Monthly Archives: December 2016

Words That Diminish

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 by clicking here 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:

_dsc6301

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We learned that rhyme as children. We tried so hard to remember it when we ran home crying after someone called us a name. Words are powerful. They can enhance or diminish. Wars have been fought over words.

A friend, a retired pathologist and now a widow, recently lamented how demeaned she feels when someone refers to her as granny or honey. A few have done so even knowing she is a medical doctor, an amazing accomplishment especially considering she became one so many decades ago when very few women did.

Denigrating or childlike terms are often applied to elderly women, terms much less frequently used toward men. My friend mentioned that she is often targeted by high pressure salesmen whom she feels see her as an easy mark due to her age and being without a man to protect her. She had an assertive husband most of her adult life and now finds it difficult to stand up for herself.

Many woman hide behind a husband or partner to deal with a hostile world. Even though some may consider themselves assertive, often they are better at it when they know they have a man to back them up. It’s like the child who dares to stand up to the neighborhood bully, but when it becomes too overwhelming, can run and hide behind mommy’s skirt.

Somehow, men seem better at setting boundaries than women. Why is that? Is it inherent or simply taught to us as young children? Why can’t the bulk of women and even a lot of men be assertive, stand up for themselves? What is the secret and how can we tap into it? I’ll venture a guess.

Stop being invisible, people! It’s time to get tough. Imagine how you would like to be treated by everyone with whom you come in contact, and then refuse to accept anything less. The term “dissed” has become popular in recent times. It means disrespected, and people kill over being dissed.

Your first clue that you’ve fallen into that vortex again is when that wonky feeling overtakes your body when someone speaks to you in a manner that minimizes you whether done subtly or overtly. Everything becomes surreal, and you have a vague sensation that it has something to do with what that person just said to you.

Halt everything you’re doing. Take a moment or two or ten to identify what is bothering you rather than waiting hours or even days to figure it out. If you must, ask the other person to be quiet while you think. Once you’ve identified it—he just called me (fill in the blank), and I don’t like that—you are ready to start. Don’t let it pass; let it energize you to action.

There are tools we can use at any age when we feel verbally discounted by another. Confrontation is one that yields rewarding results. If someone addresses you in a way you consider disparaging, call them out. Here are several suggested approaches using the irritating salesman as an example. Of course, it can be extrapolated to other scenarios.

Approach #1: Interrupt all interaction, transactions, etc. by saying “excuse me” repeatedly until your opponent stops talking. Then, pause, look him/her in the eye, and say something like:  “What was that you called me—(fill in the derogatory term he/she used.)?  I’d prefer that you address me as (fill in the blank) rather than (fill in the aforementioned derogatory term).” Continue the interaction if that suits you.

Approach #2: Do the same initial behavior as in Approach #1 and then say something like:  “I don’t like being referred to in disrespectful terms like (fill in the derogatory term he/she used), so I’m going to leave now.” Stay calm; do not get into a cat fight; go high as they go low (thanks Michelle Obama); and follow through. Walk out! You were born with feet. This is one of the best times to use them.

Approach #3: Do the same initial behavior as in Approach #1 and then request another salesman, server, bank teller, whatever. Your errant foe will apologize, posture, get angry, and use other types of behavior to convince you to change your mind. Don’t settle. When he/she pauses for a breath, repeat your request. Keep doing it at each pause, like the proverbial broken record. If that isn’t working, ask to see the manager. If nothing works, don’t say another word. Walk out! (Remember, you have feet. And, by the way, feet can be used in all sorts of situations without requiring the mouth to set the stage.)

If you’re not used to assertive approaches like these and have a more reserved demeanor, it will be hard at first. Keep practicing; it will become easier. You can still be true to your usual nature as none of these approaches has to be done in an angry, defiant, high pitched manner. Don’t sacrifice your dignity to gain your dignity. Retain your decorum, but be firm and insistent. If you have to walk out, you may cost yourself some time and the product or service you came for. However, it will be worth it for the good feelings you’ll reap after taking charge of how you allow yourself to be treated. And, you will have done a good deed. You will have taught your adversary a lesson on how not to address older people. I bet he/she will never do that again.

