Tag: boomer (page 1 of 3)

Mindful, creative living.

There’s a lot of talk about being more mindful these days.

Such as, instead of just going through the motions of a familiar task, we become truly present in that moment, making sure we are doing what we need to, and not misplacing our keys or leaving the refrigerator door open or trying to remember why we entered a room.

Easier said than done it seems, at least for many of us.  There’s just so many things to deal with…even as you age.  You’d think it might get easier, but at least in my experience, it hasn’t.

Harvard social psychology professor Dr. Ellen Langer has written several books on the subject of mindfulness.  Known as the “mother of mindfulness” over her 35+ year career, she has also touched on how tapping into the creative part of ourselves can greatly enhance our ability to be mindful in the moment.

This can be any moment.  Taking a walk. Bathing a grandchild.  Preparing breakfast.  Doing your taxes. Anything that calls for our attention…and our creativity.

In her wonderful book “On Becoming an Artist,” she explores how anyone—truly anyone—can be an artist.  We all have creativity within us, and if we have the courage to get past the fear of someone laughing or being critical of what we create (and often that person is ourselves), we can discover a freedom and joy we’ve never experienced.

Some of her words from “On Becoming An Artist”:

“I believe that our natural, mindful creativity should be the way we experience most, if not all, of our days.  By engaging in some new activity—whether it is art, music, sports, gardening, or cooking—on an ongoing basis, we can being to experience what it is like to be more mindful.  Most of the time mindlessness comes by default, not by design, and when we are mindless we’re oblivious to being so.  We need to find a way to cue us into our mindlessness. We need a bell that will sound for us, signaling that we are acting mindlessly. When we let ourselves fully engage a new task and see how exciting it feels, as soon as we feel otherwise the bell should sound.  If we remove the roadblocks, we can begin to engage ourselves, again.”

Now if you are already saying, “I’m no artist”, Dr. Langer is very persuasive in her belief that you really are—you just haven’t let it come out.  Fear most likely has blocked you, or at some time many years ago, a misguided teacher or supervisor chided you for your attempts.

It may feel scary, but you must quiet those voices and do it anyway.

As she says in her book, “Can you draw a reasonably straight line?  A curved line?  A thick bold line or curve?  A think line or curve?  Can you recognize different colors?  If so, all that is left to be able to draw or paint is to learn how to see.  To play an instrument, all you need to learn is to hear.  It is that simple.”

And I will add, it can be that much fun.  I know in the past few years I”ve left myself get past the “I can’t do this” mindset to just playing with pastel painting.  Sure, most of it I wouldn’t hang in my house.  But I did frame a few of my attempts, not so much because I think they’re exceptional, but because it was fun to do, I surprised myself, and they represent my being okay with my creativity.

Throughout her book, Dr. Langer explores some of the roadblocks that keep us from discovering our creativity, and embracing mindfulness.  Things like social comparison, evaluation, making choices, and how we must individualize our experiences. How we stroll through a museum and just assume that the breathtaking works of art we see just “happened”…that because Rembrandt or Michelangelo or Renoir had so much inborn talent, they didn’t really struggle like we would.  And that “everyone” agrees their work is awesome while whatever we do is frivolous.

Yet if you study these artists, you learn differently.  They worried. They studied. They failed.  But most likely, when they achieved their masterpieces, it was due to truly being mindful…putting all else our of their heads for a period of time and just being present.

Imagine the freedom!

Even if you’re not interested in developing your artistic side, mindfulness could be a wonderful exercise for other parts of your life.  As Dr. Langer says on her online site:

“The simple process of noticing new things is the key to being there. When we notice new things we come to see the world with the excitement of seeing and experiencing it for the first time, but with the comfort that of our previous life experiences brings to the activity.”

Dr. Langer is definitely a boomer who is rocking the wrinkle!

Maybe give it a try….today….take a regular task and really be present in it.  Feel yourself relax into it, breathe a bit more evenly, take care of it and then move on.

And maybe later, notice how the sun sparkles on the snow, or the bird that just landed on the windowsill.  Pick up pencil and sketch it, just for a minute.  Or write a few lines for a poem.  Or take a photograph.

You might like it.

 

“Where we are is where we’ve never been.”

Dr. Ellen Langer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 days of a boomer Christmas.

12 Days of a Boomer Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my Subaru gave to me…..

a broken transmission they’ll repair for free.

On the second day of Christmas, my neighbor’s trees gave to me….

two zillion new leaves, and a broken transmission they’ll fix for free.

