50+ Olympics.

Now that the Olympics are over, I think it’s time we came up with our own set of events for people over 50. Some require certain skills, others just call for the ability of each of us to laugh at ourselves and keep going. But all are medal-worthy.

Running to the train. Forget the movies. Have you ever tried running to a train, dragging two suitcases, a purse or a computer bag or a briefcase, possibly a hat or a jacket, and managed to breathe and keep your composure? If so, you get a silver medal. If you’ve done this over the age of 50, you get a gold medal. If you’ve done it over the age of 60, God bless you.

DSCN4415Texting. Hey, let’s face it. It’s not the easy. Especially for older, sometimes stiff, fingers that just don’t move as well as they used to. Add small keyboards on phones and you sometimes have hilarious results. Or obscene ones. Be careful.   The difficulty factor rises after happy hour.

Opening chip bags. I know, we’re not supposed to eat them. But we do. And I’d like to meet the sadist who designs bags that cannot be opened by humans. I sometimes wonder if they give the bags to the gorillas to see if they can open them. If they can, they fail. It’s only those bags which no life form can open that make it through the assembly line. So if you have started walking around your house with a pair of scissors in your pocket, you may pass go and collect $100.

Recognizing anyone on late night television. Come on. Be honest. When you turn on a talk show at night, do you know who anyone is? Can you name their songs? Have you ever seen them before? Being tired will not raise your score. Bonus points if you know who anyone is on the music awards show.

Knowing where your glasses are. I’m thinking this could replace the 100-year dash, slower, but with more obstacles. So knee pads and a helmet could be required. When the starter’s gun goes off, everyone must find their glasses within an hour and return to their original spot. You can’t stop along the way to do other tasks. You must proceed to the place where your glasses are. Asking your dog to help you is not fair and will result in a penalty.

Running.   I mean, do we really need to even talk about this? Just don’t do it.

Staying up late.   It looks easy, but if you haven’t tried it lately, be cautious. Train slowly. Pace yourself. And if you have the opposite problem and are unable to ever fall asleep, I’d suggest reading through a legal contract.

Of course there are many more…and I’d love to hear your suggestions. It’s interesting to approach a stage of life where sometimes doing the simplest things just feels good.

And it’s okay to ask for help.

And it’s okay to just decide maybe you don’t want to do that difficult thing anymore.

(Except for the chips. Anyone have a hammer?)

“I still have a full deck, I just shuffle slower now.”    

         Anonymous

 

A letter to God.

Dear God:

I just need to talk to someone. I need to say what’s happening and how small I feel.

You know I’m moving across country again.  I”m sure you know, since it seems some doors have permanently closed where I am, forcing me to make some decisions I wasn’t quite ready for.  But you know best, so I’m going.  Going back where I moved from almost 10 years ago.  Back to familiar places and faces and humidity.  All that’s okay.  (Insert whatever huge, scary, or confusing thing you are going through here.)

But tell me, why does it have to be so hard?  Isn’t there a lever up there somewhere that a big burly angel can pull where things fall into place?  Repairmen show up?  Nothing breaks the week before you try to sell your house?  The paint matches the porch?  That person calls you back?

I guess not.  Or my angel’s sleeping on the job. Because I can report that this move is even harder than the last one, which I thought nothing could top.

This time around, I decided to update my kitchen to help my house sell faster.  Great.  Except they flooded my hardwood floor, which is still waiting to be fixed.  Because no one ever shows up.

Then I decided to have someone repair-paint my front porch.  Only the paint in the can doesn’t match the paint on the porch.  And the paint experts in the paint expert store took two hours to perfect match it. (Close enough would have been fine with me.)

Then there’s the fact that I can’t find the safe deposit box key for the safe deposit box at the bank.  See, I need to find the key to open the box so I can then close it.  But without the key, the bank has to call angry men with big tools who will drill it open.  And everyone will stare.

IMG_0799 - Version 2Then there’s other people who want me to do things that I can’t do now that I’m in the packing-moving-cleaning-worrying mode.  I just physically can’t do some of the things my friends want to do.  And my mind is somewhere in a box, but I can’t remember which one.  Yet I value friendship right now more than ever, and it feels like some people are pulling away from me, which is really painful.

And of course, there’s the clients who sit quietly all year and now, that I’m in a vortex of stress, want me to fly to meetings.  Attend conferences.  Tour facilities.  Rewrite War and Peace.  And I simply can’t do it.

