Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 17)

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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What’s truly dear to your heart?

We get so bombarded with so much STUFF….so many messages…so many gadgets and apps and channels and offers and more until we often can’t remember what really truly matters to us.  Much less who matters most to us.

I am inclined to think that many of us baby boomers never really know what our short list is, because we’re never really put to the test.  We never have to consider what it would be like not to have that person in our lives.  We grow up, we go to work, we might go off to school but then many of us come back and resume things.  Same surroundings.  Pretty much the same social circle.

It all gets comfortable.  Easy.  Our world stays pretty steady.

Until a disease comes along, and a few of those people you thought would show up don’t.  Or divorce comes along, and those people who used to sit down the pew from you now look at you differently.  Or your lose your job, and you can’t do that regular monthly dinner out and no one calls the other three weeks.It’s interesting to really learn not only who and what matters most to you, but who you matter most to.  (Bad English maybe, but you get it.)  It’s scary.  Yet maybe it’s incredibly freeing as well.

I never understood how I could go to another job, maybe just a few miles away, and my “friends” from my previous job just dropped me.  Having moved a few times as a child to different schools in different states, I learned how friendship is something that shouldn’t depend on geography.  Yet as an adult, it seems there are those who don’t feel that way.

Then I moved across the country.  Having so many miles between me and my previous life really was instructive in terms of who I missed most, and who missed me enough to stay in contact.  I had an even deeper appreciation of their friendship and love because I felt it as well.  I could also look back at my former city and love the good parts about it.  Taking a big step out of your comfort zone definitely changes you, forces you to grow in ways you can’t otherwise, and in some ways, simplifies a lot of things.

I’ve been told when you make a major life change, you often bring up other people’s fears.  They don’t want you to do it because it changes things.  Maybe it makes them consider if they are happy.  Maybe it tests their relationships.  I don’t know.

But then my life got a little stranger.  I moved again, back to my old home grounds.  (Economics, family, etc…kind of like hitting the re-set button for a few years, then we’ll see where I land.)  But I came back thinking I could reconnect with a few of the people who I had considered friends before.  What happened was and is surprising.

My true, live-in-my-heart friends, were glad I was back and we have picked up where we left off, which makes me eternally grateful because I never let go of them and they did not let go of me even when I was very far away.

But a few others…people I used to work with, or hang out with, or in many cases treat to an occasional lunch or dinner when they were down a bit…they have been a no-show.  A few don’t even answer emails or voice messages. My late mother would probably say well maybe they never were my friends anyway.  But it didn’t feel that way.

I’ve checked my breath and personal hygiene.  That’s not it either.

Times change.  People change.  Maybe Mother was right.

What has been fascinating is doing all this full-circle.  Being in one place for many years, moving to a new place for a decade, then moving back…and seeing what is still true, what never was true, and how you have to always find your own bliss, own peace of mind, and own strength.

I’ve never been the type of person who needs to be surrounded by a lot of people.  I don’t have 300 “friends” on Facebook (no judgment if you do, it’s just not me).  I’m very okay with solitary moments and I can dine, see a movie or travel solo without missing a beat.  I feel more fulfilled in nature than in any other situation, and if you’re going to blast music while walking down a mountain trail, please go on ahead of me so I don’t have to hear it.

And maybe those of us who actually step past the safety zone…who take risks and do things other deem as scary…without a net…who follow their inner voice and are willing to feel the fear, loneliness and confusion that can come with that…maybe we actually do have more strength.

And maybe in the long run, our rewards are greater.

Not more money.  Not the coolest people at our table.  Not necessarily the smoothest road.

But the one that takes us inward, where our real treasures lie.

So if you’re considering going forward, or going back, take care.

Bundle up.

Grab a snack.

Stick to the trail.

Cause it’s not easy…but it’s also not near as hard as never taking that step.

 

“Pursue some path, rather narrow or crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

        Henry David Thoreau

 

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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.

Breathe.

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

Yet:

  • 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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