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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Is this the real life, or must we upload a picture to social media in order to “Make it so?” The famous Freddie Mercury song, Bohemian Rhapsody, has been swirling around in my head. First of all, the Rocker scored the incredible trailer for the biopic about Mercury https://www.cbsnews.com/news/see-the-first-trailer-for-queen-biopic-bohemian-rhapsody/

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see

And then of course we have our first Reality Show President, working tirelessly behind the scenes to encourage Chief Justice Tony Kennedy, his buddy, to retire NOW. Everyone knows there’s business as usual, and then outside the boardroom all the deals are made in advance. Thank “The Apprentice!” Ivanka takes her daughter on a tour of the Supreme Court courtesy of Tony. Turns out the Donald worked closely with “Tony’s boy” at Deutsche Bank, arranging for loans when other banks wouldn’t touch him.

Bob and I have been helping the Great Grands turn their apartment into a home and dreaming about our own real estate dynasty. What if we, Baby Boomers, the last of a dying breed with secure financial futures thanks to pensions,  401(k)s, and Social Security, were to reinvent retirement? I know I’ve mentioned this before but hear me out: How about a Reality Show for Alta Kakas!?! If you are new to Yiddish, this is an endearing swear word for old people.

I know I know, The Golden Girls. Thanks to Women’s Liberation, we are now dying off in similar numbers so we have to think about the guys right – plus, that was then, when everyone went to Florida. And even though Betty White is an icon, that was a sit-com; I’m talking reality baby, like “Big Brother” only with seniors. Can you see it, a food fight breaks out in the dining room with rice pudding flying everywhere. I would call it “Golden Disrupters.”

Or maybe film this reality show on the water. Did you know there are retirees called “Great Loopers” who put their boats in the water and spend their last days cruising the intercoastal waterways of the South. They bisect Florida on the Okeechobee canal, thereby avoiding the Keys. It’s kinda like Glamping, and definitely not yachting.

Whatever we end up doing on our Golden Pond, I suggest to you that indeed we CAN escape reality, in fact we MUST in order to save our sanity! And Art has always been a great way to circumvent conflict and chaos. In true Adalisciousness, we have turned a second bedroom into an art studio. Here the Bride joins her to paint lilies from a neighbor’s garden.

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Mindfulness. I’ve been reading alot about this lately, and the Bride asked if I’d like to attend a Mindful Parenting and Grandparenting course with her, “Sure,” I said, who wouldn’t?

Of course my yogi daughter practices some of these techniques, like meditation, to deal with the stress of her job. You never know what’s coming through the door in an ER, and like the life of a pilot – who is on remote control until he has to land a plane in the Hudson River – she sews up a lot of cuts until someone tries to overdose (or, insert any catastrophic event).

Saying you want to “Be Here Now!” doesn’t do it for me. I need practical tips and strategies to stay in the moment and quiet my monkey brain. This morning someone wanted to follow my Instagram, and instead of immediately deleting her, I scooted over to her page @mindfuleatsnutrition. She is a “Dietician helping people make peace with food.” Some algorithm somewhere must have sensed I was at war with vegetables, since I’m always looking up new and ingenious ways to prepare okra.

She is part of the “No More Dieting” movement. Throw away your scales ladies, listen to your inner voice and practice “mindful eating.” Don’t buy pre-packaged Nutri-System meals that taste like mush, don’t join Weight Watchers and tie yourself to counting points, or whatever it is they are counting these days. Full disclosure, I did join WW before turning 60 since I was inching towards plus sizes. But by 65 I’d gained that weight back, as dieting almost always does.

Oprah, do you really think teenage girls should start attending WW with their moms?

Great Grandma Ada kept marveling at how much weight I’d lost last week. It’s true, I’d lost some weight this year because I’m not eating cookies or ice cream at night and I’m walking around this city with Ms Bean. I tend to lose weight when I’m stressed; like in my substitute teaching days when I went on my own fractional diet, eating only half of whatever was on my plate. Moving can be a wee bit stressful. There are no good and bad foods as I’ve said before, and our weight is only half of the problem.

Physical hygiene is half of self-love; caring for ourselves enough to visit a dentist regularly, to keep moving, to eat healthy by choosing more vegetables and less protein. To adore avocados!

