Fragile

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, onto my blog:

Broken BottleThroughout my life, I’ve encountered people who are described as “fragile” both by themselves and by others.  These people have been co-workers, family members, friends, acquaintances, and more.  Fragile seems to mean that they can’t tolerate too much pressure, stress, responsibility, expectations, etc., or they “fall apart.”

I’m not the fragile type.  I come across as responsible, capable, reliable, tough.  Therefore, others have high expectations of me, and are upset if I fail to live up to them.  I am expected to show up on time, not complain, do the job assigned to me, and produce results, not excuses.  However, fragile people are not held to this standard.  They are given a pass because, after all, they are fragile.

I’ve never been sure if fragility is actual or a successful protective shield which is carefully honed during a lifetime.  Certainly, it yields high payoffs to some practitioners.  A co-worker years ago earned the same salary as I and had the same job description, but expectations for her were far less than for me.  When extra work needed to be done, it was usually me who was tapped.  And my reward?  More work, of course.  When I was lamenting the situation to another co-worker, his response was, “Well, she’s fragile.”  That was my introduction to that descriptor of ineptitude, a very manipulative behavior in this case.

I’ve pondered over the years how to jump on the fragile train.  I’m not a natural at it, and it doesn’t fit my personality.  However, I’ve tried to acquire the skill.  Usually,  however, my true nature shows through, and others don’t let me get away with it.

So, I’m putting it out to the world.  I want to be fragile.  If you encounter me or deal with me, take your expectations elsewhere and let me screw up over and over with minimal consequences, at the same salary, of course.

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Hiding

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:

Turkeys HidingWe all hide in one way or another.  It can be deliberately or subconsciously.  We hide the traits, aspects, details of ourselves that we think are undesirable or a turnoff to others.

Hiding can take the form of outright lying or simply omission.  Hiding can involve deception from small, socially acceptable behavior to a major ruse.

Commerce encourages us to hide our appearance and age by hawking products such as hair dye, wigs, cosmetics, plastic surgery, and the rest of that ilk.  They couple that with propaganda which convinces us that our altered presentation to the world is okay, appropriate, no big deal, “everyone does it.”  Entertainment idols help sell that lie by partaking and flaunting it to the public.  Seventy-something actresses look forty, parading their deception and bragging about it.  Ordinary folks seeing this in the media comment on “how wonderful she looked on TV the other night.”

There was a time when women who wore makeup were considered “painted ladies,” and scorned by polite society.  Now, it’s just the opposite.  Both sexes spend multi-billions of dollars worldwide on cosmetics, procedures, and the like to alter their appearances to something they think will be more pleasing to others.  They put their health and even their life in danger with elective surgical procedures, again to try to present a different self to the world than what they consider the ugly one they wear naturally.

Behaviors such as anorexia and bulimia have to do with poor body image.  Where does that come from?  Why are we telling people that “you can never be too rich or too thin.” Why don’t fashion models look like the majority of people?

We teach this self-assessment to our children who want to emulate what they consider “grown-up” behavior.  They quickly learn by their teenage years which of their bodily attributes are unattractive: nose, hair, height, weight, voice, skin color, and on and on.  Too many obsess about it.  Commerce, always on the lookout for new grist for their ever churning mills, panders to this market, too.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to look nice.  However, when it impacts your view of yourself and the world, and tends toward the pathological, dangerous, or even life threatening, it is a major problem.

Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” fame used to make his young TV listeners feel special by telling them, “I like you just the way you are.”  Where are the Mr. Rogerses of today?  Who is telling our children now?  Who is telling our grandchildren?  Who is telling 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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Outfoxed by a Plant

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:

DieffenbachiaAh, the things we do for our loved ones.  We go to great lengths and expend enormous amounts of time, energy, and money when the motivation is right.  What greater impetus than when the object is someone/something we love.  Wouldn’t you do just about anything for your children, parents, spouse, significant other, pet…?

How about our plants?  Well, maybe they don’t have quite the impact on us as the aforementioned categories.  However, I have a plant that is holding me hostage.  It’s my Dieffenbachia, also called in plant tomes: dumb cane.  Believe me, mine is not dumb.

