Tag Archives: Retirement

Outfoxed by a Plant

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

DieffenbachiaAh, the things we do for our loved ones.  We go to great lengths and expend enormous amounts of time, energy, and money when the motivation is right.  What greater impetus than when the object is someone/something we love.  Wouldn’t you do just about anything for your children, parents, spouse, significant other, pet, etc.?

How about our plants?  Well, maybe they don’t have quite the impact on us as the aforementioned categories.  However, I have a plant that is holding me hostage.  It’s my Dieffenbachia, also called in plant tomes: dumb cane.  Believe me, mine is not dumb.

I bought the plant when it was a wee sprout, under a foot tall.  I knew it would grow to have large, glorious leaves to brag about, just like its kith and kin.  When I moved to my current digs almost three years ago, Dieff accompanied me in the back seat, drop-dead gorgeous leaves swaying with the movement of the car.  I’d glance at him/her from time to time in my rear view mirror, feeling his calming influence.

Dieff has grown since he came to live with me, and now stands proudly about four feet tall.  He loves his new location, bright light but not too sunny.

I’ve always watered Dieff and my other plants regularly and carefully, using a water meter to check the soil moisture so as to give them just enough nourishment.  When I travel, a neighbor takes over that chore, dutifully following my detailed, written instructions.  Yes, I nurture my green darlings.

About three months ago, Dieff had an attack of some terrible ailment.  His leaves started curling under like he had been punched in the stomach.  (Do plants have stomachs?)  I called garden stores seeking advice.  I took to Google, reading everything I could.  It seems that the fertilizer-laced water I’d been giving Dieff for five years had become too toxic for him in his dotage, and salts were building up in his soil.  Actually, that doesn’t sound too different from some symptoms I’ve experienced as I’ve aged.

According to Google, I must flush Dieff with a gallon of distilled water.  I rolled Dieff outside on his wheeled platform, struggling to keep the heavy pot upright.  I almost blew out my back, but this was an emergency.

The flushing worked!  Within two days, Dieff was back to his old self.  Things went well for the next few months as I eliminated all fertilizer and fed him only tap water.  His rebellion happened yesterday.  He screamed at me, “I don’t want that tap crap!  I ONLY WANT DISTILLED.”  He emphasized his point by curling his leaves under as only he can.  I may have heard a few coughs, too, but I’m not sure.

I ran to the store and stocked up on ten dollar’s worth of distilled water (I don’t even buy bottled water for myself.)  After another flushing, Dieff perked up and has stopped harassing me, but he definitely has me twisted around his little finger–ah, stem.

Yes, we go through all sorts of machinations for those we love, no matter what their DNA.  (Do plants have DN–oh never mind?)

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Put-Down Humor

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Comedy HouseWhy are so many jokes based on putting someone else down?  A roast (ceremonious public ridiculing) is filled with anecdotes, jabs, stabs, and emphasis on the failings and negative aspects of the roastee.  He/she must suffer through the ordeal with a smile-plastered-on-face look to prove that he can take it.

If someone has a weight problem, no matter how accomplished he might be, there is always a fat joke lurking.  There are the jokes about ethnicity, sexual orientation, intellectual challenges, country of origin, frugality, and on and on. What does the joke teller or the passer-along of the denigrating email get out of his act?  What do the bystanders who laugh thereby encouraging this behavior get out of it?  Why is this type of “humor” so pervasive starting from childhood?

Maybe it makes the offender feel superior.  That, of course, means that he/she must feel inferior.  Yes, we all have feelings of inferiority no matter how attractive, skillful, intelligent, wealthy, etc. we are.  We have a tendency to focus on the parts of us that aren’t as desirable as those of some arbitrary standard that has been set by others: parents, peers, authority figures, media, big business, etc., and to feel inferior as a result.  Oh, we may be very good at hiding those feelings from the world and even from ourselves, but we sure love a good joke at the expense of another.

A put-down comedian who rose in the ranks in the 1960s and persisted into the 2000s, commanded a high salary, and booked lots of appearances was Don Rickles (now deceased).  He was lauded as “one of the best insult comics of all time,” and was sarcastically dubbed “Mr. Warmth,” due to his being the polar opposite.

As a young woman, I somehow found myself at a night club attending a live performance of Don Rickles.  His whole delivery consisted of finding people in the audience and ridiculing some aspect of them–brutally IMHO.  I was a nervous wreck during his entire act fearing that he’d pick on me.  Although I never found his brand of humor appealing, so many did.  You should have heard the laughter in that night club.

Don Rickles himself was a small, unattractive man with a loud mouth that spewed venom.  One can only wonder what he endured growing up as a child.  To me, he is a spot-on example of “the best defense is a good offense.”

Must we boost ourselves up at the expense of others?  Do we really go home feeling better having put someone else down?  Is there another way to improve our own self-esteem?

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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: awsheffield on Visual Hunt / CC BY

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Economics of Condolences

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Pet CemeteryA friend recently wrote me that her beloved cat of almost twenty years had died.  She commented that more than 125 people wrote her condolences on her Facebook page, a significantly greater number than when her parents died. 

