Tag Archives: Aging

Irritants Can Be Advantages

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 their retirement. Her public lectures on this subject are titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years.” Her memoir, available on Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class (Click here for book website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com)

May 30, 2015, 11:30am: Lecture: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years,” Joslyn Adult Center, “Health and Fitness Expo,” 210 N. Chapel Ave, Alhambra, CA 91801
June 13, 2015, 2:00pm, Author Talk & Book Signing, Crown Books, 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
September 18, 2015, 2:30pm: Lecture: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years,” Mira Costa College LIFE Program (Learning is for Everyone), 1 Barnard Dr., Oceanside, CA 92056

CHITCHAT:  A few weeks ago I gave a talk in front of 100 people at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s “Lori and Don Brault Lecture” at California State University Long Beach.  It was very well received, and I had a great time.  I love to help and inspire people to reinvent themselves in their later years.  It’s definitely possible, and people just need to be encouraged and informed how to do so.

Now, onto my blog:

Hand Reaching for PencilLast week I was sitting at my computer, busy, busy, busy. I went to grab for my pencil, missed, and knocked it off the computer desk.

Oh, I don’t need this now! I muttered to myself.

I bent over and groped for it on the floor. No luck. After a few choice expletives, I turned on the flashlight on my cell phone (a nice feature BTW) and bent over even further, shining the light around.

I finally spotted the blasted pencil. Of course, it had rolled completely under my desk to the far end, tightly jammed up against the wall molding behind the computer cord, like a kitten hiding under the bed.  I had to bend over to the point where my head was at the same level as my feet and reach to my arm’s length to grab it. As I was doing so, I realized how good it felt to stretch my spine. My errant pencil had offered me a little free exercise.

Why can’t we extrapolate those kinds of experiences to larger ones in our lives? How many times are we inconvenienced by unforeseen circumstances which annoy, irritate, or anger us? We’re less able to tolerate them when we’re on a deadline, tired, running late to an appointment, and on and on. That’s when each of our own versions of “expletives deleted” kicks in.

Some opt for the “F” word, the “S” word, the “D” word, the “H” word, or whatever.  Others downplay it such as what a childhood friend’s father used to say: “Oh, feathers and moose meat!” I always liked that. I wish I had found out the origin, but I was just a kid and not so fascinated by words and phrases as I am now. Anyway, that was just as powerful for him as the current popularity of the “alphabet” words.

There’s that old expression, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” Well, that’s not just for the big, oppressive stuff of life. It can also be for the little things, too.

When something interferes with your plans for a minute, an hour, a day, see if you can turn it into an advantage or opportunity. Don’t let the small irritants you encounter take a few more seconds off your life span.  Those seconds are valuable and finite.  Save them for the rewarding things.  If you must, throw that pencil on the floor deliberately to open new possibilities.

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, just reply to sender, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.


Filed under active seniors, aging successfully, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, older adults, reinvention, retirement, second acts, seniors, successful aging, wellness

Having a Bad Day

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers and seniors find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in their lives after retirement from a job, career, parenting, etc.  Her public lectures on this subject are entitled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years.”  Her memoir, available on Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class (Click here for website link:  http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com)

NEWS:  I will be interviewed on Blog Talk Radio “Giving Voice to Your Story,” with Dorit Sasson on Feb 5, 2015, 7:30am (PST), link: blogtalkradio.com

Now, on to my blog:

Lion Roaring

Have you ever had a bad day? I can almost guarantee the answer is, “yes.” I don’t think anyone can get through this life without having one. Well, last week I had a doozy. I set my alarm for 7:30am to allow plenty of time to get dressed, have breakfast, and drive carefully over a one-lane, winding, canyon road to pick up my friend for a writers’ club meeting.

She answered the door dressed in an old sweat suit. “It’s tomorrow, Lee Gale.” “What,” I responded without comprehension. After she repeated it a few more times knocking me out of my denial, I fished out my calendar book. Yup, she was right. I had arrived at her house a full twenty-four hours before our date.

