Category Archives: senior citizens

A Tandakoan’s Reflection on an Obituary

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

CHITCHAT:  Check out my interview on November 20, 2018 (top few paragraphs) in an article in Moneyish.com, a Dow Jones Media Group Publication: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-nearly-3-in-4-women-say-70-is-the-new-50—-but-far-fewer-men-do-2018-11-20  (Correction:  I was a probation officer in Los Angeles, not San Francisco.)

Now, on to my blog:

TandakoanI opened an email from my longtime, high school  girlfriend, Sheila.  Part of it read, “this was surprising in today’s newspaper.”  There was an attachment, so I clicked on it to find an obituary with a photograph of a woman I didn’t recognize.

As I read further, I realized she had been a classmate of ours, and we had all graduated high school together.  This is the patch from my class sweater of the emblem from our senior class: the Tandakoans, which I’ve saved for fifty-nine years.

Why do we keep such trivial objects?  Probably because they are symbols of passage.  Passages are events that mark major turning points in our lives.  Among all the minutiae of our existence that are quickly forgotten, these are the happenings that we remember for decades. We might celebrate or bemoan them in a ceremonial manner on special anniversaries.

I remember when I turned fifty, Sheila organized a Brownie Troop reunion.  Those attending showed up with photographs of our troop members, Brownie and Girl Scout badges, and other nostalgic items they had kept for decades. Our lives are filled with passages.  An obituary marks the final one.

I hadn’t seen Judy since graduation, but I remember her as a bouncy girl with a ponytail.  The obituary said she had died following a long battle with ovarian cancer.  One by one, our ranks are thinning.  Reading about Judy, I couldn’t stave off thoughts of: when will it be my turn?

Does that frighten me; does that concern me?  Yes and no.  I’m frightened of the unknown, but not of the finality of it, maybe because I don’t even understand what that means.

Can I choose how to make my final passage?  I certainly don’t want the path that Judy took or anything like it.  Living my life to the fullest and going suddenly in my sleep is my preferred choice.  But, all I can do is hope for that and do the living-my-life-to-the-fullest part in the meantime.

***

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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Waiting for Upcycle Days

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

CHITCHAT:  Check out my interview on November 20, 2018 (top few paragraphs) in an article in Moneyish.com, a Dow Jones Media Group Publication:  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-nearly-3-in-4-women-say-70-is-the-new-50—-but-far-fewer-men-do-2018-11-20  (Correction:  I was a probation officer in Los Angeles, not San Francisco.)

Now, on to my blog:

BicyclistLife is cyclical.  It’s like a wave with peaks and valleys.  The peaks–the good times–are exciting and exhilarating.  But they can never be sustained.  Life intervenes to drop us into the valleys–the bad times.  It happens to all of us.

No, that guy at work, the neighbor down the block, the classmate at school for whom things always seem to go right are not imbued with some fairy godmother granting their  every wish.  They just do a better job of covering up their valleys than others do.  Don’t ever think that only your life sucks and everyone else’s is wonderful.  It doesn’t work like that.  We all ride the cycles of life.

So, how do we weather those valleys; how do we survive?  One way is to keep looking toward that metaphorical horizon for signs of the next peak peeking over as you slog your way through.  It’s hard and takes constant vigilance to maintain a positive attitude.

It is easy to become discouraged and impatient hoping for things to turn around.  There is not an assured time line.  We can’t know when the peaks will happen, when the valleys will happen, and how long the span between them.  We have no choice but to wait it out.  How we do the waiting is up to us.

We can become depressed, we can rail, we can act out, etc.  Or, we can try to use our down time positively as we wait for it to pass.  Get to work on that story you always wanted to write. Learn that new skill you always wanted to master.  Reach out and connect with those people and places you never had the time to do before.  Take up jogging, walking, gardening, tennis, knitting, gourd carving, whatever.  Even the down times can have little seeds of positivity embedded in them.

Remember, without the valleys, you can’t appreciate the peaks.

***

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: joncutrer on Visual Hunt / CC BY

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The Boot

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:

Boot photoAlmost forty years ago, a wartime drama film, “Das Boot,” was released to movie theaters. It took place on a German submarine during WWII.  Das Boot actually translates from German as: the boat.  However, in my case, I am interpreting the literal English meaning: the boot–you know, for a foot.

Yes, the boot has come into my life. Although I don’t anticipate a submarine attack from my particular one, it’s arrival has similarities. It was stealthy, unexpected, and out of nowhere.

It started a few weeks ago when I was returning a rental car at the airport.  While walking to the pickup area to catch my Uber ride, I failed to see that my narrow sidewalk–with rental cars whizzing by on each side–took one step down.  Yep, one step down is how I went–horizontally!  Long story short, I broke my fifth metatarsal bone in not one, but two places.  Hence, “the boot.”

