Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mackinac

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:

Mackinac Island 1 - June 2017Clop, clop, clop—the sound of the horses’ hooves as they pulled the wagon taxi  carrying me around Mackinac Island, Michigan last week.  It was the time of the Lilac Festival during which all of the lilac bushes covering the island in their various colors and hues perform for the tourists. It seemed that every hotel, restaurant, park, private home and anywhere else something could be planted had its own lilac bushes for passersby to admire, sniff, and use as a backdrop to pose for photos.

The island is supported by tourism. However, despite the thousands who descend each year, it has been kept pristine and is a little step back in history.Mackinac Island 2 - June 2017 No cars are allowed. All transportation is accomplished by horse drawn carriages and drays, bicycles, and good old-fashioned walking. Humans with pooper scoopers as well as machines pulled by draft horses, Belgians and Percherons mostly, ply the roads gathering the equine droppings. They are then composted and spread throughout the island to assist in the growth of those magnificent lilacs as well as other flora.

Here’s another fact that grabbed my interest. The three-mile-long body of water to the closest mainland freezes shortly after Christmas forming what the locals call the “ice bridge.” The full-time residents have created a folk remedy of sorts to delineate the path as they traverse it atop their snowmobiles. People simply save their Christmas trees which are then set up on the ice to mark the route.

Yes, the five-hundred full-time islanders certainly do enjoy modern lifestyles that technology has brought to all of us.  However, they seem to have found some simple solutions to their unique challenges.  My little peek through their keyhole tells me that they have a less stressful, less emotionally demanding cadence to their lives than we in the big cities experience.

My auditory sense relaxed in the replacement of engine noises with the resonance of the horses’ hooves as they went about their duties. I like that their emissions help the life cycle unlike that of automobiles that only contribute their noxious gases to the destruction of our planet. Is progress really all it’s touted to be? Can we learn from Mackinac Island residents?  Might a return to simpler times and simpler ways be the answer to our angst?

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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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Secrets

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:

Whispering photoKeeping secrets is something we all do for various reasons.  It usually starts with worrying about negative blowback we might experience if others knew the truth.  This can be fear of being judged and found wanting, fear of being pitied, fear of reprisals, etc. The reality is that whatever our oh-so-important secret, others usually spend only moments on our situation and then revert back to ruminating about their own lives.

There’s a saying: “A secret is something you tell one person at a time.” Most of us have a need to unburden by sharing our secret with someone whom we think we can trust with it.  Although we swear our trusted agent to secrecy, we worry he/she might deliberately or by accident tell another.  Sometimes, we instruct our agent not to share our secret only with select persons.

That puts an additional burden on our designee not only to live his/her own life with all its attendant stresses, and yes, even secrets, but to remember not to share our secret and with whom not to share it.  That’s called “dumping,” people.

It’s not easy being the dumpee.  The one placed in that role now has a new stressor:  keeping your secret.  It’s hard enough keeping their own, but now they have the worry of yours they might accidentally spill, potentially incurring your wrath and/or damaging the relationship.  Sometimes, the dumpee may deliberately spill your secret for their own gain—remember Linda Tripp?  Google her if you don’t.

Secrets range from tiny ones to great big ones. The degree of weight of the secret is usually decided by the owner.  However, it’s often not given the same level of importance by those learning it.

The keeping and managing of secrets is a wearisome process.  We must remember who we told and didn’t tell, why it was so important to keep the secret, what to do if others learn the secret, what we must do if we want to divulge the secret to all and get on with our lives, and on and on.

Will we ever reach the time where the matter kept secret loses it power over us?  How about now?  In my memoir, I shared my secret of feeling self-conscious and inadequate in my younger years, and of having crippling stage-fright for so much of my life.  When I had the nerve to tell the world, those bonds lost their power over me.  Revealing our secrets can be so liberating.

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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: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML via Visual hunt /  CC BY-SA

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Kick Up Your Heels

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:

tasha-rolling-on-groundWe’ve all heard the expression, “kick up your heels.” What exactly does it mean? Various online urban dictionaries had these answers: to do things that you enjoy; to cast off one’s inhibitions and have a good time.

I visited a stable not long ago and hung out with some of the horses. One was led into the ring and immediately hunkered down, rolled over, and kicked up his heels for the sheer joy of it, all the while wiggling around and changing himself from white to tan to the consternation of his groomers of which I was to be one. We would have to spend extra time at our upcoming task to transform him back to the white of his birth. No matter, we human onlookers became childlike along with our stallion, basking in his exuberance.

When was the last time you kicked up your heels? It doesn’t have to be done by rolling around in the dirt with your legs in the air. It might be singing loudly with the radio as you drive to work, enthusiastic dancing, laughing uncontrollably with friends, swinging on a swing in a playground, or any of scores of activities done without inhibitions.

Too many of us are constrained by social niceties, conventions, or other governors on our behavior. I’ve seen people deliberately stifle laughs or even walk out of the room to avoid looking foolish by kicking up their heels. Members of some cultures cover their mouths with their hands to avoid emitting too much laughter.

Young children kick up their heels naturally until they become old enough to learn that it’s unacceptable, not polite, not ladylike, etc. Why does society teach them that? Why does the collective body insist on sublimating the good feelings that can come from kicking up one’s heels and redirect us to socially acceptable venues to do so such as sports stadiums where kicking up one’s heels is only to be done in a group setting by screaming at the athletic teams, sometimes while wearing ridiculous garb and/or face paint?