I couldn’t believe it; I was really bummed out. I didn’t have to be at my first appointment of the day until 11:30am. I could have slept another few hours; I could have avoided a twelve-mile drive over a steep canyon road; I could have done a million other things with my life.

I did some shopping to kill the time and made my way back over that horrible canyon road, fighting a traffic snag which made me late.  When I got to the restaurant for my real appointment that day, all the parking spaces in the lot were taken. I found one on the next block and had to pick my way with my sore toe through an unevenly paved alley. When I walked in to join the senior center “dining out” class as an invited guest of some friends, there were about thirty people seated at a very long table made from several placed railroad car fashion. My friends had been unable to save me a seat next to them.

I had been to the same restaurant once before, and I wasn’t too crazy about the food. Because this was a large group, the restaurant had set a fixed price menu costing almost twice what I paid previously. That would mean I’d have to sit at the far end from my friends and eat a mediocre, expensive meal with strangers.

Right at that moment I went on overload. I had to have a time-out from my so far bad day. I whispered in one friend’s ear that I was going to leave, and I did. I drove home and had lunch, some quiet time, and a rest.

That’s one of the few times in my life I’ve been able to do something like that. Of course, the circumstances allowed for it: I was alone with my own car, I was close to my house, I didn’t know anyone at the event except for a few people. Nevertheless, the lesson was that I assessed my needs and acted to meet them.

It made up for the fact that the week earlier I had done just the opposite at a social gathering and brooded over it for the next few days because I hadn’t been able to take care of myself. It’s so difficult to learn how to take care of ourselves, and so worth it.

Please pass my blog along to anyone else who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. 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.


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Every Time I Drop a Spouse, I Blossom

Blossoming FlowersThis is a blog written by Lee Gale Gruen aimed at helping Baby Boomers and seniors find more joy, excitement, and satisfaction in their lives after retirement from a job, career, parenting, etc. Her memoir, available on Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class (click on this link for the book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com)

Someone emailed me recently suggesting I write a blog about suddenly finding yourself single in your senior years. She is in her late sixties and getting a divorce.

Loss of a partner be it a spouse, live-in relationship, or significant other, and whether by death, divorce, or mutual agreement is a blow at any age, but maybe even more so in your later years when your resiliency has decreased. Such a shift is a major passage of life; we face the unknown future alone, scared, naked and shaking. I’ve experienced it twice in my life, and what I’ve found is that no matter how hard it seemed at the time, my life eventually became better than before.

I’m certainly not advocating termination of a relationship if each party is enhanced by it. However, in my case, I blossomed after my two divorces. I found myself freed from a constraining existence which only served to restrict and diminish me. After the initial shock, fear, and devastation, I gathered my resources, struck out on my own, and flourished. The first time, I became much more independent, made new friends, and learned to ski. The second time, many years later and as a senior, I became an actress, author, motivational speaker and blogger—whew!

Although I make it sound easy, it was anything but. Each blossoming happened slowly over some years, and there were a lot of periods of self-doubt, misgivings, and lack of motivation. However, I finally did it, and I can honestly say that those new, wonderful things in my life would not have occurred within those marriages.

Divorce or a breakup of any type of relationship usually happens when it changes from one of nourishment and support to one of toxicity and isolation. If the deterioration comes gradually, we at least have time to get used to it. If the termination was sudden such as in the case of an unexpected death, the devastation can seem much worse. Nevertheless, in both instances, even if the relationship was positive, there might be an element of relief if it made you feel oppressed and stifled, or forced you into the role of submissive underling (laborer to his/her CEO), full-time caretaker, etc.

Regardless of the reason you find yourself single, the healing process is the same. After grieving the loss, you must look inside yourself at your strengths (yes, you have them) and move forward with the goal of becoming healthy. You may have to alter your lifestyle: lower your standard of living, move to other quarters, find a job. However, in the process, you might find those strengths you never knew you had.

Go check out that local senior center you’ve heard about. Sign up for a class others have mentioned or sounded intriguing. Take a trip with a friend or group. Follow up on a hobby, pastime, or something you always thought you might try some day but never had the time.

