Category: Inner Peace (page 1 of 15)

Welcoming Fall

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Fall

Early morning cool

Leaves starting their journey

Soft jackets with stubborn zippers

Announcers in filled football stadiums

Squirrels getting busier

Chili peppers teasing your nose

Bright lights of a county fair

New pencils and sharp crayons

Meeting new characters on television

Early blanket of darkness

Elk are bugling

Socks and sweatshirts

Warm cider and hot tea

A different light in the afternoon

Airing out the quilt

Reading the Farmer’s Almanac

Stocking up on essentials

Summer’s last gasp in September

Laughing by the fire pit

Relaxing in the season

What is September for you? A time of exciting new beginnings? Or painful memories from years gone by? Does the cool air energize and inspire you, or do you wish summer’s warmth would linger?  Of course you may live somewhere that offers high temperatures year-round. If so, what does the change of season mean to you?

I’ve always viewed September with mixed emotions. As a child, it was the whole back-to-school thing. Then it was the back-to-campus thing during college. Then you “become an adult” and school calendars no longer rule your life (though I swear universally work stops for everyone the first week of school, and the last week of school, because no one knows where their kids, car keys, or brain are).

But then September changed for me.

IMG_6287I became relieved by the cooler temperatures. It felt like a time to go inward and be still.  I loved the changing leaves and gorgeous sunsets.

Now as I am much older, September is also symbolic of how quickly things change. How life passes before we’re ready.

How we need to take the trip today, tell someone we love him or her today, have dessert first today.

How we should not “postpone our joy”.

September is just a month; the beginning of a new season. But I think inside, it’s also our cue to pull the blanket around us and warm up to our lives.

Luckily, as boomers, we have a lot of kindling.

“There is a pearl in every season. Find it. Then give all you have to claim it.”

       Joan Sauro

 

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Getting Un-Sunk.

The sunk cost effect.  Chances are, you’ve lived this at least once in your life.  And you could be living it right now.

Have a pair of shoes in your closet that kill your feet so you never wear them, but can’t get rid of them because of what they cost?

Absolutely hate going to work every day, but hesitate to quit and find something new because you’ve been there 10 years and invested so much time in it?

 Then you’ve discovered the sunk cost effect.

Scholars tell us sunk costs are backward-looking decisions we humans make because we choose to continually reflect on our past decisions, we attempt to make sense of them and we reference the past in order to justify future decisions.  Apparently, much of it comes down to the fact that we don’t like losing.

Maybe if we stay in the relationship it will get better, which will prove it wasn’t a mistake all along.  If I try really hard, I can convince myself I love living in this house, because after all, I paid a lot for it, so why not spend more money on improvements.

And then there’s the good old demon of dreading the energy it can take to actually make a change.  Staying in the rut is so much easier, right?  Especially when we fear facing the reality that maybe whatever we’ve sunk so much of ourselves really was a mistake, and we are scared if we acknowledge that and move on, we’ll just die of misery.

We’ll have to feel bad.

Others will shake their heads and wonder what’s wrong with us.

We will have failed.

And it’s that feeling of loss that can take over our minds…blocking out all the possible benefits of making a big change, like new opportunities for growth, new relationships, new adventures and more.

Because remember, sunk costs are those you can never recover.  You spent the money on the dress you can’t wear, and it’s not coming back whether you give it a way or you let it take up space in your closet for 20 more years.  You bought the ticket for the terrible movie you would love to leave after 10 minutes, and whether you leave, or make yourself sit through it, that money is gone.

Gone. Over.  If you don’t accept that and move on, you will find it harder to make choices for better experiences in the future…instead, you will keep trying to reduce the bad feeling of a past loss.

Sunk costs are bad at any age, but I think they can be most troubling as we get older.  We feel we should be smarter, wiser. We should be at a place in life where we like where we are.  Like all those happy, pretty people in the commercials flying kites and laughing with grandchildren…all our past decisions should have been the right ones.

Right?  We’re supposed to be happy now, right?  And if we’re not, we sure don’t want to admit it and acknowledge maybe a choice we made just wasn’t the right one.

But what if that’s the only way we really can be happy?