That minor misstep has cut me down.  The boot, upon which I am dependent to get around along with an attendant cane, has ruled my life for several weeks now. It dictates where I go, how fast I go, and how often I go.  Lacing up the six, mean looking Velcro straps of the contraption alone wears me out.  However, I must do so several times a day for foot icing, showering, and sleeping.

Friends from out of town visited for a get-together we had planned months ago.  I had to alter my plans to go out and about with them and to travel for a few days after they stayed in my home.  I knew I couldn’t do the walking, hiking, hill climbing, stair stepping, metro riding, etc., so I begrudgingly opted to stay put as they departed.

So many unforeseen mishaps change our plans, routines, trajectories.  Most people have had their own version of “the boot.”  It commands your undivided attention while everything else is put on hold.

How do we survive a case of “the boot”?  It’s not easy; it clips your wings.  However, we must survive and carry on.  I’m doing a lot of staying in/sitting down stuff:  busy work that has been on hold for months, phone calling, clearing out my overloaded email box, mending clothes, etc.  Actually, it feels good to get a handle on mundane things that have been relegated to the back burner and gotten out of hand.

Try to make the best of your down time.  What other choice do you have?  And remember, be careful–it’s dangerous out there, folks–sigh!

***

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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Jangled on a Train

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:

Train Station 1I arrived some months ago at the San Diego train station ready to board an Amtrak Southern Coaster to travel up the coast of California on my way to my cousin’s house. I had not taken the train in years, and I was pretty excited about the whole thing.

I explained to the ticket clerk that I had just flown into the airport, and my ears were clogged from the landing, so I probably wouldn’t be able to hear the public announcement to board the train. She directed me to the handicapped section where an attendant personally retrieves those waiting there and accompanies them to the train.

When the time came, I walked next to a passenger in his motorized wheelchair who told me he took the train often. We were seated in a special car just for handicapped people.

Train 3

Much of my ride was spent multitasking–conducting business on my cell phone while looking out the window at the vista as it flashed by. The combination of my clogged ears, the clickety-clack of the train wheels, and the periodic poor phone reception made it difficult to converse.

Apparently, my voice was getting progressively louder unbeknownst to me. Suddenly, a hand appeared from nowhere and dropped a note onto the fold-down table in front of me which held all my business correspondence. It read: Seriously? (double underlined) Quiet!! Do we all “have to” listen to your conversation? Sh-sh-sh! Thank you

Opps, I had offended someone, although I didn’t realize that because one is handicapped one requires exceptional quiet. Nevertheless, I turned around to identify my assailant, and assumed it must be the woman sitting two rows behind me who was hiding behind a seatback.

Train 2I stated in a raised voice, “I  apologize if I offended you, but you are always welcome to change your seat.”  She did not respond.

I continued my phone conversation, but did ratchet it down several notches. A short while later, my assailant passed by holding a professionally printed sign which she held up briefly in front of me.  It said something like: Be quiet, this is a handicapped car. She then made her way further down the car and showed it to other perceived offenders.

I thought to myself, what a poor soul, and said to her as she trailed past, “I’m so sorry that I disturbed you.”  Her response: “I don’t care!”

Yes, it made me feel like shouting a retort at her back is she continued down the aisle.  I stopped myself realizing that this woman had enough aggravation in her life, and I could be charitable and not add to it.

If you are spending your brief time on this earth trying to modify the behavior of others to make yourself more comfortable, it won’t work. Focus your efforts on modifying your own behavior. In this case, the woman could have simply inserted noise-control earplugs or earbuds attached to a music device.

If you are a person who is at the effect of someone like the aforementioned passenger, remember to be charitable and understanding of their quirks. After all, your life is probably so much fuller than theirs, and I bet you have a few quirks of your own.

***

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 Labyrinth

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

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures on the following dates, times, and locations:

September 9, 2018, 3:15pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” THRIVE Expo –  sponsored by The Gazette newspaper, Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (No RSVP Required)

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133, www.theholmstad.org  (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

Now, on to my blog:

LabyrinthSome months ago, I strolled a lovely community labyrinth.  Some anonymous person or persons had searched for the stones, gathered them, hauled them to the site, and laid them out in an intricate maze, all so I could enjoy it and discover its message.  Labyrinths date back more than 4000 years, and have been found all over the world.  Although many dead ends abound for the labyrinth voyager, there is only one pathway which leads to the center–the goal.

As I made my way around the contortions of this ancient puzzle, it set the stage for quiet, contemplation, solitude, and peace.  I felt relaxed, and had these thoughts:

Life is a labyrinth. We go around in circles seeking our goal, but often hit one barrier after the next. When we reach a dead end, we are forced to retrace our steps and try a new direction. We can visualize what we seek, even see it.  Sometimes it seems so close and yet we are so far. At other times, it seems so far yet we are actually so close.

We each travel on our own personal quest.  We are surrounded by the same environment as our neighbors, but we view it differently, experience it differently, interact with it differently, each in our own reality bubble.