As I’ve emphasized so many times in my blogs, you have choices. You can become mired in your grief and turn it into a life-style, constantly discussing it with everyone you encounter until they start avoiding you. Or, you can proceed to carve out that new identity for yourself and blossom. This is your chance!

Please pass my blog along to anyone else who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. 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.


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Giving with No Strings Attached

Do you give with strings attached?  Have you ever been the recipient of such giving?  Giving or gifting with strings attached is demeaning both to the giver and to the receiver.  It is a power play–the giver wants to control the receiver’s behavior.

The commodity involved with giving is usually thought of as money or tangible goods.  However, it can also be love, attention, effort, etc.  For example, many people use love as a manipulative tool: I love you when you’re good (ie when you do what I want or act the way I want you to act), but I will withdraw my love when you are bad (ie when you don’t do what I want or act in a way I don’t like).  This often occurs between spouses, significant others, parents and children, and other close relationships.

The giving-with-strings-attached scenario usually goes something like this: Okay, I’ll give you X, but in return I expect Y from you.  That’s fine for a formal, contractual agreement or a gift for a specific purpose previously agreed upon by both sides such as college tuition for your child.  However, in more casual giving, it is the control freak’s agenda and is resented by the receiver.

Of course, the potential giver has the choice of not giving in the first place.  If you are asked to give and choose not to do so, just say “no” and go about your business.  You don’t have to turn your “no” into a lesson, admonition, or verbal manifesto.  However, if you do commit to give (just one time, for a longer period, for a lifetime), don’t use your promised gift as a power tool, cancelling it if you get mad or don’t get your way.  Keep your word or it will result in the recipient never trusting you again.

If your gift is unconditional, it will benefit both parties so much more than if it is retractable upon your whim.  If you give unconditionally to loved ones, the benefit you receive is knowing that you gave out of love or sincerity and not the quest for power.  The benefit the recipients get is the same.  They know you trust them to make decisions for themselves.  Their decisions may not be what you would have chosen, but you’ve shown respect for them which, in the long run, is the much more valuable message.

If you give to strangers (an organized charity, a homeless person on the street, etc.), behave the same.  Don’t admonish the street beggars that they must use your handout for food and not alcohol or drugs.  Treat them with respect so they can make their own decisions about  how to live their lives.  Maybe one day someone will give to you in your time of need. Wouldn’t you prefer it be on terms of love and/or respect rather than power and control?

If you want to be 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 previous blogs, you can find them just under the “Follow” button entitled “Recent Posts” or “Archives.”  Please pass my blog along to anyone who might be interested.

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Dealing with Regrets

We all have regrets, some big, some small. However, if we live our lives mired in them, we can never move forward. We must forgive ourselves. If it concerns behavior we did or didn’t do, focus on what we can do now. If it concerns other people, we can only hope that they forgive us. We still have the future where we can atone by being good, kind, loving, giving.  If we can’t do it for one because he/she might be gone, the hurt was too deep, etc, then pay it forward and do it for another. In that theme, I have a guest blogger today, my friend Roger Trammell, who presents his blog in the form of a poem.

Happy to be
on the down-side
of the drama…
in the Dalai Lama head-space
on the pace
in the race nearly run
with worries few or none
No regrets
but some debts left unpaid.
Atonements made or not,
it’s got to be enough
at this stage of the game
time passing
whence it came…
frozen in time…
recalls of falls
and risings
standing talls
and divings into pits
fit for drowning
when crowning achievements
came to the rescue
re emerging
submerging the doubting
and shouting
it was all worthwhile.
Roger Trammel 6-3-2014

I now have a “Follow” button in the upper right corner of my blog. If you want to be notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button and fill in the information. To read my previous blogs, you can find them under “Recent Posts” or “Archives” on the right side of this page. Please pass my blog along to anyone who might be interested.

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Why Do People Criticize Others?