It’s scary.  Scary to imagine everyone around us thinking we’re nuts to reverse a decision, make a big change, maybe return to something we once gave up.  Or to see us “suddenly” stop doing something, or leave a relationship, or change our lives in a big way.

Sometimes to win, you have to quit something.  Give up something.  Throw in the towel.  Then, you can turn your energy forward and let the universe propel you where you should be.

You can’t get spent time back.  But can you make the most of what’s ahead.  And you can start right now…because now is all we really have anyway. 

 

“There is no future in the past.”
Anonymous

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Are you guilty?

Worse than racism.  Worse than discrimination against sexual preference.  Worse than hatred of others due to their faith.

Ageism. 

Science tells us it has very real mental and physical health consequences on the very people targeted, including a decreased will to live, less desire to live a healthy lifestyle, impaired recovery from illness, increased stress and a shortened life span.

Yet so many people casually make comments about people being an old geezer, or over the hill, or some old fart.  Or they avoid going to a certain place because “old people go there”.  Or even worse, families and younger friends and relatives avoid visiting aging parents in skilled nursing and retirement communities because they don’t want to be around all those “old people”.

And even the trip to the doctor is not safe.  If you’re over a certain age, chances are good your physician is less inclined to discuss new technological advances, new procedures or new therapy.  Because he or she might be assuming your complaints are just due to “getting older”.

How incredibly sad.  How maddeningly wrong!

Older adults…from age 60 to 112… are the ones with the wisdom.  The life experiences.  The perspective that comes from lessons learned.  They have the stories.  What a treasure trove we all are as we age, and usually, how willing we are to share with someone willing to sit still and listen.

The American Society on Aging reports that in 1968, Dr. Robert Butler, founding director of the National Institute on Aging, coined the term “ageism,” four years after free speech activist Jack Weinberg first uttered the phrase, “Never trust anyone over 30.” And since then, not much has changed.  In fact, the ASA says that “ageism doesn’t even register on the public’s radar.”

Here are some other ways we “wise” ones are being overlooked through ageism:

  • Older adults have a more difficult time finding gainful employment. They are seen as technology-averse, unwilling to learn new skills, difficult to manage (particularly by younger supervisors), too expensive, and not productive enough to justify the perceived increased expense (The New York Times, 2009).
  • Older adults more frequently have their health concerns dismissed by healthcare professionals. In addition, they are less likely to receive routine screenings or preventive care, more likely to be treated less aggressively than younger patients with the same diagnoses, are generally excluded from clinical trials, and are typically treated by physicians who have little to no training treating older patients (Currey, 2008)
  • Older adults, when not entirely disregarded by the media, are typically portrayed with negative stereotypes; and, when and if aging is depicted from a positive point of view, the depiction is typically unrealistic and unattainable (World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Ageing Society, 2012).
  • Older adults running for public office are routinely questioned about whether they have “what it takes” (ostensibly, good health, physical stamina, mental acuity, sufficient projected longevity, or all of the above) to serve in demanding leadership roles (York, 2014).
  • Older adults have historically made a meaningful difference in their communities through civic engagement activities (White House Conference on Aging, 2015); however, institutions that could benefit from the knowledge, wisdom, and skills older adults offer are not making an effort to harness those skills in ways that could help local communities build their capacity to better serve those in need.

Now I’m a baby boomer.  So, I’m really just starting to experience ageism.  Sure, there’s the irritating store attendant who wants to call me “ma’am”.  And the woman at the movie theater who wants to give me a senior discount even though I haven’t reached that age yet.  Still, these are tiny things compared to the big picture.  Yet they point to something that sociologists are talking about:

We boomers are having a hard time with the idea that we ourselves are aging. 

Are we afraid?

Is it that it seems like it took five minutes to get here?

Or are we already seeing how we are starting to disappear, at least in terms of how well we are truly “seen” and “heard”?

Maybe the best thing we can do ourselves is to check how we treat those older than us.  Instead of making a judgment about someone based on white hair, a few wrinkles and a birth certificate, maybe we think about how we will want someone to interact with us if we are lucky enough to reach a “golden” age.