Emotional hygiene means caring enough about ourselves to avoid negativity. To seek out a therapist if nothing else helps. To rid ourselves of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” complex and stop judging others. It’s been shown that people who hang around with depressed people start to feel depressed themselves, just like that study that said if your friends are always choosing fried foods, so will you. It may be time to start practicing mindfulness and you don’t have to be hippy-dippy to do it. I never went to Woodstock! I’ll be reporting back from our course in March.

You’ve got to put that plane’s oxygen mask on yourself first, if you want to get your babies out alive. It’s like the Dalai Lama said this morning:

Compassion suits our physical condition, whereas anger, fear and distrust are harmful to our well-being. Therefore, just as we learn the importance of physical hygiene to physical health, to ensure healthy minds, we need to learn some kind of emotional hygiene.

Is mindfulness your super power?

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Lucky me. Bob and I are flying today and even though we traveled to DC to obtain a Global Entry pass, and we are TSA pre-checked, I was randomly selected for “additional screening.” Which means Bob sailed through the metal detector while I told the nice TSA guy I won’t be scanned in their machine and had to wait for the female pat-down agent.

Life is funny that way.

I was talking with Great Grandma Ada about the crossroads we take in our lives. She had the chance when she was newly married to Bob’s father, to move to a lake community in NJ and join a country club. Her friends were building something new because in those days almost all clubs were “restricted.” That meant no Jews allowed.

Because her father owned a small bungalow colony with a big Victorian house for her sisters and their families, she opted out of the lake house. And looking back, which we tend to do as we age, she wishes her sons had learned to sail on the lake.

Instead they made different memories – skating on the frozen pond with their grandfather and tending to a bountiful vegetable garden.

There were a number of crossroads in my life. The most important may have been when I decided to stay in NJ and work as a semi-social worker. I’d been dating a guy who was a friend of my brother, and he was heading to California for a doctoral program. I was living near that lake at the time, and he asked me to go with him.

My foster father Daddy Jim was dying and I said “No.” That’s when Ada saw me at the hospital, visiting my Dad every night. Driving back to the lake from Jersey City. And the rest is history.

If I were religious, I’d say nothing is random. If I were scientific, I’d say chaos is inevitable. I’m more of an agnostic, and I try to learn from the universe.

Here is a son teaching his 93 year old mother a few tricks on her iPad!  C35B0D13-F3DF-43D9-B59A-309A1AC9B1CF

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The other day I took my first Barre class at the local YMCA. There was no actual ballet bar in this oasis of a yoga-type studio, surrounded by intense gym dudes lifting weights to blaring music. But we did have mats and discs and tiny yoga balls, plus an amazing teacher who told us it was her 47th birthday, although I could have sworn she was 27! It was the hardest exercise class I’ve ever done, hands (and knees) down, and that’s saying alot; still, I persisted!

And today I can almost walk without pain.

What is it about approaching a big birthday number that makes us want to turn back time just a little? Before my 60th birthday I started dyeing my hair red. Thankfully, I gave up on that one. Now as the big seven OH is approaching, I thought I might address my wrinkles. I didn’t mind those pesky lines when they were only horizontal, but the vertical intersections make me look mad all the time.

No, no knife work thank you, still I’d heard about this thing called Retin A cream, the kind you need a prescription for, so in the Fall I made an appointment with a dermatologist. I needed to find a new doc anyway, after moving, to check my skin/barnacles for cancer every year and deal with the Guttate Psoriasis that appeared ten years ago. Cut to a few weeks ago. I mentioned this wonder cream to my attractive young derm doc, aren’t they all, and she said without skipping a beat –

“We don’t do fillers.”

Fillers? Do I need fillers? What are fillers? Am I too late to the self-care party? The doctor explained that she doesn’t actually do cosmetic work at this facility, but she will do restorative work. I started to feel like an old car, or maybe an antique piece of furniture; the kind you don’t want to scrape the paint off because it would effect the value on the Antiques Roadshow. Just get it professionally cleaned.

I walked out with an Rx for the miracle cream I was to put on my face at night (Tretinoin Cream 0.025%) and some kind of moisturizer for my whole body which Medicare would pay for? (Ammonium Lact 12%) to use every morning. My face started to burn, I began to look like Strawberry Shortcake who was crumbling and peeling away. Every time I saw the Bride she’d say, “Mom what’s wrong with you? Your skin is scabby.” Luckily, my smart young ER doc told me to only use it three times a week. I forgot I still have red-headed skin.

