Tag: accepting aging

GOING GYPSY or How to Escape Old Age & Survive

GOING GYPSY or How to Escape Old Age & Survive

I have followied Veronica and David James of Gypsynester fame since they first flew the empty nest and ventured into the world of life ongypsynester the road. I admired there chutzpah and their sense of humor, not to mention their upbeat outlook on life. It was a breath of fresh air. Life seem more than hard from where I sat and I was curious to see how tossing all one’s cares away would all play out. A very big part of me was wishing I was doing the same thing! I so wanted to escape old age!

Back then, when boomers everywhere were trying to figure out the next phase of life, the internet created an opportunity for us to be privy to some really awesome adventures, and courageous folks telling their stories in vivid detail. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to read David and Veronica’s blogs along the way, you’ll love their new book, Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All. Humor always prevails in their world and they both have the gift of the story teller. It’s a delightful, page turning adventure complete with pictures.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. Then scurry on over to their website and sign on for further adventures. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All

by David and Veronica James

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

FOLLOW David and Veronica on Twitter and Facebook. 

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DO YOU HAVE THE TRAVEL BUG?

You’ll enjoy learning about Carefree RV Resorts

 

Not Doing

Not Doing

Photo by Allison Trentelman
Photo by
Allison Trentelman

We are miserable not-doers in this increasingly fast- paced world. No wonder old age terrifies us! We can’t imagine “not doing”, so programmed to do, do, do. Most of our lives have been spent focused on activities of one sort or another. Even with our offspring, most parents of our generation and our parent’s generation were bound and determined to make them exceptionally good “doers”.  Indeed, doers were honored with degrees, monetary wealth, and a resume the length of your arm. We’re still doing it. How many over-fiftiers are desperately searching for something meaningful “to do”?

How does one get comfortable with not-doing? Do we even really see any value in it?  In my last post I talked about the in-between times and not-doing is exactly what’s required of us during those important times when we just don’t know who we are or what direction to head. Our inclination to do leads to filling up our time and space with random activities and endless mental gymnastics, most of which, if you’re like me, amount to beating ourselves up for not doing.

It’s a conundrum. It is inevitable, if we choose to be realistic, that the older we get, the less up and at ’em doing we’ll be doing. There are those who are revered by the media and those of us who read and spread the news, like the seventy seven year old Ernestine Shepherd who lifts weights like a thirty year old man, or Diana Nyad who swam from Cuba to Florida at sixty four. Most of us will never measure up to these women with our physical prowess, but the underlying message is prevalent among aging women in America and beyond that if we are not “doing” we are not of value.

If we are not doing in some form or another, how do we value our existence? What if we sit in a chair and stare out of the window for an hour, or a day, does that not have value? What if we never bake another cake for a charity event, or gather food for the homeless, is it possible for us to still have value? I bore witness to the last half of my mother’s life and she was relentless in compiling and executing to-do lists. She didn’t feel right in her skin unless she had a project under way. My father the same way. Both died feeling in many ways unfulfilled and not good enough.

I run into women every day, online and off, who are unhappy, dissatisfied, restless, uninspired, anxious, despairing and totally convinced they have no value. They deride themselves because they don’t have a degree, or an important job, or their art hanging in a gallery, or a published book, or three grandchildren, or enough money in the bank. How many of us live every day dissatisfied with who we are and what we have?

We get a little smarter as we get older. We care a little less about the kudos and accolades that we sought after in our youth, but I’m pretty sure most of us feel, at least from time to time, like we’re not “measuring up” in the way we are handling the aging process. How should we be measuring ourselves?

At the first of the year I posted my Windows to Wisdom. I’ve been writing and re-writing this little piece for a couple of years. I don’t know that I’m settled exactly on what I have down now, but it’s a summary of the things I’ve come to value as I age, and yet each and every one of them is a kind of “doing” thing, but the kind of doing whose results can’t really be measured by anyone but ourselves. They are non-doing doing things that require no particular physical skill or worldly outcome. They are non-doing challenges that help us improve the quality of our lives on the inside.