  • We will want people to hear what we are saying—actually listen when we speak.
  • If we have a complaint about a pain or discomfort, we will appreciate a medical professional treating us as aggressively as they would a 20-year-old.
  • We will appreciate respectful gestures (letting us go first, holding the door for us, etc.), but we would also appreciate the opportunity to simply blend in when appropriate.
  • And when we truly are incapacitated in some physical way and require special attention, we also will look forward to interaction with those we love…visits, phone calls, letters. A reminder that others value who we are—STILL ARE—and that we are not something to be avoided at all costs.

It’s a tough subject.  And yet it’s one that is going to be more and more important as the population continues to age.  I know I can’t believe I’m not 40 anymore.  I often don’t recognize parts of my body. I realize I don’t really care that I don’t know the names of some of the people on the gossip magazine covers.

But I also DO know how I’m better at my work than ever.  I’m more patient.  I can see the bigger picture.  I don’t panic when some of my younger cohorts do.  I value the work ethic, deadlines, and keeping my word.

I’m still here.  For quite a while.  And I’m going to do my best to treat those years older than me as just someone who’s sitting in a different part of the train.

Cause we’re all going in the same direction.  So why not benefit from someone else’s sneak preview?

 

“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.”

      Frank Lloyd Wright

 

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

    CS Lewis

 

“Laughter is timeless.  Imagination has no age.  And dreams are forever.”

    Walt Disney

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Losing power. Again.

Day 3 of no electricity due to a recent storm.

Day 3 of no internet (without driving to another location).  Day 3 of no unlimited life on the phone (without driving elsewhere to charge).  Day 3 of no television, radio, CD player, Netflix and other entertainment choices powered by electricity.

Day 3 of no way to straighten or curl hair.  To flip a switch and see your face well enough to “fix it”, as my mother used to say.

Day 3 of thinking about all the food in your refrigerator that had to be thrown away.  And realizing how dependent you are on electricity when mealtime comes around.

Day 3 of realizing you should have done the laundry…because you’re almost out of underwear.

Day 3 of your long-haired dog panting and looking at you with imploring eyes.

Day (and night) 3 of getting candles set up in the right places so when the sun goes down, you can walk through your residence without crashing into anything.  And of sitting still on the couch and listening to the occasional traffic, or hearing neighborhood children outside playing, or a mockingbird serenading its top 40 bird songs.

Day 3 of just being.  Other than the stress of having to figure out when you need to be somewhere to receive work emails, you are for all practical purposes, truly without power.

As in powerless.

Of course, we are always powerless.  But we don’t know that.  With so many gadgets and plug-ins and apps, we really are the masters of our universe most of the time, at least in our den.

At least in our minds.

Yet let one good 100 mph microburst show up, and everything suddenly gets very dark.

Very quiet.

For some, it’s truly the first time they have ever really just had to be.  And it makes them quite uneasy.

Just sitting, listening to the sounds of the evening, thinking, meditating, breathing.  Or, fidgeting, fretting and letting frustration win.

What if life was always like this?  If you finished your work, had your dinner (which came only from what you had grown or raised), and now spent your evening by candlelight, with no external stimulation?

it’s interesting that we have come so far in so many ways, obtained so much knowledge, learned about so many wonderful cultural opportunities, expanded our minds as never before, and yet, when we can’t “turn something on”, something that it outside of us, that does not directly engage with us, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

Withdrawal can be very hard.

I confess it’s illuminating (even in the dark) to realize just how dependent I am on white noise…on an electronic presence in the room that seems to “connect” me to other people and feels safe and familiar.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying that.  But I wonder, does it keep me from a little too comfortable?

As baby boomers and beyond, we’ve had so many different experiences, and we’ve more than earned the right to enjoy sitting on the couch and watching movies, or listening to music, or just enjoying being inside the air-conditioning.  But maybe very once in a while, we should pretend we don’t have electricity, and power ourselves down.

And sit in the dark.  And hear the symphony that is the night:  a breeze, laughter, the hoot of an owl, gentle rain.

It might help us remember just how powerless we really are.   I”m okay with that.

But I confess…I’d rather do it when it’s 60 degrees.

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