Why are we women so hard on ourselves and aging? Who the heck ages gracefully? I aspire to age like Helen Mirren, not Jane Fonda. I’d like my face to register surprise when I see something surprising. That doesn’t mean Megan Kelly can throw shade at Fonda for not wanting to discuss her facelifts. There’s something just a little bit “mean girl” about Kelly. Besides, I bet she gets Botox shots.

I read an article that says little girls become accustomed to being addressed or defined by their looks by the age of 7. It suggested we use different adjectives to describe young girls, like: “Inventive,” “Confident,” “Curious.” When I noticed the Love Bug was totally in charge on the basketball court, telling her team mates where to stand, I thought to myself she is a little BOSS, just like her Mama. Little Miss Bossy Pants. Then I thought nah, she’s a Leader!

Women are standing up, we are stepping up. And maybe some award shows aren’t keeping up, but my generation will define aging any darn way we want to. We marched to get control over our own bodies, and we don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon. https://thinkprogress.org/gop-abortion-shutdown-dfd173817d47/

We need to stop judging others who might choose a different course, we have inalienable rights to take a pill, use a cream or get an eyebrow lift. First, I would have to find my eyebrows of course.

And if I still want to pretend I’m a ballerina without a bar, so be it. I’ve been teaching the Bug to string beads, and Bob’s been teaching her how to drill holes in shells. Barre or no bar, the force is strong in us!

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Christopher Nolan’s new movie Dunkirk will open in July, but you can watch the trailer now. The Rolling Stone called it “Gripping,” and said the trailer moves forward with, “…white-knuckle intensity.” Seeing as the Rocker composed the music and sound design for this one, I can understand why:

Nolan wrote and directed the movie, which takes place in 1940, when 400,000 Allied troops were surrounded on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, caught between the English channel at their backs and the German army on land. Civilian sailors joined the English navy and air force for an all-hands-on-deck evacuation operation. http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/see-gripping-new-trailer-for-christopher-nolans-dunkirk-w480901

I’d never heard of this story, about simple Sunday sailors and fishermen setting sail across the channel to rescue their British troops. If Hitler had turned his army toward that edge of sand, the war might have been over before we got our chance to jump in after Pearl Harbor.

Great Grandpa Hudson remembers seeing kamikaze pilots in the Pacific even after Hiroshima. He was retelling some of his war stories this week while we were visiting, and Great Grandma Ada told us some of her frustration with the VA. She’d been trying to get her WWII Vet a new set of hearing aides for months.

Hudson just turned 91 in April. He is one of two men left from the ship he served on in the Pacific. The Navy made him the cobbler onboard when he was a teenager, which probably sparked his interest in woodcarving. Totem poles abound around their property that he has painstakingly carved over the years. He is starting to slow down now, but still has a twinkle in his eye!

I was struck again at how profoundly deaf Hudson has become, and how isolating that can be for him and all our seniors. He and Grandma waited months for a new set of hearing aides to arrive, making calls to no avail, until finally Ada wrote to the Administrator, the Boss of the whole operation. All of a sudden, she received emails and calls tracking the package, a semi-apology, and supposedly the hearing aides are actually in the mail and on the way.

Did the package actually ship? Was their address correct? Who knows, but not many 90+ year olds are married to such a feisty 93 year old!

It’s Memorial Day weekend and if you’re not traveling, you’re probably barbequing something. But let’s not forget our Veterans, the men and women who risked life and limb only to return home to staggering “wait times” in order to see a doctor at their local VA. The proposed new budget from Mr T’s administration may look good to some, but is in reality a typical GOP move to outsource services:  “We are very concerned the administration’s request to make the Veterans Choice Program a permanent, mandatory program could lead to a gradual erosion of the VA health care system,” the VFW stated Wednesday in written testimony.'” It’s kind of like eroding the public school system by pushing charter schools. http://taskandpurpose.com/veterans-groups-criticize-proposed-va-budget-cuts-elderly-vets-benefits/

Funding for medical research will be reduced by 30 Million, and the new priorities will be Gulf War Vets and opioid and suicide prevention. This is all well and good, but let’s not forget our elderly Vets. When I found out that Medicare doesn’t pay for hearing aides, or audiology testing, I was dumbfounded. Bob told us that soon enough we will be able to purchase hearing aides over the counter. Ada said, “But will they be any good?”

A feeling of not being heard would land me into a state of deep despair. It’s such an important sense, not just for communicating by phone that a set of hearing aides have not yet arrived, but for our ability to connect with others.