Of course, these aren’t real problems.  Real problems are diseases, death, not having enough to eat.  I know that.  Yet I also know at the time, whether it’s seeing your parent helpless after a stroke, or leaving the vet in tears after your pet is put to sleep, or knowing your marriage is over, or being so worn out from a repairman never showing up time and time again, it can all just become too much.

And I don’t like that feeling.

Change is hard anytime.  I confess it’s harder when you get older.  But I’m beginning to wonder if I’m truly getting feeble.

I’m scared the house won’t get on the market when it should.  

I’m filled with anxiety about disappointing people.

II’m worried the right house won’t be on the market at the right time.

I’m just so tired emotionally.

I don’t want to cry about it.

I’m tired physically. I know I’m not eating right.

I’m not exercising so I’m getting fat.

I’m worried about my dog.

I did cry this morning.

I don’t do well with unfinished messes.

I hate worrying about money.

I want to do something truly meaningful.

I’m weary.

I keep thinking it will get easier. 

I just want to be happy.

Yet in the back of mind, somewhere behind the empty Cheetos bags and my college diploma, there’s the voice that inspired me a decade ago….you can do this!  You can change your life!  You have the energy!  The universe is waiting to help you!  You aren’t giving up your dream, you’re just changing course!

And I do still believe that.  I truly do.  I think everyone over 50 should stop, look around, and decide if there’s an adventure they want to pursue—and pursue it. Scared, tired, or unsure, just do it.  I wouldn’t give up mine for anything.  I’ll always have it.  And now, I know I”m just starting a new adventure.

A little older, yes.  Joints a little more creaky, you bet.  But somewhere in there, my spirit is still the same.

But it’s  also important to stop occasionally and just make a plea to God, the universe, or whatever spirit or being you talk to.

Admit you’re scared.  Exhausted.  Confused.  It’s okay.  And it’s the part of the grand adventure that a lot of people don’t talk about.

But they should.  Because that’s when the grace comes.

When you’re feeling weaker and more afraid than you ever have. When it feels you truly are unraveling.

Then it’s important to remember that feeling is not the same as reality sometimes.

And if you’re friends or the sister or brother of someone who is making a major scary life change, don’t pull away.  Let them know you are there.  Listen.  Pray for them.  Take the late night phone call.  You might be feeling some pain and anxiety too, but just consider they might be feeling like they’re in a black abyss and no one is in there with them.  Just help them breathe.

Anyway, God, I’m just checking in.  You know, sharing.  Turning it over.  Letting go.   Because I need your calm. Peace. Strength. Courage. Wisdom. Patience. Healing.

And maybe another bag of Cheetos.

 

“When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life you have 1000 reasons to smile.”

            Anonymous

Older and better.

IMG_4797Have you  heard the term “conscious eldering”? It’s all about the choices we make as we grow older…will we stay engaged, curious, and positive about life, or will we become hard, withdrawn, and resentful over our disappointments?

I’m sure you’ve known people who fall into both categories. Over the years I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over 50, some close to 100, and it truly seems it’s a matter of making up your mind to be one or the other. Barring extreme physical limitations, many people I’ve known who are on the negative side have simply decided it’s easier to be angry.

The relationship that didn’t work out.

The boss that never saw our brilliance.

The ungrateful child who grew up uninterested in being around us.

The fact that we were supposed to end up one way, and we didn’t.

Then there are the people I’ve talked to who bubble over with joy and vitality. They laugh easily and accept what life has thrown at them. And it’s not always been an easy road…some have lost a spouse, child, way of life, and even their health. They’ve had to move and give up prized possessions. Yet through it all, their attitude is one of acceptance and peace.

Maybe it’s a matter of being “conscious” about what we do when we come to those crossroads…is this tragedy going to break us, or bring us closer to our spiritual core? Will it humble us, or infuriate us?

I think having a spiritual foundation in whatever form you choose is a huge help. I also think that truly learning to let go, to be willing to heal old wounds and forget long-held grudges, goes a long way for easing our hearts and our minds. Just think how much energy we wasted being miffed about the past.

Life’s a zigzag, not a straight line. At least it is for me. Being over 50 makes a lot of things clearer, yet it’s still a mixed bag sometimes. But I do look around at other boomers and those in their 70s, 80s, and up and it seems that it’s never too late to change your attitude.

It may not be easy, but it’s not too late.

A doorMaybe you were a bit of a miser years ago, yet now you realize how hard the waitress is working and you open up your wallet a bit more with a better tip.

Maybe showing affection has always been a little hard for you because your parents never did it well, but now that you have grandchildren or great-grandchildren, you want to hug and hold hands and let them know how much you care.