If we have to do, if we just can’t stop doing, and I’m not altogether sure that we can or should, let’s measure ourselves not by externals, but by what we are doing on the inside. Furthermore, let’s measure our success by how regularly we focus our attention on developing our wisdom, not on outcomes. Wisdom, like love, spills over. It just can’t help it.

Do You Hate Your Body?

Do You Hate Your Body?

A friend shared an article on Facebook the other day titled: We Hate Our Bodies, and It’s Not Our Fault. How could I not read it after all the conversations we’ve had on the subject of body image and self-acceptance in recent years? I wondered what women were thinking now? As I read through it, many of my own memories came back to the surface. Even when we make significant steps toward self-acceptance, the damage runs deep and lingers long.

What saddened me was that the post was written by a woman from, what we might now refer to as the “younger gegraphic-design-snow-falling-perfecthue-photography-portfolio-of-jason-1381158neration”. At 37 she still wrestles with body image demons that took root at the very young age of seven.  I always thought my most entrenched body image issues arose when I was nine. I think if I dug deeper I would find that they began in very subtle ways much earlier.  I was startled, however, by the writer’s admission to such early wounding. Two years may not sound like much, but in developmental years it is significant. Cultural demands on women with regard to their appearance were worse, it seems, for those ten, twenty and even thirty years younger than we are. The conversation has only really just begun.

Like most women, I carry the scars of living for too many years trying to measure up to external guidelines and hating myself for failing to do so. I cry sad and bitter tears for all of the precious little girls who live inside of each of us today, who silently bear similar wounds, and I wonder how many tiny little beauties field daily assaults on their self-image, assaults that will last a lifetime.  It is, in my opinion, a very serious problem that needs an army of ambassadors to tackle. It needs to stop and those of us who understand the pain and a bit of the problem can do our part to undo the wrong that has been done by a culture run amok.

WHO’S FAULT IS IT?

Abuse victims often feel that they are to blame for their abuse and the pain it has caused. The admission of innocence by the author in the aforementioned post is one more telling piece of evidence to support the understanding that what the collective thought and action of our culture is inflicting on women is, in fact, abuse. It is not only first hand abuse, but the abused abusing. The mother who herself was denigrated often unwittingly inflicts the same skewed standards on her daughters. Insofar as we do not stop the abuse at its source, we are cooperating with it.

It is true that the victim of abuse is not to blame. However, until she gives up her victim mentality and takes back her power of choice, she will remain victimized by herself if no one else. Yes, it is true we are not to blame for the messages we received as children. It is also true that we alone can and must take responsibility for healing our own wounds and when possible helping others do the same. We alone must take responsibility for what we allow into our space and what we allow to continue around us without objection.

BUT WHAT CAN WE DO?

Things are not changing fast enough to suit me. We still allow big business and the media to have enormous power over us and as long as we acquiesce and purchase the products they push on us, they will remain strong and virulent as they benefit from and prey pray upon on fears, our insecurities, and the self-loathing they helped us  create. Every time we step foot into Victoria’s Secret and lay our money on the counter we are reinforcing the body image, not to mention the morality, the company spreads across our planet in images and impressions. Each time we abdicate our responsibility as women to right the wrong, we continue to set up one little girl after another to hate herself for who she is. Every time we go to into a store and buy SPANX, we are supporting an industry that says curves and softness are to be vanquished and that perceived beauty as defined by the fashion industry and supported ad naseum by the media, trumps comfort. Every time we disparage our age, criticize our wrinkles, buy another product to change or hide or cover up who we are, we are passing on the curse of cultural expectations to those who follow in our footsteps.

feed the beauty
Art: Sophie Lumen

Our very first step as my friend Sophie Lumen so aptly stated numerous times on her Feed the Beauty website and Facebook page, “beauty is an inside job”. Work on your inside and you will be beautiful on the outside. It’s just how it is. It’s simply the nature of humanity. Get healthy in body, mind and spirit and you won’t need Victoria’s Secret or Spanx. You won’t need a face lift or a tummy tuck. Our bodies are beautiful in all of their little, and not so little, dips and curves and infinite uniqueness. As Dr. Estes reminds us, “Our body is our beloved companion”. Would we treat our beloved in the way we treat ourselves? I think not.