When the call went out to send as many sea-worthy vessels as possible to evacuate the British soldiers from Dunkirk, 933 ships responded including battleships from the Royal Navy and a 14 ft open-topped fishing boat. They brought back 338,226 Allied soldiers over eight days while being bombarded by Nazi planes.

What if they never heard the call?

Cville Wedding Tastings 055

 

 

 

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We will be finishing our unfinished basement in a few weeks, so it’s time to pick a paint color. Last time I picked a color it was Navajo White, remember that from the 90s! Since warmer off-whites are out, and cooler off-whites are in, I’m looking for a pale bluish/grey color at the Benjamin Moore store. Should I stick with pale Moonlight White, or go more saturated with Edgecomb Gray, Silver Gray, or Gray Owl? Wait, what about Beach Glass, I love that name! http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/color-gallery#&ce_vm=0

This is where my horoscope shines through all my disbelief about horoscopes. I’m a Libra, so the scales of justice are blind and I can take weeks weighing and balancing a simple choice like the basement’s new, hip wall color. Funny, cause I can walk into the shoe department at Nordstrom and hear one shoe calling my name.

But the new grey also pertains to my generation. My last blog post on Facebook garnered lots of comments about Bob’s retirement plans; the idea of combining co-housing with sustainable senior living. Friends from his old “hippie house” at Duke, friends who actually did join communes in the 60s, and relatives who lived and worked on a kibbutz all chimed in. My friend Edie from high school told me about this guy, a mere 29 years old, who was  featured on the Today Show – Willie Geist called him a “Disrupter.”

Ash Jacob developed an App for Aging in Place! “With 10,000 people retiring every day in the United States, 29-year-old Ash Jacob is using iPads and other technologies to change the senior care industry.” http://www.today.com/news/29-year-old-uses-technology-turn-senior-care-industry-its-t94056

While watching the video, I was aware that the 90+ year old client had a rep from the App company there, and on the other side of the client sat the actual aide who assists with daily tasks. So what Jacob did was put an iPad in every home to let the family stay informed…when did she eat lunch, what did they talk about…seems counter-intuitive to me. Although it does solve the problem of driving to doctor appointments and coordinating medication, the things a family member might do if they lived in the neighborhood.

Which begs the question for aging silver foxes like us, just HOW do we want to age?

No use fighting it with creams and potions, it’s a fact of life. Would you rather stay in your home with an aide doing daily chores and an iPad to communicate or alleviate guilt?  Or would you rather live in a community with like-minded people, a new tribe so to speak, and share the resources. You know Bonnie cooks for four households, Ronnie mows the lawn, Nurse Johnny drops in as needed? There would be a van driver, say Moishe, who would drive you to the symphony or the latest climate change protest, or the doctor, or the unveiling. Otherwise you could walk most places, or scoot around on a scooter.

You could participate as little or as much as you like – not a vegan? Start a chili cook-off! Yes, there are big places like this already, The Villages in FL and right here in VA we have Westminster Canterbury (WC) http://westminstercanterbury.org  But you’ve got to buy into places like this, so if you’ve got the money, no problem. Once you walk in, you can move between more or less care needed for the rest of your life! Sigh. It’s the totem pole of life and death – independent living, to assisted, nursing and or memory care, and out the door. This is from WC’s website:

Learning is revered among our residents. Opportunities are abundant for continued education. Developed in association with the University of Virginia, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) conducts university-level classes for older adults. Many classes are held at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge. You might even find your neighbor as one of the instructors. At Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, there is plenty to do, and every day is different. While one day may take you outside of the community to experience lifelong learning, the next day you may choose to:

Walk the Nature Trail, featuring a stocked pond, gazebo, and walking path in a 17-acre protected habitat.
Play a friendly game of pool in the Billiard Room.
Create a stunning arrangement in the Flower Room.

As Ada would say, “You get the picture.” As Sue might have said, “Probably lots of Bunnys in that place.”

But Bob was thinking more of Summer Camp for Seniors, or a Post-Modern Woodstock.  Think of co-operative gardens. A small boutique operation, non-profit, come as you are kind of place, no ‘dressing for dinner,’ near a beach town, with a hot tub. Where everybody has a front porch. Maybe a retrofitted motel or hotel? A bungalow colony?

For me, I’d rather not live an isolated life, connecting with family via App. I’d like to learn how to play Mah-Jong. I’d like to be able to swim in a pool, or the ocean, and take cooking classes, walk my dog, and knit and string beads. And write and travel with Bob some, and make new friends. Maybe still try and make a difference in the world, if that’s not too corny anymore. I want to be near my grands most importantly of all. I don’t want to be an after-thought to them; they will really, really need us in those pre-teenage wonder years. Once they get a license, it’s all over!

