Friday, March 31, 2017

Gratitude - Thoughtfelt or Heartfelt?

Got no check books, got no banks.
Still, I'd like to express my thanks –
I got the sun in the morning and
the moon at night.
                                   Irving Berlin

Have you ever been told that if you focus on what you are grateful for it will lesson your problems? Have you ever been told you have so much to be grateful for, how can you complain about _____?

Acknowledging our gratitude each day is a valuable habit to embrace. However, making lists and voicing what we are grateful for is not necessarily a heartfelt expression. There is gratitude of the mind and gratitude of the heart.

Recently, a friend was going through a difficult breakup. His heart was broken and he was understandably sad. As he expressed his sadness to me, he stopped himself and began to list what he has to be grateful for. I responded: “Robert, you have two different functions occurring – your thoughts of gratitude and your feelings of sadness. Both are valid.”

I believe, what is most real about us, what allows us to connect with others and what must be shared with someone who can provide compassion and empathy, is our feelings. What we think does not displace what we feel – unless we repress our feelings which is not okay.

I encourage each of us to honor and validate whatever we feel. Feelings, like thoughts and the weather, are ever changing. Yes, we do need to manage our behavior, but what we feel is what we feel. Don't label yourself as ungrateful when thought-felt gratitude doesn't disperse heartfelt feelings. Both are valid and let's welcome each as we continue on our Life's Journey....

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

More On Vulnerability...

If we can share our story
 with someone who responds with
 empathy and understanding,
 shame can't survive.
                                                                                                     Brene Brown

As vulnerability floats around in my thoughts these days, I began asking myself what is the difference between vulnerability and powerlessness. What came to me is that vulnerability is a choice; powerlessness is not.

Recently, I have felt powerless over the barrage of sadness that is permeating my psyche. Last night in a phone conversation with a friend whom I do not usually go to that vulnerable place of allowing for emotional expression, I consciously chose to go there. The tears came and I noticed the sense of powerlessness lifted and I felt more than ever connected to this person. Who also was able to allow himself to be vulnerable and hold space for me without needing to go into his comfort zone of having to fix it.

When I reflect on this situation, I recognize what would have held me back from allowing for vulnerability would have been a need to maintain a facade of confidence and power, fear of what my friend might think, feelings of not being good enough – all shame-based emotions.

As I close this blog, I encourage each of us to allow our vulnerability to grow and blossom. For me, improv was the seed. Keep in mind, it doesn't need to be big. It can be ever so simple. If you've always had the same hairstyle – try something different. If you love someone and have never told him/her -– tell him/her today. Vulnerability leads the way to connection and the fullness of Being.

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*Brené Brown: Listening to shame | TED Talk | TED.com
https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame


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Friday, March 24, 2017

Conscious Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the birthplace of
innovation, creativity and change.
                                                  Brene Brown*

Conscious vulnerability entered my life in 2010 when I took a five-day workshop entitled: Improv: Expand Yourself Through Laughter. Essentials of improv include being fully present, focusing on your scene partner, and responding spontaneously – all of which require vulnerability. After five days, not only was I laughing, but I was hooked on breaking through comfort zones by allowing myself to be vulnerable.

I continued improv classes at the Southeast Meisner Acting Conservatory. I went on to study Meisner acting where the foundation of the craft is vulnerability. Much to my sadness, the Meisner conservatory closed about a year ago. Thankfully, there are other venues for improv classes where I continue to strengthen my vulnerability muscle.

Recently, I enrolled in a stand-up comedy class. After each of our open mic routines students give feedback to one another. Feedback I receive acknowledges and honors my courage in allowing myself to be vulnerable and how connected they feel to me as a result.

With age, I embrace my vulnerability. Not only in improv, acting and stand-up, but in all my life. OldBoldandBeauitful.Life is the perfect example. So much of me is in each blog that goes out over the internet – talk about emotional risks and vulnerability. Yet, as I continue to embark on my 7th decade, each day I feel more authentic and free from the fears/beliefs that have governed me over a lifetime.

