Tag Archives: Retirement

We All Have “Something”

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

Now, on to my blog:

All Gender Bathroom sign

I saw this sign at an airport terminal recently.  I have no idea who was enlightened enough to create a bathroom for everyone no matter their persuasion.  However, that person simply posted the sign, and the thousands of humans passing by in that busy location didn’t seem to suffer any harm from it.

All of us have something about ourselves or our lives that is viewed as less than ideal in our current culture, or we have a friend or relative who does.  We think that our something merits special consideration, tender handling, understanding, tolerance.

Maybe you or they are handicapped in some fashion. Maybe you or they respond slower than others, are of a particular physical build, intellectual level, sexual orientation, hue on the color spectrum, or whatever which is not so  highly prized by our society just now.     

So what do we do with you or them?  Well, everyone hopes that others will be kind and forgiving of their particular affliction or situation. However, let’s take a good look at ourselves. Are we as kind and forgiving of others’ oddities, needs, differences as we hope they will be of ours? 

Why does a group of boys attack another boy who is homosexual?  Why does a person insist his religion is the only way to believe, and then kills non-believers to that end?  Why does someone with so much money go out of his/her way to disadvantage others merely to make more?

Our country and much of the world is divided by prejudice against race, sex, gender identity, religion, politics, and all manner of things. However, I’m sure you have heard the aphorism: let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Are you so perfect that you can judge others and find them wanting?

Remember to treat everyone with love, care, consideration, and compassion no matter how different they seem to be.  We all share humanness; we are far more alike than different.  There’s another old saying that has been termed “The Golden Rule”:  Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

Why do so many forget that?  It’s often the one screaming the loudest to denigrate another who is hiding the most in his/her own life.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, health and wellness, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

The Time We Have Left

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

Now, on to my blog:

SunriseI was having an email discussion with my friend, a cancer survivor, about an article we both read listing predictions for our future world.  One involved longevity.

According to the article, our current average life span increases three months per year.  Within the past four years, life expectancy has increased from 79 to 80 years. By 2036, it will increase by over one year per year.  Therefore, many more people will live to be over 100.

We had this email back-and-forth:

Her:  “I went to see my new primary care dr., a geriatrician, and got quite a shock.  I asked her at what age I can stop getting colonoscopies.  She said that the average for female death is 84, so there is no point in trying to prevent diseases such as colon cancer that take time to develop, unless I plan to live a lot longer than that.  It’s not as though there is any of that that I didn’t already know, but it hit me like a punch in the stomach.  I feel the same way I would feel if I were 30 and got the news that I had a life expectancy of 9 years. I now evaluate everything I do to make sure I’m not wasting any time.”

Me:  “As for your punch in the stomach, don’t assume that you only have a life expectancy of 9 years.  That email said that longevity is predicted to increase. Therefore, assume you’re going to live to 100, which means you have 25 more years.  So, get that colonoscopy and go ahead and waste some time:-)”

Her:  “The average for women now is 84, 82 for men.  I’m pretty healthy so far as I know, and my parents both lived longer than 84.  Still, I am confronting a short life.”

Me:  “We are all confronting a short life.  Stop focusing on that and focus on enjoying it.  Try the AA mantra: one day at a time.”

Her:  “…my short life isn’t because of cancer, it’s because of my age.  I do focus on enjoying life–I certainly don’t want to piss away whatever time I have left.”

If you are in satisfactory health, I’m not sure which is more destructive to your enjoyment of life: excessive worry that you might get or have a recurrence of a serious disease such as cancer, or apprehension over statistics predicting at  what age you might die. Dwelling on such considerations spoils embracing the time you do have left.

Among the more inspiring people I have known was Rose Freedman, a classmate in a community Spanish class I attended many years ago. She was the last living survivor of the terrible fire in 1911 at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City where 146 young, immigrant garment workers died.  That tragedy led to significant changes in labor laws.

Rose was full of life, dynamic and always well-dressed with her hair nicely coifed. She consistently arrived at class with her  homework completed, spending the opening moments before the teacher arrived socializing with everyone. She was, also, an artist and an avid, Lakers basketball fan.

One day, the teacher announced, “Rosa (we used the Spanish version of our names during class) has invited everyone to go to the bakery down the street after class for cake and coffee to celebrate her 100th birthday.”  I was blown away!  Given her exuberance and youthfulness, I always thought Rose was in her eighties.

