Tag Archives: Lee Gale Gruen

It’s Not All about You

This 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 whether it be 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 here for the book website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com)

NEWS:  Click here to read the article I wrote: “The Secret World of Showbiz Seniors” which was published October, 2014 on Narratively.com http://narrative.ly/hidden-hollywood/the-secret-world-of-showbiz-seniors

Now, on to my blog:

talking horseEveryone craves attention, even the quiet ones among us. In each encounter between people, there’s only a finite amount of it, and everyone deserves some. Human interaction is a competition with attention being the prize.

Have you ever been on a first-time encounter (date, business meeting, etc.) with someone who spends the whole time talking about him/herself? That can get old very fast. A friend told me about a man she met recently who spent the whole date yapping about himself and never asked anything about her. I’m sure when he called for another date and she turned him down, he didn’t have a clue as to why.

Everyone is vying for the floor, and the stronger ones usually prevail. When one person grabs that coveted platform too often, others can become resentful.

Although not a hard and fast rule, we tend to choose our friends, partners, spouses, or significant others based on our needs. Introverts often seek extroverts to be the entertainment committee or shield them from the world. Extroverts, conversely, find calm and relaxation with introverts. Needy types seek caretaker types, and vice versa. I’m sure you can think of many more examples. It’s subtle, but it exists. In this arrangement, there’s an unspoken agreement that one person gets more of the attention than the other. After a while, though, the pauper of the duo can get tired of the protocol and want to break that old treaty.

If you’re usually the main attraction, try to let the other guy have some attention. Ask, “How’s it going?” or “What have you been up to?” Then, watch his face light up as he starts talking about himself. And, remember not to jump in and dominate the conversation again which usually goes something like this: “Oh yeah, when that happened to me I…” Just be a good listener for once.

If you’re the guy who usually ends up with a dearth of attention, be proactive and get some of it; it’s valuable stuff—makes you feel important. You might have to be bold and even rude by saying something as blatant as, “I’d like a turn to speak” or “I wasn’t finished yet.” Remember children, play fair on that playground of life. Everybody deserves a turn on the swing.

Please pass this 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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Taking Advantage

This is a blog written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers and seniors find more joy, excitement, and satisfaction in their lives after retirement whether it be 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 here for the book website:  http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

NEWS:  I was interviewed recently by two lovely ladies, Rebecca Forstadt-Olkowski and Dr. Sharone Rosen, D.C., for their Podcast:  2 Boomer Broads. Click on this link and scroll down to read the interview or click the “play” button at the top of that page to hear it:  http://www.2boomerbroads.com/lee-gale-gruen/

Now, onto my blog:

Two peopleI’ve become more and more aware of how valuable and precious my time is.  I have to pick and choose what’s important to me. That brings me to today’s topic. There’s usually nothing wrong with taking advantage of an opportunity within reason.  We all try to do that.  However, that’s not the kind of “taking advantage” I’m talking about.

Some people take advantage of the precious time of others. These are a few synonyms for that behavior: impose upon, exploit, use for one’s own sake, milk.  Of course, friendships and relationships require some giving of time and energy to each other.  However, the problem is when it’s taken to an extreme.

Do others take too much advantage of your precious time, or do you take too much advantage of the precious time of others? Taking advantage excessively can come in so many forms: unrealistic expectations of you, asking you to do too much and too often, dumping their problems on you, and so on.  It doesn’t matter that they might do so very sweetly, maybe with apologies. They are still draining your valuable time and energy.

There reaches a point where we have to be assertive no matter how difficult it is. I know someone who has a literary skill which earns her money.  A friend of hers often asks for help with writing projects but doesn’t pay what the work is worth under the guise of “we’re friends.” That might fly once or even twice, but when is it time to put a stop to being taken advantage of, even by a close associate? It’s our own responsibility to set boundaries. We must be the one to “call a halt.” If you don’t do it, you send the message that the status quo is okay with you.

How can we be assertive without damaging or ending the friendship or relationship? First, be honest with yourself. Are you tired of being taken advantage of and are starting to harbor resentment? Then, be honest with the other person. To use the aforementioned example: tell her that your time is valuable and limited, that you choose to use it on other things such as your own jobs that pay you a fair wage, and that you can’t accept her projects anymore.

Adapt that template to your own situation. Write out your speech so you’ll remember what you want to say. Practice it so you’ll hit your key points. It’s difficult telling others what they don’t want to hear. It’s even more difficult living with the consequences of not doing so.

