Category: Sharper brains (page 1 of 2)

Being Where We Are.

Are you here?

Right now, are you here…or are you somewhere else?

 Maybe you are really back in school, wishing you had made a different choice in what you studied, wondering what career you would have now. 

 Or maybe you see yourself sitting in a car with a boyfriend who has just asked you a very big question.  What if you had answered differently?

 You could be at the beach, at that great vacation you took so many years ago, watching your wife and smallest child romp in the waves, so sure that life held so much promise for you and your family, not knowing the sadness that lie ahead.   

 If you are somewhere else in your mind, you are not here.  It sounds obvious.  Yet we can spend so much of our lives in this mental limbo, which is unfortunate as our lives go quickly enough.

Studies show we spend more than one-half of our waking hours, and one-third of our lives, daydreaming. It can make us more creative.  But it can also churn up a lot of anxiety and regret.

Why did I move there?  Why did I not go on that trip?  What would have happened had I gone to the doctor earlier?  Can I not hit a reset button and take back those awful things I said?

We daydream less as we get older.  This is primarily thought to be because so many daydreams are about what we want to do in the future, and there is simply less of that.  (The flip side is in many cases we have done those things, or at least now have the ability to do them.)

Stress can increase daydreaming.  Sometimes our subconscious uses this to give us solutions to problems that are vexing us.

In itself, daydreaming is not inherently bad for us. But constantly second-guessing ourselves and fretting about whether we made a wrong turn can make us feel lost, scattering our thoughts until we feel like we are unraveling.

 Professor, Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and On Being columnist Omid Safi offers this:

“So much of our lives are spent in a fractured state of heart. We are, too often, scattered. We speak about being scatterbrained. The truth of the matter is that the scatteredness is much more systematic. We are scattered at every level: body, soul, mind, spirit.

We do this to ourselves. We throw ourselves to the past, often clinging to a past pain and trauma. Or, we hurl ourselves towards the future, attaching ourselves to a hope for the future, or fear of losing something. We are in the past, or in the future, everywhere but here.

 To pray with the heart, to have presence in the heart, is a remedy. It is a healing, an un-scattering. Presence is simply to have our heart be where our feet are.”

So much energy spent on things we cannot control.  Things that have already occurred.  Or things that will go the way they should, regardless of what we do.

Wherever we are, it is good because it is where we are.  We have to find some peace with it.


Quiet the mind.

Feel the earth beneath us.

Let the heart rest.

Then, perhaps a new way will open that will take us where we want to go.

Or a door to the past will close that will let us heal.

But it all starts with now.  Right here.

Safi also says:

The inner and the outer are reflected in each other.

When we are internally divided, we will be externally divided.

If we wish to be united as a human community, we have to strive for unity and healing at the heart level.

 We need the prayer of the heart.

By whatever form we pray, we need to become whole.

May it begin one breath at a time.

May it begin with me.

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment, fully alive, fully aware.”

   Thich Nhat Hanh

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Seeing us clearly

So like many of you, I watched the Academy Awards.  I even stayed up late.  Yet ironically, I turned off the television before the crazed producer ran out to tell everyone that there had been a big mistake.  The next day when I saw the clip on the morning news, my first thought was “why didn’t Faye and Warren wear their glasses?  They probably couldn’t read the envelope.”

Fair or not, that was my take…mainly because I have to wear reading glasses so I get impatient when I see anyone over a certain age act like they don’t need to.  (Not very tolerant I know, just being honest.)

But when you think about it, who is it that really can’t see?  I think it’s Madison Avenue.

They can’t see us—we who are over 50 and seem to be invisible to them.


It’s worth a visit to look at why I think we should be seen.  I pull the following information from one of my favorite bloggers, Bob Hoffman, who produces the wonderful Ad Contrarian blog.  In one of his writings entitled “The Crazy Logic of Media Strategy”, Bob reminds us:

Americans over 50….