But, what can we do to change such an insidious mindset? Plenty. We have the power…collectively. Imagine if today, this minute, each one of us did one thing internally and one thing externally to attack this problem by taking a personal step of any size toward greater and greater self-love, self-care and self-acceptance, and one public step toward changing the destructive cultural patterns that are continuing to wound little girls and women alike? Imagine the ripple effect?

As we grow in consciousness of what is of true and right and good for all women, our need and desire for, and attraction to, cultural guidelines and expectations will fall away. We may even find that we are repelled by the images that are flashed before us. When we are focused on honoring and respecting who we are we are automatically repelled by anything that debases us or sends a message to pretend we are someone other than who we are.

Each time we refuse to purchase a product that portrays or advocates an unrealistic, culturally devised image of a woman we take a stand for truth and self-love as higher values. Women’s magazines and websites are rife with such images and advertisers. Begin there. Send letters, write posts like this one. When assaulted by an image or an ad that supports the idealization of the female body, call the initiator on it, or publicly announce that you will not be purchasing this product because….and let them know exactly why.  If we do not show up to purchase their products, or read their magazines and websites, they will have to change or go out of business. Purchasing power is a mighty sword and we have it in spades.

It’s time ladies. Let’s take a stand to stop the abuse and to take back our power and dignity as women.

 


Recommended Reading/Listening:


“Each one of us is a triumvirate being – at once the union of the body, soul, and all that lies within.” For any that experience disharmony amongst these three vital aspects, Dr. Clarissa Estes reveals a path back to wholeness. Join her with the Joyous Body: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype for the third volume of her masterwork on the Wise Woman archetype. This empowering six-session program shares original and old family stories, poems and psychological commentary on the challenges, remedies and ancient knowings of the female body, “that which is not a dumb servant but a divine human traveler and consort.”

MORE ARTICLES ON BODY IMAGE:

Keeping Up Appearances: Who Would We Be If We Quit Talking About Aging

Women at War with Their Bodies

 

 

Overcoming Writer’s Block for Late Blooming Writers

Overcoming Writer’s Block for Late Blooming Writers

senior woman typingOvercoming writer’s block is something every writer must face. For new writers over fifty, it can be particularly challenging. We feel a sense of urgency as the years creep up on us. We often feel as though we are playing catch up and we have the nagging feeling that everyone else knows more than we do. The next thing we know we’re  comparing our insides to everyone else’s outsides and coming up short.

Writer’s block sounds something like this in the late-blooming writer’s mind, “I’m too old. It’s too late. I’ve missed my chance. What I’m writing doesn’t really matter. It’s all been said before. Her book is so much better than mine. Her article was so clever, mine doesn’t compare. What am I thinking? I should get back to reality and do the laundry or mow the grass, or get a real job. I should be spending my time exercising, or visiting the sick, not writing.” Need I say more? It’s the descent into every late-blooming writer’s hell.

Late blooming writers do face unique challenges. We sometimes have health issues to contend with, problems that slow us down and interrupt our progress. We may have the pressures of caring for a family member or an uneasiness with technology and keeping up with the practical aspects of the ever-changing publishing world. If we’ve spent our lives engaged in a wholly different career or none at all, there is a sharp learning curve.

We do have to own that we may not know as much as our thirty-something counterparts or the woman with an MFA. It’s about self-love and self-respect and not comparing apples to oranges.  What we are doing is important. What we bring to the written word as a fifty, sixty, seventy or eighty-year-old writer is something that youth can never duplicate.

We also carry with us one of the best sources of motivation on the planet: a sense that time is limited; that we may not have tomorrow; that today may be as good as it gets. We can’t put off what is most important to us any longer or we will indeed run out of time. When this wave of truth washes over us we have two choices, 1) run in fear far away from ourselves, or 2) get back to work.  I, for one, work best with a deadline!

