Category: Staying sane (page 1 of 11)

A Boomer’s Thanksgiving

It’s coming.

That moment around the Thanksgiving table filled with wondrous high-caloric temptations and goodies when some young relative innocently raises his or her said and utters the dreaded sentence:

Let’s go around the table and all say what we’re thankful for.”  

Uh oh.

By this point, you’ve either been in the kitchen since 4 a.m. and you’re mainly thankful for sitting down, or you’re already in a sugar-induced trance and you’re thankful for sitting down, or you’re trying very hard to keep from slapping someone and you’re thankful for sitting down.

But now the gauntlet has been thrown down.  You must appear to be somewhat intelligent.  Generous.  Considerate of those around you.  (Even though you’re convinced a few of them voted badly in the last election and maybe a few owe you money.)

Oh my, where is this tacky inner voice coming from?

Of course you’re thankful for good health. For the ability to see, walk and hear.  For friends and family.  For the food on the table, the roof over your head and the clothes you wear.  You’re truly grateful for it all, and you lift a sincere prayer for those who are not so fortunate.

And these days, there are far, far, far too many of those.

But just for a moment, take a look at the lighter side of gratitude.  The little things that maybe no one says out loud but several are thinking.  The little things that can make or break a day.

For instance, as a boomer, you might say you are grateful for:

Elastic.  

Naps.

Senior discounts.

Elevators.

Cheese dip.

More elastic.

The mute button.

Someone else bagging the leaves.

Indoor plumbing.

Chinese take-out.

Remotes.

Your favorite sweatshirt.  Socks.  Cap.

Watching the original “Bishop’s Wife” every holiday and feeling like Cary Grant and Loretta Young are right next to you.

A warm cat on your lap.

A warm dog lying across your feet.

Fat pants.

Not answering the phone after 8 p.m.

“Arthritis” caps on Alleve.

Eyeglasses.  Several pairs of eyeglasses. 

Knowing where these eyeglasses are.

Phoning an old friend and enjoying a happy hour over the phone.

Knowing your turkey and dressing turned out wonderfully because you’ve been making it longer than just about anyone else in the room.

Taking real joy in watching others and really understanding how precious life is.

And did I mention elastic?

As we get older, let’s embrace what we’ve earned…the right to sit back, breathe and enjoy it all…and focus on what really matters:  time together.  And maybe a little extra time on the couch!

 

“I am grateful for what I am and what I have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.”

     Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Embracing The Big Love Around Us

Are you getting in your own way of happiness?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day frenzy of just being human.  From the moment the alarm sounds, we’re often on a race to hurry up and get to a desk where we can stop for a few minutes and then hurry up and get on the phone, to a meeting, across town to the bank, stop by the post office, pick up the kids, bathe the dog, hurry back home to be sure we’re in the kitchen so we can hurry up and get dinner on the table and sit for a few minutes before hurrying up to binge-watch the new series and finally, hurry to bed so we can start it all over again the next day.

Somewhere, along the way, we pass ourselves.  Some part of us is looking out the window.  Or noticing how the light is bouncing off the leaves as the season changes.  Or remembering how glorious it felt to hike that trail on a cool fall morning or run through leaves giggling.

But we don’t have time to stop.  And oddly, that’s a comforting thing.

We have our duties.  Our roles.  Our safe little worlds with no surprises. Even though sometimes, it feels like the walls are about 3 inches away, and getting closer.

And closer.

So that soon, our world is very, very small.  And that candle inside us that used to shine so brightly and lead our way when we were first dreaming of what our lives can be…that candle is struggling to stay lit.  It’s an inertia that slowly creeps through your bloodstream like a silent snake…robbing you of your curiosity.  Your desire to know more, to explore unknown places and have adventures.  Little by little, it seeps your energy.  Like the death eaters in the Harry Potter stories it seems to hover overhead and suck the very life out of you.

A beautiful essay on the OnBeing Studios blog, “Beyond The Myths We Tell Ourselves, Big Love is Waiting” offers some wonderful insight.  (OnBeing is an amazing multimedia project featuring a nationally broadcast public radio show, a portfolio of podcasts, and a digital publishing platform reaching millions of people each week.)  Author Ali Schultz reminds us we are “not Atlas supporting the world; the world is supporting us.”

