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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

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures on the following dates, times, and locations:

September 9, 2018, 3:15pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement,” THRIVE Expo –  sponsored by The Gazette newspaper, Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (No RSVP Required)

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133, www.theholmstad.org  (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years,” Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org (RSVP REQUIRED)

Now, on to my blog:

ClownyI’m guessing that most people have experienced a devastating incident or many during the difficult time of growing up.  Dragging childhood pain through the decades shapes our adulthood. The memory of one in my life remains fresh and clear sixty-two years later.

I was about fourteen, shy, scrawny, and very concerned about what others thought of me. Girls were just starting to wear lipstick, and I coveted jumping into the adult world with such a daring step.

At that time, there was a company called Ponds which featured as its main product a cold cream, the equivalent of today’s facial moisturizer; the company is still in business. Ponds was testing a possible expansion into the makeup field, and was giving out free samples of lipstick in tiny tubes. My mother acquired a few, and gave me one to inaugurate my foray into being a real woman.

I practiced applying my Ponds lipstick sampler until I got it just right. D-Day arrived for my first appearance at school as the new and sophisticated me.  I’ve never forgotten that day so many decades ago because of one word.

I walked into my first period class which was girls’ gym. The locker room was filled with my female classmates changing into their gym clothes. They all turned as I entered.  One girl (I still remember her name) took a look at my bright, red lips contrasted with my remaining washed out complexion, and pronounced, “You look like a clown. We should call you Clowny.” Everyone laughed and immediately took up the chant: “Clowny, Clowny, Clowny.”

My goal in life was to not call attention to myself, but I had managed to achieve the polar opposite only because I wanted to act grown-up like the rest of the girls. I was humiliated! Trying not to cry in front of my harassers, I ran to the bathroom, grabbed some toilet paper, and wiped off that stupid Ponds lipstick, not to be attempted again for at least two years.

That didn’t stop the fun the others were having. Clowny remarks followed me for the next few weeks not only in the gym, but in other classes I shared with some of them.

Memories such as these mold our grown-up selves. Some use such experiences to become compassionate adults, remembering the cruel rites of passage they encountered themselves.  Others do the opposite by seeking victims to extract the revenge they were unable to mete out to their original tormentors. If your aim is to assuage your pain, choose the compassionate path as it will yield you a much higher return.


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Decompressing in a Compression Age

Adv with Dad  Thumbnail IIFirst, before my blog below, I want to tell you that I’m going to be on television tomorrow night, March 1, 10:00PM, IFC cable channel (if I don’t end up on the cutting room floor). I will be in a comedy video clip playing the mother of the host, Patton Oswalt.  I hope you can watch.  Here’s my photo so you’ll know what I look like.

Now, on to my blog:

In my last blog, I wrote about the benefits of solitude.  This post piggybacks on those thoughts.  Life is so tumultuous and becomes more so with each so-called advance.  What looks like something that will benefit mankind often turns out to just put more stress on we humble humans that fill it.  For example, the automobile has proliferated to the point of almost constant gridlock.  Our commute by car now seems as long as by the horse carriage it replaced.  Today’s modern technology makes us more connected, able to work 24/7, able to access more and more data, and on and on.  What happens to our slower evolving bodies in the meantime?  I like the saying, “take care of your body, it’s the only home you have.”  So, what do we do with everything bombarding us for our valuable and finite time and attention.  We decompress!  We must put up a mental gate–a barrier to protect ourselves from the ravages of that bombardment campaign.  It’s hard to do; it takes willpower.  How do we turn off that cell phone, computer, or TV which have become addictive and so much a part of our lives?  Here are a few ideas:  You can make a schedule and allot some quiet time during the day.  You can take a vacation to a place off the grid.  There aren’t many anymore, but seek them out and remember to leave your technology toys behind.  I have a friend who refuses to get a cell phone or computer as she wants to enjoy life without the barrage of technology–smart woman.  Do we really need hundreds of virtual friends on Facebook?  Can we give ourselves permission to stop and smell the proverbial roses?  Maybe.               NOTE:  Please forward this blog to anyone who might be interested.  To read my previous blogs, click on the entries under “Recent Posts” and “Archives” on the right side of this page.  If you’d like to be notified of my future blog postings or contribute a guest blog, you can click here on my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and leave a message under the “Contacts & Links” tab.


