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Outliers

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:

SnowmanWhat is an outlier? It is an extreme example of something–the farther ends of the spectrum.  Merriam-Webster’s has this to say about it: a person or thing that is atypical within a particular group, class, or category.

So what happens if you or someone close to you is an outlier? Are you or yours the fattest, the skinniest, painfully shy, high strung, too-smart-for-your-own-good, developmentally disabled, etc?

For example, a hyperactive child always seems to be the one causing trouble. He/she is soon identified by the group as the troublemaker and becomes shunned, causing distress to the child and its parents.  Such behavior to get attention is the only way that child understands.  The situation escalates causing him/her to be ostracized further setting up a perpetuating cycle.

Being an outlier is particularly hard while growing up.  One can be stamped with derogatory terms that stick for a lifetime such as: geek, wimp, fatso, beanpole, homo, crazy, ugly, stupid, weird and on and on.  The medical profession is complicit in the labeling game.  Although done for “scientific” reasons, diagnoses like: schizophrenic, paranoid, autistic and so forth categorize their recipients and put them in pigeon holes from which it is hard to escape.  These terms affect future treatment, funding, jobs, eligibilities, etc., and follow said recipient throughout his/her lifetime.

How do you fit into a society that skews toward the middle when you don’t? It’s hard.  You never feel like you belong. You are rejected by the main body of the group. You feel unwelcome, unwanted, unacceptable. Is there a place for you?

It’s not easy to find one’s niche in life.  However, there is usually a community for everyone. You must look for like-minded souls and situations where you feel comfortable. You must seek out your tribe.

How do you go about it? The first step is to figure out what it is about you or yours that makes you or them an outcast from the mainstream. Then, seek out people and places where your “thing” is acceptable.

I have always had a loud, projecting voice.  All my life, people have told me to speak more quietly, and the rude ones just show irritation as they bark at me to “shush” while holding their index finger over their lips lest I don’t understand.  The truth is that I don’t even realize when my voice gets loud.  It does so when I’m tense, over-stressed, tired, etc.  It has become worse as my hearing has deteriorated.  People don’t understand that.  Many just think that I don’t care about their admonition.

I discovered acting seventeen years ago.  Now, I’m lauded for my loud, projecting voice.  Yes, I fit in; my acting group admires my vocal abilities.

To find your kindred folks, you will need terminology to help you navigate. Is your child ADHD? Is your brother morbidly obese? Are you depressed? Is your mother an addictive personality? Yes, these and other painful labels have been thrust upon many, but they are also communication tools to help ferret out and find those who are similar and supportive.

Networking with others helps you learn about opportunities. The library can be a great resource as can the Internet.  Use those labels you’ve always hated to your advantage and find your clan.

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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: izzie_whizzie on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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Boredom

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:

Cat yawningWe come into this world yawning with boredom, and go downhill from there.  Recently, in my philosophy class, we were having a discussion about whether we would want to live an extra hundred years. One class member commented that he would not want to do so, because by that time, he probably would have done or learned everything interesting, and life would be just too boring.

We all laughed while nodding in agreement. Yes, we scurry from boredom the moment we encounter it. Humans seem to need constant engagement, constant entertainment, constant stimulation.

We don’t just sit around and do nothing. When we are not actively involved in a goal oriented pursuit, we will grab a book or magazine, turn on the television, check our iPhones, surf the web, go shopping, and on and on. We flee boredom like it’s a disease. The idea of nothing new to learn, nothing new to experience, only eternal boredom is horrifying.

I am always weighing the amount of stress I put myself under against the boredom that I can’t tolerate. I’m trying hard not to cram too much into my life, but it an ongoing challenge. Every time I hear about something that sounds exciting, I want to get involved. Like usual, I’m involved in too much stuff. It’s so difficult to pick and choose, because it’s all interesting.  Everyone lives with the dichotomy of that struggle between boredom and stress.

A few years ago, a friend visited me with her daughter and two young grandchildren.  We chatted for a short time whereupon the oldest child announced, “I’m bored.”  My friend’s daughter quickly wrapped up our conversation, telling the child, “Okay, okay, we’re going.” I’m not passing judgment one way or another on her parenting skills.  However, the child could have been encouraged to walk around my house observing all the interesting things I have displayed on shelves and walls.

So, how do we grownups combat boredom?  We can whine to anyone who will listen, pandering to be entertained.  Or, we can adopt the old adage about making lemonade out of lemons.  We can walk around wherever we happen to be, observing all the interesting things there.  We might actually learn a thing or two or ten, or at least have a pleasant experience. We can, also, accept the stress and learn to flourish under it, remembering that we can back away whenever we desire.

 

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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 (modified by user): Amanda Braz via Visualhunt /  CC BY
 

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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 noise 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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