Tag: boomers

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

The value of truth seems to have lost its influence. 

The world keeps turning. I get up in the morning to the sun, and go to bed each night with the moon and the stars shining their light on my broken heart. The world is a “hot mess” as my young millennial friends would say.

Navigating life now is not an easy task! Walking the medial way, with one foot in the world and one foot in Spirit, isn’t easy to do under “normal” circumstances!  Now, it feels impossible, and yet it is certainly an excellent opportunity to practice! I, like many I talk to, long for simpler times.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH AS I SEE IT

What is the Truth?
I woke up this morning feeling exactly like Alice in Wonderland. ART BY: David Hoffrichter

I keep choosing, every day, to speak the truth as I see it; to ask the questions, explore the answers, look for what lies beneath the surface of things. Even as I try to be kind about it, not attacking or name calling, my words seem to cause sparks to fly.  People rant at me and call me names.

In the past week, I was called a bigot, a pseudo-intellectual, an irrational feminist, and a few other choices names I’d rather not repeat here.  The nastiest, meanest comments came from men, who I previously believed were highly rational, intelligent, educated men. The comments I received from women were angry and upset, more aimed at the belief that I should be taking about the politics on an aging site, nor should I take sides. I weigh this question constantly.

“JUST GET ALONG!”

The most common concern I’ve heard from women has been, “don’t you think you should play nice and just accept what is happening?” To this I say, yes and no.

Nothing infuriates me more than the part of our culture that wants us to get on board with the status quo. What we are experiencing right now IS NOT NORMAL. It is not business as usual, and I won’t pretend it is. I protested in the 60’s and my values with regard to peace, love and acceptance remain the same. I’ve never been a fan of the establishment, but this is going too far!

NAME CALLING HURTS!

It hurts being attacked.  Conflicting feelings rise to the surface, adrenaline pumps through my body and I’m suddenly in fight or flight mode. I want to lash out, and with my weapon of choice write an epistle explaining exactly how and why I am not what they say I am.  When I realize that more conversation would be pointless, I sink into despair. What am I to do with all these feelings now?

ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

I have no choice but to go inside myself and ask the hard question. Are they right? Do their labels fit?

Am I a pseudo-intellectual?  I’ve never thought of my self as an intellectual, so that one was lost on me as a true reflection of myself. However, by asking the question I began to see the perpetrators projection. The particular label came from a man who, even at 16, took abundant pride in his intelligence. He believed his intellectual abilities made him superior. Sadly, all these years later when we reconnected I discovered that he has not grown past his arrogant, narcissist ways. He still needs to be intellectually superior, and when he feels threatened, he does what all great thinkers do, call people names.  I told him he was behaving exactly like the President-Elect, which he was. He didn’t like that a bit and unfriended me. I now consider it a victory to have stirred that particular pot!

A bigot – that one got me.  A bigot is “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions” – this coming from a man who unfriended me because he didn’t like what I was saying on Facebook. Am I a bigot? We all have our blind spots so I’d have to say yes, I’m intolerant toward some who hold different opinions. Our president-elect would be one of them. Trust me, I am working on this. I long to find a place of acceptance that does not mean acquiescence.  Right now, I can’t see the divine in this man just yet. In fact, I tend to think he’s evil incarnate and see it as my job to speak out against him.

COMPASSION FOR ALL WHO HAVE BEEN & WILL BE DISAPPOINTED

Beyond that, I have deep compassion for the people who elected him believing he would change their unhappy lives. I have less compassion for the meanness and hatred that a few carry and choose present to the world. I want to say, show me your misery, this I can understand. But anger, rage, hubris, entitlement? And yet, tolerance is tolerance. I’m working on it.

Here’s what I do know. The women before us modeled tolerance and acceptance as a virtue, and to some extent it is.  They did not feel free, however, to rebel or speak up when perhaps they should have.  We feel freer to do so, and yet the past that lives on in us often keeps us feeling guilty and wrong when we do.

Making nice is not always possible, nor is it human. We have a wide array of thoughts, feelings and reactions. it is to our detriment to keep them buried. They will erupt when we least expect them to and it won’t be pretty.

