The Perils of Communication

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

CHITCHAT:  My Upcoming Lecture: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” is on May 12, 2017, 1-3pm, Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill Campus), 321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, (925) 685-1230 (NOTE: advance reservation required)

Now, on to my blog:

Talking on Telephone 1

Being an effective communicator requires talent.  Engaging others with our message and receiving theirs is fraught with danger: misunderstandings, mixed signals, confusion, and all sorts of other roadblocks from differences in age, sex, culture, language, education, etc.  However, communicate we must if we’re going to interact with other humans and depend on each other to get along.  So, how do we do it effectively?

That is a massive task, but with practice, we can all master it. First, let’s discuss what communication is. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary offers this definition:  “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.”

Communication methods can be verbal such as words, grunts, and other sounds; visual such as body language and facial expressions; tactile such as a hand brushing an arm or grabbing a shoulder, a handshake, etc. Babies make their needs known by communicating with cries, smiles, etc.  We become more sophisticated in our communication methods as we age.

There are many subtleties to communication.  It can be controlling, manipulative, friendly, warm, cold, straight forward, duplicitous, honest, conniving, and on and on.  Different styles and personalities dictate the tone of the communication.

Remember, communication is not all about you.  It is not just a one-sided “sending” of information significant to the sender.  It also involves “receiving” of information significant to the other person in the interaction.  Finally, a switching of roles occurs with the original sender becoming the receiver and the original receiver becoming the sender. This reversal occurs over and over throughout the exchange at a rapid speed.

Not only must the parties involved be able to switch from send mode to receive mode quickly, they must also be able to interpret meaning. We practice this as children and hopefully perfect it by adulthood.  However, not everyone masters the lessons so well.  If you fall into that category, watch how effective communicators do it and try out their techniques.  They may feel strange at first, but it will get easier with practice.

Effective communication requires an awareness of goals–what the parties want from the interchange. Do you strive to win favor; do you want an extension of good will; do you simply want to experience the good feelings you get from talking to a friend?  Be careful that your approach matches what you hope to gain.  If not, then you are wasting your time and effort.

An acquaintance and I recently discussed how valuable laughter is in communication.  Including humor and creating an opportunity for laughter usually yields much more than aggression does.  There’s an old proverb to the point: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  When attempting to communicate, lighten up and make the exchange pleasant and even fun, no matter the subject matter.  It can be done and is often significantly more effective.  Just give it a try.

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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: Internet Archive Book Images via Visual Hunt /  No known copyright restrictions

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Wrangling Seniors

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

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving my lecture, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” on May 12, 2017, 1 – 3 pm, at Diablo Valley College Emeritus Program (Pleasant Hill Campus), 321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523.  Cost: $16 – pre-registration required.

Now, on to my blog:

WalkerA dear friend and her husband from out of state visited me last weekend. I have known them for over forty-five years and hadn’t seen them for quite awhile. We were young and healthy when we met, and we have aged together over the decades.

They are older than I am and have become quite frail. Still, they managed to board a plane with the help of airport wheelchair attendants and arrive at my place by taxi with the aid of the driver. A good tip helped, I guess.

I opened my door to two seniors, both upright with the assistance of their respective walkers. Although a senior myself, I am in good physical condition, and I was pained by their deterioration since I had last seen them. Nevertheless, I was excited by their visit and anxious to show them around my new ‘hood.

It quickly became evident that for each excursion, I would be the pack animal, collapsing and loading two walkers into my car trunk and unloading them upon arrival at our destination not to mention securing seat belts and the like. Ditto on the return ride. All progress was excruciatingly slow. All plans had to be made with time buffers to allow for the lengthy preparation both before and after the event.

I, also, fell into the role of fetch person as their ability to stand up and make their way to get the sugar, a Kleenex, a shawl for warmth, etc. was so much more quickly accomplished by swift me. It reminded me of what my son and daughter-in-law go through with their young children (my adorable grandchildren): strollers, snacks, bathroom breaks, all events planned around rest time, etc.

