Category Archives: healthy aging

The Day I Became Ma’am

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I have changed my banner photo on this blog website as I’m sure my regular followers have noticed.  For those of you who receive my blog in other forms, click here to see the new banner photo: LeeGaleGruen.wordpress.com.  It is now a picture of me selling my memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, at a book fair.  However, that is the only thing that has changed.  The blog and its theme are the same.

Now, on to my blog:

Policeman IISome events make an immediate and abrupt change in our lives.  When you have a baby, one moment you’re not the parent of (insert the long pondered name you gave your adorable offspring), and the next moment you are, and your life is never the same. When you’re involved in a major accident, one moment you don’t have four broken limbs and a fractured skull, and the next moment you do, and your life is never the same.

Most changes to our lives, however, come on minutely with the aging process. We don’t notice it as the progression is so gradual.  It’s only over months or more likely years that we clock the transformations.

Of course, you evolve from instant to instant.  But, what is the exact moment that you morphed from one major phase of your life to the next? I remember the day someone first called me ma’am. I was in my late teens and still felt like a kid. I was crossing a busy intersection directed by a police officer who was hurrying people along.

“Move it, ma’am,” he yelled in an irritated voice.

I didn’t even know who he was talking to, but I was sure it wasn’t me.  After all, I wasn’t old enough to be a ma’am. I glanced at him and saw that he was glaring at me impatiently as he waved his arms directing the traffic.  It shocked me; I’d never been called ma’am before. When did I go from being a miss to a ma’am?

I’m now asking that question in my senior years. When was the day, the hour, the minute, the second that I actually became a senior? I’m not sure? I look in the mirror and wonder who that is gazing back at me pondering the same question.

It’s hard passing through the stages of our lives.  However, we have no choice.  If we’re alive, we can only move forward toward the inescapable, like it or not.  The takeaway here is that our mental thoughts and emotional identity often lag behind our physical strength and appearance. What we think of ourselves is not necessarily how the world views us. We must be aware of the difference between the two.  That leaves the only consideration: how we deal with it.

Some rail against aging, trying as hard as they can to avoid it, reject it, disguise it.  You may convince yourself that you’ve done so, but it’s not true.  Others can see through your little guise even if you can’t or choose not to.

Being a ma’am didn’t make me any different than I was the day before.  It’s just a word, not a description of my character, personality, lifestyle, and beliefs.  I’m no longer the immature young woman I was then having transformed ever so slowly into the mature senior I am now.  That process was going to happen no matter my machinations along the journey.

So, one alternative is to accept and embrace your age whatever it might be at any moment.  Stop fighting the process and go with the flow as the kids say.  It will make your life easier, richer, and more enjoyable as you amble along that inevitable path.

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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: Björn Söderqvist via VisualHunt.com /  CC BY-SA

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Up High

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

airplane shadow on freeway

We all want to be up high. As young children at a parade, we tell our parents to lift us up high. As adults, we strive to climb the social or corporate ladder to raise ourselves up high.

What’s the big deal with being so high? Does it make us happier or more content? The race to the top is fraught with victims trying and failing to claw and scratch their way to the apex of the mountain.  We are competitive beings.  We grow up with emphasis on besting another no matter who that other might be: friend, acquaintance, co-worker, parent, sibling, even our own offspring.  And, the besting portion comes in any form that stratifies folks–someone always higher by some arbitrary measurement than someone else.

Everyone seems to want to surround themselves with the good life which so many identify as material possessions.  However, according to the Hedonic Treadmill, it never satisfies, it only makes its practitioners crave ever more of that same stuff.

Is it possible to just be satisfied?  Can we be okay with where we are in life, even though that guy over there has more money, a bigger house, more successful children, or a later model car?  It’s hard because that’s not what we were taught in our families, at school, and in our society.  However, that constant dissatisfaction and competition grows tiresome.  Manifesting in the form of jealousy, anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness and similar outcomes, it takes a huge toll on our physical and mental well-being.

Is it possible to just be satisfied?  Can we be okay with where we are in life, even though that guy over there has more money, a bigger house, more successful children, or a later model car?  It’s hard because that’s not what we were taught in our families, at school, and in our society.  However, that constant dissatisfaction and competition grows tiresome.  Manifesting in the form of jealousy, anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness and similar outcomes, it exacts a huge toll on our physical and mental well-being.

How do you walk away from always wanting to be up high, up higher, up highest?  First, you have to recognize you have that affliction.  It may be so ingrained that it’s hard to spot.  Then, you have to want to cut it free–really, really want to.  You will have to formulate a plan of action on how to go about it–steps to take.  This is different for everyone, but with some honest thought, you can arrive at your own customized list.