THERE IS A TIME & A SEASON

There’s a time to fight and a time to stand down. There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent. We must each in our own way and find a balance between speaking our truth and taking time for deep reflection. None of us are totally clear on what we are fighting for. Those who are, seem to be fighting one particular battle. Maybe that’s the best any of us can do.

We must continue to ask ourselves challenging questions:

  • What am I really angry about?
  • Are there unacknowledged feelings and thoughts beneath my anger? Are the thoughts I’m thinking true?
  • This feeling of fear, what is it really trying to tell me?
  • When have I felt powerless before? How was that similar to what’s happening now?
  • Is this situation triggering feelings I’ve had all my life?
  • What are those feelings?
  • Can I be proactive in giving myself what it is I want from others?
  • Have I taken time to sit in silence?
  • Have I expressed my feelings honestly?
  • When I speak my truth am I using “I” statements?
As I navigate these strange times, I take comfort from the wisdom of great teachers.

“Wholeness is possible only through the coexistence of opposites. In order to know the light, we must experience the dark.” ~ Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow.” ~ Caroline Myss, Defying Gravity

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman. . .have faith. . . there is yet time.” ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” ~ Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel, Author of Night, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” ~ Elie Wiesel
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ~ Elie Wiesel

I STILL Honor You Robin Williams – July 21, 1951 to August 11, 2014

I STILL Honor You Robin Williams – July 21, 1951 to August 11, 2014

Robin WilliamsToo little has been said about Robin Wiliams’ suicide. Too little has been done to honor his life. I sense a world uncertain and confused about how to respond to his suicide, or how they “should” feel, and so they remain silent. Still caught in the archaic notion that depression and suicide are choices we make, sympathy, compassion and understanding are lacking. We are too often a heartless society, unable to rise above our baser instincts, our judgments, our egos.

Robin William’s death could have been a launch pad for vitally important and valuable conversations about mental health, depression, suicide, medically induced suicide, the emotional and mental aspects of illnesses such as  Parkinson’s and Dementia, how we allow advertising and drug companies to determine what is best for us, how doctor’s too often do the same. His death could have been an addition to his legacy, not an embarrassing post-script.

I was stunned by the lack of honor paid to this talented man and his incredible body of work at this year’s awards ceremonies.  When it came to the segment honoring those lost during the year, his picture seemed to be thrown in at the end, like an afterthought,  as if they were debating right up to show time whether or not to include him.  The fact that he died at his own hand seemed to somehow tarnish his legacy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the reasons behind his suicide were thrashed about as hotly on the internet as Donald Trump’s current insult to our collective intelligence are now? I didn’t see it, and I’m present here every day more than I often would like to be.  A few spoke up at the time of his death, like Dean Burnett’s article in The Guardian, Robin Williams’s death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish, otherwise the topic was dropped quickly; a lack of consensus perhaps, or a lack of understanding.

Robin Williams’ death was ruled a suicide. That is the black and white of medical science. It’s not the whole story. It never is. News reporting didn’t seem to want to go the distance. US Today reported:

The official cause of Williams death, released Friday by the Marin County coroner, was ruled a suicide by hanging, with no evidence of alcohol or illegal drugs in his system and only therapeutic concentrations of prescribed medications.

 

Williams had long battled alcoholism, drug addiction and depression, but in November 2013 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, according to his widow, after noticing a tremor in his left arm and difficulty moving on his left side as early as 2011.

 

Now a redacted pathology report from the autopsy on Williams’ body has been made public and it mentions Lewy body disease, a newly recognized disorder similar to Parkinson’s.

My mother-in-law who died a little over two years ago, and who was born on August 11th, the  same day on which Robin Williams life ended, was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She was given powerful doses of medication that created a vast array of difficult side affects, including anxiety, depression, and hallucinations. Several years into treatment the doctor said, “Oh, sorry, my mistake. You don’t have Parkinson’s.”

We need to question our medical practitioners with increasing frequency and regularity about the drugs they are prescribing, too often without respect for the consequences.  We must continue to be pro-active in our health care, questioning, reading, researching and evaluating in addition to seeking the advice of a professional. We need to stop being so agreeable and willing to accept whatever the multi-billion dollar drug industry prescribes for us, because the drug companies, more often than not, are dictating what doctor’s are prescribing and/or inducing us to ask for them.  They convince us with their expensive advertising that we need their product, much like McDonald’s, and the ill effects may be just as inauspicious.

