Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Victim or Witness

...a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim.
                                                              Maya Angelou*

Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.
                                                       Amit Ray**



Internalized ageism continues to gnaw at me. Self-rejecting language tells me “I'm old, invisible and irrelevant.” The culture supports this belief as evidenced by a media that rarely reflects images of naturally aging olders – unless in ads for medication or adult diapers. All this contributes to rampant ageism as well as feeds our own internalized ageism.


Internalized ageism is a culprit that shrouds the recognition of our true being beyond age. It came to me that I am experiencing myself as a victim – a victim of the culture's ageism (and sexism). My victimhood plays out with abusive ageist self-talk. Added to this, the internalized voice of sexism shouting: “Because you're old, you're unattractive and undesirable.”

Labeling myself as a victim and blaming (victims always blame) the culture for this was a rude awakening.  Each of us know within that we are more than the appearance we present to the world. A victim becomes powerful when s/he reconnects with that deeper place within, beyond the image we present to the world, that is the essence of each of us – and thus something shifted.   I experienced myself as a witness. A witness to the culture's ageism and sexism.

Language is powerful.  Being a witness shifted my attitude.  It is healing. And, yes, I  flip back and forth. I find in Life's journey – nothing is permanent – we are each a work in progress. But this shift in language has softened the aging journey for me – at least for today.

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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mayaangelo578805.html?src=t_victim


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Heartfelt-Connection

We are wired for connection. But the key is that,
in any given moment, it has to be real.
                                    Brene Brown*


As I continue to be depression free or as I've been saying, 'in remission,' I've come to realize how essential one heartfelt-connection is each day to nurture my renewal.  Without it, I feel vulnerable for darkness to return..

While we may experience multiple connections each day -- the heartfelt-connection simply happens and is a whole different experience.  Brene Brown defines it as: “. . .the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued. . .”**

A heartfelt-connection can be with loved ones, friends or even a stranger.  This morning it happened in the shower area at the YMCA where I swim.  While I was drying off, I heard the following conversation between M and a Stranger... 
    
M:  How are you?
Stranger heading out to her water aerobic class:  My husband is ill...
M:   Get those endorphins moving and you'll feel better...

As I stood drying myself off Stranger walked by...
I said:  You know, I don't know you.  But I'm so sorry your husband is ill... That's a hard
              journey and I know from experience. (I cared for my partner who died of cancer.)
We looked at each other.  With tears in her eyes, stranger mouthed: Thank you.

Today this was my heartfelt connection.

Today's blog opened and closes with Brene Brown:  "Not enough of us know how to sit in pain with others.  I have started to believe that crying with strangers in person could save the world."*

May each of us experience multiple heartfelt-connections each day with friends, loved ones and strangers...

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*Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness, Random House, pages 128 & 130
**https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/connection

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Depression: Friend or Foe?

“Depression can kill you. It can also be a spiritually enriching experience.
It's really an important part of my theology now and my spirituality that life is not perfect...
and I had to acknowledge that I had all kinds of flaws and sadnesses and problems.”
                                                                            Krista Tippett*


What was to have been a month hiatus turned into a multi-month hiatus.  What was to have been a chill time turned into a major depressive episode.  Though plagued with a history of dysthymia; major depression is a whole new experience.   Unlike some major depressive episodes, mine found me functional – my morning swim remained intact as did my morning poached egg, bacon, scone or other breakfast delight.

These past several months found me doing a lot of inner work.  Spiritually, I attempted to meditate, pray, cry out for help from whoever or whatever is out there while also believing perhaps nothing is. Weekly therapy sessions filled with tears, anger, disappointments, jealousies – all the things we don't want to feel.  They were all arising with loud voices.  Conflicts with friends were birthed and gratefully resolved.

Then one day – the depression lifted. As I reflect upon it, I recognize the depression brought all the hurt that dwells deep within my psyche to the surface.  It forced me to face and embrace all the dark aspects of my self.  They're not gone forever.  But they've been seen, heard and understood.   I acknowledge their presence as a part of the fullness of my being...

So I'm back in the saddle of blogging.  Not on as rigid a scale of every Tuesday and Friday -- but back.   Until we meet again,  cheers and many blessings for a Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter and gratitude – for everything – the good, bad, and ugly....

