Tag Archives: memoir

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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What Do You Do When the Happy Holidays Aren’t So Happy?

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 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)

NEWS:  I gave a talk titled “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” last week at the SCAN Senior Wellness Center in Ventura, CA.  Click on this link to see a short video clip from that talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cen-dN6SUU&feature=youtu.be

Now, on to my blog:

Jingle BellSo, what do you do when the “happy holidays” aren’t so happy? Well, you bake cookies, of course (further discussion below).

Yes, it often looks like what the other guy has is so wonderful compared to what you have. This is the season where that’s especially true with seemingly everyone discussing all the wonderful things they’re going to do over the holidays. Maybe your plans or lack of plans look pretty paltry next to theirs. How can we be happy with what we have and embrace it?

I had an experience a few years ago where I was feeling envious of a friend. It doesn’t matter what it was about–just fill in the blank. The point is: what she had seemed better, more desirable, and more appealing than what I had, and I was jealous.

I was telling my sad story to another friend who commented, “be careful what you wish for.” Ah yes, it’s so true and so easy to forget. When I took a good look at my coveted friend’s whole life, I realized I was cherry-picking. Yes, I was envious of “Thing A” that she had, but I certainly didn’t want “Thing B” in her life.

So, folks, when envy strikes, and it will, think about whether you’d really be willing to switch places with another person if you had to take the whole package and not just cherry-pick.

To cheer you up a bit if you’re feeling down at holiday time, and lots of people are, here’s a guilt-free cookie recipe that’s super healthy and yummy. You can also freeze them and with a 20-second zap in the microwave, they’re ready to serve last-minute guests or pack in sack lunches.

“NO SUGAR, MILK, SALT, BUTTER, EGGS, FLOUR” COOKIES

3 very ripe bananas, average size
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (8 oz) chopped & pitted dates or golden raisins
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper (or use non-stick cookie sheet)
In large bowl, mash bananas
Add rest of ingredients
Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes
Drop dough by large, rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet (NOTE: Cookies don’t spread during baking, so you need to shape them.)
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown
Let cool 5 minutes & transfer to wire rack to cool completely
(NOTE: Cookies are best the day after baking. They can be frozen and defrosted individually or in batches in microwave for about 20 seconds on high.)

Happy Holidays Your Style!

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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Do You Have Something to Say?

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help 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 (website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com)

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

Now, on to my blog:

PelicansA few months ago, a woman bought my memoir.  I ran into her recently, and she told me she had really enjoyed it.  “I knew you had something to say when I first met you,” she commented. 

There’s a trendy term for that:  “finding your voice.”  It means getting in touch with and revealing your innermost feelings—expressing your real self.  It’s a hard thing to do.  After all, we keep so many things private fearing that if others learned about them they’d misuse the information, and we’d be harmed in some manner: rejected, ostracized, manipulated, criticized, lose control…   

Have you found your voice?  When is it finally your turn to do so?  In my case, I was too inhibited by social constraints:  this isn’t acceptable; I might hurt someone’s feelings; someone might get angry at me; I might be judged; someone might find fault with me.  So, I went for years without saying what I had to say.  I was so good at keeping my true feelings hidden that I even did it from myself. 

I finally decided to write a memoir.  It was just supposed to be a lightweight, father/daughter bonding book about when my father and I attended a senior acting class together when I was sixty and he was eighty-five. However, as I wrote, things appeared on the page almost involuntarily.  Sometimes, I would sit back and ponder what I had just written:  I didn’t realize I felt that way.  I haven’t thought about that incident in decades.  I was finding my voice through the process of writing about a small piece of my life.  My sweet, little memoir became much more than that; it became a catharsis.  The hidden feelings I was writing about are universal feelings, I’m sure, filtered through my own unique experiences.

How do you feel about things, about life, about your own life in particular?  When is it time for you to start saying it? You don’t have to write a book like I did.  There are many ways to say what you have to say. If you like writing, then keep a journal or diary, write a letter to a friend (remember letters?), write a letter to the editor, write an article for a publication.  If your preference is verbal, then tell it to a friend, acquaintance, group, therapist, the world. 

We all have something to say.  It’s gratifying to finally say what you feel inside without having to mask it for society’s approval.  Try it.  It may take baby steps, but with some practice, it will become easier.

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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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 himself/herself? That can get old very fast. A friend told me about a man she met recently who spent the whole date talking 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 gets that coveted floor too often, others can become resentful.

Although not a hard and fast rule, we tend to choose our friends, partners, spouses, etc. 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 awhile, though, the pauper of the duo can get tired of the arrangement 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/her face light up as he starts talking about himself. And, remember not to jump in and take the floor back 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/

Two peopleNow, onto my blog:

I’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 of: taking advantage.  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 various literary 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 call a halt to being taken advantage of, even by someone close? It’s our own responsibility to set boundaries. We must be the one to “call the 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 and that you choose to use it on other things such as your own projects or jobs that pay you a fair wage, and that you can’t do 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.

I’ve written before on the concept of “pay it forward” (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. Pay it forward and 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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