DoubtfireIn addition, we need to continue to look harder at the underlying causes of mental illness. It is not always a difficult childhood, a trauma, a confused identity alone that leads to depression and suicide. These things may only be the precipitating factor behind a biological imbalance, or vice versa; a biological imbalance that may be corrected by diet, supplements, or remedies other than the chemicals prescribed by drug companies.

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have served their purpose and continue to do so for many, during a time in history when they were the best option available to us. Now, however, research is reaching further every day into the body/mind connection. Let’s start listening to their findings and following common sense at least as often as we follow big business and advertising.

Lewy Body Dementia, the disease Robin Williams actually had, causes hhallucinations, visuospatial abnormalities, and other psychiatric disturbances. As mentioned above, Parkinson’s medications can cause these types of problems as well. Should he not have been monitored more carefully?

Robin Williams’ life was a gift. I hope one day I will be able to watch Mrs. Doubtfire without a deep sadness lurking behind each laugh; or Hook without wishing this vibrant life was still dancing across the screen. I don’t think I will ever force myself to decide which of his movies I love the best. Each expressed a piece of him.  How rich a life he lived; how very much of himself he gave in the process. We should all live so boldly. In light of such a life,  does the end really matter? I honor you Robin Williams.

 

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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You’ll enjoy learning about Carefree RV Resorts

 

Late Blooming Writers In Action – 2014 Work in Progress Blog Tour

Late Blooming Writers In Action – 2014 Work in Progress Blog Tour

My Writing Space 2014
My Writing Space 2014

I was inducted (abducted, lassoed, hoodwinked, invoked, sideswiped, challenged, and above all honored) by my blogging friend and ever present source of inspiration, Laurie Buchanan, into the 2014 Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Tour. Of course I was humbled to be noticed, let alone invited to share a glimpse into my behind the scene writing endeavors.  It was an act of faith on her part to even assume I had any “work in progress”, but the biggest problem with my writing is that at any given moment I have “works in progress”…many…dozens…lost somewhere on my computer by next week. My challenge very quickly became finding one worth sharing!

Here are the rules:

1. Link back to the post of the person who tagged you  (check – Thank you, Laurie!)

2. Write a blurb about — and type the first sentence of — your next book’s first three chapters. (Yikes!)

3. Tag four other writers to do the same. (Can’t wait!)

So….

I have three books in progress and the two I’ve already published that I want to un-publish and re-write. They’re terrible. The majority of my writing is an ongoing attempt to make sense of my life from a psycho/spiritual perspective and universal ideals.  My perspective and understanding is at best a work in progress and ever-changing so I find I no sooner get a book underway than my thinking evolves and renders it inadequate – a partial truth and I struggle to live with partial truths or I daresay I wouldn’t be on this journey!  My biggest challenge is to let go of a work knowing it is insufficient and incomplete! That being said here’s what I’m working on:

(Instead of writing about three chapters, I will be writing about three books in progress – maybe you can help me decide which one to complete!)

1. Walking Between Two Worlds – Trauma & Transformation – A Memoir of Sorts: The tiny snowflake that landed on my nose when I was five is as mysterious to me today as it was then. It is still beautiful, still miraculous, still takes my breath away. So too with Love Divine. Mysterious. Ever Present. With Us. Always. I’ve walked in both worlds. Walking between them has been the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. 

2. The Art of Aging – As menopause begins, so too does the process of becoming a wise and dangerous old woman. Recognizing and embracing this process embodies  the art of aging.

3. Reaching – A Collection of Poems –

It's the little things that spark the creative spirit in each of us!
It’s the little things that spark the creative spirit in each of us!

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I shoved my hands into the black soot of death and

reached through the bitter haze of unspent emotions,

to find fragments of me, inert, motionless and suffocating.

In addition I’ve been writing for a living most recently for iSeniorSolutions.com.

I now tag…

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden – Sage Woman Chronicles Associate Faculty Member of Chochise College, Writer, teacher, Reiki practitioner and author of the children’s book Scottosaurs the Little Dragon, Lucinda lives in Arizona. Her blossoming as a late blooming writer is a delight to behold. Her dedication to the craft and to life itself is an inspiration to me.