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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/krista_tippett_561854?src=t_depression

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NOTE:  Depression is a serious diagnosis and should be treated accordingly.  Anyone experiencing a major depressive episode should be assessed by a professional for treatment which is exactly what I did in my own situation.  Depression should never be glossed over or ignored. The above is a blog of my experience and should not be construed in any way as recommended treatment or even consideration for someone going through a major depressive episode.











Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hiatus Time...


Down time is where we become ourselves... a hiatus that passes for boredom 
but is really the quiet moving of the wheels inside that fuel creativity.                
                                                                                                      Anna Quindlen*



Good Morning...

OldBoldandBeautiful.Life was birthed in December 2016.  It's been a grand ever-expanding journey that will continue after some down time.   With August upon us --  the time is ripe for just that.

In the meantime, cheers and blessings for sunny days and playful times.  See you in September....Blair










*http://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/hiatus.html

Friday, July 21, 2017

Customer Service Meltdown

"You know what I have noticed? And this is really sad. 
Flying first class is less scary than flying coach. 
They speak to you and they're so nice to you and they want to help you... "   
                                                                                                          Hope Davis*

My AT&T saga continues. I have received multiple AT&T bills for my upgraded bundled internet/telephone service. I dial their 'Customer Care???' center and speak with someone in the Philippines. After 20 minutes on the call with no resolution, my 'evil twin,' Brunehilde, takes the reins. Not a pleasant scene. Tomorrow we'll try again...

Afterward I went online and googled 'helpful tips for customers calling off-shore call centers.' Rather than helpful tips for customers; what came up were helpful tips for call center employees to deal with irate callers. What also came up were youtube videos making Brunehilde sound like a saint. As I listened to one of the youtube calls (Customer Service Meltdown) – it made me laugh, it normalized my own frustrations, and made me see a part of myself that is difficult to embrace and accept.

It goes back to a basic need we each have that is to feel 'seen, heard and understood.' Technology has made many things easier, faster, more efficient – yet, I believe, it may also be damaging our humanity toward one another. 

Technology alone is not to blame. Corporations code of ethics today is 'profits over people.' When people become secondary to dollars – humanity definitely takes a back seat... This has created a ripe environment for the selling of luxury... So next time you want to be treated like a valued customer --  purchase that first-class airline ticket, stay at that five-star hotel, visit that five-star spa and you will not only feel 'seen, heard and understood' but be made to feel 'extra-special' as well...


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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hopedavis465302.html?src=t_first_class

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Feeling Blessed

A Buddha is someone who finds
freedom in good fortune and bad.
                                          Bodhidharma*


A friend of mine takes issue when she hears from others “I feel blessed.” It is something I voice at times and perhaps it does convey an arrogance of special dispensation from the Almighty above...certainly not my intent.

However, as I reflect more on this and what it means to me to feel blessed – it is when I feel tuned into God, the Universe, Spirit. I experience gratitude for the Breath that breathes me. In this space I recognize all my needs are being abundantly met and I am satisfied. There is nothing I want and nothing needs to be any different than it is. So it is true for me – feeling Blessed is my connection with Spirit.

The times I am not consciously tuned into Spirit are painful times. Times where I experience: fears around financial resources, envy for those, I believe, have a 'better' life experience, overall dissatisfaction and disappointment with my life at 70. In essence, I experience a disconnect from Spirit.

As human beings we want answers, we want certainty, we want control -- and good times let us believe we may have this; and bad times tap into the realization we don't. This reminds me that the journey we travel presents joys and sorrows.  Joys are easier to behold than sorrows. But both are necessary...

The lesson for me, once again, is to welcome the good, bad and ugly and remember, as best I can, that all life experiences are blessings in our journey toward wholeness...


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*A fifth-century Indian Buddhist monk

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Teen Angel

Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.”
                                                                                                      Aristotle*

Today, as I was standing at the counter of CityMac, our local Mac Apple Store, a young girl standing next to me tapped me and said: “You're pretty.” Needless to say it made my day – big time. Her mother added “You know that's a real compliment coming from a teenager.”

