Tag Archives: healthy aging, retirement, reinvention, successful aging, aging gracefully, second acts, older active adults, senior citizens, Baby Boomers, longevity, gerontology, wellness

The Art of Senescence

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those facing retirement find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. 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 on this link: Amazon.com  Click here for her website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

LG & Morton Bay Fig - VRG 2-27-16While reading an article in a scientific journal, I came upon this word which I knew but had forgotten: senescence. It simply means aging. Senescence happens to all living things; it is a normal trajectory of nature.

Many things that are alive practice senescence artfully. For example, as trees age they become more beautiful, majestic, and regal. Applying this to humans, some people are able to make the act of aging into an art. Unfortunately, so many aren’t. They bemoan the inevitable rather than accepting and growing into it.

I recently saw a movie, “The Lady in the Van,” starring the wonderful actress, Maggie Smith, as an elderly woman who, although successful when younger, had fallen upon hard times and was living in her van. The actress portrayed her character with authenticity, joy and dignity just as she did with the polar opposite character she portrayed, an English dowager noblewoman, in the television series, “Downton Abbey.” The most important take away from this observation is Maggie Smith, the person. She has aged naturally, embracing her wrinkles, sagging neck, and faltering voice. They are her trademark, and she wields them with skill. She has discovered the art of senescence.

Another example of such a person is Iris Apfel, the 97-year-old fashion icon (born in 1921).  A documentary about her, “Iris,” was released in 2015 (link for film trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo8jwJ_2l0c).  As is evident from the movie, Iris Apfel does not hide herself from public exposure because her youthful looks and stature have eroded.  She is proud of her accomplishments as a designer and as a businesswoman. She has created an image of an elderly person who is positive, sharp, and respected.

Rather than fighting growing older with one elective surgical or dermatological procedure after another, both of these women have used their own aging process to their advantage. They are the human equivalent of the senescent, awe-inspiring Morton Bay Fig tree I’m standing next to in the photograph. That tree and these women challenge the rest of us to follow in their footsteps, to not fear and fight aging, but to investigate it, embrace it, and make it work for us.

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, either scroll down or look on the right side of this page and click on specific titles under “Recent Posts” or on specific dates under “Archives.” To opt out of receiving this blog, just let me know at the aforementioned email address, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Let Your Children Teach You

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those facing retirement find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. 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 on this link: Amazon.com. Click here for her website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Father & Son on Tandem Bike

I often get advice from my son who is an adult with children of his own.  He’s bright, and I learn from him. He enjoys counseling me and I enjoy our interaction.

No matter how old your children get to be, it’s hard for a parent to switch from the teaching mode into the learning mode.  I’ve heard parents say to their adult children something along the lines of “Don’t tell me; I’m your father (or mother).” What does that have to do with hearing sound advice?

I suspect that what’s really going on is a power struggle. The parent doesn’t want to admit that their child may surpass them in any way. It’s also a sign of aging which so many distain–passing the baton when a child is old enough to be the adviser to a parent. But the flip side is that it allows the aging parent to have an adult-to-adult relationship with their child. This scenario can be extrapolated to any relationship between an aging person and a much younger person whether it be an aunt/uncle relationship with a niece/nephew, a boss-employee relationship regardless of which person is in which role, and so many others.

What a wonderful gift to receive at this stage of life. Embrace it! Be grateful for it! Don’t push it away just because your ego becomes a little bruised or you don’t want to give up being the pack leader.

It’s also a wonderful gift to your child. It lets him/her know that you admire them and have confidence in them when you listen to and/or accept their counsel. What an empowering experience for a child to know how much they’ve succeeded in their parent’s eyes. What a boost to their self-confidence. That’s probably one of the things they crave the most.

Remember to thank them. Remember to verbalize how proud of them you are. Too many parents forget to do so. Be aware of the gift you are giving each other. Not all parents get such a reward in the later stage of their lives.

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, either scroll down or look on the right side of this page and click on specific titles under “Recent Posts” or on specific dates under “Archives.” To opt out of receiving this blog, just let me know at the aforementioned email address, and I’ll remove you from the list.