  • are responsible for over half of all consumer spending
  • dominate 94% of consumer packaged goods categories
  • outspend other adults online 2:1 on a per-capita basis
  • buy about 50% of all new cars
  • control about 70% of the wealth in the U.S.
  • would be the 3rd largest economy in the world, if they were a country (larger than Japan, Germany and India)
  • will grow at almost 3 times the rate of adults under 50 between now and 2030


  • are the target for 10% of marketing activity

Get this.  According to the chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association, one baby boomer is economically worth four millennials.

So why is it so hard to find any kind of advertising geared to us? (Other than erectile dysfunction, adult diapers, or taking care of mom at home.)

Excuse me.  I’m still here.  I’m still a consumer.  I read.  I watch television.  I shop online.

I’m not an idiot.

In fact, I have been sitting in front of a computer longer than most of the advertising agency creative teams have been alive.

So maybe think a little harder about who is actually out here spending the money, and talk to us, not at us.

Sure, maybe we need glasses to see the small print.

What’s your excuse? ?

“I’m not dead yet.”

    Monty Python


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Don’t vote for hate.

This post first ran in February.  I honestly didn’t think the election dialogue could get worse.  I was very wrong.  What’s happened to civility?  Here it is again, but with some needed edits.

Mother always said if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything.

Designing Women’s Julia Sugerbaker said if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit next to me.

In today’s political climate, it seems to be required to say nasty things, especially if there is no basis in fact. Say it loud. Say it with an air of arrogance. Say it with a smirk on your face and look right in the camera.  And it seems, say with no regard for vulgarity, lewdness, or harm to others.

DSC02021How did we get this way? is an interesting website that considers all kinds of thought-provoking ideas. When I ran across one of the site’s posts about human behavior, I thought it most appropriate for these scary political times. Here are some thoughts from

Interesting facts about human behavior.

  • People with high levels of testosterone get pleasure from the anger of others.
  • People with low self-esteem tend to humiliate others.
  • People sincerely believe their negative opinions about others are truthful and have no connection with them. 
  • People tend to commit immoral acts or do not fulfill someone’s request for help if no effort is needed and they do not have to face that person directly.
  • Lying takes a lot of mental effort. So as a result, a liar uses simple sentences and finds it more difficult to cope with mental tasks.

And (need I even have to say this?) talking—boasting—about sexual assault isn’t cool.  Funny.  Harmless.  Or just “locker room talk.”


Anyone coming to mind???

There’s room for disagreement in every situation. Discussion and compromise are what made this country, and many others, great. We don’t have to agree on anything.

But couldn’t we keep the conversation civil?

Couldn’t we agree that at the end of the day, we need to work together for the greater good?

It sure seemed like we used to know how to do that. As boomers and beyond, we remember that it’s never been easy to bring people together. I wasn’t around then, but I’m sure there were many people who didn’t like what Franklin Roosevelt did, but they agreed something major needed to be done during the Great Depression. The Cold War was a volatile challenge that sparked lively debate. Every political figure has his or her fans and detractors.

But it just seems that in the past, there was a realization that what mattered was the outcome…the people’s welfare.

Not any one person’s ego.

Not any one person’s religious beliefs.

People change. Times change. We live in a very different society, one where everything a public figure says or does is immediately in front of us. I just wish that rather than that causing the worst to be out there all the time, the opposite would happen.

Maybe think a little more about what you say. Actually check the facts (no, not Fox “news”, not a liberal website, not Facebook.) Investigate. Ask questions. Give it some consideration. Invite a discussion.

Respect those who do not agree with you IF they deserve your respect..  Do not blindly follow someone after they have offended a religion, women, those with disabilities, other cultures, or any other group.  Distance yourself and fast.

file8961250911676I so hope cooler minds prevail and the hatefulness that seems to be filling the airwaves dies down to a whisper. We’re all in this together. Let’s remember every thought that comes in our mind does not have to come out of our mouths.

Maybe we can’t stop others from being rude and loud.

But we can stop listening.  And we don’t have to follow.


“Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength.”    

     Eric Hoffer


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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.


“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?



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.”







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