It’s That Time…

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Last weekend I went out to dinner. My table was still set with the orange napkins they used for Halloween. On the windowsill next to me a gaudy, red and green Xmas decoration peeked over onto my place setting.

Considering it was the second week of November in New York and it was still in the 60’s, I can’t help but wonder why I couldn’t, instead, have enjoyed a little dressed-up Mr. Turkey or some cornucopia.

Is it too much to ask for a little equal time for Thanksgiving celebrating? Since when does Xmas begin right after Halloween? Doesn’t ‘Santa’ usually appear at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? 

Can We Talk?

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The more time I spend with older people the more I realize that their greatest fear is being alone. Not just physically alone but having to fill up to 12 hours a day with something other than silence. 

Many elders are widows/widowers and some are just not very good at socializing. It’s amazing how happy a simple conversation can make someone when there’s not much else going on in their life.

So, next time you see someone sitting alone on a bench or staring off into space, try interacting with that person and you might both feel better!

Word And Deed

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I had a very strange epiphany the other day. After a friend of mine sneezed and I said, “Bless you,” it occurred to me that what I had offered, purely out of habit, was a religious sentiment (albeit an abbreviation) to an Atheist who, nonetheless, said quite naturally, “thank you.”

Though neither one of us was particularly startled by this seemingly normal exchange, I thought about it for a second and asked if I had offended him. He, not surprisingly, answered, “no.”

But then I thought about another conversation I had had with a stranger on the telephone. It was just a solicitation and meant nothing at the time until I recalled that she ended the call by saying, “blessings.” I thought it odd and, honestly, uncalled for but then wondered if she expected some type of response from me. Was I supposed to say, “and to you, too” (or whatever the standard Christian response is)?

I certainly meant no disrespect but, rather, was quite taken by surprise because, in my life, that’s just not something people say to one another. It also goes back to that much disputed custom of wishing anybody and everybody a merry Xmas during the month of December. I’ve never understood why people find it necessary to make the assumption that you’re Christian or that you need THEIR acknowledgment. I know it’s meant to be a friendly greeting but, then, so is the much safer and non-religious “hello.”

Whatever the intended message or meaning is behind the words, it would be so much easier if people just acknowledged one another with a brief nod or a pleasant smile!

State Of Mind

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We spend countless hours on our looks and on our bodies – lotions, spas, gyms, power drinks – so why don’t we spend any time trying to improve our minds? Yes, we play games on our computers and do crossword puzzles and the like. But, since graduating from school (be it HS or college), we haven’t properly exercised our brains.

Try these experiments:

  • Say the alphabet backwards
  • Play the old car-trip game (by yourself) where you think of alphabetized foods you’d like to take on a picnic 
  • Try to remember the names of all of your teachers by grade

How did you do? I was visiting my son some weeks ago and, all of a sudden, I remembered a name we had both drawn blanks on in a recent phone conversation. We laughed. But it just goes to show you… It’s easy to forget but it’s redemptive to remember!

Five Second Rule

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Everyone knows about the five second rule where food is concerned. Supposedly, if you drop food on the floor, it’s okay to still eat it or serve it if it’s been picked up within 5 seconds. I’m sure people with extreme OCD are silently cringing right about now but, for the vast majority of us, this rule is fairly acceptable.

So what else might it work for?

  • If someone doesn’t react ‘promptly’ when a light turns green, is it alright to blast your car horn at them?
  • If you have something important to say and someone holds up their finger indicating that they’ll be with you in a second, is it alright to start talking after you’ve checked your watch and five seconds have gone by?
  • If a waiter tells you he’ll be back in a second with the check and, after 10 or 15 minutes you still haven’t gotten it, is it alright to walk out without paying?
  • If someone is holding the elevator for another person (while carrying on a conversation with them) and you have places to go, is it alright to press the ‘close door’ button?
  • If you, yourself (“guilty”), have done any of these because you truly believe the five second rule is an appropriate measure of your patience level, then I say to you, “_________________________”*

*sorry, my five seconds were up!

What Color’s That?

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I grew up with a brother who was colorblind so I’m slightly accustomed to the ‘odd’ pairings of colors. It’s not a monumental faux pas to wear a blue shirt with black pants and brown shoes. It just wouldn’t necessarily be someone’s first choice of wardrobe. Hopefully.

Occasionally, an elderly person walking around this community might be spotted wearing a polka-dotted shirt with plaid pants or the dreaded knee socks with sandals. There’s simply no good reason for that. Even age doesn’t give you a free pass…

But when you start deliberately mixing colors that are so off the spectrum of what should go together, it’s like you’re trying to start a full-blown fight instead of a conversation. I’m all for new trends and ideas and I can totally accept change. But unless your ‘new color scheme’ is aesthetically pleasing to my eye (and to others), I’m going to go full-out PC on you and ask, “what color’s that?”

I’m All Ears

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In my quest to have a modicum of peace and quiet, I found myself searching online for a pair of headphones. Not just any headphones but ones that will knock out almost all outside sound. I’m not kidding. 

They make these things for people who blow leaves and who work around airplanes. So I figured they’d be the perfect complement to my living in a house where answers are yelled from room to room or even from person to person within the same room because to wear a hearing aid would insinuate that you were hard of hearing. Heaven forbid.

At first, bearing witness (unintentionally) to these verbal sparrings, I found myself peeking out the front door – making sure no one else could hear. But then the strangest thing happened. As I walked down the hallway, I could hear tvs blasting, people shouting at one another and very loud one-sided phone conversations coming from inside every single door.

So now, when I want a reprieve from the loud ‘talking,’ I simply make myself a cup of tea, get out a good book, put on my headphones and enter my own little echo chamber of quiet. The only problem is… now I can hear the steady pounding of my own heartbeat magnified in my ears!

That Changes Everything

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When you look down at your hands and don’t recognize them as your own… that changes everything. When you have an ongoing conversation with someone who isn’t actually there… that changes everything. And when you have to center yourself on the edge of a chair and push as hard as you can with both hands to stand up… that changes everything, too.

No one expects life to remain the same for always. Most of us can accept that and learn to adapt. Change is hard but it shouldn’t be impossible – one would think…

So, what do you do if someone you love refuses to accept change?

You can’t just leave them alone in a world that no longer exists. You must help them acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. Brighten up dark rooms with color, place familiar objects within reach and keep their spirits up at all times.

There are creams and lotions on the market that supposedly remove wrinkles and age spots; books-on-tape that can keep you company when you’re alone or lonely and canes or walkers that can help you get around faster and easier. But only YOU can choose to change!