Please pass this 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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Have a Potlatch

This is a blog written by Lee Gale Gruen aimed at helping Baby Boomers and seniors find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life. 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: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com)

NEWS:  I will be giving a free lecture titled “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on December 9, 2014, 10:00am, at the SCAN Senior Resource Center, 6633 Telephone Rd, Suite 100 – Room 108, Ventura, CA 93003

Now, onto my blog:

PotlatchA potlatch, practiced by some Native Americans, is a tribal ceremony highlighted by the giving away of material and non-material (ex: titles) things. Status is achieved not by who has the most “stuff” but by who gives away the most.  Yes, the Native Americans sometimes took it to extremes with the giving-away part turning into a competition or by expecting a similar payback. However, let’s not throw out the concept of potlatch with the bath water. Maybe we can take the good parts.

We need to give away some of our stuff. We accumulate and hoard too much. Must we have more and more possessions, toys, money? When is it time to divest rather than invest? As the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.” Of course, as a teenager who thought she knew everything, I’d point that out to my father, and he would respond, “Then I’m not going.”
Dad did, however, become more generous as he aged.

If you don’t have “stuff” you can give away, then give away intangibles such as compliments, attention, help, advice (sparingly on that one). Giving away feels good to the giver as well as the receiver.

Are you familiar with the idea of helping others when you can’t repay the benefactor of kind acts done in your behalf? I’ve posted before about this concept. (See my blog of June 6, 2014: Dealing with Regrets.) The potlatch I’m suggesting is a version of that. Sometime in your life, someone probably gave to you. The way to reciprocate is to give to someone else. The winner in that competition will be you.

Please pass this 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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The Secret Benefits of Exercise

Exercise 4 10-10-14We all know or have heard or suspect that exercise is good for us. It keeps you toned, fit, firm. I started exercising years ago at a gym because I had lower back pain. Boy, has it helped with that! But, I found a hidden benefit: it helps with my stress level and when I’m feeling down.

I’m a Type A personality and always on the go–doing lots of things–trying new stuff. However, even if you’re a Type B, we all have stress. It’s life’s little gift to us for the privilege of being alive.

So, think about enrolling in a gym. Start out slowly doing what you can. It’s not a contest. There are no winners and losers. You don’t have to beat that person next to you doing their Jack LaLanne impersonation. Exercise for me seems to work best in a group situation. I guess I like to be among fellow sufferers. That’s why I go to a gym. Also, the music in the background helps to motivate me.

            You might get a kick out of a commercial I made a few years ago advertising gym equipment. Google my name to find all of my online acting work.

If it’s too expensive to join a gym or you don’t like the regimen, then get outdoors and start walking. That doesn’t cost anything. Or, do your power walk at your local mall. It’s safe, interesting and free with air conditioning thrown in at no extra charge. Replicate the musical accompaniment of a gym by listening through ear buds on your favorite technology device.

Exercise 5 10-10-14It’s too boring, you say? Find some friends to walk with; you can socialize as you go. I have a group of friends who walk twice a week at the beach. No friends, you say? Check out Meetup.com, and find a group of walkers in your area. Many of them walk at the local malls.

What about your dog? It needs walking and loves it most when it’s you on the other end of the leash. When did “dog walker” become a profession? Why aren’t you walking Blondie or Milo or BooBoo yourself? Think of it as dog/owner bonding with exercise thrown in as a bonus. When I had a dog and walked her in my neighborhood, I encountered neighbors I had never met before walking their pooches. As an aside, dogs sniffing each other is also a perfect ice-breaker for their owners to get to know one another. If you don’t have a dog, one sniffing your crotch is an opportunity to start a conversation with its human. You just might make a new friend. Then, you could walk together and get some conditioning and socializing.

You can’t miss your daily daytime dose of (insert your favorite soap opera), you say? Record it and watch it in the evening. Use the daylight hours to be out there exchanging your stress and depression for some rays and a physical tuneup.

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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Surviving Irritating Behavior

This is a blog written by Lee Gale Gruen aimed at helping Baby Boomers and seniors find more joy, excitement, and satisfaction in their lives.

MY NEWS:  Tomorrow, I’m going to start attending a class on screenplay writing.  I can’t wait!  I’ve already downloaded Final Draft software onto my computer and have begun writing a screenplay based on my memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years, and I’m finally doing it.

Now, onto my blog:

angry-woman

Is this how you feel sometimes?  I certainly do–more and more as I get older.  So many little things seem to irritate me, draining too much of my time and energy.  However, harboring upset feelings hurts ourselves much more than the ones who caused them.