I continued going to that class for many years with Rose until she was hospitalized  and died a few months later in 2001 at the age of 107.  Yes, good genes and healthy living had a lot to do with Rose’s longevity.  However, a positive attitude and a love of life contributed significantly.

Let’s let Rose serve as our role model. It’s our choice how to embrace our final years.  If we live our lives in agitated worry about our waning life, can we really enjoy that precious time to its fullest?  Yes, we want to be productive–leave a legacy.  However, the pressure to do so caused by fear we might die sooner rather than later spoils our journey.

In your final years, be productive for the joy of it, not in a race against some elusive calculation about the amount of time you have left.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo on Visual hunt

4 Comments

Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, health and wellness, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

Let It Go

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

Now, on to my blog:

Releasing Bird from CageWe all get upset, pissed off, angry, enraged, and worse at circumstances, the behavior of others, life. Yes, we need to vent; it releases tension. But, be careful who you choose as your ventee. Is he/she the right choice–the one who done ya wrong?

Are you dumping your situation on whomever you stumble upon? Are you taking any and every opportunity to steer the conversation around to your hurt or bad luck? That gets very old very fast, and others don’t want to constantly be at the receiving end of such conduct. After all, they have their own issues for which they’d like to vent, and it’s so easy for your interaction to devolve into a mutual ventfest.

Whatever it is that is bumming you out, there comes a point where you just have to let it go and get on with your life. Easy to say; hard to do, but, what is the alternative?

You can continue to stew for days, weeks, months, even years. While you’re doing so, what else is happening? Have opportunities passed you by because you were too angry and distracted to grab them? Have you missed out on jobs, relationships, etc. because others picked up on your rage and backed off? Who is the loser with your attitude? The way I see it, it’s you!

I’m still carrying around pain as the result of being hurt or let down by others whom I trusted. I’m probably pretty typical of most people. Very few get through this life without those types of experiences. Yes, I’m still a work in progress, but I try. I think about it and work at moving on. Sometimes I do a better job than at other times.

Letting it go doesn’t have to be done all at once. It can be done in stages–baby steps. I have been estranged from a family member for several years. I thought a lot about letting it go, mainly to heal myself. Recently, I sent her a birthday card. It was very difficult to do and took a lot of mental back-and-forth while buying the card, addressing it, putting on the stamp, and releasing it from my fingertips into the mailbox. I lived with that small act for awhile until I was able to digest it. The next step I took was some very light, superficial email correspondence. I’m currently in the process of living with that and trying to digest it. The next step may be a telephone call.

Keep working at letting it go even if you’re not always successful. View yourself as a wounded child, and take care of yourself with tenderness, support, and encouragement as you would any troubled youngster. Help that child heal. Strive to make yourself the winner, not the loser.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Dean Croshere via VisualHunt.com /  CC BY

3 Comments

Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, health and wellness, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

Remembering

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

Now, on to my blog:

Wolf pillowsWe all have our memories, and we spend significant amounts of our awake and our asleep time pondering them. One of the most compelling things we remember are the significant people who have impacted our lives.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the death of one of my dearest friends. She was such a major part of my life for decades, and so many things in my home remind me of her.

There is the fleece shirt I put on each winter morning to break the chill when I get out of bed that Sue bought me for my birthday years ago after seeing me finger it on the store rack while we were shopping.

There are the 1600 threads-per-inch sheets I sleep on nightly which I, along with many of her friends and relatives, ordered through her secret source with the amazing discount.

There are those small decorative, bolster pillows that sit atop the regular pillows on my bed. We each got one that day Sue took me to visit the Wolf Rescue Compound, a two-hour ride from the city where we lived, because I’d chosen it as my birthday gift excursion. We had been giving each other events for birthday presents in those final years, a way to spend more meaningful time together as the annual exchange of yet another sweater, scarf, or pair of earrings had become old and tiresome. The compound owner had made the little pillows which she presented to each person who braved the trek to her isolated location and contributed a donation upon entering.  Sue gave me hers so I’d have a matching pair for my bed.

There is the…

Last week, I saw Sue’s children for the first time since her death. Her daughter held me and cried giant tears, the sight of me bringing back memories of her mother yet again. I cried my own internal tears, as external ones don’t happen for me. We all have our own way of grieving and responding to pain; mine is the dry, lump-in-your-throat type. Neither are right or wrong; they just are.