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The Benefits of Solitude

First, I want to remind you that I will be giving an author talk/book signing about my memoir:  Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class.  It will be this Saturday, February 22, 2014, 2:00pm at the Los Angeles City Public Library, Central (Downtown) Branch, Meeting Room A, 630 W. 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071.  I hope to see you there.

Now, onto my blog:  In great quantities, solitude can be isolating and destructive.  However, in small quantities, solitude can be comforting and cleansing.  I always used to fear solitude.  It left me alone with my thoughts.  It meant that I didn’t have anything to do.  It meant that no one wanted to be with me.  Now, I find that it replenishes me.  It gives me space from the demands of the world–down time.  Solitude enables my creativity.  When I’m alone, my mind is free to wander.  That’s when I come up with some of my best thoughts.  Sometimes, solitude helps when life becomes too overwhelming.  During that time, I give myself permission to take a mental vacation.  I try hard not to make any big decisions, not to have any conflicts, engage only in non-demanding activities, and  just let my mind drift.  Solitude in limited amounts can be refreshing, like sleep.  It can help you pace yourself, stop your hectic running, get off the merry-go-round for awhile.  Don’t fear solitude.  In controlled amounts, it can be your friend.   NOTE:  Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested.  To read my previous blogs, click on the entries under “Archives” on the lower right side of this page.  If you’d like to be notified of my future blog postings or contribute a guest blog, you can contact me at my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com under the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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We Don’t Have Time for Negativity!

First, I want to tell you that I was interviewed by an entrepreneur website about how I wrote and now promote my memoir.  You can read it at: http://ideamensch.com/lee-gale-gruen.  Also, I’ll be giving an author talk/book signing on February 22, 2014, 2:00pm, at the Los Angeles City Public Library, Central (Downtown) Branch, Meeting Room A, 630 W. 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071.  Now, onto my blog:  Do you know, or are you someone who is often negative or complains a lot?  Now that we’re Baby Boomers or seniors, we don’t have that much time left.  Do we really want to spend it mired in negativity or complaining?  If that’s been a lifestyle, it’s hard to change.  But, being conscious that you’re like that and morphing into a more positive person can pay dividends.  I have a relative who has raised complaining to an art form.  It comes so naturally to her, I’m sure she doesn’t even realize how much she does it and has no idea why people avoid her.  It’s sad.  She’d love to have more friends, but she’s such a turn-off.  Conversely, I had a close friend who had terminal cancer.  She rarely complained about it and tried to live her life to the fullest of her ability.  She even accompanied me and another friend on a cruise just four months before she died.  She worked it in between chemotherapy treatments.  I have another friend who has a debilitating disease.  She calls me to tell me about a wonderful book she’s reading or a good movie she saw on her iPad.  I love talking to her.  These two women are my role models.  Why does negativity come so easily to some?  I suspect that people who fall into this category learned at a very early age that doing their “poor me” routine yielded a big payoff–attention.  We all crave attention.  We engage in all sorts to behaviors, tricks, pursuits to get it.  Being negative or complaining excessively does work for awhile until the receiver has had enough and realizes they’re ineffective in helping you overcome your problems and that all their relationship with you does is bring them down.  If you’ve had a history of a lot of short-term friendships which seem to fizzle out, maybe you’re driving your friends away with negativity or complaining.  We all complain or are negative sometimes.  I’m talking about those who are compulsive about it.  You have a choice in the matter.  Negative, upsetting, bad things don’t just happen to you.  They happen to all of us.  But, conversely, we all have positive, good experiences.  Maybe they’re not earth-shaking, but we can let even small, positive experiences drive our lives if we choose.  Did someone smile at you?  Did someone give you a compliment?  Talk to your friends about those incidents, or maybe a good book you just finished.        NOTE:  Please forward my blog to anyone you think might be interested.  To read my previous blogs, check out “Archives” on the right side of this page.  If you’d like to contact me or be added to my email list to be notified of my future blog postings, send me a personal message by going to my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and then clicking on the “Contacts and Links” tab.