I bought the plant when it was a wee sprout, under a foot tall.  I knew it would grow to have large, glorious leaves to brag about, just like its kith and kin.  When I moved to my current digs almost three years ago, Dieff accompanied me in the back seat, drop-dead gorgeous leaves swaying with the movement of the car.  I’d glance at him/her from time to time in my rear view mirror, feeling his calming influence.

Dieff has grown since he came to live with me, and now stands proudly about four feet tall.  He loves his new location, bright light but not too sunny.

I’ve always watered Dieff and my other plants regularly and carefully, using a water meter to check the soil moisture so as to give them just enough nourishment.  When I travel, a neighbor takes over that chore, dutifully following my detailed, written instructions.  Yes, I nurture my green darlings.

About three months ago, Dieff had an attack of some terrible ailment.  His leaves started curling under like he had been punched in the stomach.  (Do plants have stomachs?)  I called garden stores seeking advice.  I took to Google, reading everything I could.  It seems that the fertilizer-laced water I’d been giving Dieff for five years had become too toxic for him in his dotage, and salts were building up in his soil.  Actually, that doesn’t sound too different from some symptoms I’ve experienced as I’ve aged.

According to Google, I must flush Dieff with a gallon of distilled water.  I rolled Dieff outside on his wheeled platform, struggling to keep the heavy pot upright.  I almost blew out my back, but this was an emergency.

The flushing worked!  Within two days, Dieff was back to his old self.  Things went well for the next few months as I eliminated all fertilizer and fed him only tap water.  His rebellion happened yesterday.  He screamed at me, “I don’t want that tap crap!  I ONLY WANT DISTILLED.”  He emphasized his point by curling his leaves under as only he can.  I may have heard a few coughs, too, but I’m not sure.

I ran to the store and stocked up on ten dollar’s worth of distilled water (I don’t even buy bottled water for myself.)  After another flushing, Dieff perked up and has stopped harassing me, but he definitely has me twisted around his little finger–ah, stem.

Yes, we go through all sorts of machinations for those we love, no matter what their DNA.  (Do plants have DN–oh never mind?)

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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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Put-Down Humor

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:

Comedy HouseWhy are so many jokes based on putting someone else down?  A roast (ceremonious public ridiculing) is filled with anecdotes, jabs, stabs, and emphasis on the failings and negative aspects of the roastee.  He/she must suffer through the ordeal with a smile-plastered-on-face look to prove that he can take it.

If someone has a weight problem, no matter how accomplished he might be, there is always a fat joke lurking.  There are the jokes about ethnicity, sexual orientation, intellectual challenges, country of origin, frugality, and on and on. What does the joke teller or the passer-along of the denigrating email get out of his act?  What do the bystanders who laugh thereby encouraging this behavior get out of it?  Why is this type of “humor” so pervasive starting from childhood?

Maybe it makes the offender feel superior.  That, of course, means that he/she must feel inferior.  Yes, we all have feelings of inferiority no matter how attractive, skillful, intelligent, or wealthy we are.  We have a tendency to focus on the parts of us that aren’t as desirable as those of some arbitrary standard that has been set by others: parents, peers, authority figures, media, big business, etc., and to feel inferior as a result.  Oh, we may be very good at hiding those feelings from the world and even from ourselves, but we sure love a good joke at the expense of another.

A put-down comedian who rose in the ranks in the 1960s and persisted into the 2000s, commanded a high salary, and booked lots of appearances was Don Rickles (now deceased).  He was lauded as “one of the best insult comics of all time,” and was sarcastically dubbed “Mr. Warmth,” due to his being the polar opposite.

As a young woman, I somehow found myself at a night club attending a live performance of Don Rickles.  His whole delivery consisted of finding people in the audience and ridiculing some aspect of them–brutally, in my opinion.  I was a nervous wreck during his entire act fearing that he’d pick on me.  Although I never found his brand of humor appealing, so many did.  You should have heard the laughter in that night club.

Don Rickles himself was a small, unattractive man with a loud mouth that spewed venom.  One can only wonder what he endured growing up as a child.  To me, he is a spot-on example of “the best defense is a good offense.”

Must we boost ourselves up at the expense of others?  Do we really go home feeling better having put someone else down?  Is there another way to improve our own self-esteem?

