See For Yourself

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You can’t always take someone else’s word for something that you can’t see for yourself. It’s fine to participate in a good debate and some people enjoy taking classes as adults because they’re still interested in learning. But never settle for accepting someone else’s opinion.

We often tell our children to be leaders, not followers. We encourage them to think and act for themselves (of course, they’ll only listen to what we say for a few short years). Then it’s on to their friends as their closest advisors.

It’s certainly easier, by far, to just be a bystander and not commit yourself to a cause. That might be okay for some people but others like to take a more active part. Standing up for or standing beside another human being takes a different kind of person – one who is completely dedicated and accepts the risks involved.

Open your eyes, your mind and your heart and, together, let them lead the way. You’ll sleep better, you’ll feel better and you’ll never again doubt your choices!

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Disrupt Aging Now

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What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Sadly, that’s a more truthful answer than you’d like to believe. Elderly people get a bum rap. They’re made fun of and they’re underestimated. Older folks have always been depicted as decrepit and powerless in movies and on TV. They are often seen as victims and tend to be the brunt of youngsters’ jokes.

But the joke isn’t on them… It’s on the jokesters themselves.

Celebrities like Betty White and politicians like Jimmy Carter can teach us all a thing or two. They’ve not let time slow them down. They are as active and as productive as ever.

So, next time you see an elderly person (possibly even walking with the help of a cane or a walker), don’t assume they need your pity or your assistance. They may surprise you!*

 

*holding the door open for YOU or even bopping you on the head with their handbag like Ruth Buzzi @Laugh-In

What The Tech?

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Can someone please explain to my Dad that I am not a ‘techie’ – I don’t fix phones, TV’s or cable and I don’t know why they go out or simply fail to work. There’s no reasonable explanation as to why things keep happening and, yes, we still have to keep paying for them.

My Dad and I are both musicians and, therefore, suitably unqualified to fix stuff – sometimes even the very instruments that we play. That’s what other people are for. And don’t bother asking us to read an instruction manual either. That’s also what other people are for.

So, the next time some household gadget or machine refuses to cooperate, I’ll just walk away and lament, “what the tech?”

The Rules Changed

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Sunday morning I decided to take the train into NYC to visit my boys. What a mistake. Not the visit but the method of transportation at that particular day and time. I didn’t realize it was a Yankees-home-game and that suburban families from upstate NY would be making the long journey with me. And I didn’t even bring headphones…

Toddlers cried incessantly and crawled all over the seats until their indulgent parents gave them their very expensive phones to play with… Men, way too old to still be wearing the names of other grown men on their Yankees jerseys and t-shirts, strutted around the aisles ‘replaying’ past Yankees highlights.

Look, I have nothing against America’s favorite pastime. I think it’s an overpriced day out but to each their own (the train ticket price alone was staggering for these families and I can only assume the stadium ticket price was well beyond my monthly car payment). 

But where was the ‘old time’ fun? I remember going to games with my parents and older brother. It didn’t bankrupt us and we needn’t bring our own food from home because it was mostly affordable. And actually keeping score was a skill we perfected after repeated attendance and something that made us feel like a part of the entire ballgame experience.

Somewhere along the lines the rules changed. Prices skyrocketed and manners plummeted. I wouldn’t bring a young child to a game today – they’d hear foul (pun intended) language; reek of warm, spilled beer and be exposed to a world of entitlement, rudeness and bad sportsmanship.

But, hey, how else will they learn how to act on their own school turf?!

My Dream Job

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“Hello… Hello… Is anybody there?” I often hear this refrain from my Mom who just can’t seem to figure out ‘call waiting.’ I put it on her phone so that she would never miss an important call (from me) while chatting with her friends. I might need to tell her that I’ll be home late or that they didn’t have the library book she asked me to pick up for her and is there a second choice on her list. But if she’s going over the crossword puzzle answers or debating politics for the umpteenth time with her friends then I better just give up and come home (of course then she’ll tell me she was worried sick and why didn’t I call).

There’s been a fairly contentious TV battle going on in our home, too. We have several TVs (one in each room not including the bathrooms) so it’s not like you’re outta luck if one of them goes dark. I have repeatedly shown my mother the art of HD and explained that the HD TV does not respond as well on standard channels so just add 500 to all your favorites and the TV will be your new best friend. Simply waiting for a service call is, obviously, not an option.