I’ve let my strawberry blonde hair turn a golden grey, not a dictionary definition of the color, “…dark, dismal, or gloomy; gray skies; dull, dreary, or monotonous.” No! Grey is the new Platinum, Titanium and Gold. We are all made of fine metal. And 10,000 of us every day are redefining what retirement looks like. Here is my silver fox, who was and is always a disrupter, in his happy place.  IMG_3261

 

 

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This morning I slept late. I woke from another nightmare. This is the only time in my life where I’ve been having back to back nightmares. I can get pretty Freudian about my dream life; when something unusual like this happens, I pay attention. My unconscious mind is telling me it’s time to change the rules of the game.

“Everyone I know is in transition,” Great Grandma Ada said. We’ve been trying to convince her it’s time to become a Snow Bird, and she is finally ready. She is ready to end the virtual search and start scouting out the places her friends have landed on the beautiful FL coastline. Of course, anyone who knows her can tell you she never met a stranger. Whatever community that is just quirky enough to tickle her fancy, she will become the ruling Queen Bee in a matter of days! Still, it won’t be easy leaving the house you called home for fifty years.

The Bride and Groom are buying their first home together. Yes, it kills them to see how prices have gone through the roof in Nashville over the past five years, but they thought by this time they would have been headed home to VA – a place for lovers and two sets of loving grandparents! But life being what it is, and their careers just starting to take off, they decided to stay put. I know in my head it was the right decision, but my heart is just catching up with my head.

They made an offer on a perfect house today. Fingers crossed please.

The Rocker and Ms Cait have acclimated to the West Coast. It fits them to a T, I would love to see more of them, but they are happy in the hills of LA. Both creative types, doing well in their fields; my son is in his perfect place. And lucky for me, he has been staying out of my nightmares!

And us? Well we sold the tiny town house to the parents of one of the tenants, almost too easily, while we were on vacation. We never went to market. The father is actually a physician too, and his wife loved the house from the moment their daughter moved into an upstairs bedroom. No more urgent emails and calls in the early morning – “The smoke detector isn’t turning off;” “The kitchen faucet is broken;” “There’s a squirrel in the chimney!” I loved that charming hundred year old house. And it’s strange to think we don’t have our future charted. We won’t be living in town, so where will we be living? Someplace warm for Bob, someplace near the grandbabies for me. My North Star is hiding.

These are the dark and scary things of my 3 am night life, the feeling of being uprooted, of being immobilized, of not belonging. There is death, and public humiliation. Oh yes, Jung gets into my free-wheeling interpretations. Traveling back and forth over the Delaware River Water Gap as a child, to visit my birth family, left me always seeking a safe harbor, a port in the storm.

Retirement looms large as the big unknown future unfolds at its own pace. Bob worries he might be bored no longer working. I personally don’t think boredom is an option for him. He is a nomad, and would love to travel the world, footloose and fancy free. Not me, a home base is essential to my quiet dream life. But wherever I land, I will keep writing so long as my fingers, and my mind, keep working. I just sat down in front of a blank piece of paper and drew a clock, so all is not lost! http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/384949524/the-unknown-brain?showDate=2016-03-25

I read that our generation, the Baby Boomers, will redefine our golden years in the same way we created a cultural revolution in the 60s and 70s. I suppose that is true. Aging in place, maybe. Co-housing, why not? Didn’t Bob go to Woodstock! No dressing for dinner in a retirement home for us, with Frank Sinatra playing in the background. Does the AARP print a rule book? We really never wanted to play by the rules, so why would we now?

My psychologist brother, Dr Jim, just sent me this article about nursing homes; fair warning, it’s not pretty. http://www.vox.com/2015/12/2/9826772/life-lessons-nursing-home?mc_cid=042158e728&mc_eid=e134d96057

Here’s my theory: If for most of your life you are concerned with the mundane (which, think about it, always involves personal comfort) then when you get old and feel a lot of pain, that’s going to be the only thing you’re going to think about. It’s like a muscle — you developed the mundane muscle and not the other one.

So I’m working on my creativity and compassion muscles, how about you? Here is our high school reunion picture from 1996 – this year will be our 50th! Bob is front and center, can you find me next to Bess? Hint, third row from bottom on the right. 10366217_974001499278561_5244274030678340288_n

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