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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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Economics of Condolences

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:

Pet CemeteryA friend recently wrote me that her beloved cat of almost twenty years had died.  She commented that more than 125 people wrote her condolences on her Facebook page, a significantly greater number than when her parents died. 

Why is it that people can give sympathy so much more easily at the loss of a pet in someone’s life rather than a human?  Is it too personal when the loss is perceived to be so enormous–too close to home?  Does the potential offerer fear getting into a long, emotional discussion with the aggrieved which might delay the former from a busy schedule?  Pets are considered lower on the scale of importance, and perhaps that allows us to spend less time at the task of offering our regrets.

How many times have we uttered that casual opener, “Hi, how are you?” expecting the answer to be the standard, “Fine”?  However, when the answer is something like, “Awful, my (fill in the blank) just died,” we’re stuck.  If it’s an in-person encounter, how can you just respond, “Oh, sorry about that.  Ah, I have to go now”?  If it’s a telephone conversation, is it okay to say, “Hold on, I have another call coming in”?  Such behavior would cast you as uncaring, insensitive, selfish, and more.  So, to be socially acceptable, we must immediately stop everything to offer comforting words, mentally calculating how long before we can slither away.

I wonder if my friend would have gotten such an abundance of responses by the same people in person.  With internet platforms, we can be quick and go on our way while still getting brownie points for our thoughtfulness.  It’s that old economic principle:  seek the maximum amount of gain for the minimum amount of effort, or stated more succinctly courtesy of the all pervasive internet (study.com):  “a buyer is rational if she/he makes logical decisions that are based on gaining the highest benefits at the lowest costs and the results of those decisions are in his/her best self-interest.”

The operative words are “results of those decisions are in his/her best self-interest.”  Are we only going through the motions of caring with thoughts of “what’s best for me” playing in the background?  Human nature dictates self-interest responses to stimuli.  However, can we stop for an instant and truly feel for another human being?  Can we be genuine in our outpouring of concern for another human being?  Can we put our busy lives on pause for just a bit to sincerely comfort another human being?

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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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Forgiving Yourself

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:

Baggage CarouselWe all screw up sometimes.  No matter how hard we try, plan, manipulate, etc., circumstances may alter “the best laid plans of mice and men.”  There’s another wonderful saying in that vein:  “Man plans and God laughs.”

Awhile ago, my son was entrusted with an artistic piece made by a family member who expended many hours of labor in its creation.  My son was to bring the object back home to be a centerpiece in his family’s household.  He carefully carried and stowed the coveted, bulky item in the airplane overhead compartment.  Upon landing and disembarking, he then hand-carried it to the baggage claim area where he set it down briefly so he could retrieve his suitcase from the carousel.  That’s when God let out a full belly laugh.

Upon returning, the wrapped object was nowhere to be found.  Panicky, my son searched and searched to no avail.  He filed a claim with lost and found, but it never turned up.  He was devastated and felt he had betrayed a confidence.

This is just a small example of when forgiveness should enter the equation.  Sometimes, the hardest form of forgiveness is to forgive yourself.  Why do we hold ourselves to such high standards, fearing to admit that we’re only human?  I’m sure you can contribute such a war story of your own.   We’ve all been there-done that, and it’s usually painful and racks us with guilt.

If an offender committed an act against you which caused you pain, discomfort, inconvenience, upset, etc., look at the motive of the offender.  Was the act done without guile?  If so, and he/she is contrite and usually trustworthy, you must forgive him.  If the act was done deliberately, and that is his usual modus operandi, then he must live with such a flawed character trait and suffer the ramifications: frequent loss of friendships and relationships, ongoing conflict and tumult, others always on guard around him, and eventual disappointment and loneliness as all close contacts distance themselves or bail out altogether

If you are an example of the deliberate, conniving, the-end -justifies-the-means type, then be prepared to live with the consequences and stop being so surprised when they finally happen.  If your act was committed without such duplicity, you must forgive yourself.  One final saying to make the point: “To err is human, to forgive divine,” and that includes forgiving yourself.

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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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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, skinniest, most painfully shy, overly high strung, too-smart-for-your-own-good, developmentally disabled, etc?

For example, a hyperactive child always seems to be the one creating chaos. 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 resulting in him/her being 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, search for 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, or tired.  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.

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