The teenager wisely responded: “If you think something nice, why not say it.” Something I practice as well. I recall twenty years ago while living in Santa Barbara, there was an old Greek woman who swam at the same pool I did. I considered her to be exceptionally beautiful. One day I saw her in town and told her: “You're an incredibly beautiful woman.” Her immediate response: “Don't be foolish; I'm an old woman.” Today, at 70, I understand what she was feeling.

As old women today, many of us wear our years extremely well. In my opinion, there are many more beautiful old women than there are old men. Perhaps it is because as women our appearance is one thing that has been historically valued about us and thus we have taken better care of ourselves.

Receiving this compliment from a young teenage girl has rekindled my hope for the young generation of girls coming up. If one teenage girl can recognize an old woman's beauty; perhaps one day all older women's beauty will be recognized and acknowledged within our culture.

We shook hands and I thanked her. Another little angel who has touched my life...

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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_teen.html

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Play On...

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things...
I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.”
                                                                                               Leo Buscaglia*

Recently a friend sent me an article about happiness (thank you, Susann). While the ideas expressed were not new, they were a nice reminder. Not being a saver I read and tossed it. However, I continue to reflect on one aspect of the article: play.

Three years ago I left my chosen profession. Since then I feel I am once again in graduate school as I engage in multiple classes to explore my creativity. All wonderful... All encourage progress and competency. All get me out of my comfort zone. All require hard work, goal setting and responsibility.

OldBoldandBeautiful.Life was birthed in December 2016 and two blogs have been posted each week since January 2017. OldBoldandBeautiful.Life has gotten me into the regular practice of writing which has been great. It also requires hard work, goal setting and responsibility...

Back to play. By definition play is an activity for enjoyment and recreation and does not include hard work, goal setting or responsibility. All this has brought to my awareness that what I want more of in my life is play.

To stimulate my play muscle I've booked a four-day play adventure in New York City. Substantial financial involvement is a piece of this play adventure with which I struggled until I bit the bullet and booked the flight and hotel. My beliefs around money inhibit me from spending it on something frivolous...and a play trip in New York City, in my mind, falls into that arena. But as a friend of mine recently said: “At our age; money is no object.”

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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/play.html

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Hair -- The Crowning Glory

If I want to knock a story off the front page,
I just change my hairstyle.”
                            Hillary Clinton*

My hair began going silver in my twenties. By my forties it was vibrant white at the temples with the rest being salt and pepper. I never colored it until a person I respected said: “You're too young to have grey hair.” Three months of covering my grey was a hassle. I chose to claim my 'Silver Power,' wore my grey hair proudly and never colored my hair again.

Until...a year ago when Larry, my hairdresser, began highlighting my hair with funky colors: purple, green, blue, fuchsia. Each day strangers stopped me to say: “Love your hair.” I responded with “Thank you. It's fun!” It felt great to be noticed again – even if it was just because of the funky colors.



Woman who drastically change their hairstyle, I admire. I believe them to be courageous, open to new experiences and free from clinging to the same old way of presenting themselves to the world. Today, I am one of those women I admire.




Yesterday, as I sat in Larry's chair, he announced: “Let's do something bold.” Today, I have a super short pixie cut. And, I like it!

Yet, the question of what will others think lurks within my psyche. Unlike with funky colors, no one has stopped me on the street to say: “Love your hair” and I don't expect they will. The question and lesson for me is – 'Can I trust and rest solely with just my experience and opinion of this new bold haircut.' Time will tell...

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Beatriz at Dinner -- A Film

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.
We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
                                                                                           Martin Luther King, Jr.*

Spoiler Alert: If you plan on seeing the film; do not read.

Beatriz at Dinner – A Film

Beatriz at Dinner presents a sparring match between Beatriz, a new age massage therapist/healer and Doug Stroutt, a wealthy, powerful real estate developer a la Trump.

Due to unforeseen circumstances Beatriz is invited to her wealthy client's planned dinner party.
Attending the party are the client, her husband, another couple, Doug Stroutt and his wife and now Beatriz. After a few glasses of wine, Beatriz aggressively professes how healing, kindness and compassion do more for the world than the real estate development Stroutt does in the name of progress, growth and jobs.