At the end of each day, I was exhausted, impatient, and irritable. It’s tiring being a wrangler whether your charges are horses or seniors. I tried hard to keep in perspective what I was getting out of the experience. It was such a gift that my dear friends who had been there to nurture and care for me through the years had made the extreme effort to visit me. It was a privilege to help them experience a trip away from their now confined living quarters in an assisted living home. It was a way to pay them back for the love they had always shown me.

Modify your viewpoint toward the elders in your life. Yes, they have become childlike in their needs and even in their behavior. Have patience; be loving, kind, and giving. Don’t forget what they did for you in earlier years which probably caused them to become exhausted, impatient, and irritable.

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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: Anne Worner via Visualhunt.com /  CC BY-SA

			

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Nature’s Floor Show

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:

Bird in tree outside my window 3-16-17I was doing my morning back exercises when I glanced through my window and spied this guy hanging out on a nearby tree branch. What could be more inspiring? I am regaled lately with a variety of birds hovering, preaching, pecking, warbling, chirping, soaring, and all of the other things birds do. I have never been a “birder,” but I am rejoicing in their exaltation. They tell me that spring is here, and that I, too, can exalt in it.

Do you look out the window of your house, car, office, or any other structure in which you find yourself with glass interruptions in its solidity? I don’t mean a glance while you’re doing much more important business. I mean really look!

Tree outside my window 3-15-17

There’s so much to see. Here’s another photo from my window of a glorious flowering tree. The plants, bushes and trees dress up in springtime for our pleasure. Nature offers us a free floor show.  Don’t forget to attend.

We all have interesting things to observe around us wherever we live. Here are some we might spy looking out of windows: hills or mountains, children playing, passersby strolling, dogs running, cars of all shapes and colors, and on and on.

Let the visual panoply engulf you. Feel yourself drawn into the details of a leaf, a bird searching the grass for food, a ball bouncing away from its thrower. These sights and sounds are cleansing. Be mindful; notice as you are being swept into the experience; allow it to overtake you. Don’t worry, you can always go back to that important business you left, refreshed and invigorated.  And, this psychic infusion doesn’t require dipping into your wallet.

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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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Strutting Your Stuff

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:

turkey-on-my-patio-3-4-17This guy knows how to strut his stuff. He appeared on my patio a few days ago, staying about fifteen minutes as he fluffed out his feathers, fanned his tail, and walked from one end to the other and back again, periodically stopping to turn around slowly so he could be seen from all sides by potential, admiring onlookers. I grabbed my camera to memorialize his display. How could any female resist him? I know I couldn’t.

Another euphemism for strutting your stuff is “tooting your own horn.” Some humans are good at it, like Tom here. Successful practitioners know how to display their talents and attributes. Others are too shy or embarrassed while wishing they could and envying those able to do so with such seeming ease. Some withdraw from even considering such behavior, finding it too prideful and self-indulgent. However, let’s consider if occasional strutting or tooting can aid in our fulfillment.

We all need attention; we all want to attract others. That is neither positive nor negative; it is simply a human trait. With over seven billion of us on this earth and counting, the competition is fierce. So, how do we get some of that elusive, oh-so-valuable attention?  We must do something to make others notice us in some way.

Yes, many overdo it, like Tom. It gets old when someone seems to be constantly bragging or promoting him/herself. Not everyone has mastered the art of subtlety or sophistication in  seeking attention. We really don’t need to puff up our bearing and prance around in the best finery we can afford, folks. But, we can do other things to bring attention, accolades, and praise to ourselves. We can shine in areas where we seem to have talent. Even introverted people can find quieter, less conspicuous ways to shine.

Think of something you can do well. Seek out opportunities to display or utilize that ability  where others will notice. Allow yourself to experience the rewards of a compliment, praise, or kudos.

Attention from others is nourishing. Remember to be generous and not hog it all if you’re the aggressive type. If you’re the timid type, remember that you deserve attention, too. And, let’s remember to practice tolerance toward those who seem so needy of attention. We are all on that scale somewhere.

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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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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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