Tag Archives: Senior Classes

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 advancement.  What looks like something that will benefit mankind often turns out to just put more stress on we humble humans that populate 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 notion of viewing your body as a house you inhabit, and your well-being depends on how you care for your abode.

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 avalanche.  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 race track for a while.  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 anyone 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 contentiousness or bellyaching?  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 group of friends, one of whom had cancer. She would join our various activities whenever possible, working it in between chemotherapy treatments. It seemed to give her a reason to keep going, and she contributed to our good time as much as she could.

I have another friend who has a debilitating disease.  She calls me to tell me about a good movie she just watched 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, and pursuits to get it.  Being negative or complaining excessively does work for a while 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.  Upsetting or bad things don’t just happen to you.  They happen to all of us.  On the other hand, we all have positive experiences, too.  Maybe they’re not earth-shaking, but we can let even small, upbeat episodes 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 about a good movie you just watched on your iPad.

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 half of a pet therapy team with my dog at a local hospital. We’d visit patients who had requested a dog visit. I’d put Fergie on their bed so they could pet her. The patients loved it, often launching into a discussion about their pet at home that they missed. None ever found the need to mention why they were in the hospital. We were also barraged by staff and visitors.

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 one.  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 a while 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 up 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 twenties, and I didn’t even know what color it was naturally.  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 in her sixties with whom I worked in a production for the baby boomer and senior market remarked 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 Baby 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; and so on.

One way to cultivate new friendships is to attend groups or join organizations.  Don’t be afraid to approach someone you meet there; 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.  Move on to another person.  Sometimes, when you go to a new group, people already have their cliques.  It’s hard to break into an established circle.  Keep at it.  There are usually some group members who don’t stick to that clan mindset, and you might engage one of them.

I have a friend who relocated 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 buddies.

Seek out special interest activities that attract a lot of people.  You might see them posted at such places as senior centers, schools for seniors, libraries, and in senior magazines and online newsletters.  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 start with 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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Idea #6 to Help Baby Boomers and Seniors Find a Passion (Volunteering)

Volunteering is a wonderful way to get involved in an interesting activity and to give back to the community at the same time.  Another benefit is that you can make new friends who enjoy the same activity that you do.

There are so many volunteering opportunities available in every community–enough to fit every personality type and comfort level.  The secret is to volunteer at something that is interesting and exciting to you.  That way, it can become a passion and motivate you to embrace life (a theme I stress repeatedly in my speeches and blogs).

Are you a people-person?  If so, then you might choose a pursuit that brings you in contact with humans such as at the help desk at a hospital, museum, police or sheriff department, etc.  I’m a people-person, and I love to perform.  I, also, I love science and animals, and I live close to the world famous La Brea Tar Pits.  So, I guide tour groups around the La Brea Tar Pits and inside its concomitant Page Museum.  My group talk is like performing a monologue in front of an audience.  My group members are all so appreciative, and I love the experience.  It’s definitely a win-win for everyone involved.  I had to study hard to learn my subject, but I’m passionate about it, and it’s been very rewarding.

Maybe you’re a one-on-one person.  My dog and I used to be a pet-therapy team visiting patients at a local hospital.  Maybe you’re the reserved, private type.  There are lots of behind-the-scenes, volunteer activities.  I have a friend who used to volunteer in the “bone room” of the local Natural History Museum sorting ancient animal bones.

Maybe you like children.  I have another friend who volunteered in a classroom at a nearby grammar school.  Do you like animals?  There are lots of volunteer opportunities at local animal shelters or animal rescue organizations.  I have another friend who used to be a tour guide at the zoo.  If you like art, check out the local art museum.

Here are a few more ideas where you might volunteer:  public gardens, local festivals, theaters, aquariums, senior centers, etc.  Just drive around your town and see what piques your interest.  Then, get on the phone, call them, and ask if they are seeking volunteers.  Better yet, go in person.  Ask friends, acquaintances, neighbors or the librarian for ideas of where to volunteer.  I know it may be difficult, embarrassing or uncomfortable, but as I’ve said before:  If it’s hard, do it anyway!

NOTES:  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 November 18, 2013, 7:00pm, at the Cerritos Library, 18025 Bloomfield Ave, Cerritos, CA 90703.  Join me there if you can, and be sure to come up and introduce yourself.  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 for notification of my future blog postings, click on this link to my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and then click on the “Contacts & Links” tab.