Beatriz expresses the views people have had throughout time.  Views professing there is enough to go around for all to have their needs comfortably met; but that money and power take precedent over developing a world where all sentient beings can survive and thrive. Stroutt early in the film states people listen to him because he is rich and powerful; Beatriz is not – so her words fall on deaf ears...

Beatriz makes her exit and the film gives us two different endings. The first is Beatriz' fantasy of picking up a razor-sharp letter opener, stabbing and killing the Stroutt character – you cannot kill an idea by killing the person who embodies it. The final ending shows Beatriz walking out into the ocean never to be seen again – embodying the impotence of the disenfranchised in the face of wealth and power...

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Friday, June 30, 2017

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection”
                                                                                                 Buddha*

'A rolling stone gathers no moss' has two contrasting meanings: (1)One who moves avoiding deep connections; and (2) One who moves embracing fresh ideas and creativity.

I experience myself as a rolling stone who has gathered no moss. Both definitions fit: no current deep commitments/connections and fresh ideas and creativity thrive as I break through more comfort zones.

Having been blessed to have a life partner/soul mate for 26 years until death parted us; I do miss that depth of connection in my life. With no siblings and no living extended family and no 'best friend/companion' wearing the label 'a rolling stone gathers no moss' fits. I may be living everyone's worst fear of being totally alone in the world. While some may mourn my death as I am mourning the recent death of a friend; it is somehow comforting to know no one will experience the seemingly unbearable grief I experienced with my partner's death.

While it is true there is no deep connection with another; I realize the deep connection I have cultivated and nurtured through blood, sweat and tears throughout my life is the deep connection with my Self. Today this deep connection has blossomed into a relationship of self-love beyond accomplishments, beyond talents, beyond financial resources, beyond life circumstances – it is the self-love of the Life Force that breathes each breath I take. It is a self-love of the essence of who I Am... and who each of us is. It is that “peace...which passeth understanding.”^

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*http://www.positivityblog.com/self-esteem-quotes/

^Philippians 4:7 (KJV)

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Self-Love...

"Well, I think everyone struggles with self-love."
                                                                                   Phillip Seymour Hoffman*


Inner voices of self-rejection are a stumbling block to self-love. We further self-reject ourselves by not honoring what we do well. Acknowledging what we do well is a vital ingredient of self love.

During the past three months each evening I list a minimum of five things I've done well that day. Sometimes there is something special (my open 5-minute mic at a comedy club) but mostly they are simple things in which I take pleasure. Some of mine include: making my morning cup of tea, my morning swim, smiling at a stranger, talking to a stranger.

As I reflect on this, it brings to my attention the miracle we each are. Each simple act – our very breath – is miraculous. Acknowledging and honoring ourselves is expressing our love for the Life Source that is our essence.

However, I have added something to my routine. It's going to sound crazy. I encourage you to try it at least three times throughout the day. For those living with others it may feel a little weird – living alone has its advantages.

So far today I have given myself three standing ovations. For what you ask – here they are
                                               Rising out of bed after a good night's sleep
                                               Driving myself to the YMCA
                                               Practicing my piano

I think there is something to the standing, clapping and cheering that awakens something in me – because each standing ovation brings a smile to my face.

Give it a shot – whacha got to lose??


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*http://po.st/YdvPvC via @BrainyQuote

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Customer Care???

"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything
without losing your temper...."
                                                                                               Robert Frost*

Many of us have experienced talking with off-shore 'Customer Care' of a large corporation. After first talking to a robot and then to a scripted worker in a far away place, I find it doesn't take long for my 'evil twin' to emerge when what seems like a simple issue becomes increasingly complicated.

I like to look at all life experiences as lessons for us. Mary Baker Eddy who founded the Christian Science religion described this as 'Earth's preparatory school.' My belief is that each time I call an overseas call center I'm being given the opportunity to practice patience. To keep in mind, once I get through the robotic prompts, I'm talking with a real human being.

A being like each of us who may or may not like their job but are grateful to have one. A job providing them income to support themselves and their families. When I've traveled overseas I realize what an embryonic country America is. I'm never quite sure developmentally if we are in our terrible twos or tumultuous teen years – either way we are an entitled species here in the USA.