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The Therapy of Pets

I’m still hobbling around after my bunion/arthritis surgery, but my toe is healing.  I have great hopes of being able to resume my former activities involving feet:-)  On to today’s blog topic.  I love animals; a lot of people do.  We’ve all heard how therapeutic animals can be for us.  Why is that?  Here are some words/phrases to describe animals as a general rule: content, calm, hang-loose, loving, go-with-the-flow, devoted, live in the moment.  They embody so many of the things that so many of us humans lack or have in short supply.  When we need a friend, our pet or someone else’s pet or some horses at a stable or some wild birds are there for us.  I was in a park the other day and chose to sit on the lawn near some migrating geese.  I felt calm just watching them as they watched me.  Years ago I hung out with some gentle cows in a field in England.  Their curiosity overcame them, and they walked slowly toward me–boxcars on legs.  It was special; I still remember it vividly.  I used to be one half of a pet-therapy team with my dog at a local hospital.  We’d visit patients who requested a dog visit.  I’d put Fergie on their bed so they could pet her.  They usually forgot for those few moments about their illnesses or medical conditions, often launching into a discussion about their pet at home which they missed.  It was a beautiful five or ten minutes.  Once, there was a big, burly patient who looked terrified when he saw Fergie.  When I questioned him thinking I had the wrong room, he explained that he’d always been frightened of dogs ever since he was a child and witnessed his best friend being mauled by a dog.  He was amazed when Fergie started licking his hand. “Oh my God, a dog is licking my hand,” was all he could say over and over.  Fergie and I visited him a few more times over the next several weeks.  Just before he was to be released, he told me he was planning on getting his own dog.  Even if you’re not a pet person, maybe a bird or a tank of fish could bring you some joy.  Try it out.
My next author talk/book signing for my memoir: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, will be on February 22, 2014, 2:00pm at the Los Angeles City Library, Central (Downtown) Branch, Meeting Room A, 630 W. 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071.  Join me there if you can, and be sure to come up and introduce yourself.
NOTE: Please forward my blog to anyone you think might be interested.  It’s easy to read my previous blogs.  Just scroll down a bit and you will see “Archives” on the right side of the page.  Click on those entries and there they are!  If you’d like to contact me or be added to my email list to be notified of my future blog postings, send me a personal message by going to my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and then clicking on the “Contacts and Links” tab.

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Embrace Your Age, Don’t Fight It!

I haven’t blogged for awhile because I had bunion/arthritis surgery on my left big toe and have been recuperating.  That really made me feel old.  As a younger person, the words “arthritis” and “bunions” were associated only with old people.  These days, an old woman has been stalking me.  She follows me wherever I go.  She also has the audacity to jump into every mirror I look at and mimic my antics.  Although she seems vaguely familiar, I don’t know her, and I wish she’d go away.  Yes, “getting old sucks” is the prevailing attitude.  It is to be avoided at all costs including pushing ourselves toward age-inappropriate behavior, dress, and the exploding popularity of surgery toward that ever elusive youth ideal we’ve been sold.  Although I try to fight it, I’m certainly a victim of it.  My hearing began to deteriorate a few years ago.  However, I resisted even exploring hearing aids; it smacked of being old.  I went around missing part of what was being said in conversations, lectures, movies and TV, and, of course, asking people to repeat.  When I finally got hearing aids, a whole new world opened to me.  What a jerk I was, playing the “youth” game.  We don’t resist getting glasses as we age because lots of young people wear glasses.  However, we’ll shun a cane as we teeter off-balance, chancing a fall and a broken bone.  It’s only after the bone is broken, we’re in pain, and we spend months in a nursing home getting daily physical therapy that we admit to “I should have…”  Where did this all come from, this pathological race toward eternal youth?  Is it Madison Avenue, Hollywood, what?  It hasn’t always been that way.  So many prior and current cultures of the world embrace aging.  The elders are the wise of the tribe and are to be respected and emulated.  Why can’t we go back to that?  The answer is:  we can, each in our small way.  We can admit that we tire more easily, and choose not to over-schedule just to keep up with our fictitious, youthful self.  We can use hearing aids, canes, low-heeled shoes for women, whatever, and have a better quality of the life left us.  No one will hate us for it.  No one will shun us for it.  Some years ago, I let my dyed-blond hair color grow out.  It wasn’t an easy decision, and I was nervous about it–about looking old.  I had been dying my hair since my 20s, and I didn’t even know what color it would grow out to be.  It grew in a snow white.  Skeptical friends started admiring it.  Friends and strangers would comment on it in a positive manner.  A well-known actress I worked with in a senior production commented that I was the only one there without dyed hair, including her.  I was becoming a pace setter to other friends.  Some started letting their dyed hair grow out.  We have all survived the experience, and no one has ostracized us.  We still have a good quality of life and lots of fun.  Once, a friend gave me a left-handed compliment:  “Lee Gale, you look so good.  Imagine what a knockout you’d be if you had your face lifted.”  I felt only sadness for her.  My purpose in life is not to be a knockout by the “youth” definition.  My purpose is to be as healthy as I can, to embrace life as it is now, and to enjoy it.  I don’t have to wear the facade of youth to do so.     NOTE:  Please forward my blog to anyone you think might be interested.  It’s easy to read my previous blogs.  Just scroll down a bit and you’ll see “Archives” on the right side of the page.  Click on those entries, and there they are!  If you’d like to contact me or be added to my email list to be notified of my future blog postings, click on the “Contacts & Links” tab here at my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com to leave a message.