I’ve long since lost the ‘computer’ war with my folks but that doesn’t mean they don’t see the good that my having one does them (in full disclosure, I don’t actually have one either because I do all my business on my phone). 

For instance:

  • “Ellen, what is 10 across and 29 down – can you look that up for me?”
  • “Ellen, can you deposit this check for me and check my bank balance?”
  • “Ellen, can you get me a digital coupon for this week’s shopping?”

And so on and so on…

The bottom line, clearly, for them is that THEY don’t need to have a computer because they have ME!

 

A Heads Up

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The end is coming… sounds dire, right? Well, that all depends. If you truly believe in quality over quantity, you already know how to make the most of your time. Most people, when asked if they’d like to know when they’re going to die, prefer remaining ignorantly blissful. What kind of life would you have if you spent every waking hour waiting for it to end?

We are given warnings about our wellbeing since the moment we begin to understand: “Don’t touch the hot stove,” “Don’t pet the loose dog,” “Don’t smoke cigarettes,” Don’t Don’t Don’t.

All the advanced notices and ‘heads up’ in the world continue to fall on deaf ears every day. Some people are no brighter than a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching car. That’s on them. There’s an old expression, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on ME.” In life, you don’t always get a second chance so it’s best to keep your eyes wide open and your head up at all times!*

*especially people who walk around with their head down and their eyes glued to their phones…

Short Term Paranoia

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As a small child I remember thinking the ‘old guy’ that always sat at his window, looking outside to make sure no one stepped on his perfectly manicured lawn, was a bit creepy. In his defense, neighborhood kids did make it a point to purposely throw balls onto his lawn and (before we were taught to pick up after our dogs) dogs regularly used his front lawn as their own public pooper-scooper.

Since living back with my parents I’ve noticed that they, too, spend an awful lot of time sitting in front of THEIR window. They watch for the mailman (they don’t get much more than medical bills); the meals-on-wheels delivery man (with whom they’re on a first name basis); the UPS truck (when I tell them I’m expecting a package but it probably won’t arrive for weeks); and their grandkids (as if wishing for it will actually make it happen).

I realize they have little to look forward to on a daily basis but it seems a bit paranoid of them to watch out for, say, impending snow when only an inch or two is predicted and they have nowhere to go in it anyway. But I suppose it does make the days go by faster and maybe, in their minds, it might even make them feel more a part of their surroundings now that they spend so much of their time indoors.

As I think back on that ‘old guy’ next door and remember how my Dad used to call him a busybody and a cranky old man, it feels as if time has come full circle only now it’s my Dad who has earned the title of ‘crotchety-old-dude.’

But, if truth be told and years of hard living give you some street cred, he’s truly earned it!

Stages Of Life

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When people label their various stages of life, it’s usually things like ‘before kids’ or ‘after divorce.’ But when you’ve lived well into your retirement years, it tends to be more like ‘before dementia sets in’ or ‘after everything stops working.’

None of us can predict the future and, as we grow older and approach our declining years, we’re learning that some things ‘just happen’ – no matter how much we try to plan otherwise. Bad things happen to good people and some bad people live to a ripe old age.

Different religions teach about destiny and fate. But, for all of us, life should be a journey well traveled. There will be ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, good times and bad. It’s up to each of us to make the best of the hands we’re dealt.

We, alone, are responsible for the choices we make. 

So, next time you decide to label your life’s stages, try these on for size: ‘before I finally opened my eyes’ and ‘after I forgave myself!’

Truth Be Told

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As one of our brightest comics, Mr. George Carlin, famously said, “We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch tv too much. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.”

This was a man who never shied away from the truth – whether or not you wanted to hear it. He was a pioneer and a philosopher. He could turn a phrase like no one else. Many people disliked him – probably because he spoke the truth. But he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. And his mind, at times, was quite brilliant.

There are all kinds of truths including half-truths. Some are ‘for your own good’ and some (apparently) serve a purpose when lying to young children. But irrefutable truth cannot be argued.

Neil DeGrassi Tyson recently said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true… whether or not you believe in it.” 

I’d say that pretty much sums it up. Believe what you will and, in the end, the truth will set you free!