 

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Impatience

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those facing retirement find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. 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 on this link: Amazon.com.  Click here for her website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT: In my last blog, I mentioned that I was going to be in a 2016 Super Bowl commercial for Toyota Prius. For those of you who watched and didn’t see me, it appears that the sponsor substituted another commercial at the last minute. The commercial I was in is titled “Heck on Wheels.” It can still be seen on YouTube.com and has had over a million and a half hits. I play the woman with a poodle dog. Here is the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxIIi6SVuII

Now, on to my blog:

Dog Waiting

Do you “fly off the handle” on a regular basis? Do you know others who do? As I get older, I find myself becoming more and more impatient. I get antsy when I have to wait for service; I feel irritated with inane chatter; I’m uptight when anything takes too long. It’s hard to remain patient when others are inefficient, screw up, or are lackadaisical.

I’ve never been particularly patient, but I’m getting worse. Does that happen to others, or am I the only one? My gut as well as stories I’ve heard and personal observations suggest that it’s common in the boomer and senior demographics.

What does impatience do for the practitioner? Does it really make the inciting situation any better? What is the downside of such behavior? When I do it, it just causes me to be more upset for a longer period of time. When I am the recipient of it, I become angry and feel like defending myself or engaging in payback. Impatience is a destructive emotion to the sender and to the receiver.

Certainly, one cause of impatience has to do with aging. Another contributing factor, though, may be living in a technological world. We have become used to immediate gratification in so many areas that did not exist in previous times. We can grab our smart phones and find out within seconds the answer to almost anything that used to require consulting an expert or making a physical trip to the library. We can communicate instantly by email what used to require a letter or a phone call with its concomitant telephone tag games and actual conversation starting with time-wasting niceties.

Living in a town or city of thousands or millions, however, still requires patience. None of us can get immediate gratification on everything. We still have to wait our turn in the queue. So, what do we do when we become impatient?

As many do, we can whip out our technology to entertain us, burying our heads in virtual reality. But, here’s another, old fashion idea: we can “stop and smell the roses” to quote an old expression. Yes, we can actually look around and enjoy our environment. We might watch a child play as we wait in line at the bank; feel the rain, the sun, the wind as it touches our skin while walking from the parking lot to our doctor’s appointment; observe the passersby and notice what they look like, what they are wearing, how they behave; listen to conversation while we wait for service at a retail establishment, and on and on.

There’s a free floor show out there, folks. From time to time, don’t forget to check out the non-virtual world, also known as the real world. You may find it far more fascinating, enlightening, and instructive than staring at little rectangular devices. And the upside is that it helps you to be more patient which is so much better than the opposite.

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, either scroll down or look on the right side of this page and click on specific titles under “Recent Posts” or on specific dates under “Archives.” To opt out of receiving this blog, just let me know at the aforementioned email address, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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The Power of Touch

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those facing retirement find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. 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 on this link: Amazon.com.  Click here for her website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  Here’s a link to a 2016 Super Bowl commercial (coming up on February 7, 2016) for Toyota Prius where I play the woman with a dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZfIrXakHIE

Now, on to my blog:

(photo attributed to User:BartFuse)
Michael-angelo God & Adam

Touch is one of our five major senses. We usually don’t think about it because the senses of sight and hearing seem so much more important. They are, of course, but don’t underestimate the power of touch. It allows us to experience temperatures, textures, pressure, etc.

Touch, also, helps make human connection. When communicating with another, we often include touching: tapping someone on the hand, jabbing them in the chest with our fingertip, clapping them on the back. We use such expressions as: touch a nerve, touch base, touchy, etc. to describe feelings and behaviors.

It feels good to be touched and to touch another. We do it in intimate contact as well as social communication. We shake hands to connect more closely upon greeting each other. We link arms when walking which both helps us steady ourselves and feel closer to our companion. We may tap a listener on the hand or arm to emphasize a point which not only commands attention, but also conveys a closer feeling between the two parties.

We derive comfort from touch. Parents touch their children as much as possible, or should, conveying to them a feeling of protection and love. Animals touch each other in herds, packs, pods, and all the other collectives, conveying a sense of belonging to a group. I saw a lovely video awhile ago showing the first steps of different baby animals including the human kind. I remember the long black tongue of the giraffe mother licking her newborn to encourage it to try standing up. Other mothers of various breeds did the same or similar, sometimes nuzzling their young. None stood back while their offspring struggled alone. Touching them was urgent to aid in their progress.