Why is it that people can give sympathy so much more easily at the loss of a pet in someone’s life rather than a human?  Is it too personal when the loss is perceived to be so enormous–too close to home?  Does the potential offerer fear getting into a long, emotional discussion with the aggrieved which might delay the former from a busy schedule?  Pets are considered lower on the scale of importance, and perhaps that allows us to spend less time at the task of offering our regrets.

How many times have we uttered that casual opener, “Hi, how are you?” expecting the answer to be the standard, “Fine”?  However, when the answer is something like, “Awful, my (fill in the blank) just died,” we’re stuck.  If it’s an in-person encounter, how can you just respond, “Oh, sorry about that.  Ah, I have to go now”?  If it’s a telephone conversation, is it okay to say, “Hold on, I have another call coming in”?  Such behavior would cast you as uncaring, insensitive, selfish, etc.  So, to be socially acceptable, we must immediately stop everything to offer comforting words, mentally calculating how long before we can slither away.

I wonder if my friend would have gotten such an abundance of responses by the same people in person.  With internet platforms, we can be quick and go on our way while still getting brownie points for our thoughtfulness.  It’s that old economic principle:  seek the maximum amount of gain for the minimum amount of effort, or stated more succinctly courtesy of the all pervasive internet (study.com):  “a buyer is rational if she/he makes logical decisions that are based on gaining the highest benefits at the lowest costs and the results of those decisions are in his/her best self-interest.”

The operative words are “results of those decisions are in his/her best self-interest.”  Are we only going through the motions of caring with thoughts of “what’s best for me” playing in the background?  Human nature dictates self-interest responses to stimuli.  However, can we stop for an instant and truly feel for another human being?  Can we be genuine in our outpouring of concern for another human being?  Can we put our busy lives on pause for just a bit to sincerely comfort another human being?

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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: eliduke on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

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Forgiving Yourself

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Baggage CarouselWe all screw up sometimes.  No matter how hard we try, plan, manipulate, etc., circumstances may alter “the best laid plans of mice and men.”  There’s another wonderful saying in that vein:  “Man plans and God laughs.”

Awhile ago, my son was entrusted with an artistic piece made by a family member who expended many hours of labor in its creation.  My son was to bring the object back home to be a centerpiece in his family’s household.  He carefully carried and stowed the coveted, bulky item in the airplane overhead compartment.  Upon landing and disembarking, he then hand-carried it to the baggage claim area where he set it down briefly so he could retrieve his suitcase from the carousel.  That’s when God let out a full belly laugh.

Upon returning, the wrapped object was nowhere to be found.  Panicky, my son searched and searched to no avail.  He filed a claim with lost and found, but it never turned up.  He was devastated and felt he had betrayed a confidence.

This is just a small example of when forgiveness should enter the equation.  Sometimes, the hardest form of forgiveness is to forgive yourself.  Why do we hold ourselves to such high standards, fearing to admit that we’re only human?  I’m sure you can contribute such a war story of your own.   We’ve all been there-done that, and it’s usually painful and racks us with guilt.

If an offender committed an act against you which caused you pain, discomfort, inconvenience, upset, etc., look at the motive of the offender.  Was the act done without guile?  If so, and he/she is contrite and usually trustworthy, you must forgive him.  If the act was done deliberately, and that is his usual modus operandi, then he must live with such a flawed character trait and suffer the ramifications: frequent loss of friendships and relationships, ongoing conflict and tumult, others always on guard around him, and eventual disappointment and loneliness as all close contacts distance themselves or bail out altogether

If you are an example of the deliberate, conniving, the-end -justifies-the-means type, then be prepared to live with the consequences and stop being so surprised when they finally happen.  If your act was committed without such duplicity, you must forgive yourself.  One final saying to make the point: “To err is human, to forgive divine,” and that includes forgiving yourself.

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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.

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Default Position

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Default positionA friend recently told me that my default position is positive. I’d never thought of it like that.  Yes, our natural inclination as well as our life experiences do give us a default position.  It’s that mode we always return to no matter what happens to us.

Default positions range on a scale from positive to negative, and there are infinite degrees in between.  What is your default position?  Is it satisfying to you?

In my case, when something upsetting or unsettling happens in my life, I may get bummed out.  However, I don’t seem to be able to stay down for very long.  It doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad or never get depressed.  However, I automatically boomerang back toward the positive end of the spectrum.  It comes naturally, and I don’t think about it.  I don’t know why I’m like that.

Those whose default position tends toward the ill-natured extreme may long to move their needle closer to the other end.  When such a tendency doesn’t come naturally, can you do anything to change it, or are you forever stuck defaulting toward that negative boundary?  My take is that you can change a long ingrained tendency, but only if you want it enough and are willing to work long and hard to achieve it.

I have had experiences in my life where my natural inclination was toward a position I hated.  I’m thinking of my decades-long worry of incurring the disapproval of others.  In my younger years, it was always so hard for me to stand up to people–to rock the boat.  If called upon to do something I didn’t want to, I’d often go along with it (nothing ever destructive) so people wouldn’t dislike me.  It took years and a lot of internal struggle to reach a more satisfying position.  Probably the seeds of my original tendencies will always exist within me.  However, I’m in control now, and I no longer put up with bossy, bullying, or over-bearing humans.