On the third day of Christmas, my utility company gave to me….

a lovely rate increase, two zillion leaves, and a broken transmission they’ll fix for free.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my clients gave to me….…

 last-minute rush jobs, a lovely rate increase, two zillion leaves, and a transmission they fix for free.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my pantry gave to me….…

chili cheese fritos!   last-minute rush jobs, a lovely rate increase, two zillion leaves, and a transmission they fix for free.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my closet gave to me….…

the next size, chili cheese fritos!  last-minute rush jobs, a lovely rate increase, two zillion leaves, and why is it always  me.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my remotes gave to me

seven batteries a-dying, the next size, chili cheese fritos!  last-minute rush jobs, a lovely rate increase,  two gazillion leaves, and broken transmission oh golly gee.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my dog gave to me….

eight bags of black hair, seven batteries a-dying, the next size, chili cheese fritos!  last-minute rush jobs, a  lovely rate increase, two gazillion leaves, and a transmission they fix for free.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my subconscious gave to me

nine ways to feel guilty, eight bags of black hair, seven batteries a-dying, the next size, chili cheese fritos!  Four last-minute rush jobs, a  lovely rate increase, two gazillion leaves, and please please someone help me.

On the tenth day of Christmas, driving gave to me

ten new swear words …nine ways to feel guilty, eight bags of black hair, seven batteries a-dying, the next size, chili cheese fritos!  Four last-minute rush jobs, a  lovely rate increase, two gazillion leaves, and someone get the cat out of the tree.

On the eleventh  day of Christmas, my oven gave to me

eleven ways to ruin cookies …ten new swear words, nine ways to feel guilty, eight bags of black hair, seven batteries a-dying, the next size, chili cheese fritos!  Four last-minute rush jobs, a  lovely rate increase, two gazillion leaves, and please please someone help me.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my heart gave to me….

12 reasons to be happy

11 million reasons to be grateful

10 ways to find joy each day

9 people I could help right now

8 chances to smile every hour

7 recipes to share

6 songs I could hum as I drive

5 people I could wave to as they cut me off in traffic! 

4 elderly friends who could use a visit

3 old friends I miss

2 donations to make

and a Merry Christmas to one and all!

 

 

“Ho Ho Ho!”

   Santa Claus

 

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what are you waiting for?

It’s Advent.  A season of waiting, of hope, of  learning patience for all the wonderful  things that could be.  That’s not something many of us really understand easily, in this age of right now,  right here, right away.  We’re so sure we know what is around the corner, so why doesn’t it just get here already?

But what if  we acknowledge that we truly do not know what is ahead…and let that be okay?  We might find a real peace in giving up control (like we had it anyway) and just letting life be.

You’d think as boomers, having gone through so many things in our life—most of it unexpected—we’d be used to the idea that  we often have no clue.  We make our plans, we  deliver our list to our higher power, and then we wait for it all to come true.

Surely Santa will find us, even if we don’t have a chimney.

And then Christmas morning comes, and it’s not  under  the  tree.  The new job.  The perfect marriage. The wonderful house.  The dream we’ve been keeping in our hearts for a lifetime.  Why?  What did we do wrong?

Why can’t we have what we want, and right now?

Or…maybe we did get it.

That new job…what you really wanted was to feel competent and respected.  Look around:  there  are probably many people who consider you a mentor. You’re smart.  Successful.  Own it!

The perfect marriage...would that be Ozzie and Harriet or Father Knows Best?  Those are television shows.  Reality is a bit tougher.  And maybe  just taking a look at photos of you and your spouse from the early years might  remind you why you fell in love.  He/she is still  there, sitting right across from you every morning.

That wonderful house...it’s okay to want a sparkling new kitchen or a wonderful deck for entertaining.  Maybe just making some easy changes would make things feel new, like new paint or rug or outdoor furniture.  Like they say, if you want it, picture it…you never know.

That dream….this is where it gets trickier. You always wanted to live in the mountains. Or you’ve pictured the farm in the country with cats, dogs, horses and more. Or you haven’t been to Europe and you’re starting to wonder if you’ll  make it.  Maybe what’s really tugging at your heart is something else—a need to explore.  To take a risk.  To do something a bit frivolous and throw caution to the wind.

Do it. Right now.  Every day.  Do something unexpected.  Even a little crazy.  It might take you just a few steps closer to doing the big thing you’ve always wanted to do.

In “Things That Join The Sea and The Sky,” author Mark Nepo says:

“At the end of all we want, we’re meant to glow. So long and want and dream till you exhaust your heart’s desire.  We learn so much from longing, and wanting, and dreaming.  Mostly, that they are not the mansions we dream of living in, but the wood that keeps our fire going.”

I have to believe we get what we need, and, if we ask, we do get what we want….but it might not even be something we realize we want. Sometimes it feels like it takes forever. Remember being a child on Christmas Eve?

It’s a season of joy…it’s coming, but it’s also here, within us, even if we have to hunt for it.  Let’s not give up.

 

“Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.”

Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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