We as self-contained, I’m-just-for-myself human beings can connect to one another using touch when other means are not within our comfort zone. For example, patting someone on the shoulder encourages them. Holding hands enables bonding.

Another form of feel-good touching is hugging. There’s a camaraderie to that gesture.  Hugging friends or even acquaintances in a non-threatening but heartfelt way conveys a warmth, an acceptance. Hugging upon the initial encounter as well as the termination sends a message: “I’m happy to see you,” or “It’s been so nice being with you.” Check out this wonderful video of a man in a well-trafficked, London square holding up a sign saying, FREE HUGS:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGZOAVLFMHU.  People regarded him strangely at first, but soon someone took him up on his offer. Within a short time, a crowd gathered and he had a lot of takers. Everyone seemed to be positive, upbeat, and enjoying the experience.

Some people have grown up in situations where touch was very limited, or touch feels offense to them. If that describes you, practice slowly to bring touch into your life. Start with just one quick tap with your fingertip on another person’s hand or knee during a conversation. Take baby steps to increase your touch contact with others.

Don’t forget the importance of touch. Incorporate it into your life. It’s a win-win for both the touchor and the touchee. Start touching people in a non-offensive yet warm, caring manner. It’s a benefit for each party to the transaction.

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, either scroll down or look on the right side of this page and click on specific titles under “Recent Posts” or on specific dates under “Archives.” To opt out of receiving this blog, just let me know at the aforementioned email address, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Take Time for Those Less Fortunate

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those facing retirement find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after they retire. 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 on this link: Amazon.com. Click here for her website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT: I will be one of several speakers and will present a talk (at 10:25am) on “Finding New Opportunities” at the Senior Congress XI hosted by Conejo/Las Virgenes Future Foundation – Lifelong Learning: “Explore Your Opportunities,” on January 27, 2016, 8:45am to 2:30pm (free, lunch provided, reservations required), location: St Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, 5801 Kanan Rd, Westlake Village, CA 91362

Now, on to my blog:

Skeleton - El Dia de los Muertos

Most of us are normal physically and mentally.  Most of us are so much more adept than the disabled, disfigured, handicapped, or less competent in our society. Can we stop our busy lives for a moment or two to connect with another, less fortunate human being? Can we take an instant to be kind to those in that group?  Can we be grateful that we can share of ourselves?

Yes, we can.  Yes, we must.  Probably, most of us have been touched by someone in our lives who was born disabled or became so through illness, disease, or an accident.  I have, and it has made me humble, made me so much better than the self-absorbed teenager I once was.

Do you ever wonder how you escaped that fate and it befell another?  We have an obligation to be kind and gentle to such people.  A variation of a famous expression attributed to sixteenth century preacher, John Bradford, is: “There but for the grace of God go I.”

If you encounter a disabled person when you’re out and about, approach them and make a point of saying hello.  Compliment them on something, anything: “That’s a nice shirt you’re wearing,” “That color looks so attractive on you,” “I like your smile,” “It’s nice to meet you.”  Touch them:  shake their hand; pat them on the arm or shoulder.  That could make their day. It could also make yours.

Maybe when your turn comes to be less able than you are now, and it will come, someone will take a moment to engage you. How wonderful that will feel. After all, inside, you’re still that nice, creative, competent person you once were, or at least you feel that way.

I have a dear friend who has severe Parkinson’s disease. I remember how feisty she used to be. I remember our days of riding our bicycles along the bike path at Santa Monica beach. Now, I visit her from time to time at her assisted living home. I call her as often as possible to chat for a moment. The conversation is short, simple, and not world shaking. However, it brightens both our days.

Stop your very important business to connect with someone who will appreciate it so much. Make time to give of yourself. It will reap benefits to you.

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, either scroll down or look on the right side of this page and click on specific titles under “Recent Posts” or on specific dates under “Archives.” To opt out of receiving this blog, just let me know at the aforementioned email address, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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