Monday, May 11, 2020

Adapt to Survive & Thrive

The most important factor in survival
is neither intelligence nor strength
but adaptability.
                                                                                  Charles Darwin

I’m in awe as I witness each country’s efforts to adapt to the challenges the Pandemic has brought.  In our own country, witnessing governors as they adapt and implement tough regulations to keep us safe.   How essential businesses, i.e., grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, adapt to continue to provide the necessities of daily living.

I express gratitude to the sanitation workers who continue to pick up our trash, the truckers who continue to transport goods, U.S. Post Office, UPS, FedEx, the online businesses that continue to provide us with our needs and wants.

The losses we are sharing with all of humanity are something none of us have ever witnessed before.  For many the loss of health, the death of loved ones, jobs that put one on the frontlines, loss of jobs, loss of income, loss of housing – all devastating. 

For others, such as myself, the loss of multiple things that bring us pleasure. Most significant for me, the loss of my morning swim – a ritual for 45+ years. The mile swim is now a two-hour morning walk and an hour evening walk.  Walks where I continue to discover new beauty right in my own backyard where I’ve lived for 23 years.

What loss/losses are you grieving and how are you adapting?   I encourage you to look in the mirror, speak them out loud while you applaud and celebrate your own adaptability.   

I end with these wise words: “May the new normal teach us to be grateful for the things the old normal taught us to take for granted.” **

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**Mark Shubert, Mission Viejo Naadadores  swim team coach 
Quote appeared in 5/8/20 New York Times
Sports Friday Section page B9


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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Directionally Challenged

With technology, there is so much isolation with people now,
that there are very few places where you can connect.
                                                                                       *Mireille Guiliano 


I am directionally challenged.  Recently, I drove to Boone, NC, for darshan with Mother Meera using printed Mapquest directions.  That’s right, no IPhone and no car GPS.

Mapquest easily got me to Boone proper.  However, as I headed up the multiple windy mountain roads, I knew I was lost.  As a car passed me in the other direction I honked and waved -- she stopped, backed up, had me turn around and lead me to where I was headed…  I made it – though 20 minutes late.

As I left darshan, I knew my directional challenges would still be in play.  I asked the man walking next to me if he was headed back to Boone if I could follow him – he was and I did.

Once back in civilization, B. pulled into a strip mall, parked and I parked next to him.  We stopped for coffee in a cafe where B. and I shared our personal experiences of being caregivers for our loved ones as they died.  I shared about a recent visit to Oak Park, IL, to visit my father’s gravesite after sixty years.  He shared how he was now happily married for six years.

While I do love being greeted upon arrival home by Grace, my ten-year old Tortoiseshell cat, having the heartfelt connection B. and I experienced was well worth the delay -- all thanks to no GPS.

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*author French Women Don't Get Facelifts:
The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude 
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/mireille_guiliano_530746?src=t_technology

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Friday, February 8, 2019

Looking Good -- Period!!


If I can challenge old ideas about aging, I will feel more and more invigorated.
I want to represent this new way. I want to be a new version of the 70-year-old woman.
                                                                                                       *Jamie Lee Curtis


Finally, I have had the 21st Century experience of Videotelephony…

While L., residing in LA, and I frequently speak, this is the first time in 20-plus years that we see one another through Facetime on my IPod Touch.   L. tells me:  “You look good – you’re marriage material.”  My response:  “Yes, I look good for a 72 year old woman.”  Fu_k that!!!

How is it as we age and receive such a compliment we qualify it because of age?  Receiving such compliments at 40, 50 – even 60, my response “thank you” -- no qualifier.

Recently, I read two mysteries each referring to the "old woman witness."  In one mystery she remained nameless.  While in the other, she had a name but as the detective is struggling to remember what she looks like, the narrator states: “…no one pays much attention to old women.”  (Both mysteries written by women...)

At 72, I am an old woman and identify with these descriptives.   Despite having lots of energy, feeling I have more to contribute than ever, feeling I look good -- once out in the world I take on the negative imaging of the 'old woman' and my internalized ageism continues to fester.

I recently purchased red eyeglass frames that get noticed daily:  “Love your glasses and how your  lipstick matches.” While many may find this shallow – I once again love being noticed -- even if just for my glasses. 

Back to the beginning, should I ever receive another compliment on my appearance –  I hope to respond with “thank you” -- with no qualifier about age!

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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/
jamie_lee_curtis_582122?src=t_old_woman

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Bullets for Healing?

I love firing guns. It's an amazing feeling – so sexy and powerful.
                                                          *Hayley Atwell (actress)


I surprise myself and opt for the private lesson at an indoor shooting range. I journey 40 miles outside of Asheville to Mountain Range.  S. is my teacher.  He is white haired with a Santa Claus beard, soft soothing voice and lovely smile.  He spends the first 15 minutes of my 30-minute lesson on gun safety before he guides me into the shooting range to begin the process of loading, aiming and firing at a target.

As S. prepares me for my first shot he instructs me to  “…breathe in, breathe out -- we need to get the Zen thing going.”  Of the 36 bullets I shoot, all but 7 hit the target area:  My target – the voices of self-criticism, self-loathing, anger, grief, depression that have flooded me since the car break-in and theft (see blog 1/26/19).  Each time I pull the trigger I internally shout: “Goodbye self-criticism, goodbye self-loathing, goodbye anger, goodbye grief, goodbye depression!!!