Joan Z Rough – One Rich Life – Joan describes herself this way: “Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, blogger, gardener, artist, healthy food nut, loves all creatures, especially dogs. Addicted to books, good movies and the grandkids. Believes in being positive, choice and taking responsibility. Easily overwhelmed by it all, but never bored. Laughing and smiling all the way.” I can’t wait until she publishes her book! (I will let her tell you about it.)

Eric Mondschein – We hear too little, in my opinion, of heart matters from men over fifty. That’s not the only reason I love reading Eric’s blog posts, especially his poetry and reflections on his life growing up in the late fifties. My husband and I both enjoyed his book Life at 12 College Road and I highly recommend it!  Dr. Eric S. Mondschein is an author and education consultant. He has a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the American University, a Master’s degree in delinquency prevention, and a doctorate in law and education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. What he did with all that education can be found on his website!

Lindsey McDivitt – A talented writer with a unique focus, Lindsey shares and reviews positive aging picture books with older characters who show the positives of living a long life, on her blog A is for Aging.  In addition she shares strategies and Intergenerational Resources that can be used to strengthen the connection between generations.  She holds a degree in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Minnesota and worked for 25 years in long term care settings, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and the community. Her love of Children’s literature and its power to shape values and beliefs has helped create a new mission: “to help all generations see older adult as valid and aging as the valuable stage of life that it is. She is also writing children’s books doing just that!

Tag your it! (I hope you’ll participate but I won’t love you any less if you don’t! It’s a busy time of year and its always difficult to get everything done. If you’re looking for connections with like minded people it may give you a boost, but please, feel no obligation.)

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.

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

Image by Trevor Pottelberg
Image by Trevor Pottelberg

 

“Retreating into yourself to find purpose can be like straddling a dock and a boat that is moving away. We are pulled in opposite directions by the intense desire of the mind for human involvement and the equally intense need of the soul for its own company. In the sheer immensity of solitude, when one can no longer draw energy from external sources, we come to see how much of what we habitually call being productive is merely the evasion of sitting still and meeting what is most difficult for us to receive with compassion — our own pain.”
Dawna Markova  from her book I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose 
 
Sitting on the edge of freedom, unable to step foot into the unknown, we are terrified of the fear that wells up inside of us. When we even consider stepping forward, something calls us quickly and urgently back into the known. Our fear is mistaken as a dark and dismal warning to run away. To hide. To pretend we didn’t really catch a glimpse of the light or truly want to meet ourselves and embrace our truth. We wear masks to protect ourselves from ourselves. Why do we do this?
 
Change is difficult. Change is challenging. If anyone tells you otherwise they are fooling you, and chances are good that if you think change was easy in the past,  it really wasn’t change at all, at least not the kind that Dawna Markova and I are talking about, change that brings your life into alignment with your true self and all that you have been called upon to contribute. Real change is inner transformation, and above all else it requires solitude and a face to face meeting with ourselves.
 
The most terrifying part of change is this face to face meeting – for it requires meeting our pain. We cannot change if the shadows of the past have us in their clutches, directing our choices and our actions. We will only carry the darkness into the future and rest assured, the pain will be a constant reminder, appearing again and again until we face it, embrace it and put it to rest.
 
The fear of change is our unwillingness to face our pain. To walk toward it. To let it come to the surface. After all, we have spent so much time and energy pushing it aside, pretending it isn’t there, shoving it deep down inside of ourselves, layering mask upon mask over top of it.  It takes some serious excavating to even find it, and then….when we do….we believe we will have to suffer the excruciating pain all over again. 
 
This time, however, the pain is like the lancing of a wound. Oh, it hurts when the knife begins to break the skin, but the pain feels like healing, not dying. As the wound drains, as the pain pours forth, there is great release and relief. It is different. It is not like the original wounding, it sets us free and once we are on our way, it even propels us forward. We begin to understand the necessity of the healing process and the great rewards that come with it.
 

Are you allowing your wounds to drain? Or, are they festering under layers of protection? Real change not only takes a willingness to step forward and meet the challenges, it often requires support of many kinds along the way. You need not go it alone. If you are looking for guidance, support or direction for your journey, get in touch with me. I may be able to help. AgingAbundantly@gmail.com