Running in fear looks like a steady stream of avoidance thoughts and behaviors, most of which can be summed up in the writer’s block list of excuses above. We can spend hours, days, weeks or months wrestling with our demons or, we can get back to work. We can mow the grass, take out the garbage, bake cookies for our grandkids, knit wool scarves for our grown children for Christmas, or we can get back to work.

I will never say that staring down our demons is a waste of time, because it isn’t. We must just keep writing while we’re doing it. The truth, however, in my humble opinion based on my experience of feeling blocked, is that writer’s block is an excuse. It’s an avoidance tactic, a fear, and ultimately a choice. I said it. Writer’s block is a choice. Actually, it’s many little choices all piled together. Every time you choose not to write, you are adding a brick to your writer’s block.

Successful writers, published writers, are writers who write. Period. They’ve chosen to write, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week. We make the choice to write every single second we sit in front of computers and press the keys. That’s it. The end of writer’s block is putting one finger in front of the other again and again and again.

Living with Scarcity in a World of Abundance

Living with Scarcity in a World of Abundance

Fall gardensThis morning as I look out my window, I am drawn to the awakening blue sky and the rays of the sun that wash over the lush green foliage along my driveway. It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks the landscape will look quite different. In late August and early September we find, fast growing greenery such as wild morning glories and other late summer vines (and weeds) growing with such speed one can almost see them growing. It’s as if they see the end in sight and know it’s time to hurry.

I feel much like the morning glories some days. It’s time to hurry up and do what it is I’m supposed to do in this life. I’ve grown weary of earthly endeavors, the abundance of things that no longer have much use to me, much as I grow tired of the impatience in my garden that seem to go on endlessly this time of year.  By mid-September I want nothing more than to pull them out by the roots and be done with them, their splashy pink tones an assault to the senses.  It is now the season of yellows and golds and browns.

It reminds me of the ebb and flow of our lives, the abundance of youth, the eagerness to expand at midlife and the desire for simplicity and a less lush environment as we we reach our wisdom years. Like the leaves that will fall, age calls us inward. We are called to settle the score of our soul and leave the worldly things to those still finding their way.  It is a time of simplicity, not scarcity; an abundance of the soul, not a worldly abundance.

Though the seasons are changing, there is still much to be done.

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The Holiday Blues

The Holiday Blues

christmas-fireplace-wallpaperhd-fireplaces-wallpaper-christmas-desktop-fireplace-with-nj67mz92The holiday season is winding down. If you’ve made it this far and haven’t had a bout of the blues, you’re doing great! Pat yourself on the back and keep whistling a happy tune. Your positive energy will surely spill over on someone who could use it!

For many, however, the holidays bring up all sorts of issues, unfinished business with family members, reminders of loved ones no longer with us, and as we get older, oh, so many memories! It’s not surprising we feel melancholy throughout the season. Nothing can trigger a memory faster than the smell of pine, or the taste of a candy cane. For me, cracking a walnut brings back a childhood stocking filled to the brim with fresh walnuts, fruit and a little bit of candy.

The holiday season is a time we may need to a reminder to be gentle with ourselves. Take a little extra care and a little extra focus on being kind to yourself. If you’re feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or neighbor. They may be lonely too. Treat yourself to a long, leisurely bath while listening to your favorite soothing music. Go to the library and check out a novel you’ve been wanting to read. Go for a long walk. It will not only raise your endorphin levels and boost your spirits, it’ll help you sleep better. (I went for three walks yesterday! I slept like a baby last night.)

Always remember, “this too shall pass”. You will get through it. Routine will return. New adventures are just around the corner. Above all, you are loved, and you matter.

Dorothy

A Tradition of Anticipation

Patient Waiting – The Gift of the Unknown

Inspirational Books by Dorothy Sander
Inspirational Books by
Dorothy Sander