And maybe all the things that always vexed you…waiting in line, bad drivers, people who are always late…now simply can be better tolerated by taking a breath, letting it go and realizing it’s not a personal conspiracy against you.

I don’t know about you, but I want to age with curiosity. Joy. Creativity. I want to feed my intellect and my spirit as much as I can, and not get my blood pressure up by rehashing old wounds or wondering why things aren’t like they used to be.

I genuinely believe this can be the absolute best time of our lives. Because even when the seemingly overwhelming challenges come at us, we’re more prepared than ever to use our strengths, ask for help, and turn it over to a higher power.

So why not now…it’s been a long hot summer. What better time to take a new path? Dance a new step? Rock a new wrinkle!!

 “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”

            John Barrymore

Who’s talking?

Machines are always talking to us. These days, it seems they’re doing more talking than our friends who can’t get their noses out of their cell phones to eat dinner, enjoy a vacation, or go for a walk in a beautiful park. Everyone has their head down looking at a screen.  I wonder if we’ll all end up with a crooked spine because we never look straight ahead anymore.

But I digress.

As I was attempting to check myself out at the grocery store recently, I wondered what would happen in the technology we interact with every day suddenly became very honest.  Actually told us what we don’t want to hear, but might need to hear.  Or what if it just started arguing with us?

After all, we don’t talk to each other much anymore, so why shouldn’t we argue with the scanner?

I’m scanning items at the grocery.  I’m realizing I probably shouldn’t have shopped when I was so tired, so hungry, and so desperate for a few moments of comfort. That always leads to bad choices.  So let’s just imagine what the machine would say besides the usual orders to put the item in the bag and an attendant has been notified to assist me.

Scanning cheese dip.

“Really?  Cheese dip?  You haven’t worked out in weeks.  Have you read the fat content?”

Scanning chips.

“Well you might as well get your salt intake for the week.  At this point, could it matter?  You know, drinking 8 glasses of water doesn’t erase this.”

Scanning dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

“Okay, now it’s clear.  You have no desire to pursue nutrition.  You’re just in it for the rush.  Wow.   I mean, sure, dark chocolate is good for you, but two bags?  Expecting company??”

Scanning salami.

“Tell you what.  You bag your items, I”ll go ahead and phone the emergency room and let them know you’re on your way.”

Scanning broccoli salad.

“Ahh yes, the healthy item, all freshly prepared and boasting nutrients.  I’ve got news for you sister, you could put it in your hair at this point and it wouldn’t matter.

But it does make you feel better, doesn’t it?”

Did the scanner really say these things?  I don’t think so.  Then again, anything’s possible. Scanners now tell you how to do everything, chide you when you do it wrong, and then go blank and inform the nearest armed guard you’re an intruder.

Then there’s driving.  How did we ever get along without a rude woman saying “recalculating” every 5 minutes?  How did we read maps?  Find out way in the dark?  Plan our vacations?

We did.  Somehow, we did.  I can’t even imagine my father programming in a route.  He took a map, decided how long he was going to drive each day, calculated his gas mileage every time we stopped, and stopped when he was good and ready.  Which was usually long since past when we had fallen asleep in the back seat.

wi9yf7kTQxCNeY72cCY6_Images of Jenny Lace Plasticity Publish (4 of 25)I confess I use a GPS occasionally.  Just in case.  Just in case I can’t remember alternative routes, or get detoured, or just don’t want to concentrate on where I’m going.

That’s a little scary.  Is it really that much work to figure that out?

Sometimes getting lost is the best way to get where you need to go.  But you can’t even do that these days without being scolded.

 

“Turn left.

“No, left.  You missed the turn.

“Again.

“You just missed it again.

“No.  Stop.

“Make a u-turn.  Now go right.

” I said right.

“Aren’t you listening?

“Don’t re-boot me.  I’m the only one that knows the way. “

 

I don’t mind having help.  I do ming something else doing all the thinking for me.  When did we turn into mindless robots?  

Do we really have to check our phones every 15 seconds?

Can’t we sit in an airport lobby and people-watch?

Maybe even…egads...strike up a conversation?

Watch the clouds float by?

Utter a prayer of gratitude?

Just sit?

Daydream?

uploads-14115120538776712c565-a699942a

I’m getting older.  I”m trying to keep up with things.  But sometimes, a little quiet, a little simplicity, a little human contact…is a very good thing.

I can do it all by myself.

And my transaction always goes through.

 

“Silence is the true friend that never betrays.”

        Confucious

 

 

 

 

 

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