In this most recent encounter with an off-shore 'Customer Frustration' call center, I shamefully admit my total failure in practicing patience, kindness and compassion toward my fellow Earth travelers from another country. Though I know there will be more opportunities to try again...

I suppose one good thing that came from this is that I now have an on-shore number for AT&T's 'Customer Care' which I happily share with you – 585-498-2059.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Self-Rejection

“...every moment is created by the Universe
to ensure your highest growth.”
                                 Matt Kahn*

Conflict recently entered a five-year relationship. There had been an argument prior to what turned out to be the last time we met. While I wanted to process what had previously transpired between us; they did not. So it ended...with an informal handshake.

If we have eyes to see, I believe, each life experience brings bigger lessons to be learned. Shortly after the above experience, I was on a weekend retreat in Robbinsville. In my room I noticed a small book and opened it to a random page where there was a short paragraph entitled “Rejection.” In less than fifty words it stated that when we are hurt/triggered by someone's rejection, it reflects back to us how we reject ourselves.

I instantly recognized that the coldness/indifference I experienced from the other person was a mirror of exactly how I reject myself with statements like “I'm less than,” “I'm not good enough,” “I don't matter,” “I'm unloveable,” “I don't belong,” “I'm old, ugly and irrelevant,” to share a few.... I also recognized each time I fail to acknowledge what I've done well each day is another form of self-rejection.

I now give thanks to the person who provided the lesson. And express heartfelt gratitude to that short little paragraph that triggered healing and increased awareness...

This new awareness needs to be nurtured and recognition is the first step. So when self-rejection shows up, I'll remember how hurtful that cold/indifference felt to me – and cease from doing it and rather embrace myself with kindness and compassion... 


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Matt Kahn, Whatever Arises Love That, page 8,
Published by Sounds True, Boulder, CO.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Ultimate Letting Go

If you want to endure life,
prepare yourself for death.
                                  Sigmund Freud*

After signing the listing contract on my home, I experienced a mini-breakdown. Called a friend who reminded me life is a series of letting gos and as we age, the letting gos bring us closer to the ultimate letting go of our bodies.

While I don't know how many years I have ahead, the end journey – yes, the dreaded 'D' word 'Death' – draws nearer with each passing year. While we're encouraged to prepare for retirement, rarely do we hear about preparing for our deaths – other than the legal stuff of wills, trusts, etc. True, it is essential legal documents be in order; specifics are also important. Specifics such as – do we want to be cremated or buried, who should be notified of our death, perhaps stickies on art and other valuable items as to who gets what. Whatever things come to your mind while you are living.

I'm currently working with a death doula about specifics about my death assuming my death is of an illness and not a sudden happening: what music, if any, would I want played, where do I want to be, who might I want present, what comforts might I want, etc.

Conversations about death and dying are important to have. It's hard, I actually believe impossible, to imagine our own non-existence. I like to believe this is because that piece of us that can't envision our non-existence is the piece that lives on. But I don't know and won't know until that sacred passing occurs.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Change: Heartfelt or Headfelt

They always say time changes things,
but you actually have to change them yourself.
                                           Andy Warhol*

Have you ever been in a place where you know you need a change?  You have no idea what the change should be but are certain something needs to shift and soon.

When optional change has appeared in my life it has often been as a result of a heartfelt desire that comes to fruition. Twenty years ago the heartfelt desire brought my partner and I to Asheville from Santa Barbara. We wanted to move – Asheville came to our attention – and within three months we found ourselves living and thriving in Asheville.

Currently, there is no heartfelt desire brewing within my psyche. I ask myself how to bring about a shift. What comes to mind that makes the most sense is to sell my house and move to the condo I own. Pure headfelt decision – not heartfelt – thus there is little enthusiasm as I begin to implement this plan.

This is a work in progress. The house goes on the market 6/15/17 and if not sold by 9/15/17 will be taken off the market. I've already planted my upside down St. Joseph to help find buyers who love the house as my partner and I have. Should it sell – the next step will be a major remodeling of the condo.

The big question for me is to see if this headfelt decision to put the house on the market, will trickle into a heartfelt desire where enthusiasm for what's ahead can blossom.  Time will tell...

