Tag: boomers (page 1 of 13)

Power of the Labyrinth

Life can take us in many directions, and often on paths we never thought we’d choose.  Sometimes the way ahead is clear.  Other times, (and for me, more often than not,) the path ahead is a bit hazy…I can’t quite see the images…and when I get to that intersection I am really not sure where I’m supposed to go.

It’s like hiking, which has always been my favorite thing though these days my feet don’t want to cooperate.  I hike a trail. I can tell where it’s going.  Then I come to a point where it seems to split into many options.  Obviously only one is “really” the trail.  But the others look kind of okay…are they options?

If I choose one I’ve never done before, will it bring me back to where I am right now?

 Or will I get lost and never find my way back? 

The movies want you to think that it’s easy to figure out moments like this.  There’s a sudden vision.  Or the music changes and the sun comes out and you just know.  More likely is you are tired, distracted and you’d just like someone to come along and tell you which way is which.

file000143069688That whole fantasy about how things get easier as you get older…hmmm…how’s that working for you?  I agree we have more wisdom as we age.  But I’m not sure it always makes things easier.

When my mind won’t settle enough for me to figure out what’s next, or there’s just no peace because it feels like I’ve backtracked and messed up and soon I’ll even up living under a bridge, I try to find experiences that quiet it all.  Meditation is good.  Tai chi is restorative.  Nature is always a balm.

And then there’s the labyrinth.

According to The Labyrinth Society, a “labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological or spiritual transformation.  Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity.”    Labyrinths are considered walking meditations, where your psyche meets your spirit.

Labyrinth enthusiasts believe that as you enter the labyrinth, you release.  When you enter the center, you receive.  Then as you leave, you give back to the world what you have received.

One of the most famous labyrinths is that found at Chartres Cathedral in France.  This labyrinth is 42 feet in diameter and is thought to have been constructed in the early 13th century, though no one is sure.  What is known is that up to 1,000 people have walked the path and the numbers continue to grow.

What is it that pulls so many people to walk this design?  Does it really have a power all its own?

Many years ago I was at a point in my life where I could not figure out what was my inner self giving me direction, or what were the messages I’d absorbed for years from well-meaning but negative people I was around.  I just wanted to clear my mind and get a feel for what my path should be.  I had heard of a large labyrinth laid out at a church near me, and I decided to try it.  A friend had suggested that before I walk the labyrinth, I say a prayer or meditation of what I hoped to find…what answer I was looking for.  And be sure to enter the design with as clear a mind as possible.

Easier said than done, but I followed her advice.  And it was, for me, an amazing feeling.  As I entered the labyrinth, I felt what I can best describe as a force field…an energy that seemed very real and very strong.  I took my time and let thoughts come and go.  What most impressed me was how just as you think you’re about to reach the center, the labyrinth takes you back out to the outer edges, slowing you down, making you revisit where you have come from, not allowing you to just quickly find that golden egg.

In other words, you can’t get where you going without circling back to where you’ve been. 

I find that to be a huge lesson.  We don’t just come out of the rodeo shoot and never look back.  We make progress, we accomplish things, we lead our lives…but we’re always calling upon where we’ve come from.

Some reject this idea, as they have come from places or environments that were abusive or so negative they never want to look back.  I understand that.  But I think even that pain has something to teach us and if we boomers ignore it, it’s just going to keep popping up and block our forward motion.

dioI also noted how once I reached the center of the labyrinth, I felt peace.  I could just breathe and be for a bit.  (How often do we do that??)  Then as I was ready to leave the center, I once again had to follow a path that picked up speed, then slowed, and again, took me literally full circle…to the outer edges and back.

Maybe this all sounds weird.  But lately, I’m in a place again where my inner self is a bit off-balance, where it is easy to give in to the notion that because I’ve returned to an earlier address, I’ve failed or walked backwards.  Yet my conscious mind knows that’s not the case; I’ve just taken one of those spur trails to see where it will take me.

I’ll still get where I was going, but I will take an unexpected route.  And it might be one that for a while doesn’t feel quite right, like putting on shoes that don’t fit or a sweater that itches.  But if I trust a higher force to get me through the dark parts, then surely there’s a vista at the end of this trail that’s far more beautiful than I could have imagined.

I let go.  I receive.  I give back.  And maybe in the process, I return to who I am so I can be even more.

“Methinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”     

       Henry David Thoreau

 

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New Bodies for Boomers

I went to a large hardware/home maintenance store that has lots of aisles and products and stuff…yet now if you want keys made, you walk up to a machine.  Really.  You push buttons and choose designs and get your keys.

Okay.  Kind of sad somehow, but okay.

I got to thinking…after having a weekend of being busy in the yard and other places and wondering why it’s become so hard to get up of the ground and what in the world is going on with my knees….what if we baby boomers could walk up to a vending machine and order new body parts? 

How cool would that be?

Knees creaking?  Hit button 2.  Arms wearing out?  Button 3.  Eyes going?  Hit buttons 4 and 5 (don’t worry, they’re in large print.)  Why would I want to do this?  Well let’s see.

