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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Photo credit: bradleygee on Visual Hunt / CC BY

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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 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, 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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Default Position

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:

Default positionA friend recently told me that my default position is positive. I’d never thought of it like that.  Yes, our natural inclination as well as our life experiences do give us a default position.  It’s that mode we always return to no matter what happens to us.

Default positions range on a scale from positive to negative, and there are infinite degrees in between.  What is your default position?  Is it satisfying to you?

In my case, when something upsetting or unsettling happens in my life, I may get bummed out.  However, I don’t seem to be able to stay down for very long.  It doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad or never get depressed.  However, I automatically boomerang back toward the positive end of the spectrum.  It comes naturally, and I don’t think about it.  I don’t know why I’m like that.

Those whose default position tends toward the ill-natured extreme may long to move their needle closer to the other end.  When such a tendency doesn’t come naturally, can you do anything to change it, or are you forever stuck defaulting toward that negative boundary?  My take is that you can change a long ingrained tendency, but only if you want it enough and are willing to work long and hard to achieve it.

I have had experiences in my life where my natural inclination was toward a position I hated.  I’m thinking of my decades-long worry of incurring the disapproval of others.  In my younger years, it was always so hard for me to stand up to people–to rock the boat.  If called upon to do something I didn’t want to, I’d often go along with it (nothing ever destructive) so people wouldn’t dislike me.  It took years and a lot of internal struggle to reach a more satisfying position.  Probably the seeds of my original tendencies will always exist within me.  However, I’m in control now, and I no longer put up with bossy, bullying, or over-bearing humans.

So, yes, it is possible to change.  Figure out how badly you want to do so, the steps you need to take, and go to it.  It may be daunting, scary, intimidating, overwhelming, and on and on.  Nevertheless, DO IT ANYWAY!  It could change your life.

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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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Dwelling Decisions

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:

rvWhile working, how and where you reside is often dictated by considerations of employment, family, cost, etc.  Once you retire, the options widen.  Many stay put in the tried and true–their comfort level.  The idea of moving from the family home is too distressing, and they may remodel to suit their aging needs: a mechanical staircase lift, lower counters and higher bottom cabinets and dishwashers, walk-in (or roll-in) showers, etc.  Others who possess nagging wanderlust may venture out to explore different alternatives.

I recently heard from a friend of a friend about her choice.  She has become a nomad. She sold her house of thirty years, and now moves between the West Coast of the United States, Mexico, and Europe, staying at each for long stints with travel interspersed. When she alights, she finds a short-term rental or stays with friends.  She has carved out an interesting lifestyle.   Her retirement may seem scary to some and exciting to others.  I’ve heard (though it might not be correct) that the same Chinese character designates both danger and opportunity.  Regardless of the Chinese alphabet, the metaphor holds.

I know of others who become minimalists, opting for the human version of turtles carrying their homes on their backs.  These folks give up most worldly possessions, buy an RV, and continuously move about as the whim takes them.

Many downsize and find a like-minded demographic in which to settle such as an active senior retirement community. That was my decision.  Still others strike out for distant and exotic lands, domestic or international, to pursue a passion–think Paul Gauguin.

A few friends have mentioned the idea of living with their children or other family members.  They would have their own room in the main house.  Or, they would occupy a small dwelling in the backyard, thereby creating a family compound.  Many years ago, one of my cousins and her husband bought an apartment building with other family members, and each family unit lived in a different apartment.  You have to like your relatives an awful lot to make this work.

There’s the story, true or not, of some people living permanently on cruise ships.  They have a room, all meals, housekeeping services, a doctor available, and they get to explore exciting destinations.

There is no right or wrong choice.  There is just the choice for you.  The important thing is that you make it when you can instead of someone else doing it for you when you can’t.

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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: Crown Star Images on Visual hunt /CC BY

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Armful of Dogs

Final Book Cover

This 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:

LG w Janet dogs

Recently, I visited my friend, Janet, who is a Chihuahua person (a special breed of people). I spent a lot of time chilling with her two Chihuahua mixes. In this photo, I started holding Pepe (white) when Holly (two-toned) jumped up on the bench. I thought she would just sit next to me as is her style. However, she briefly climbed into my lap, not to be outdone by Pepe.

Pepe, a love–easy-going and friendly to all, is the sweet, cuddly type who adores being held and petted. Holly is a lot more skittish–a high strung presence; it takes patience to become her friend.  I had to go through her barking and reluctant acceptance each time I entered the house for the duration of my stay.  Once Holly gave me the okay, however, she couldn’t get enough of me. Although she didn’t like being held, after a few test sniffs, she tolerated petting. Of course, that required me to bend way down due to her low-slung stature, but I thought of it is good exercise.