Yes, we can take shortcuts.  We can step over the boundaries of the labyrinth and rush to the end. But, we’ve shortchanged ourselves. We’ve forgotten the importance of the process which is how we learn about life so we can appreciate and benefit from the eventual attainment of our objective. Otherwise, we have no understanding of what we have reached, and we may destroy it with our ignorance.

Don’t fight the labyrinth.  Embrace it.  Follow it.  Grab it.  Don’t rush things–focus, go with the flow as they say.  This is not a contest–no winners and losers.  Discover the pace that works for you; discover which path works for you.  It’s different for everyone.  The wealth is attained from the journey, not the completion.

***

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: jack dorsey via Visualhunt.com /  CC BY

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Half-Assed vs. Whole-Assed

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

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures on the following dates, times, and locations:

September 9, 2018, 3:15pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” THRIVE Expo –  sponsored by The Gazette newspaper, Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (No RSVP Required)

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133, www.theholmstad.org  (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

Now, on to my blog:

DonkeysSome people put a tremendous amount of effort into what they do: jobs, leisure time, parenting, helping others, etc. Other people do as little as possible on such activities. Why is that?

Let’s look at the workplace for example. When I was working at my career as a probation officer, it was obvious to all my co-workers who the people were who really did a good job and who were the ones  who did as little as they could to just get by. The latter group was not bad enough to be fired; they managed to produce to the level of being barely competent. I could never understand their motivation or lack thereof.

The way I see it, even if you don’t particularly like your job or work, you have to be there for a certain amount of hours each day.  It’s just too boring not to tackle your task with effort and enthusiasm. If you must do the time, do so in a way that brings reward to yourself.

Performing a half-assed job is fraught with negativity, yields feelings of inadequacy, and produces minimal reward.  Doing a whole-assed job gives you a sense of accomplishment, approval from peers and superiors, pride in yourself, etc.  This dichotomy can be extrapolated to all areas of your life: your home, your relationships, your leisure time, etc.  

Even the great Albert Einstein worked a day job for seven years in a patent office before leaving to take over the chair in theoretical physics at the University of Zurich. Purportedly he was well-liked, and even received a promotion at that earlier, survival job which he referred to as his “cobbler’s trade.” 

If you must be a waiter while trying to bag that great acting role, why not be the best waiter you can be? Those seconds, minutes, hours, and so forth spent at the job are the same amounts of time deducted from your lifespan. So why not make them as rewarding to yourself as possible?

***

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: MarilynJane via VisualHunt /  CC BY

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The Passive-Aggressive Jab

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

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures on the following dates, times, and locations:

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408, www.covenantgreatlakes.org/events(RSVP REQUIRED)

September 9, 2018, 3:15pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” THRIVE Expo –  sponsored by The Gazette newspaper, Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (No RSVP Required)

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133, www.theholmstad.org  (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

Now, on to my blog:

BoxingWhat I’ve termed the “passive-aggressive jab” is definitely a one-two punch thrown when you aren’t looking. It’s that oh-so-subtle put down that you can’t quite define, can’t quite grasp. The PAJ is usually delivered when you’re off-guard, and all of a sudden you sense that everything feels weird.

The jab thrower might be a friend, relative, boss, teacher, co-worker, acquaintance, stranger, or any other relationship description.  He/she might have a pleasant smile on his face during the punch, so you doubt that it was really meant the way it made you feel.  You wonder if you are wrong in your assessment, and you doubt your own sanity.

Am I crazy, or did he just say that?

The puncher’s comment is usually structured so it can be interpreted in different ways.  You wonder what kind of a person are you to attribute it in such a negative manner.  Maybe he meant it in the best possible light, and you’re the creep.

Over time, you begin to notice more such behavior on the part of the jabber. After a while, you begin to suspect that you were right all along. However, any confrontation will yield something like “What are you talking about? That’s not what I meant.”

You have been turned into the bad guy.  He and anyone else he can enlist into his camp look at you askance and defend poor him.

Why do people behave that way?  It doesn’t matter.  If such behavior stokes his ego in some fashion, that is not your problem to figure out or fix.  What is your problem is how to combat such conduct when it’s aimed at you?  It’s hard, but it can be done.

First, you have to realize that you’ve been the victim of the passive-aggressive jab.  Next, you have to swerve to avoid it, just like the boxer does to deflect the hit.  In this  case, it’s an emotional swerve.  Here are some countermeasures you might employ:

1. Refuse to engage!

2. Don’t respond, even when you suspect that a grenade has just landed at your feet.

3. Resist retaliating in kind; that only becomes a pissing match of put-downs.

4. Stare him down.

5. Wait for an opportune moment where you can whisper privately to him, “I’m not playing that game.”

6. Take your leave, either physically or emotionally.

7. Socialize with others present and avoid your attacker.

8. Maintain self-control.

Remember not to try to reason with him. That’s what he wants so he can make himself look like an innocent.  Instead, try some of the above suggested techniques.  If one doesn’t cut it, try another.  Create some of your own.  Make them work for you.

***

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: maxintosh on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

 

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