Give yourself permission to kick up your heels on a regular basis wherever you are. Experience the heeling that comes from it.

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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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Your Remains

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:

fancy-coffin

It’s a morbid and depressing subject, but somebody’s got to tackle it. What’s going to happen to your body after you’re done with it? The majority of people or their family members spend a lot of money on fancy caskets, cemetery plots, funeral services, etc, to bury the deceased in the ground. If you’ve served your country in the military, your coffin may come draped with an American flag, and you can even arrange to have an honor guard at your funeral.

You can have a closed casket service, or people can view you lying in your expensive box, made up to look better than you ever looked when you were alive. Now, you can even buy your coffin in advance and store it in your closet or garage, or even use it as a backup bed when guests arrive unexpectedly (that will get rid of them quick.)

You can be cremated and your ashes dealt with however:  buried; entombed in a crypt; set in a niche of a columbarium (a room at a cemetery for urns containing cremation ashes); given to someone to take home and save in a decorative container on the fireplace mantel, a china cabinet, an unused back closet, et al; or scattered in your favorite place such as a hiking trail, beach, mountain top, flushed down the toilet of a favorite restaurant as someone I know did to fulfill a request, etc.

You can opt for a sky burial, but your body will have to be shipped to Tibet, Mongolia, or parts nearby. Then, you will be placed on a mountaintop to decompose while exposed to the weather or to be eaten by scavenging animals, especially carrion birds such as vultures.  Hey, vultures gotta live, too, ya know. And, they will excrete you as they fly, scattering you to add to the cycle of life.

On the other hand, there are other options. Here are a few particularly interesting ones:

Donate your body for medical research. Call the medical university nearest to your residence, and they will arrange to have your remains picked up when the magic notification is received. It requires some advance paperwork by you, but think of how you’ll be contributing to medical science to help humans of the future, maybe even those carrying your own genes. And, it is free. My parents first foisted that idea upon me when they announced it as their choice. I was upset, refused to talk about it, and avoided the discussion for years. Now, I like the idea and am thinking about doing the same.

The Neptune Society has been around since 1973. It, also, requires advance planning but is not a freebie. For a fee, you will be cremated, and they will scatter your ashes at sea.

Here’s another very compelling idea I just learned about. It’s a true ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust cycle that makes me feel good. Bios Urn places your ashes into a biodegradable urn designed to convert you into a tree after life. The urn contains a seed which will grow to be a tree aided by the essence of you. Although I haven’t researched it, I think it can be planted in the location of your choice. I’m not sure about the type of tree you get. If I opt for this path, I’d like mine to be a Redwood; why not go out with a bang? Here’s the link: https://urnabios.com/

If you do chose one of the above, you or your family can pay or donate money and have a plaque installed in some special place: mortuary, university, etc. where your loved ones can visit and remember you. Or, they could just remember you on their own. Be kind and generous to them when you’re alive so they will want to do so when you’re not.

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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: 50 Watts via Visual hunt / CC BY

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Speaking Out

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:

There are many ways to speak out and be heard. One is in a group situation. Today, the Women’s March took place across the United States and around the world. (NOTE: Although I wrote this blog on January 21, 2017, the day of the march, it was posted on my website by WordPress on January 22, 2017.) Ground Zero was Washington DC where an estimated 500,000 people marched to show their support of different issues they felt might be threatened by the new Trump Administration. They included women’s rights, the environment, racial equality, sexual orientation, economic justice, immigration, science, and more.

I marched with my family at the rally in Oakland, CA which drew tens of thousands. I am devoting this blog to photos I took of signs held by random marchers, some plain, some colorful, some simple, some creative, some angry, some staid, some crude, some philosophical, all speaking out and expressing a point of view:

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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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My New Get-me-from-here-to-there

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:

my-carYes, I bought another one recently because my sixteen-year-old one conked out. You call it a car or automobile. I call it a get-me-from-here-to-there. That’s its purpose. A bit of comfort is nice: protection from the sun and wind, controlled climate, a smooth ride. In case you weren’t aware, the year, brand, color, horsepower, etc. don’t add to that.

Here’s a not-so-secret secret.  I bought a used one even though I could afford a new one. The reason: I didn’t like the styling or size of the new, small SUVs which is what I wanted. I test drove almost every brand out there but wasn’t satisfied with anything available. So, I researched and found the most recent  year I could that had the features which matched my needs.

Our vehicle of choice has become a status symbol with full bragging rights. My get-me-from-here-to-there is better than your get-me-from-here-to-there, ergo I’m richer, more successful, more desirable, more popular, more lovable, (add the descriptor of your choice), etc.

We humans have lots of similar examples in life. Let’s name a few: job, house, furniture,  clothing, vacation, spouse, pet, and even our innocent children. Now, come on, folks; you’re still the same freckle faced, too plump, too skinny, too tall, too short, too (add the descriptor of your choice) human that you always were.

Wrapped in an overly expensive (add the material possession, position, relationship, etc. of your choice) doesn’t make you any different. It also doesn’t make you better than anyone else. That comes from the inside. So, cut the crap and stop trying to buy your way into acceptability. It won’t work. For that, you must become a mensch.

Be kind, donate to a good cause those dollars you waste on the toy du jour, mentor someone, give your time and energy to something worthy that isn’t your own aggrandizement. Those are the things that will gain you admiration. Throwing money around on status symbols only makes people snicker behind your back mumbling words like: pathetic.

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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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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. 

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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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