Insist on being dealt with respectfully. That’s what the big boys do. 

 ***

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.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Trumpet Yourself

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 by clicking here 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:

book-signing-ross-fall-bazaarHere is the dictionary definition of the transitive verb, to trumpet:  to talk about something publicly in a proud or enthusiastic way  such as to trumpet somebody’s achievements.

Yes, it’s always been considered acceptable to trumpet someone else’s achievements. But, what about when you do so for your own achievements?

I’ve always found it hard to tell people about my accomplishments. It makes me feel like I’m bragging, and that’s an uncomfortable position for me. After I wrote a book, I learned that I would have to market it. That meant going against my grain and inserting it into the conversation whenever I had a chance.

I’m still timid about it. I do it in an almost apologetic manner. However, when you must promote and market, you simply can’t wait and hope for someone else to trumpet it for you. You must blow your own trumpet.

This photo is of me at a recent book sale and signing which was part of a large event offering numerous items for sale. As attendees made their way to my book club’s long table and over to me, I would have to quickly start my spiel about my book, giving my brief elevator speech to grab their attention. I was competing not only with the other authors at my table, but also with the scores of other tables in the hall, each with hawkers of the wares they and their fellow group members had made: jewelry, ceramics, wooden objects, sewing items, bakery goods, etc. All this tumult was noisy, confusing, and distracting. I felt like a circus barker having to yell louder, be flashier, spin a more interesting and compelling yarn than my competitors.

Participation in fierce competition can be exhausting and off-putting. How does one function in a situation like that, especially when it is against your nature? You can start by accepting that it is okay to trumpet yourself from time to time. Of course, it would be nice if you can avoid becoming obnoxious about it. View it as a challenge to learn a new skill. See it as a growth experience to broaden yourself. Do it sparingly to avoid wearing out your audience.

As grownups, we sometimes must be involved in disquieting situations which are against our normal inclination. Changing your mental attitude can help you get through it.

 ***

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.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Death of a Friend

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 by clicking here 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-girlfriendsI lost Sue, one of my closest friends, a few days ago. She just couldn’t fight the complications her body imposed on her from the recent onslaught of leukemia and subsequent chemotherapy. I was told she died peacefully in her daughter’s arms. I hope she was aware enough in her morphine haze to realize that she was lovingly cradled through her passage.

I’m walking around in a fog—can’t quite grasp it all. It doesn’t make any sense that I can’t just pick up the phone, call Sue, and hear her on the other end: “Oh, hi Trixie,” a nickname she anointed me with on our trip to Europe together thirty-five years ago shortly after we became friends. How can I now be speaking about her in the past tense? I don’t like it; I refuse to do it! Will my pathetic rebellion bring her back?

So many thoughts, memories. I look at things in my house and remember a comment she made, an item she gave me, something I purchased when I was with her. A few weeks ago, I finally threw out the package of all-natural pineapple popsicles wasting space in my freezer that she bought after making the four-hundred mile trip to visit me in my new home just two and a half months ago. She loved them; I hated them. I wish I had kept them.

During that visit, Sue treated Cousin Judy, me, and herself to manicures following our lunch at a local restaurant. We dominated the shop, talking, laughing, just hanging out as the staff worked on us. A few weeks later, I told her I wanted to do that again; I feel cheated out of it.

I’m thinking of revisiting skiing after a hiatus of a few years. Sue started me on that addiction.

“Let’s go skiing,” she suggested one day early in our friendship.

“Oh, not me. I don’t know how to ski. I’m not that athletic. I don’t have any skis or ski clothes.”

She ignored my protestations and brought me into her bedroom. Drawers were opened and an assortment of ski clothes, nothing matching, was thrown onto the bed. My first days on the bunny hill announced to the world that I was a newbie and had had to beg my ensemble. I learned, became hooked, bought myself the equipment and attire, and we skied together for years.

I don’t understand death. How can one so vital be here one moment and not the next, leaving only an empty shell that looks like her but can’t say, “Oh, hi Trixie”?

 ***

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/sigma/5769372022/”>sigma.</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/photos/people/”>Visualhunt.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

 

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized