The Hard Lesson

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For most of us, society has always dictated a strict work ethic:

  • “Work, work, work.”
  • “All work and no play.”
  • “Work now… There’ll be plenty of time to rest when you’re dead.”

But somewhere along the way ideals changed. Maybe it was because of poor health or maybe you finally realized what’s really important. Or, possibly, you now fully understand what “you can’t take it with you” means.

The fact that more and more adults now go to yoga classes; join reading or cooking groups and color just for relaxation says a lot about the way we now view our lives. There’s no right or wrong choice but, in the end, it is your choice so choose wisely!

Caregiving In America

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Ever notice that there are more new drugs on the market every day? And just the side effects, alone, can make your pulse quicken. In 2016, we should be curing diseases not still suffering from them. Why is healthy, affordable living so out of our reach?

Watch any black and white film (and even most current ones) and there’s not an actor to be found without his/her lips wrapped around a cigarette. People sometimes have to work at jobs surrounded by carcinogenic substances because that’s all they are qualified to do. We can’t start living in bubbles so what’s a person to do?

It’s true, for the most part, that we are living longer but we’re not fully prepared to care for our loved ones when they reach those new stages of life. Once upon a time, your grandmother might have lived with you and helped raise you while your parents worked. Don’t these same selfless people deserve our love and support? Not everyone can afford to take on that responsibility but… isn’t it worth looking into other options?

It’s not unusual to see multiple videos on social media showing stray animals being rescued and given another chance at life. Shouldn’t we do at least that much for our elders?!

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

Bad Hair Days

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My Dad’s latest obsession… his hair. At 85, he’s still got a full head of hair. The problem is, he spends so much time resting in his ‘comfy lounger’ that his hair is almost always a victim of static electricity. To battle the condition, Dad has taken to wearing a baseball cap. All the time.

He seems to feel like he must wear this hat, all day long (and inside) because you just never know when someone might drop by unexpectedly to visit (that actually NEVER happens). I tried putting a hand towel over the top of the chair but that only resulted in his wearing the towel around the house because it got stuck on the back of his shirt.

Static is static after all…

It’s funny but I never remember him caring about his hair sticking up in all the years I’ve known him – I guess it’s just another age-related obsession when you really have nothing else to think about all day long. Maybe I should get him some Brylcreem – You know, because “a little dab’ll do ya!”

At First Glance

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At first glance, you might think this plant is real. Clearly it’s plastic and will, therefore, never die. It doesn’t require watering or any other maintenance. It’s pretty to look at and reasonably inexpensive.

So why buy the real thing?

If you’re a gardener or have plenty of time and money to care for flowers and plants, your first choice would undoubtably be to purchase and/or grow them yourself. This goes for both indoor and outdoor varieties. But, if you’re not in the market for something fragrant and don’t really need the extra work, why bother?

I think there’s a fine line between personal gratification and the simple pleasures in life. Some people need to have a hand in everything. Others are quite content to sit back and enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. I’m a knitter and I prefer, whenever possible, to create or recreate (using someone else’s original idea) my own projects. It’s peaceful, it’s therapeutic and (in some cases) it’s even less expensive. Plus, more often than not – especially if it’s a gift for someone else – it comes from the heart.

And you can’t put a price tag on that.

So, next time you buy something that you did not make yourself, remember that someone else DID make it and maybe you’ll appreciate it even more!

Happy Holidays!

Without Really Trying

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Some people are hell bent on working themselves to death. They either have no life outside of work or have chosen to make their job their first priority.

For the rest of us, we struggle to find a happy medium. We put equal time into building our careers and our lives outside the office. We live, we love and we succeed.

Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, we can have it all. And, if even luckier, we can have it without really trying. That’s how I choose to think of my time with my parents. It’s not that it’s easy – because it’s not. But, knowing how much it means to them, that makes it just a bit less hard.

I see my parents struggle on a daily basis. Sometimes even the simplest task can be so frustrating. So I step in. Willingly. And that is my greatest gift to them – that I can find the time and the patience and the humility to help them out, oftentimes, without being asked!

Love Conquers All

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As I celebrate my birthday, I can honestly say that love does conquer all. Or, at least, it gives me the opportunity to spend this one day, my day, exactly as I want to.

For years, when my oldest son was little, we celebrated our birthdays together because his falls the day before mine. We would share a cake (always a Carvel cake – with mint chip and coffee ice cream instead of the vanilla and chocolate ice cream it usually comes in) even when he eventually switched over to one of those giant chocolate chip cookie cakes.

Sometimes we even shared parties – he would have his friends downstairs in the playroom while the parents of those children joined my husband and I upstairs for a ‘grown-up’ party. This went on for many years and, at this point, I couldn’t even tell you exactly when it stopped.

But, through it all – the planning, the cakes, the themes, the booty bags – it was all done with love and I never regretted sharing my birthday. Now, however, every birthday has a different, deeper meaning and I have a particular routine that I refuse to deviate from. I never work on my birthday and I treat it and myself with special care. It’s the one thing I do for myself, unapologetically, because… Amor Vincit Omnia!*

*Love Conquers All!

Brain Aerobic Exercises

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I’ve been given a unique opportunity to both care for my parents and also to discover a myriad of ways to control my anger/anxiety.

Yesterday, I found Dad pacing in his room. That wasn’t the scary part though. He was also yelling and placing blame for something that had just happened only, at the time, I wasn’t aware of what that was or why it had happened.

After talking to him (not quite as calmly as I would have liked at first) I was able to figure out the problem and solve it for him. Apparently, he had been painstakingly trying to shave his face for nearly 30 minutes and had gone through an entire pack of 12 disposable razors in the process. What he didn’t realize (due to his fading eyesight) was that the razors all had covers on them. This man who had once carried me around on his shoulders to keep me from scratching, during an agonizing bout with chickenpox (thanks to my brother), was now unable to see the tiny piece of plastic that was causing him so much misery.

Here’s where the yelling and blaming part comes in…

Apparently, when you get to this point in life, you feel like the world is against you so you blame anyone and everyone for your current situation. That said: “how can you possibly tell a man, who you’ve looked up to your entire life, that it’s his fault and his alone?” 

The answer is: “you can’t.” 

So, in an effort to exonerate everyone who had just been wrongly implicated in a conspiratorial incident I, instead, used some brain aerobic exercises and just dumped out the razors into the drawer with their covers off and hoped that no future fingers ended up with nasty razor cuts!

Always A Parent

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As a parent myself I understand the need to know, at all times, that your children are safe. To that end, I always hope (ok, full disclosure… I demand) that my sons let me know when they arrive home from vacation or from a long car trip or even from visiting me.*

Just because your babies leave the nest and have their own lives, doesn’t mean you ever stop worrying about them. It’s a natural feeling – whether they’re off to college or on a business trip or visiting friends and family for the holidays.*

In my case, I’m in my 50’s and I’m living with my parents. You’d think the neuroses (I mean the loving care) would lessen – when I’m only traveling to a nearby town to work for a few hours and then returning home. Alas… NO. Even then I’m expected to call when I arrive safely at my destination and then announce myself upon my arrival home in one piece.

Truth be told, it’s nice to know someone cares about me that much. It would, however, be a lot less of a burden if my parents could understand the concept of simple texting. But that’s just not the case. Instead, it’s a classic case of Once A Parent, Always A Parent!

*Hint, Hint! 😉

NOTE: I dedicate this post to my parents, Carol and Philip, on the occasion of their 59th wedding anniversary. LOVE YOU!

Raising Healthy Parents

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Never in a million years did I think I’d be back, living at home, taking care of my family. Only this time, I’m not referring to my awesome, talented and successful sons. I’m talking about my parents.

But can you really raise parents?

They’re certainly not children although, listening to their colorful banter, you might think their behavior merits an old fashioned ‘time out.’ The parents, in this case, are my very own much-loved, well-respected octogenarian ‘muddah’ and ‘fadduh.’ They brought me into this world, gave me unconditional love and support and (all too often) unsolicited advice.

That said, I literally owe them my life. 

In the last few years, it has become more and more evident that my parents, while still independent (but with curmudgeonly tendencies), have begun slowing down and are showing signs of needing a bit of help now and again. To that end, I agreed to live with them, part time, while also continuing my musical career and still maintaining a personal life – that of a woman in her 50’s.

Here are a few things I’ve already noticed:

1) Kids are not the only ones who say the darnedest things
2) I’m now the most savvy and technologically skilled person in the room.
3) Child-proofing has an entirely different meaning.

About that… I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering about the point of childproofing bottles of pills. Sure, when your children are younger, you want them to be safe. But, seriously, any child worth his weight can open one of those bottles in under 5 seconds. Not so for many older adults – due to crippling arthritis and bad eyesight.

One of the most popular elder-friendly items in the drugstore these days (after Depends) is a pill box divided into days of the week. You simply put all their colorful, shapely little pills into the appropriately labelled compartments at the beginning of each week and allow them the dignity of taking their own meds. After all, they’re only ‘sightly’ challenged. And I can’t even imagine how frustrating that must be.

So, on those too long days when I feel like my temper and patience fall just a hair too short, I try and think back to my own childhood – when my parents had to put up with my brother and me and the 16th year of my life that Mom still lovingly refers to as anything but sweet – and remember that, at the end of the day, this too shall pass.

Most importantly, I now realize that one day my future happiness may rest in the hands of my own children and they damn well better remember… I called them awesome!