Recently, it was the conversation and voice quality of a woman at an exercise class I attend that annoyed me.  I’ve heard her speaking before, and she has a certain pitch which seems to shatter my ear drums.  Her usual non-stop, rapid-fire conversation about some innocuous thing in her life, projected loud enough to wake the sleeping in the back row of a large theater, results in her delivery landing on the ears of many who aren’t interested, including me.  She is a drama queen and seems to crave attention, so she has honed her skill well.

Perhaps you’ve been the receiver of such behavior or maybe even the sender?   How do we survive irritating people whom we encounter so often in our crowded society?  The first thing, in my opinion, is to accept that we cannot change them.  I certainly couldn’t have approached the woman in my class and asked her to change the quality of her voice and, truth be told, her entire personality.

What I can do is change myself.  I have learned to carry earplugs with me.  I quietly donned my orange neon plugs and went about my exercise routine calmly and contentedly.  If my tormentor noticed them poking out of my ears, maybe she got the idea that they were my firewall against her, but I doubt it.

The point of all this is that you have choices as I’ve emphasized many times in prior blogs.  Don’t just let life happen to you.  Take charge.

If you’re around irritating people: family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers in your personal life, your work life, your leisure life, or wherever, decide what you want for yourself.  Do you want to suffer silently and be the loser, do you want to confront the situation head-on, or do you want it to change with as little effort and stress as possible?  If it’s the last on that list, then alter yourself in some manner so the irritating behavior no longer affects you.  It just might add a few more minutes to your life or at least make that life less agitated.

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 postings, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. Please pass my blog along to anyone else who might be interested or post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Lee Gale Gruen’s memoir: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available on Amazon.com.  For the book website, CLICK HERE:  AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

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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 (once, an extended period, 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.

IT WAS ALL WORTHWHILE
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…
Memories
used-to-bes
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 you examine your own motives when you criticize someone. If the purpose is to help correct their behavior, appearance, etc. for their benefit, then your commentary might be justified. However, if the purpose is to assuage your own discomfort, maybe that’s your problem and not a shortcoming of your chosen reprobate.

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.

Image

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 to interact with 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 their 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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Getting Cut from the Lineup

I’ll be one of several storytellers at SHINE Storytelling, April 17, 2014, 7:30pm, 2019 14th St., Santa Monica, CA 90405 ($5 donation at the door) on the theme for the evening: Taking the plunge.  I’ll talk about going from retired probation officer to actress via a senior acting class I took with my 85-year-old father, and overcoming my stage fright in the process. Check out SHINE’S website at: storiesbloom.com/StoriesBloom/SHINE.html.

I’ll also be giving an author talk/book signing at the Savvy Seniors of Calabasas on April 24, 2014, 1:00 to 2:30pm, Calabasas Library, Founders Hall, 200 Civic Center Way, Calabasas, CA 91302 (preregistration and $5 fee required).  As part of my talk, I’ll discuss the process of writing my memoir, editing it, finding a publisher, and promoting it.

Now, onto my blog:

Have you ever been cut out of something you were sure was a shoe-in for you like a job promotion, a relationship, or even an appearance on a TV program as happened to me last week?

As I blogged about last time, I am one of 60 women profiled in Marlo Thomas’ new book, It Ain’t Over…Till It’s Over, about reinventing ourselves. I was contacted a few weeks ago and told I was one of the subjects chosen to be on the Today Show in a video clip in conjunction with Marlo Thomas’ appearance to discuss her book.

I jumped though all the hoops they asked for with a very short deadline.  I taught myself how to make a brief, selfie video on my iPhone.  I taught myself how to upload it to a file sharing website as it was too big to email. I searched for some requested photos buried in my desk drawers of myself at my office when I was a probation officer, which I then scanned and emailed.  My stress level was way up there as you might imagine.

On the day of the show, I watched only to discover that I had been cut out.  I was very upset as well as embarrassed because I had told everyone I knew that I was going to be on the Today Show; posted it on some online, group discussion sites; and blogged about it right here.

After indulging in “poor me” for a while, I was able to put it in perspective and turn it around.  What had I gained?  Well, there was my photo and a lovely story about me tracing my journey from probation officer to actress in Marlo Thomas’ book; I learned how to take a selfie video for when I might need to do it another time; I learned about file sharing websites; and I got a blog subject out of it.

When something like this happens, we all wallow in self-pity for a while; that’s human nature.  But, wallowing for too long is unproductive and destructive.  We do have choices; we can choose to move on and get over ourselves.  How long it takes is up to us.

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

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