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Feelings

Feelings are what is most real about us...
                                           Barbara Muhl (Infinite Way Teacher)


Discouragement comes easily to my psyche. I welcome it with open arms. Once it enters it takes on a life all its own – and every success, every hope, every vision is diminished for the moment.

As I reflect on my life, there have been many disappointments. I remember reading a quote that disappointment brings discouragement and discouragement makes room for depression. This is something to which I thoroughly relate.

It's also something we don't easily embrace or acknowledge in our culture. Happiness is the commodity most pushed on us. Images in the mass media – happy, smiling faces. Perhaps there are some of us who fit that model. During my work as a child therapist I recall having a group of children make a collage of feelings using magazine photos. One little boy wisely commented: “Gosh, all the people in these magazines are happy.” That was my last use of magazines for collages.

Hopefully, we have each experienced moments of happy, and I add, hopefully, we have also experienced moments of sadness, discouragement, hurt. We are a canvas of multiple feelings – and embracing each with the honor and validation they deserve is what makes us not only whole --- but paves the way for empathy toward others.

My goal has never been one of happiness but one of gentle peace, comfort and satisfaction with each moment and the ability to welcome all feelings that visit me. Today, it happens to be discouragement...and it's okay as I welcome it with kindness and compassion.

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Rumi says the above best in his poem:

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jellaludin Rumi,

translation by Coleman Barks

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Play on...

Life must be lived as play.
           Plato*

Have you ever had the experience of having a person in your life who triggers you. Perhaps you take an instant dislike to them, a resentment toward them. They are not part of your community of friends yet they are a part of your peripheral existence.

Recently, I encountered such an individual. When I am in their presence, I feel myself shutting down. This person's appearance is so serious that I'm thinking perhaps they do not have the appropriate muscles in their face to smile or laugh. So how is it I get so easily triggered? I'm seeing that serious, unlaughing, unsmiling part of me in them – and not liking it.

I do believe much of what happens in life is a lesson for us. This recent teacher who has triggered me, I see as a messenger who has come to remind me that:
*my inner playful being has retreated back into my psyche, and
*it's my job to create the environment where she can once again emerge.

I'm not an easy laugh but there are a couple comics who make me laugh: Wanda Sykes and Dave Chappelle. Playing board games with friends often brings laughs – an email invite to neighbors for a game night – something we used to do and laughed plenty. Once a day – a look in the mirror and a big laugh (even if fake, it gets the laugh muscles moving).

What tools do you have to bring more play and laughter into your day?


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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/plato.html

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Just Do It...

It always seems impossible
until it is done.
                                      Nelson Mandala*


Today's blog is the 50th since the birth of OldBoldandBeautiful.Life. WOW! Have to say I'm impressed and feel great about that. Each blog has been a challenge and a joy to write.

OldBoldandBeautiful.Life has been the vehicle that has gotten me to sit down and write with the goal of posting a blog each Tuesday and Friday. Often I don't know what I'm going to write but something always comes. What is most remarkable and pleases me is that I now thoroughly trust the process.

In the past each time I sat down to write something I heard the voice say “I can't do this.” Or as I got into the throes of writing I'd hear: “this stinks.”

That little voice has simmered in that the trust I have for the process takes precedence over any of those voices of self-doubt, self-criticism, self-loathing... Once again it appears the lesson is in the doing.  Just doing what we set out to do – the voices will be heard until they are not.

Not an easy journey...but a definite lesson to behold when the next struggle comes along and the voices of self-doubt, self-criticism, self-loathing arise. Let them be – and simply do the doing of what needs or wants to be done. Can't remember the name of the book about setting goals and accomplishing them but I do remember a little mantra in that book: Do It Right; Do It Wrong – But Just Do It!

Happy Doing...
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*https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_motivational.html

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

'The Lovers'-- a film

I love going to movies by myself.
                                                      Tyler Hoechlin (young actor)


Given I had a new cleaning woman start today, I wanted to be away from home so she could do her work without my hovering around. I went to see The Lovers which opened this past weekend. It is a long overdo comeback for Debra Winger. Briefly, it is the story of a long term marriage that has lost its spark. Each of the partners is having an affair outside of the marriage and each of their affair partners are wanting them to leave the marriage. It's billed as a comedy but I found nothing funny about the film. In fact, the most intense scene reflected what could only be called a damaged family.

