collect them along with the furniture I chose to keep.

I’ve become buff with all the physical labor I’ve been doing. It’s more effective than working out at the gym, and a lot cheaper. I will be sad to leave my home city since childhood and my friends  of many years. Conversely, I’m eagerly anticipating my coming life and the new friends and experiences that await me. Is it time for you to move on? It’s better to do it when you can rather than when you must.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, just contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Mercurial Personalities

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Thermo 1

I’m getting ready to explode.

Some people swing rapidly from one emotional extreme to the other, just like the liquid metal, mercury, used in thermometers which shifts dramatically with the temperature. In the human form, it’s not the temperature that sets them off, and you will never know what does. They can be fun, loving, upbeat one day or even one moment, and without warning, switch to the polar opposite—angry, rejecting, a real downer. 

Those that experience such swings to a pathological degree might be diagnosed as bi-polar or what used to be called manic depressive. Their emotional lives are a constant roller coaster. There are psychiatric medications that help with their mood swings. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t. I’ve often thought how difficult life must be for the bearer of such a personality.

But, what about the rest of us who must interact with someone like that? It might be a spouse or significant other, a relative, a co-worker, a teacher, the cashier at the market, etc. We are sucked in by how charming and exciting they can be in their up times and bitterly disappointed and hurt when we are attacked or shunned in their down times. We ruminate, wondering what we might have done to offend them, not realizing that the problem lies within them, not due to anything we did. We were simply the nearest human available to dump on. If it is someone we’re close to and see regularly, we ride right along on their roller coaster albeit not of our choosing. 

I have had such an experience with someone significant in my life. I grew to always be on the defensive when dealing with him, never knowing when I’d get it right over the head. Even when we seemed to be having a happy time, I was anxious, wondering when it would turn. Our interactions became more and more stressful, and I came to dread them. I once asked if he was bi-polar. He said his psychiatrist told him he wasn’t. Well, if that’s the case, in my opinion he’s as close to being bi-polar that one can get without being bi-polar. 

In looking back at my history of friends, I realize I’ve had several of a capricious nature to one degree or another. They can be exciting, stimulating people, and that’s the hook for me. However, I’ve learned that being victimized by interaction with a mercurial character is miserable, causing me nothing but tension and angst. 

I frequently write in my blog that we must protect ourselves from victimization. Yes, we must take the strain out of being on the receiving end of a personality that switches with lightning speed, always catching us off-guard, always creating anxiety. 

If the person is so significant in our lives that we choose not to cut them loose such as a parent or a child, what can we do? We can refuse to engage when they get into attack mode. We can leave the room. We can exit the location and take a walk or a drive. If this type of thing has happened to you when you’re out together socially, always take your own car so you can make a quick get-away if necessary, or be prepared to hail a taxi or ride sharing service. Protect yourself. Mr./Ms. Mercurial won’t.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, just contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

 

 

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When Strangers Behave Offensively

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available at Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Offensive StrangerWhat happens when a stranger you encounter in public says something or behaves in a certain way toward you that you find uncomfortable or disagreeable? The stranger’s behavior may be so sudden and unexpected that it catches you off guard. That, along with knowing that your reaction will be on display for everyone nearby to observe, can be disconcerting and cause you to fumble and stumble in your response. The whole matter becomes embarrassing with the stranger seeming to win the day.

I’ve had that type of scenario happen to me many times, and it always upsets me since I didn’t invite nor desire to be placed in that position. Recently, I found myself in yet another such situation and was proud of myself for handling it on the spot rather than mulling over it and coming up with a good response several hours laterway too late, beating myself up with “I-should-have-said” thoughts.

I was in a restaurant with a group of people I didn’t know after we had all attended the same lecture. I sat down in a seat with no one on either side of me. Suddenly, a swaggering, blustery type of man entered, looked around the room, and announced in a loud voice for everyone to hear, “I think I’ll sit right here next to this nice young lady” as he plunked himself in the empty chair directly to my right. His line was condescending and sexist, especially considering that he had no idea whether I am nice, and I am certainly not a young lady. Yes, given his age, he was probably old school. You know the type: women are just objects to be available for the enhancement of men. To be clear, men can be the victims of offensive behavior from strangers, too.

These situations are frequently foisted upon us without warning and with no time to prepare. I managed to blurt out, “Oh, I probably will be moving my seat soon as I want to sit near the speaker when she arrives.” It was both the truth and a good, take-charge response.

Mr. Swagger, still playing to his audience, continued in his booming baritone, “Oh no, you sit right here next to me.” Having a history of feeling intimidated when confronted by strong personality types, my normal reaction would have been to just laugh politely, try not to attract any more attention, and follow his orders to stay where I was not knowing what else to do.

Instead, picturing the entire meal with this controlling bore sitting next to me, I said, “I came to this lunch for one reason, and that is to be able to converse with the speaker. I will sit where I choose when the speaker arrives.” Mr. S. never said another word to me as I guess I made him look foolish after his great pronouncements.

I was proud of taking care of myself and my needs and not letting someone else dictate how the occasion was going to progress for me. If a stranger, or anyone else for that matter, chooses to behave in a manner that sets up how things are going to go for you, you have a right to be just as obtuse and set them straight. This is difficult for more reserved types, especially if public display or rocking the boat are not your thing. However, you must take care of yourself folks. No one else will.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, just contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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