When someone has been significant in your life, that never ends, it merely changes. Everyone has had a Sue in their life, and they live on in the memories of their friends and family members.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

5 Comments

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

Gender, Sex, and Power

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

Now, on to my blog:

Male & Female LionsSo much has been in the news lately about sexual harassment. That encompasses unwanted sexual attention ranging from remarks, gestures, innuendos, touching, all the way to rape. If you’re a female, most likely you’ve been the recipient of some behavior on this continuum at some time in your life. If you’re a male, you, too, may have experienced it, or you may have someone close to you who has. Today, I have a guest blogger, Janet Maker, who was inspired to write about her own personal experiences with sexual harassment.  Here is her post:

Gender, Sex, and Power
by:  Janet Maker

Recently I got a hug from my male yoga teacher and I felt myself stiffen, even though I knew that the hug was affectionate and not the first move in the direction of sex.  I was sure of this for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that I am 75 years old.  Nevertheless, I still had the hypervigilant reaction that had been ingrained in me over most of my life.  I was never raped or beaten.  I never even had my career threatened by men.  I just had the usual stuff:  Between the ages of about 12 and 50 I would regularly be on the receiving end of unwelcome overtures, fortunately not from employers, but from pretty much everyone else– from doctors to auto mechanics to the husbands of my friends.  I’m sure I was not exceptional—I was attractive but not a great beauty, and I know I was not giving mixed signals.

Here’s the thing that was so crazy-making: Except for the husbands of friends, who were easy to deal with, I could never tell them the truth.  The truth was that in most cases I was not physically attracted to them; I did not feel any “chemistry;” or as the Brits say, I did not “fancy” them.  I was always afraid that if I told the truth their minds would snap and they would become violent.  So I made up excuses.  When I was very young I tried telling them that I was frigid or a lesbian, but I soon found out that those excuses did not deter them.  The only thing that would usually work was to tell them that I belonged to another man.  There were times I couldn’t do that—for example, I would sometimes accept a date from someone who looked interesting but for whom an attraction did not develop.  So I had to figure out strategies to parry any overtures until I got safely home.  I don’t mean that all men were wolves, but I felt I always had to be on guard.

Once in a while I received overtures from women, but that was not the same kind of problem at all.  I could simply tell them that I was not attracted to women, and that would generally be accepted with no hard feelings.

I wondered if this issue was a generational thing, so I asked my 30 year old daughter if she and her friends felt they could safely tell men that they were not attracted to them.  She said no.

The question made her recall her first experience with sexual harassment.  She was eleven, and we were Christmas shopping in our local mall.  She wanted to buy a gift for me, so she asked if she could go off alone.  I agreed, and I showed her where I would wait for her.  After a while a woman showed up with my sobbing daughter in tow.  My daughter told me she was going up the escalator when a man grabbed her bottom.  She was terrified; she found a woman and asked for help.  We made a police report.  Of course I knew that the police wouldn’t do anything, but I wanted my daughter to feel that she had been taken seriously.

I had a friend once who had a gay male couple living in the apartment upstairs. Sometimes when they would argue they would end up in a fistfight, and I felt almost jealous.  I did not want to fight, but I did want the satisfaction of knowing that I would have an equal chance of winning.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via VisualHunt /  CC BY-ND

4 Comments

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

Silence and Stillness

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

Now, on to my blog:

Monkey with hand over mouthA friend recently mentioned that she had attended a retreat on the topic of silence and stillness.  What a concept!

All my life I have had trouble with being silent and being still. My interpretation of silence on the part of others in my presence meant that they were unhappy or bored with me. So, to ease my discomfort, I would fill the silence with chatter.  Of course, that meant animation–the opposite of stillness–even if just body language.  It was an exhausting enterprise, but I had no control over it; I did it without thinking–a compulsion. 

I remember the turning point.  I was driving with my then boyfriend when I noticed that he had become very quiet.  I thought he was angry at me, because that’s how my ex-husband used to behave–the silent treatment, a cruel form of punishment.  I went through a mental back-and-forth with myself, vowing not to be the first to speak.