Let’s take a look at the baby boomer’s guide to our bodies.

  • Feet. If you’ve reached 60 and you actually (a) still wear open-toed shoes, (b) do not have to get up in the morning and immediately tape your toes or heels, or (c) can wear high heels or cowboy boots for more than 3 hours without beginning to have pain-induced hallucinations, you are lucky.  Good on you.  For the rest of us, we’d be choosing new feet with no plantar fasciitis or planter plate failure or bad toes or high arches or any other joys of aging.

Imagine…wearing those cute shoes again.  Dancing again.  Sandals.  Sigh.

  • Arms if you raise your arms, do you feel like you have two ornamental flags flying? The joys of aging.  Michelle Obama has the arms we want.  What we generally have falls a bit short, though my personal goal is to go sleeveless and not care.  Not there yet.  But if a machine would let me get them, I’d be all over it.
  • Eyes. Can you read this without sitting across the room?  Have you had cataracts yet?  Do you have a pair of glasses in every room of the house?  Congratulations, you are a boomer.  And you get bonus points if you have ever looked for your glasses for more than 2 hours and they were on your head the whole time.
  • Ears. Want me to speak up? Television loud enough?  Please.  For the sake of those around you, see a physician.  Really, it’s okay.
  • Joints. When did it get so hard to get up out of a chair…and off the floor? It could be added to the Olympics.  It’s not fair.  But it is what it is.   I recently bathed my dog…it was an Olympic event.  Some of you know what I am talking about.
  • Brain. Please put this machine in the nearest gas station as soon as possible. Let’s see, why would we need a new brain?   where are the keys.  Where is the car.  What day is it.  Where did I put that.  Have I paid that bill.  What did she just say?  Did I RSVP for that.  I used to know the words to that.  How old am I…wait, I’ll check….

Okay, it’s too much to hope for.  Meanwhile, we will just keep going with what we have.  And new machines will keep being added to what used to be the old-fashioned hardware store.

Maybe one day.

You never know.

 

“There are no gains without pains.”

      Benjamin Franklin

 

 

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Too many distractions?

I confess. I hate pop-ups. Those annoying graphic invaders that appear every time you land on a website.

 Especially the ones that cover the whole screen, and you can’t figure out how to get them to go away without accidentally opting out of the whole site.

What I hate about them is I feel like some invisible force has decided that I should be more interested in the ad or message on the pop-up rather than the site I have sought to read. Or has decided that after 2.5 seconds, I must already be bored and now need to read something else or take advantage of some offer that will only last a few seconds so I better hurry.

Excuse me, but when did I give up control over what content I want to see?

I’m guessing this is all a result of today’s disappearing attention span syndrome.

Ten years ago, the average attention span was 12 minutes. Now it is 5 minutes. And yes, fellow boomers and beyond, younger people really do have the shortest attention span.

c9e42240Seems social media really is affecting all our brains. Our brains grow and adjust according to our experiences. And we all are getting information too quickly. Our brains are getting lazy. And we are getting anxious when we’re not being stimulated.

Thus, the pop-ups.

Many say we have created a culture of distraction. We sit in a group of friends and stare at our phones. We can’t think for long periods of a time. In fact, studies are showing that because we are now finding it so hard to just sit and let our minds settle, we are becoming worse at creative thinking.

That’s scary. Because quiet, let-your-mind-wander moments are often when our great ideas appear. Answers to questions we’ve been pondering suddenly seem clear. Concepts for paintings, melodies for songs, equations for formulas…they have to have space and air to rise to the top of our minds.

But these days, it seems no one can just “be”. Standing in line means reading an article online. Waiting for a friend to arrive means sending an email. Sitting in traffic gives us time to check the market’s performance.

Instead of letting our mind wander, we reach for a gadget.

It’s a wonder anyone gets any real serious thinking done at work. The average office worker is said to check his or her mail 30 to 40 times an hour. That’s a lot of distraction.   And of course we don’t unhook from our electronic addictions at lunch, or even after work, or, God forbid, on vacation—it’s a constant attack on our weary brains.

I know some people who can’t sit through a movie unless it’s less than two hours or it’s on television so they can be checking their phone the whole time. I really wonder how many people under 50 enjoy, or even attempt, reading a long article, much less a book, without being interrupted many times. Or without first tweeting or posting to Facebook what they’re doing.

JOd4DPGLThifgf38Lpgj_IMGDeep thinking isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. We’ve got to fight back. Put down our phones. Turn off the computer for a few hours. Go on a vacation that allows our brain to put on sunglasses, feel the breeze, and vegetate.

It’s great to have so much information at our fingertips 24 hours a day. But it’s also up to us to remember we can decide when we access it.

And when we’d rather let our brain send us its own amazing “pop-up”.

 “Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.”

        Lao Tzu

 

 

 

 

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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?

Learningmind.com 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 Learning-mind.com:

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.”

IT’S WRONG.

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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