So, yes, it is possible to change.  Figure out how badly you want to do so, the steps you need to take, and go to it.  It may be daunting, scary, intimidating, overwhelming, and on and on.  Nevertheless, DO IT ANYWAY!  It could change your life.

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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.

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Dwelling Decisions

Final Book CoverThis blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

rvWhile working, how and where you reside is often dictated by considerations of employment, family, cost, etc.  Once you retire, the options widen.  Many stay put in the tried and true–their comfort level.  The idea of moving from the family home is too distressing, and they may remodel to suit their aging needs: a mechanical staircase lift, lower counters and higher bottom cabinets and dishwashers, walk-in (or roll-in) showers, etc.  Others who possess nagging wanderlust may venture out to explore different alternatives.

I recently heard from a friend of a friend about her choice.  She has become a nomad. She sold her house of thirty years, and now moves between the West Coast of the United States, Mexico, and Europe, staying at each for long stints with travel interspersed. When she alights, she finds a short-term rental or stays with friends.  She has carved out an interesting lifestyle.   Her retirement may seem scary to some and exciting to others.  I’ve heard (though it might not be correct) that the same Chinese character designates both danger and opportunity.  Regardless of the Chinese alphabet, the metaphor holds.

I know of others who become minimalists, opting for the human version of turtles carrying their homes on their backs.  These folks give up most worldly possessions, buy an RV, and continuously move about as the whim takes them.

Many downsize and find a like-minded demographic in which to settle such as an active senior retirement community. That was my decision.  Still others strike out for distant and exotic lands, domestic or international, to pursue a passion–think Paul Gauguin.

A few friends have mentioned the idea of living with their children or other family members.  They would have their own room in the main house.  Or, they would occupy a small dwelling in the backyard, thereby creating a family compound.  Many years ago, one of my cousins and her husband bought an apartment building with other family members, and each family unit lived in a different apartment.  You have to like your relatives an awful lot to make this work.

There’s the story, true or not, of some people living permanently on cruise ships.  They have a room, all meals, housekeeping services, a doctor available, and they get to explore exciting destinations.

There is no right or wrong choice.  There is just the choice for you.  The important thing is that you make it when you can instead of someone else doing it for you when you can’t.

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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: Crown Star Images on Visual hunt /CC BY

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Armful of Dogs

Final Book Cover

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, 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, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

LG w Janet dogs

Recently, I visited my friend, Janet, who is a Chihuahua person (a special breed of people). I spent a lot of time chilling with her two Chihuahua mixes. In this photo, I started holding Pepe (white) when Holly (two-toned) jumped up on the bench. I thought she would just sit next to me as is her style. However, she briefly climbed into my lap, not to be outdone by Pepe.

Pepe, a love–easy-going and friendly to all, is the sweet, cuddly type who adores being held and petted. Holly is a lot more skittish–a high strung presence; it takes patience to become her friend.  I had to go through her barking and reluctant acceptance each time I entered the house for the duration of my stay.  Once Holly gave me the okay, however, she couldn’t get enough of me. Although she didn’t like being held, after a few test sniffs, she tolerated petting. Of course, that required me to bend way down due to her low-slung stature, but I thought of it is good exercise.

Next, I moved on and stayed with my cousin, Gail, where I hung out with her mini-pincher mix, Sarge. Although his appearance matched his name, his personality was the polar opposite. Sarge was loving and licky, frequently jumping onto my lap and hunkering down. So many times when I walked into my bedroom, there was Sarge on my bed, proprietary and anxious to hang out some more.

Why do I love dogs so much? It started in childhood. I begin to notice something special about them that I didn’t notice in human beings. I’ll use dogs as my example, but the same applies to all animals other than humans.

Dogs are loyal, dependable, faithful. With dogs, there is no agenda–what you see is what you get. They are never artificial, duplicitous, political, and will never stab you in the back. Dogs are always happy to see you, no matter how crummy you are, how angry, smelly, miserable, pissy, etc. Dogs love you whether you’re up or you’re down. They never get mad at you, tell you off, ignore you, ostracize you, pay you back, etc. The only human who even comes close is Mommy, and even she fails the dog test.

The moment I get around a dog, I feel comfortable, relaxed. Dogs’ needs are simple. They don’t require the latest designer clothes, the newest luxury automobile, the trendiest (fill in the blank.) They are not into status. Mankind would be well advised to emulate the canines among us.

On the other hand, people are like Pepe, Holly, and Sarge–each has their own personality. Some are warm and seek close contact, while others are nervous and don’t like too much handling. I have great respect for dogs, and I’m always careful never to cause them distress to the best of my ability.

Can we be that way with the wide range of humans we encounter? Can we respect their individual personalities and alter our behavior so as not to cause them distress? Don’t we wish people would treat us that way?

There’s no need to come on like gangbusters when you perceive someone is highly uncomfortable with your usual modus operandi. Respect each individual‘s personality, and interact with them appropriately so as to maintain their comfort level. You will be much more likely to have a successful interaction than if you treat everyone with a cookie-cutter approach.

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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.

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