At any rate, what I did value about the film was seeing older adults with sexual energy being ignited in their lives. The relationships were complicated. It could have been a great film but it missed the mark in my eyes. I doubt it will do well at the box office (even with its 87% http://rottentomatoes.com rating) so it's unlikely more films about realistic sensual relationships with older adults will be flooding the market any time soon.

I don't know what Debra Winger has been doing all these years. But my sense is she is a person of character and depth as reflected in her wearing her history proudly.  How validating to see another naturally aging woman on the screen.   Again, hats off to the Debra Wingers, Charlotte Ramplings and Annette Benings of the world.
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Friday, May 26, 2017

In the Hallway

When one door closes, another opens;
but the hallway is hell...

An aspect of aging is that people and things fall away – some by choice and some not by choice. Three close friends of mine have each moved out of state. My massage therapist of 20 years moved to New Mexico. My cleaning woman of 12 years retired. My exterminator who I had interesting conversations with retired after servicing our home for 17 years. Improv classes (my current passion) are now coming to an end. And I am now winding down with my therapist of six years...

While this is not a full-throttle Job experience – it is an experience of doors closing that puts me in the 'hallway.' Sadness and loss accompany me in the hallway as well as anticipation for what may unfold.

New activities are emerging. Recently connected with a local group, ARCHES, which is about supporting open conversations and practices around death and dying. A death doula training will be given this fall which I'm considering attending.

Another percolating activity in the hallway is “Mind the Gap” program sponsored by the New York Theatre Workshop. They select seven elders and seven teens that work 1:1 together for a month sharing their stories and each writes a play about the other that is performed to an invited audience. I read about this on the last day of applications and immediately applied.

'Nature Abhors A Vacuum' – so remembering to bathe myself in kindness and compassion, I patiently, and impatiently, wait to see what the Universe brings to fruition...

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No Regrets...

As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery,
fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no
longer be the means for writing one note.
                                                         Georges Bizet*


I didn't set out to have an affair two years after my partner died. S. and I were friends. He knew my partner. After my partner's death, S. helped me with legal matters. He made an unbearable time bearable with his kindness and attentiveness. We spent time together and I found myself becoming attracted to him. And, lo and behold sexual feelings arose – something I thought I would never experience again.

I remember sharing this with him and asking “Don't you have sexual feelings?” His reply, “Yes, but I can control them.” They weren't controlled for long, for shortly thereafter we were involved in a full-fledged extramarital affair. And it was glorious; until it wasn't.

Close friends were happy for me because they saw how I glowed, how I felt loved again and how I was able to love again. The affair lasted 4 years. Do I regret the affair – absolutely not. It was a godsend at a time I was unfathomably lonely.

I'm grateful I had the courage and strength to end it. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever kiss someone passionately again – and that thought brings sadness.

Yet, it was a huge blessing at a particularly dark time of my life. I miss not feeling sexual or sensual and fear never feeling that way again. I suppose if there is one regret I have about lost youth – it is that I was not more sexual in my youth when the hormones were flowing freely.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Kindness & Compassion

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.
                                               Plato


During the past 8 years I have grown accustomed to living alone, traveling alone, eating alone and simply embracing my aloneness. Overall, it has been good.

Though, of course, there are times of doubts and loneliness when the mind, the belief system takes over and comes back up to gnaw at me that “You're alone and blah, blah, blah...” Remember your mother's words of wisdom “You're nothing without a man; and nobody without money.” Do the early beliefs formed in our family of origin ever totally leave us. My experience is “absolutely not.” They come back to haunt us at moments of vulnerability. When this happens, I find myself falling into the sludge of darkness.

I used to do all I could to get out of it. Now I ride the wave with kindness and compassion toward myself. Telling myself “It doesn't feel good and that's okay. This, too, will pass.” And, it does until the next time.