I leave Mountain Range Indoor Shooting Range with a sense of renewal.  First of all, I did something outside of my liberal-progressive mindset and comfort zone – I crossed a divide and thoroughly enjoyed all those I met on the other side – staff and customers.

As I drive back to Asheville, I experience freedom and empowerment from the heaviness that has been smothering me.  Ironically, I feel a return of inner peace.  I believe, that the physical sensations of shooting released built-up tension in my body and, more importantly, S.'s  kindness, patience and  message of  “we need to get the Zen thing going” all contributed to getting me back to center -- for now.

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 *https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/hayley_atwell_536396

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Unexpected Events in Life's Journey

There are wounds that never show on the body that are
deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.
                                                              *Laurell K. Hamilton


The Saturday before Christmas, I returned to my car, put my swim gear in the trunk and then saw the shattered glass from the broken driver’s window.  My eyes glanced over to the passenger seat floor where I had foolishly left my new hand-made leather shoulder bag that was now gone.  The purse contained the necessities of living in the 21st Century:  cell phone, driver’s license, credit cards; extravagant little pleasures -- a beautiful red Visconti fountain pen, an elegant leather checkbook cover; and, most precious, my deceased partner's key ring and her Mona-Lisa mesh make-up bag.

The concrete stuff has mostly been taken care of -- banking stuff, credit cards, driver’s license, etc.  Now there is the time and space for the emotional trauma to settle in – the intensity of which has surprised me.

Through their loving empathy and compassion, I am grateful to those friends who made me feel held and supported.  But in essence the journey has been a solo one -- no partner by my side to soothe and comfort.  And sadly, I, also, have been unable to soothe and comfort myself...  The feelings are multiple: grief, anger,  depression, loneliness, isolation.

It is five weeks since the break-in and theft.  As I write this, I ponder whether to attend the Qigong mini-retreat starting in 30 minutes at a local yoga center to gain some inner peace or a private lesson at an indoor target range in the hopes to release some inner grief and anger -- both at the same reasonable price of $35.  I'm undecided.  Which might you choose?

 (...to be continued 1/27/19)

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*author Mistral’s Kiss
*https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/trauma

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Simple Pleasures


That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest.
                                                                        *Henry David Thoreau

Each morning when I awake, I experience again
a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali.
                                                            *Salvador Dali


Heartfelt gratitude is pure joy. I feel it in my body and it naturally flows through me in kindness and compassion toward others and myself. 

Headfelt gratitude I experience when 'what I don't have' weighs heavy in my psyche. At those times I think about all I have for which I should be grateful.

Gratitude lists have been a nightly occurrence of mine for the past few years.  Heartfelt gratitude lists flow out from my heart and write themselves...  Headfelt gratitude lists require conscious effort and add the element of guilt for not feeling gratitude in my heart for the gratitudes I list.  

As I thought about this, the word 'pleasure' came – it felt more gentle and honest to me. My nightly gratitude list is now a What I Took Pleasure in Today list.  Gratefully, there are many things in which I take pleasure – regardless of what I may be feeling emotionally. While the list finds me thinking about my day – it also taps the sensation of pleasure in my body.  My thoughts and feelings are congruent within my psyche.

Last evening's What I Took Pleasure in Today list included:
            Grace, my cat, greeting me at the door...
            Conversation with my 9-year old neighbor about her summer break...
            The hamburger and home-made potato chip dinner I made for myself...
           The good belly laugh I had watching Monk
           And....yes, writing this blog.

I end today's blog with asking: “What might be on your What I Took Pleasure In Today list?”
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

An 'ism' to be Reckoned With


To achieve an anti-ageist future for a culture on trial,
the whole society needs to hear, in many media,
not how wonderful or dreadful being old is,
but how destructive ageism is.
                                                             Margaret Morganroth Gullette*


While truck driver whistles as a young woman were never appreciated; as an old woman I admit missing them or, better put, simply miss being noticed. This is reflective of my own internalized sexism. The 'ism' that has valued women for their youth and beauty. Today, with no more winks from handsome strangers, the 'ism' I deal with is 'ageism.'

Rarely do we see olders in ads – unless an ad for medication or adult diapers. If there are olders in films, more often than not they are seen with cognitive or physical impairment. Rather than the culture creating an environment bringing generations together – olders are seen as bankrupting the country through Medicare and Social Security. The 'old lady' and 'old man' labels are put-downs for olders.

All of this is reflective of the ageism that runs rampant in our culture and which many have internalized. I recognize my own internalized ageism when someone tells me, “You don't look 71.” Initially, I hear it as a compliment, I then catch myself and politely respond with: “This is what 71 looks like” or “You mean I don't look like your concept of 71.”

Unlike the protest movements of racism and sexism; ageism has yet to catch on. I can't help but ask myself is it because we olders fail to recognize the subtleties of ageism in our own lives. I end today's blog with asking you to examine your own awareness of how ageism impacts you and how you may have internalized it.

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*Gullette Morganroth, Margaret:
 Ending Ageism or How Not to Shoot Old People (page 201)


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Note:  Last blog, 12/5/17, found me  a 'witness' to the ageism of our culture; today's blog finds me a 'victim'. Whether 'victim' or 'witness' (though witness feels better) -- the important point is that ageism is abusive and is an 'ism' to be reckoned with.