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, pictures, 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.

***

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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.

***

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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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Pet Peeves

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:

Peeved Pets

Peeved Pets

We all have pet peeves, those things that irritate us as we go about the business of living. How do we weather them and decrease the stress they cause? Before we attack that question, I thought I’d list a few of my favorites:

  1.  Bar code stickers on fruit.  Many require you to cut with a knife or jam your fingernail into the fruit in order to peel the damn thing off.
  2. The driver in the left turn lane with a long line of cars behind him who creeps up just a few inches into the crosswalk when the signal turns green. He/she sits awaiting the oncoming traffic which never seems to end. When the light finally turns red, he/she moves fully into the intersection to make his/her turn which he/she should have done in the first place so I might have been able to creep up and be positioned to make a turn, thereby enabling two people to turn left instead of just one.
  3. Self-flushing toilets in public lavatories which wait until you put down the paper toilet seat cover and are about to enthrone yourself when it decides to flush and whip away the target just as you are descending.

I’m sure everyone has at least one to add to my list.  Feel free to do so by commenting to my post.  Yes, each of these incidents and so many more take just a few seconds off of our projected lifespans. The only way to cope in a beneficial manner is to try to turn your pique into humor.

Some years ago, I used this approach with yet another pet peeve. I love dogs but really hate when one leaves its bountiful deposit on my grass and the jerk on the other end of the leash fails to pick it up and dispose of it elsewhere. So, I put up a sign which said, “If your dog poops on my lawn, please pick it up. If you can’t bring yourself to do so, please leave me your address so I can bring it to your house and leave it on your lawn.” I don’t know that it cured the problem, but at least it gave everyone a laugh.

When pet peeves happen over and over again and you have no power to change them, turn them into something positive for yourself so that you’re the winner. It certainly is better than the alternative.

***

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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You’re Fine Just the Way You Are

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:

2 cows talking

“I’ve decided to have udder implants.”

This is a continuation of the conversation in my last blog post.

Few admit to having a face lift, or bags removed from under their eyes, or (fill in the cosmetic procedure/surgery blank.)  The euphemism “I’m having work done” has replaced the embarrassing to admit, “I’m having plastic surgery.”  The euphemism “to look more refreshed” has replaced the truer “to look younger.”

We’ve all heard the phrase, “That’s between a woman and her doctor.” If it’s so okay, why the secrecy, shame, avoidance of public discussion? Do the refreshees think that others don’t know what’s going on; if it isn’t spoken, it doesn’t exist? Do they think that others don’t know the huge amount of money they’ve expended to look youthful which could have been spent on something much more substantial like their retirement? Do they think that a face without wrinkles and bags really matches nicely with stooped bodies, age spots, sagging necks, loose skin, etc?

Shakespeare, that sly bard, said, “What’s in a name?”  Yes, if we can use a different terminology, we think it changes the stark reality of what’s really going on: I want to look younger because I’ve bought into the hype that it’s more desirable than how I look now—your true age, God forbid.

Marketing for elective cosmetic procedures and surgeries has played on our insecurities: I’m ugly, undesirable, unloved the way I am.  If I do (again fill in the blank), I will be beautiful, desirable, and loved. 

We all know on a visceral level this is not true. But, we’re flocking to the purveyors of these myths “just in case.”

Recently, a friend had cataract surgery. I emailed her to inquire how it went. We had the following back and forth emails:

Lee Gale:  How are your eyes doing?

Friend: The great part is the richness of color and the clarity. I feel like Dorothy in OZ.  The bad part is looking in the mirror and seeing all the lines and bags and spots so clearly.  I aged 25 years in 24 hours.

LG: You are Dorothy. People are attracted to you because of your talents, your enthusiasm, and your zest for life. That was so 24 hours ago and has not changed just because you can see your physical self more clearly. You’re fine the way you are. Don’t start getting crazy notions into your head. I just saw a current picture of (famous 1950s movie star) who now has one of those grotesque, plastic surgery faces. OMG!

F:  I am going to copy your words, enlarge them and hang them next to my mirror. THANKS a hundred mil.

The singer, Michael Jackson, was a sad character who, despite talent and success most people never achieve, was so insecure that he became addicted to plastic surgery and, in his own description of himself, ended up looking like a lizard. We can all name one famous person after another with a similar story. Most of us can name one not-so-famous person, too.

I call it the plastic surgery merry-go-round which is my euphemism for addiction to those types of procedures. I’ve heard of practitioners who put out newsletters about the latest tweaks available for potential buyers of their wares. Others have parties so their clients can show off their most recent, surgically-induced look to each other and shop for what their next youth-enhancing move will be. Then, there are those addicts who are so self-critical that they have the same procedure repeatedly because the outcome from the previous one wasn’t exactly what they had envisioned, or now that look is out and another is in—kind of like trendy clothing. Michael Jackson became a man with almost no nose at all.

So, what I want to know is where are the spouses, the significant others, the children, the good friends, etc. to tell people that they are fine, lovable, and desirable just the way they are—that they don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, put their health or life at risk and take the chance of looking grotesque just to get people to like and accept them?

***

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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