In the words of Maurice Chevalier from the film Gigi “I'm glad I'm not young any more.”  Here's to old age and conscious vulnerability!

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*Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability | TED Talk | TED.com
https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability



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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Being Real

Vulnerability is basically uncertainty,
 risk, and emotional exposure. 
                                                                                                     Brene Brown

Something is birthing within me. Or perhaps defense mechanisms and outworn masks that no longer serve me are falling away. Depending on your belief system, it might be called the 'dark night of the soul,' spiritual teacher, Matt Kahn, refers to it as 'the unravelling of the ego,' and a psychotherapist might call it 'depression.'

I began a search for God early in my life. Today, words like Universe, Energy, Nature are sometimes used to replace the word God. God is a loaded word. It is associated with religion and we know how many wars have been fought in the name of religion. But truth be known, if God exists, s/he was around long before any religion formed.

With older-hood I know my connection to the Divine is what brings me inner peace; and that Divine connection comes through connection with others. True connection happens as we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others. And vulnerability happens when defense mechanisms, masks, and belief systems soften.

So whether we call it 'dark night of the soul', 'unraveling of the ego', or 'depression'; I recognize this is what is happening with me. The real me that felt she had to keep a low profile, because she wanted to feel safe and be liked, is finally being allowed to emerge. And, she is a little pissed, and rightfully so.

Being real is a lifetime journey. It feels I am in the next chapter of it. And I am open to wherever it leads...


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Friday, March 17, 2017

Vanity or Basic Human Need?

I loathe narcissism, 

but I approve of vanity. 

                                                                         Diana Vreeland


Sharing my age has never been an issue but since entering my 7th decade, I notice I avoid it. I acknowledge my aging challenge is related to this body's changing appearance.

Recently, a friend told me: “Your age challenge is an issue of vanity. If you had health issues, your focus might be different.” I have no debilitating health issues. There are, of course, physical changes. As a long-time swimmer a mile used to take me 25 minutes, then 40, and now I allow an hour for a mile swim. So there is a natural slowing down that comes with age. The significant health issue that is accompanying me is glaucoma in my right eye.

I am fortunate and grateful to be pain-free and in good health. And the health issues mentioned above do not significantly phase me. I suppose one way to look at my issue with aging is that of vanity. But I believe each of us has a basic human need to feel seen, heard and valued.  No longer being gainfully employed where I did receive these things, and not having a best friend/lover/companion – feelings of invisibility and irrelevance run rampant in my psyche..

Perhaps, this is reflective of vanity and even worse narcissism...though fortunately my muscles of compassion and empathy are fully vibrant – I just need to direct them inward toward myself.

I end this blog encouraging each of us to fill the world with compassion and empathy toward others as well as ourselves... 

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

One Simple Pleasure A Day


A real pleasure is a pleasure that 
one enjoys by one's self, 
without a companion, 
and without a single argument. 
                                                            Sholom Aleichem

OldBoldandBeautiful.Life, the blog, was birthed on December 12, 2016.*

Initially, my hairdresser and I played with the idea of developing a magazine geared toward older women which we named: Old, Bold and Beautiful.  It was to have been a magazine with images of naturally aging women along with articles acknowledging and validating their beauty and their lives.

Alas, a hairdresser and therapist starting a magazine in today's technological culture was simply not going to happen. So, I took it upon myself to birth OldBoldandBeautiful.Life as a vehicle to express my challenges as an aging woman.

Each blog involves several hours of writing and editing – all of which I take pleasure in. During this process I've come to realize what a gift it is to be able to take pleasure in things. Along with the blog, I continue with acting, improv, piano lessons and volunteer tutoring – all of which challenge me and give me pleasure.

I've come to love the word 'pleasure' for it reflects something simple that brings delight. It is not a big 'a ha' experience; it is a gentle, soft, quiet enjoyment. One simple pleasure a day goes a long way. My morning cup of tea has always and continues to be a great pleasure for me. Each evening before bed, I write down five pleasures I experienced and five things I did well that day -- it, too, gives me pleasure.