Who does he think he is?  He’s not going to get away with pulling that crap on me.  I’m not going to have that in my life again.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I was nervous, anxious, and worked myself into a defensive state.  After a little while, my boyfriend made some inane remark such as, “look at that tree over there.” I was amazed.  What I thought was going to grow into a big argument was just him being quiet.  I had never realized that anyone could be quiet deliberately with no other motive.

It is very difficult to change a behavior pattern that took years to perfect.  Although I’m still a work in progress, I’ve slowly gotten better with being quiet.  My inclination is to fill those silences, but now I can stop myself.  Sometimes, it requires a mental dialogue (I do a lot of those) that my role doesn’t have to be the entertainment committee–that it’s okay for me to just remain silent.

These days, I seem to crave quiet and calm more and more. I cherish my down days where I can pad around my house alone with no appointments, deadlines, obligations, etc.  The space to spend my time reading, writing, thinking, and whatever else strikes me has become precious. I surprise myself with this new outlook; it’s so different from my former self.  There is a peacefulness I didn’t have when I was younger.

Try adding periods of silence and stillness to your life.  Schedule time for it if it doesn’t come naturally.  Embrace it instead of fighting it.  It is cleansing, calming, and healing.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Eric Kilby via Visualhunt /  CC BY-SA

4 Comments

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

Taking Care of the Caretaker

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

Now, on to my blog:

PICT1615Some of us go willingly into the role of caretaker, and some of us are thrust into it without being consulted. Examples of voluntary caretaker roles are: parent, teacher, nurse, pet owner (yes, owners of sick pets have been found to have more than normal stress, anxiety, and depression.)

Some people deliberately choose caretaking involvements, and thrive on them. But, what about when the role of consuming, full-time or almost full-time caretaker ensnares us when we hadn’t planned on it, hadn’t desired it, and it does not fit our personality type?

A typical scenario might be when an ailing spouse requires ongoing, long-term care. There may be no one else available to step into the caretaker role other than the remaining, healthy spouse. Other examples might be when children have to care for an aging parent, or when parents have to care for a child who has become permanently disabled. We’re not talking here about just bringing them lunch in bed. We’re talking about hands-on care of their bodily needs and functions, entertaining them, transporting them, and maybe even supporting them financially.

You might be a caretaker from afar. Maybe you are responsible for someone in a placement of some sort or who resides a long distance from you. Perhaps you’re the go-to-person for any problems, crises, concerns, questions, etc. Although your life is not necessarily hampered on a continual basis, that responsibility is always capable of demanding instant attention from you, superseding anything else you had planned. You live with an underlying tension, never knowing when your remote caretaker duties will kick in.

You may feel overwhelmed and no longer able to cope with that role no matter how much you are concerned about your charge? You might find yourself becoming resentful, angry, bitter, impatient, irritable, stressed out, etc. This can lead to negative behaviors toward your dependent such as yelling, ignoring, pushing, or worse.  After that, you may feel guilty as he/she did not choose to require caretaking and is helpless to help you. Cyclical emotions such as these can spiral you into depression which renders you less capable of being an effective caretaker.

To the outside world, sympathy and attention usually goes to the sickly or helpless one. People rarely have much left for the caretakers, or even think of them as needing any. Yet caretakers burn out. Caretakers may become sick themselves simply from the job of caretaking.

So what can you do to break this cycle and stay relevant and capable in your role as a caretaker?  How can you take care of yourself, not only for you, but for your charge? Both you and he/she need you to remain strong emotionally and physically.

You can seek respite from time to time. Find outside activities that bring you pleasure and enjoyment. Take breaks from the caretaking business just as anyone with a job has weekends or other days off and takes periodic, longer vacations. In short,  refresh yourself on a regular basis.

To do this, you need someone or several someones to step in as a substitute caretaker while you’re gone. Start seeking suitable candidates. These might be your children; other family members; friends; neighbors; members of your church, synagogue, or temple; hired help; volunteers from an organization; home-health aides referred by an insurance plan or a governmental agency, etc. You must do this for yourself, even if you feel that no one else can take care of your ward as well as you can.

By taking better care of yourself, you are indirectly taking better care of the one  who is dependent on you. You return to duty refreshed, in a better mental state, and with a better outlook knowing that your next break will come soon.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Cindy Funk via Visualhunt /  CC BY

 

8 Comments

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