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The Importance of Friendships

Today I’d like to blog about the importance of friendships.  However, before I do, I want to tell you about a website someone mentioned in response to my last blog on Volunteering.  It’s called:  VolunteerMatch.org.  I haven’t used it personally, but you can check it out.  Now, on to friendships.  Friendships are important to everyone.  However, they’re especially important to Boomers and Seniors.  It’s all too easy to feel depressed and isolated when we get to that stage of our lives.  Friendships will help ease those feelings.  Friends will care about you.  Friends will share your good times.  Friends will help you when you need help.  Friends will talk you through hard times and will be there to listen.  Sometimes, having a good listener is all we need.  And, always remember to be a friend back.  If you’re lucky enough to have long-term friends, don’t ignore them.  Remember to cultivate them, even if it’s just an occasional phone call to ask how they’re doing, or even an email reminding them that you’re thinking about them.  You might not have friends or many friends or enough friends for a variety of reasons such as:  you’ve moved to a new location; your old friends have moved away or died; your former friends have found new interests that don’t include you; you were never very good at making friends, etc.  Here are a few suggestions on making new friends.  Attend groups or join organizations.   Don’t be afraid to approach someone you meet there and just start talking to them about the group interest, or about admiring what they’re wearing, or just about anything.  People are usually flattered by your interest.   Of course, some might not be, or might even be rude or ignore you.  You won’t know why.  Maybe life’s not easy for them, either, or they don’t feel well or don’t hear well.  It’s easy to let an unpleasant encounter deflate you.  Try hard not to give up.  Go on to another person.  Sometimes, when you go to a new group, people already have their cliques.  It’s hard to break into a clique.  Keep at it.  There are usually some group members who don’t stick to that clique mindset, and you might engage one of them.  I have a friend who moved to a large retirement community.  She found it very cliquish.  It took her a few months to start making friends.  She was quite discouraged at first, but she kept at it and now has several new friends.  Seek out special interest activities that attract a lot of people.  You might see them posted at senior centers, schools for seniors, libraries, and in senior magazines and online newsletters, etc.  Always keep networking by asking neighbors, acquaintances and others about activities they might recommend or have heard of.  If you like outdoors activities, look for local walking or hiking groups.  I’m a long-time member of the Sierra Club, and I’ve made many wonderful friends through their activities.  Volunteering (which I blogged about in my last post) is another good way to find friends.  If you attend a religious organization, look for their affiliated senior groups.  I’ve mentioned meet-up groups in previous blogs.  Go online to meetup.com.  Look for a group near you which focuses on something that interests you.  You’ll meet like-minded people there, and possibly make a friend.  One caveat:  friendships are fragile, so don’t just make it all about you; you must give as well as take.  The opportunities are there.  The hard part is motivating yourself to take the first step.  You have to do that, however, to yield results.  As I’ve said before:  if it’s hard, DO IT ANYWAY!  Please forward this blog to anyone who might be interested.  To read my previous blogs, find “Archives” on the right side of the page and click on those dated entries.  If you’d like to contact me to make a comment or to be added to my email list for notification of my future blog postings, click on this link to my book website:  AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and then click on the “Contacts and Links” tab.

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