Today, think about one simple thing that brings you pleasure and do it...

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through email (see panel to right of blog). 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Be Old Now

OLD is a perfectly good word.  
At a certain point we are old, but can still be beautiful.
It has far less to do with Botox and plastic surgery, 
than with personality, style and courage...*


Will we ever get to the point where we can say 'old' and be okay with it? It is true that the essence of our being is ageless -- never young, never old. However, we travel in these bodies and the body does age. Refusing to acknowledge we are old when we are in our sixties and seventies is a reflection of our internalized ageism.

On those occasions when someone refers to me as a young woman, I respond with “I am an old woman and proud of it.” While walking with a friend, a street vendor called out to me saying “Good morning, young lady.” I responded with “I am an old woman.” My friend, who was in his forties, said: “He was paying you a compliment. Why not say thank you?” Needless to say, my friend got the talk that calling someone young when they obviously have a lot of years behind them is not a compliment, but rather a dishonoring of the years they have been on the planet.

'Old' is associated with loss of hearing, loss of memory, loss of hair, etc. – and, yes, sometimes these things accompany old age and so it is. We need to broaden the concept of old because olders today are leading vibrant, active lives. One way to help make this shift is next time someone refers to you as 'young' claim your 'old' status with dignity and pride in a courteous fashion.

To paraphrase Ram Das: “Be Old Now.


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*I do not recall where I saw this quote, but if anyone does, 
please let me know so I can properly credit it.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ego - Source of Fun?

While in Portland, OR, for a retreat, I meet Anthony, a sixty-year old Englishman. We chat and he invites me to dinner. Recently, I set out to free my Inner Seductress... Perhaps she'll emerge this evening in the company of Anthony.

During dinner, Inner Seductress is nowhere in sight. Rather my Wild Feminist emerges finding herself in the company of a White Patriarchal Male whose main acquiescence to feminism turned out to be the Dutch treat.

The last evening in Portland, I go out for dessert. As I pass the front window of the restaurant, there sits Anthony with a young blond. After an enlightening spiritual retreat my ego's belief system re-emerges and shouts:  “You are old and undesirable!” Even though there was no spark with Anthony, I am teary and furious. Is this not an insane reaction – Yes! I go into the restaurant's bar and order dessert.

I engage in conversation with the couple next to me. We leave the restaurant at the same time. I describe my drama to them and ask if I can walk out with them. Beck, the wife, walks 75 feet ahead; while her husband, Ron, and I leave the restaurant arm in arm. I tap on the window and we both wave to Anthony.

While this was childish and reactive, it was fun and gave me pleasure...and it changed the end of the story.  Now as I reflect on the situation, it brings laughter rather than the tears with which it began. It was ever so sweet to connect with Ron and Beck. Plus, it brought to my awareness the possibility of fun our ego's belief system offers us when we do not take it too seriously.

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Be Alert -- The Media

As I write this blog, I'm on a flight to Portland, OR, in a seat designed for a 7-year old.

On the back of the seat in front of me is a screen that provides multiple options for viewing films and TV shows. Thankfully, the airlines give us the option of turning off the screen of which I take advantage. After the required safety video, four ads run – one for a large hotel chain, an automobile brand, an insurance company and a recruitment service.* Gratefully, the screen went dark immediately after the fourth ad. I wonder what amount of dollars companies pay United to have their ads force-fed to the flying public?

Once in flight I noticed that the screen monitor of the passenger sitting kitty corner from me was running an ad for plastic surgery. It showed before and after shots of surgically enhanced women and men seemingly in their forties! Men beware – they are now coming after you...

Is there no public place where we can go where we are not bombarded with ads?

Today with computers, ads come into our homes and businesses – ads specifically geared for us based on what is revealed through our web searches. This is the world we now live in and it will likely continue to blossom...

For me, I plan to become increasingly alert and fine-tune and filter what I take in from the propaganda of our ever-expanding and intrusive world of media.

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*Names of companies intentionally omitted.