Schultz goes on to say:

When I step out from the house of cards I’ve built for myself, I feel love. Big love.The clear path to such love requires excavation. We must, as Rumi notes, remove all of the blocks we’ve placed in our way to keep us from it. Somehow, somewhere, in all of our evolutionary neurological wiring, our wires have crossed so that we fearing being loved more than being safe, small, sure, busy, and turning away from the big open arms of life. We think we’ve got it all figured out. While our gifts for self-preservation and survival are strong, all we’ve figured out, really, is how to make sense of the world into which we were thrust, or find ourselves. Great skills, no doubt. But if we rely on them solely, we guard ourselves from another way of being with the world.”

“The big open arms of life.”  What a wonderful image. So why are we so afraid to let go….to give up the control we mistakenly believe we have, and just let the energy and inspiration around us fill us?

Is that we don’t think we’re worthy?  Or that we can’t remember how to find that energy?  Are we giving into society’s obsession with youth and forgetting that we, baby boomers, anyone over 50, are the ones best equipped to recognize just what the universe can do for us…and know we have had it inside us all along?

More words from Ali Schultz:

“Perhaps the biggest form of self-denial is turning away from the grace that’s always there for us, right now here in the present, and has been with us throughout the arc of our history. Without a story to perpetuate or mental mazes to get lost in, you stop perpetuating the story, the delusion, that you’re alone holding it all together yourself. And, then, you can feel life rush in and join you in conversation. When you open to the world, big love is waiting for you.”

Taking a risk is scary.  Changing your life is scary.  Even just deciding you are going to realign your daily priorities can be scary, because others are going to react to what you are doing.

But you know what?

What’s scary can also be liberating.  Exhilarating.  It can lift you up like a cool autumn breeze invites an eagle to soar to newer heights.

Maybe we can each stop carrying our world, give our backs a rest, and wait for the world to rush in.  What a delightful thought that is.

 

“That is the mystery of grace:  it never comes too late.

    Francois Mauriac  

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We are all “The Hero”

I saw The Hero this weekend, a new movie starring Sam Elliott.  That’s probably enough said, as Sam Elliott is one of my favorites, and not just for the obvious physical appeal.  It goes a lot deeper, as each of his many roles has demonstrated, but none more than this one.  Especially for boomers and beyond, this one resonates deep.

Without giving away spoilers that aren’t already in the movie’s trailer, Sam plays a veteran actor of western genre movies who gets some bad news about his health.  Understandably, he begins examining his life, attempting to reach out to those he’s loved, trying to rekindle a dwindling career, and frankly just make sense of it all.

Who among us, as we age, hasn’t wondered how we would feel if we got a depressing diagnosis?  Maybe some of you already have.  Maybe a loved one has.  It really simplifies things really fast.

Watching the movie, I was struck by many things.

How fast your life goes by.

How suddenly you walk into a room and you are the oldest and often by many years.

How simple things are now harder, not matter how in shape you are or how many crossword puzzles you do.

How the mirror isn’t your friend anymore.

Dang but inside, you’re about 45.  Ready to chart a new course.  Start a new love affair.  Travel the world.

But first, maybe just sit down and take a breath.  Or even a nap.

Sam shows every emotion in this film.  Fear, tenderness, embarrassment, frustration, anger, resolution. A lifetime.  He feels he’s only done one good thing in his career.  Yet as the film unfolds, it’s clear he’s touched many lives and had an impact he may never fully realize.

I want to think that’s true for each of us.  Because aging can feel scary.  Lonely.  Like your once ever-expanding world is suddenly getting so much smaller.  Your real friends, fewer.  Your joyful moments, only now and then.  And it’s too easy to think we haven’t amounted to much.

We don’t feel like heroes.  But don’t you believe it.  We ARE.

We’ve made others smile.  Held someone’s hand to cross the street.  Taught valuable lessons.  Sang over a few hundred birthday cakes. Been there through disasters. Comforted grieving spouses.  Helped our children learn patience. Showed what true friendship means.  Taken care of our frail parents.  Worried over a sickly pet.

We may not feel like our life matters, but maybe that’s the nature of life.  To not get to know the ending until afterwards.  Like someone who leaves a movie early and misses the gem after the credits.

It’s there.  But only for those who are still around.

Our role is to keep going forward.

I suggest you go see The Hero.  There’s a scene in the movie that speaks to the idea that everyone is a star, everyone is a hero.  That’s something we all can use.

Cause we’re still rockin’ it.

 

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

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