A few years ago, I went on a wonderful, often very rustic trip to Papua New Guinea.  After returning, I got together with the man I had been going out with for awhile.  I was very excited to show him my photos.  As he was looking through them, he stopped at one, held it up to me, and commented, “Well, you certainly don’t look your best.”  Technically, he was right, I guess.  I had no makeup on and my hair was in total disarray as I was caught on film climbing out of a dugout canoe on a brackish river.  My point here is not the correctness of his statement which, by the way, was the truth as “he” saw it, but the fact that he chose that statement to make among so many others he could have said.  Here are a few possible proclamations he might have opted for: “Gee, what a neat dugout.”  “Boy, that looks like it was fun.”  “You look tired.”  Instead, he chose to trash my looks, albeit subtly–a vulnerable position for anyone.  I knew I looked a mess; he didn’t have to tell me.  It’s really hard to look great floating down a river in PNG in a dugout canoe in the hot, humid jungle after having slept in a bare-bones structure with no air conditioning, no electricity, no indoor plumbing (think a hole-in-the-ground outhouse), and in a sleeping bag on the floor under mosquito netting.  I wonder why he chose to make the comment he did.  What satisfaction did it bring him?  Was he sending me a message that he only liked me when I looked well groomed and attractive?  Was he feeling insecure that he was dating a woman who could look scuzzy sometimes?  Those types of statements–subtle put-downs–only serve to put pressure on the receiver:  I’m unattractive, unloveable, un(fill in the blank) unless I’m always perfect; I always have to be on.  What I’m advocating here is that we examine our motives when we criticize someone.  If the purpose is to help correct his/her behavior, appearance, etc. for his/her benefit, then the criticism might be valid.  However, if the purpose is to assuage your own discomfort, maybe that’s your problem and not that of the person you’re criticizing.  Before you throw out potentially hurtful comments, think if a positive response might be more effective than a negative one.  Demeaning another person doesn’t only demean them, it demeans you as well.  Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested.  To read my previous blogs, click on entries to the right of this page under “Recent Posts” and “Archives.”  To join my Blog Email Notification List, click here on my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com, and then click on the “Contacts and Links Tab” to access my contact form.


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Learning from Animals

I’ve written about animals before.  (See the Recent Posts list on the right side of this page:  “The Therapy of Pets”- January 17, 2014.)  Animals are the ultimate stress reducers.  Last weekend, I went on a day trip to visit an unusual, animal rescue compound near Solvang, California.  They had a variety of animals including miniature donkeys; I never knew such a creature existed.  The full-grown mini-donkeys came up to my waist.  Here I am with Princess, a Vietnamese Potbellied Pig.


While I was scratching Princess’ belly, currycombing a donkey, or petting a tortoise, I forgot about all my commitments, obligations, must-dos, and everything else in my life that stresses me out.

Many animals are so calm, placid, easy-going, and relaxed.  (Those terms may all mean the same, but I couldn’t stop with the descriptors.)  When hanging around them, those qualities spill over onto you.  That’s why hospitals and other institutions often bring in animals for the occupants; it’s therapeutic.  It is so much better, cheaper and has fewer negative consequences than many of the methods people use to reduce stress such as alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs, smoking, and excessive caffeinated drinks..

Because of the danger to our lives, health and happiness, we must reduce the stress that life hands each of us.  One thing I use is exercise.  When I’m working on the exercise machines at my gym, I’m concentrating on the workout and not on my stressors.  Animals have that same effect on me.  Since I don’t have an at-home pet in my life right now, I’m always going up to people walking their dogs to get my “animal hit” for the day.  I ask the owner first if I can pet his/her dog.  Afterward, I always thank the dog and the owner for sharing.

Try an “animal hit” whether it be your neighbor’s dog, cat or bird, or a more exotic variety such as Princess.  Let their calmness wash over you and accompany you throughout the day.  Somehow, it puts in perspective all of the little concerns we think are so important and that we allow to drain so much of our energy.

Please forward this blog to others.  To read my previous blogs, scroll down or read them under “Recent Posts” and “Archives” on this page.  If you’d like to be on my blog email notification list, click here on my book website:  AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and leave me a message under the “Contacts and Links” tab.


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