Next, I moved on and stayed with my cousin, Gail, where I hung out with her mini-pincher mix, Sarge. Although his appearance matched his name, his personality was the polar opposite. Sarge was loving and licky, frequently jumping onto my lap and hunkering down. So many times when I walked into my bedroom, there was Sarge on my bed, proprietary and anxious to hang out some more.

Why do I love dogs so much? It started in childhood. I begin to notice something special about them that I didn’t notice in human beings. I’ll use dogs as my example, but the same applies to all animals other than humans.

Dogs are loyal, dependable, faithful. With dogs, there is no agenda–what you see is what you get. They are never artificial, duplicitous, political, and will never stab you in the back. Dogs are always happy to see you, no matter how crummy you are, how angry, smelly, miserable, pissy, etc. Dogs love you whether you’re up or you’re down. They never get mad at you, tell you off, ignore you, ostracize you, pay you back, etc. The only human who even comes close is Mommy, and even she fails the dog test.

The moment I get around a dog, I feel comfortable, relaxed. Dogs’ needs are simple. They don’t require the latest designer clothes, the newest luxury automobile, the trendiest (fill in the blank.) They are not into status. Mankind would be well advised to emulate the canines among us.

On the other hand, people are like Pepe, Holly, and Sarge–each has their own personality. Some are warm and seek close contact, while others are nervous and don’t like too much handling. I have great respect for dogs, and I’m always careful never to cause them distress to the best of my ability.

Can we be that way with the wide range of humans we encounter? Can we respect their individual personalities and alter our behavior so as not to cause them distress? Don’t we wish people would treat us that way?

There’s no need to come on like gangbusters when you perceive someone is highly uncomfortable with your usual modus operandi. Respect each individual‘s personality, and interact with them appropriately so as to maintain their comfort level. You will be much more likely to have a successful interaction than if you treat everyone with a cookie-cutter approach.

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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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Snowball

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  Click here to see me in a comedy, cable TV performance from a few years ago as a granny rapper who gets shot during a drive-by shooting:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwkMrO6tJLE

Now, on to my blog:

LG & Monitor Lizard II 6-10-12

I met Snowball some years ago at an EcoFest held on the lawn of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California where I was a docent.  Snowball was part of the attractions at the booth of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southwestern Herpetologists Society.

Snowball’s owner, Jarron, adored him/her, just as you or I might adore our child, dog, cat, parrot, monkey, lemur, etc.  He was full of information about Snowball and couldn’t wait to share it with me after I expressed interest.  However, he failed to tell me how his pet got its name.  I like to imagine Snowball was born or adopted during the winter holiday season.

Jarred explained that monitor lizards are usually aggressive and dangerous in the wild, but that Snowball had been bred in captivity and gentled by humans from the time of wee lizardhood.  So, he/she was docile and not dangerous.  Jarred encouraged me to pet Snowball and insisted on taking this photo.  Snowball’s skin was dry and bumpy.

FYI (courtesy of Jarred and the Internet):  Crocodile monitor lizards, a relative of the Komodo dragon, are native to the jungles of New Guinea.  They are thought to be the longest know lizard species in the world, usually growing to five to seven feet in length, but sometimes reaching over ten feet long.  Two-thirds of their length is in their slender tails which they whip around like a weapon. They have sharp, curved claws to aid in climbing trees.  In captivity, they can live eight to twelve years.

I saw other reptile owners cradling and cuddling their pet snakes, lizards, and assorted others of the reptilian persuasion.  One guy was walking around with his own large lizard clinging vertically to the front of his sweater like an armor breastplate.

Later, a herpetology club member approached me while I was manning the La Brea Tar Pits Museum booth.  She was extremely distraught and crying.

“Do you know anyone in the museum who would like a dead snake,” she wanted to know.

I had never been asked such a question before nor anything remotely similar.  It seems that when she had taken her pet snake out of it’s cage, it was dead.  She had owned and adored it for over twenty-five years.  She wanted to donate it to a good cause.  Amazingly, after a few inquiries, I was able to find a potential recipient of her prize.  He was a young, part-time employee of the museum.  He planned to use the snake in practicing to build scaffolds for disarticulated, ancient animal bones to display in natural history museums, a pursuit he hoped to make his career.  Snake giver and snake receiver conversed and struck a deal.

Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder.  We each see beauty in our love objects regardless if they are ugly, strange, weird, or off-putting to others.  Be grateful for those who love you.  You may seem ugly, strange, weird, or off-putting to some, too.

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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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A Tandakoan’s Reflection on an Obituary

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

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

Now, on to my blog:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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