Age has brought increased kindness and compassion toward myself allowing me to be wherever I am knowing that I, like each of us, is doing the best we can given our circumstances and our state of mind. Kindness and compassion toward myself and others is my measure of where I'm at. And, the truth is I don't always measure up. Yet, when I don't – it is a blatant reminder that more self-kindness and more self-compassion is needed.

So, until next time, may you be bathed in kindness and compassion...


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

To Die or Not to Die?

To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise
when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No 
one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings
for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.
                                                                              Socrates  

Spain and Israel have produced two excellent films dramatizing the acceptance of death...

The Spanish film, Truman (2017), received a rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating.  It is the story of middle-aged Julian who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. He has gone through treatment only to have the cancer return. He makes the decision to undergo no further treatment and to allow his body to take its natural course. The film is a beautiful dramatization of the steps Julian takes to prepare for his own death. The big one being – finding a home for his dog, Truman.

The Israeli film, The Farewell Party (2015), has an impressive 95% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
Unlike TrumanThe Farewell Party presents all olders living in an assistant living situation. This is a film that addresses head-on the subject of facilitating the deaths of those who are in pain and going through a dragged-out painful dying process. It does it tastefully and with plenty of humor. The film opens with a woman's dying husband begging her to facilitate his death. The film reflects what a hard decision this is but she along with three cronies follow through on his desire. And the group goes on to help others as well. 

The anti-aging youth-obsessed culture we reside in continues to put death and dying in a locked closet. So refreshing that Spain and Israel have each made a film that honestly presents this topic and gives us the opportunity to explore our own relationship and beliefs around death and dying. 

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Reverse Ageism

Today is the oldest you've ever been and
the youngest you'll ever be again.
                                                                                                Pinterest.com


I attended a presentation: “The best three months of your life.” Present were recently trained coaches in this process who needed volunteers with whom to practice. As an older woman shared her experience about her training, I volunteered to be her 'recruit.' She didn't respond to my offer. Shortly thereafter the meeting ended.

As I was leaving, a young women approached me indicating she was a recent trainee and would be open to working with me. Rather than censoring myself, I responded with: “I'm dealing with my own aging and I don't know how I feel working with someone so young.” Ouch....

She left before I fully took in what I had so inappropriately said. As I drove home, I realized how unkind my words were. In fact, it was 100% ageist! Ageism does not only impacts us olders but impacts young people as well.

Recently, while enrolled in an acting class my scene partner was a millennial. We rehearsed first at my home. We then decided we would next meet at his home. Knowing I still had a flip phone with no GPS, he asked: “How will you find my place without a GPS?” I responded: “Well, gee, Richard, you're going to give me directions.”

When next we met, he reminded me of this and said: “You probably thought I was just one of those entitled, techno-narcissistic millennials.” Ageism -- once again...

New awarenesses to embrace: 1. In addition to my internalized ageism; I have ageist attitudes toward the young with which to deal; 2. While I admire my directness, developing the muscle of self-censorship might serve me well...

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Power of Language

Language exerts hidden power,
 like a moon on the tides.
                                            Rita Mae Brown  

While attending a theater usher-training today, the trainer indicated that should there be a cardiac emergency there is a defibrillator in the lobby. I indicated: “I'm not comfortable doing anything with a defibrillator.” The young woman next to me offered: “I have no problem with that I work with seniors.”

“A ha” I thought. This is one of the problems with the word senior or any other word used to reference older adults – we have no word to differentiate a healthy senior from a frail, ill senior.
While added years do impact our physical well being -- they do not necessarily lead us into frailness.

Language is powerful... And as an older, I take issue with the subtle language of ageism. One common way our language reflects this ageism is with references like: The 90 year 'young' man who runs a marathon;  the teacher of yoga (or whatever) who is 90 years young; or the infamous compliment a 60-plus woman is paid by referring to her as a “young woman.”

While each of these people, as well as ourselves, may hear this as flattery, in truth it reflects our culture's ageism and, more insidiously, our own internalized ageism. As always, the media is not going to change its language or anti-aging propaganda – after all it sells products. We need to make the change within ourselves. None of those mentioned above are young people. Rather they, like ourselves, are olders living full lives as best we can. Let's proudly claim our old status. To once again  paraphrase Ram Das, let's: Be Old Now.

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