 

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The Role of Humor in Well-being for Baby Boomers and Seniors

Before I turn to my blog subject today, several people have asked how to read my previous blogs.  It’s easy; 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!  Today I’m hosting my first Guest Blogger.  She is a new friend, Max Izenberg, who writes the newsletter “Suddenly 65.”  Here is her blog:

It occurred to me the other day that many people go through life failing to find the humor in everyday events.   And  I thought how sad that is, since laughter is so very important to the human condition, especially as the years go by, this can prove to be extremely costly to your health and well-being.

I find that a good belly laugh has an almost cleansing effect on the body – practically medicinal in its quality.  Do you remember when you last had a good old fashioned belly laugh where the tears were just rolling down your cheeks?  No wonder they call laughter “internal jogging for the body”.

The best thing to do is to find humor in everyday life and it’s out there.  You just have to make a conscious effort to look for it.  I have a friend who’s a laughter coach and she claims that from the moment you wake up in the morning, you have to make a deliberate effort to look at life through rose colored glasses.  And it does help!

And keep in mind that that kind of attitude has a beneficial effect on you because it has been discovered that daily laughter can help lower your blood pressure and reduce inflammation, boost your energy and immune system, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of anxiety and tension.   It’s a powerful antidote to the everyday stresses of daily living.

That famous quote by Abe Lincoln sums it all up and really probably resonates with most people today.  He said “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die”.

So whoever determined that “Laughter is the best medicine” – maybe they were right on target.    On a daily basis try to see the glass as half full and look at life from a humorous angle even though it may be difficult to do so at times.  You will be helping yourself in so many beneficial ways.  And perhaps the best part of all is that this priceless medicine is fun and free

Max Izenberg publishes the award winning online newsletter for boomers and seniors  –  suddenly65.com.   She describes it as “places to go, things to do, and people to meet.”  It is a FREE weekly newsletter full of local resources for those 60+ so they will always be aware of what’s happening in their backyards.  You can join and read this weekly senior local resource newsletter by going to the website: www.suddenly65.com and joining the mailing list

NOTE:  If you’d like to contact me or be a guest blogger, click on this link to my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and click on the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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Is it too late for Baby Boomers and seniors?

I was at a meeting recently where we were all seniors. We were going around the room each telling a little about ourselves. It was my turn, and I told my story of retiring from my career as a probation officer and becoming an actress, author, and speaker.

The next person was a woman who mentioned she was working at her brother’s law office, but she didn’t sound very excited about it. She said her dream as a young woman had always been to get a college degree. I spoke up: “Why don’t you do it now?”

“Now?” she responded in a shocked and defensive tone.

I dropped that discussion quickly; she obviously didn’t want to hear it.

The woman seemed aloof toward me after my remark. I thought maybe she was jealous. My suggestion that she revisit her youthful dream was apparently the last straw for her. She made it a point not to talk to me during the rest of the event. I think I touched a nerve.

During my speaking engagements, I deliberately touch nerves.  I encourage Baby Boomers and seniors to find something to be passionate about as a motivation to embrace life.

Why should we do this at our age?  Do it for the challenge of it–the sheer joy of it.  Why should we seniors go quietly into the night?  There is still plenty of life to be lived. Now is the time to do it!  Don’t just take the easy way out–the same boring way out.

You don’t have to follow my path.  If you’ve always wanted to try something, do it!  You might have to modify it, but see if you can figure out a way to connect with that thing that excites you.

Maybe you can’t become the doctor you’d always wanted to be, but maybe you can volunteer at a medical facility helping patients in some manner.  Maybe you can’t go trekking into the jungles after animals, but maybe you can volunteer at an animal shelter.

Don’t just settle.  Find a passion!

NOTE:  If you’d like to contact me or be a guest blogger, click on this link to my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and click on the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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Try Something New

Life can get stale, just like bread.  Try something new.  If you don’t like it, don’t run back to the old, boring stuff you’ve always done; try another new thing.  Eventually something might grab you.

That’s how I got into acting.  I retired from my 37-year career as a probation officer and immediately signed up with the department to work as a retiree on an as-needed basis doing the same thing I’d been doing for years because I didn’t know what else to do in my retirement.  Luckily for me, a friend told me about a local senior community program.  I saw an acting class listed in the catalog and thought I’d try it, as it was something I had never done in my life–something new.

I know it’s comfortable to stick to the tried and true, both in activities and friends. However, trying something new might open doors for you that you never knew existed.

That acting class changed my life. As a result of just deciding to take a chance on doing something different, I am now an actress, author (I wrote a book about attending that class with my 85-year-old father) and speaker (about the book and about inspiring Baby Boomers and seniors to find a passion as a motivation to embrace life).

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