It could involve minor changes such as volunteering to help those less fortunate or giving away certain possessions.  It could be as drastic as quitting a job, moving away from a neighborhood, or even cutting certain family members and friends loose.

Finally, you must work at it daily as you must for any change of long-term habits.  It may take the same length of time to defeat as it took to become entrenched–years probably.  Yet, if you want it badly enough…

Buddha was thought to have been born into a privileged life which he renounced to become an ascetic and pauper.  Hey, if Buddha can give it all up in pursuit of enlightenment, maybe there’s a chance for us.

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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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Our Gang

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Birds on Telephone PoleWe all need good friends to hang out with. There’s a comfort level about being around people we like, we’ve known for a while, and with whom we share common interests. Humans are not solitary beings. We are social beings who enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded folks. They are our support system, our cheering squad, our comforters.

Some people, however, refuse to open themselves up to making new friends.  They stick to those they know to the exclusion of anyone who tries to break into their tight clique.  Sometimes, it’s to the point of being rude.

I remember a situation where I was sitting in a huge, noisy room at a large, round banquet table.  It was my first time attending that organization, and I didn’t know anyone there.  The person seated on my right physically turned her back in my direction as she chatted up the person on the other side of her.  There was a bookend effect from my left.  Together, they served to isolate me.  Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience.  Why do people behave like that?

Rather than thinking it is a fault in yourself, maybe it’s a fault in the back turner.  Perhaps they are so uncomfortable with new situations that they have to form a blockade to keep intruders out.  How sad for them.  They might miss an opportunity for a new point of view, of learning something they didn’t know, or of interacting with a charming personality.

I have a group of friends who are very open and agreeable with any in the group inviting newcomers to our outings.  We never give it a second thought.  So, I did the same thing with a different group of friends without asking if it was okay with everyone.  It just didn’t dawn on me that it would be a problem.  Wrong!

Another in that group became very huffy and cold to both me and my invited guest.  I noticed how visibly upset she seemed. I couldn’t figure out why she was acting that way, so I asked her when we were alone for a moment.

“I thought it was just going to be the four of us.  I didn’t know that there was going to be a stranger here, too.  It just changes the character of the get-together.”

In truth, she’s right; it does.   To me, it was just a few friends joining each other for lunch.  However, I had spoiled it for her. I should have asked permission of the others before inviting an outsider.

We are not all alike.  I enjoy meeting and getting to know new people.  I find it interesting and stimulating.  However, not everyone feels that way, and I must remember that.

Old relationships are precious. Treat them accordingly.  But, try to open yourself up to new ones.  It might just expand you.

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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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OMG I Just Got Younger

Final Book Cover

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

candlesTake off one candle from the birthday cake.  I’m a year younger than I thought!

When the subject comes up, I’ve been telling people my age, or at least, what I thought was my age.  I’ve never shortchanged my years, trying to drop five or ten of them to represent myself as being younger.  I am what I am, and I have never bought into presenting myself otherwise.

Last week at my gym class, I got into a discussion with another member about how old we were going to be on our next birthday.  She thought she was the oldest person there and was so excited to find someone older–by one year.  As we continued talking, we discovered we had been born in the same year, she in March and I in December.

Wait a minute, something didn’t compute.  It seemed that either I was a year younger than I was claiming, or she was a year older.  I was sure I was right.  After all, I’m pretty sharp and don’t usually make significant mistakes like that.

I rushed home and grabbed my cheapo calculator.  It seemed to tell me that she was right.  Naw, it must be defective.  How long had it been since I changed the batteries?  I took to google and typed “age calculator” into the search box.  After inputting my date of birth, up came a number that agreed with cheapo and my gym mate.  But, how was that possible?  I had been claiming the wrong age, even on written forms where it was requested, upping it by a year.

The only thing I can figure out is that I went to my high school class reunion a few months ago, and many attendees were a year older as I had been among the youngest in that class having been born nearly at year’s end.  So, hearing them talk about their age, I guess I started saying the same thing.

The silver lining to my faulty memory is that I just got a year younger!  Now, how often do we get that, folks?

Funny, though; I don’t feel any different.  Yes, it’s the same old me.  Being a year younger doesn’t make any difference.  My takeaway:  calculations of ages and birth dates are just number’s games.  It’s what you do with those precious years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds that matter.

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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: gotbrimmed on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

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Earlobes and Such

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Pen in EarlobeWe use our bodily parts in various ways to hold the objects necessary in our daily life. We balance glasses on the bridge of our nose and the tops of our ears. We hold up our pants by cinching belts around our waists.  We strap watches around our wrists. We tie young babies to our backs. As the child grows larger, we hoist it on our hip bone to straddle our body for balance as we carry it.

I came upon this young woman who took the concept to a whole new level.  She had ear stretchers in her earlobes.  That is a style now among many of the younger generation.

The stereotypical waitress’ answer to always looking for a pen or pencil is to shove it through her hair to rest on the top of her ear. However, this young woman’s innovative answer was to push it through the large hole in her earlobe. (Click here and scroll down to read my blog of June 5, 2017, “Generational Differences,” which features “gauges” as earlobe stretchers are called.)

Adaptability can be brought into all aspects of our lives: our jobs, our studies, our relationships, our parenting…  Always doing things the tried-and-true way doesn’t allow for expansion.

Think about things you’d like to change about yourself or do differently.  Focus on how you might morph to enhance your life.  Make a conscious effort to imagine the steps you can take.  Compile a to-do list using a computer, or even the old-fashioned method of pen and paper, even if you don’t keep your writing implement as handy as the appendage dangling from your ear.

Strive to make your life fuller and more satisfying.  Create ways to stretch yourself in lots of areas, not just your earlobes.

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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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Touching a Giraffe

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

LG feeding giraffeI was on an amazing trip to Africa a few months ago.  One day, we stopped at a giraffe rescue compound.  Up close and personal was their philosophy.  The staff even gave us food pellets to feed to our long necked friends.  What a privilege to be able to touch such a beast.

Touch is one of our five senses which gets less than its fair share of credit.  We’re so focused on vision and hearing, that we forget the importance of touch in the quality of life.

Animals love to be petted.  Touch yields purring from our cats and contented sighs from our dogs.  But, what does touching an animal do for us?  Is it like an electrical charge of mutual joy between the human touchor and the animal touchee?

To me it is.  There is something about touching an animal that immediately calms me.  It could be I am so focused on the task that I’m not thinking about anything else.  However, I suspect it’s more than that.  It’s a tactile sharing with a sentient being of this earth–a non-judgmental one without an agenda.  I feel their touch as much as they feel mine.  And it just plain feels good!  I have written on the importance of touch in this blog before (See “Hugs,” February 17, 2018, and “The Power of Touch,” February 4, 2016.”)

Some people seem wary of touch or even averse to it.  I can understand that; it’s a kinetic interaction which can be perceived as uncomfortable to them.  When you plan on touching another, whether human or otherwise, be sensitive to whether they enjoy that sensation or not.

If you are one who has never liked being touched too much, you might try to accustom yourself to it.  Start by taking baby steps, maybe with gentle, domestic animals.  Slowly move up from there as touch becomes more palatable.   You may discover a contentment you’ve been missing.

Don’t forget to include touch in your interaction with folks.  Touch your children, grandchildren, and those you love.  Touch a stranger when appropriate.  A handshake, a pat on the hand, or linking arms can melt even the iciest, most standoffish opponent.

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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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Life Is a Pinball Machine

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Photo credit ncole458 on VisualHunt CC BYA pinball machine is an apt metaphor for life. From our birth, we are propelled down a jagged, unpredictable path strewn with obstacles. When we hit one, it bounces us in a different direction until we meet up with a new impediment. From there, we are pushed along yet another route and on and on.  As we weave our way along, we encounter experiences which we would not have had but for the random jumping between points.

Think of various examples in your life and how they occurred. So often, they were simply a shot in the dark–you were just at the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time. Had arbitrary, proceeding events not occurred to put you there, you would not have encountered those particular circumstances.

Such an unplanned stumbling from one destination to the next is what constitutes life.  Ponder this for a moment: what events led to your attending the school you did, making the friendships you have, settling on living in a particular city, obtaining your job, meeting your partner, and everything else in your life?  

Toward the end of college, I signed up for interviews with a host of recruiters who had come to the campus seeking potential employees.  When I graduated, I accepted a job as a probation officer simply because that was the first one offered to me.  I didn’t even know what a probation officer did.  I remained at that career for thirty-seven years.  Many of my closest friends were co-workers I met there.

After I retired, I mentioned to a friend that I was bored and directionless.  She told me about a local school with classes for seniors.  I perused the Schedule of Classes, and mistakenly signed up for an acting class, thinking it was just a play discussion course.  Never having acted in my life, I was hooked that first day after reading a scene with another class member.  That experience changed my life, and I went on to become a professional actress as a senior.

So, life is simply a crapshoot. We make our way along, careening and readjusting as we go, hoping that it will turn out well. The only fleeting control we have is what we do with the situation once we land at any given spot.  Be flexible and prepared to deal with whatever the pinball machine of life hands you.

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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: ncole458 on VisualHunt / CC BY

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