ALL Lives Matter

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As yet another September 11th approaches, with a 3-hour televised reading-of-names, we should be asking ourselves why (even after 15 years) these particular lives seem to matter more than others. Regardless of your beliefs about destiny and happenstance or your definition of a true hero, there has never been an event in history that has been as publicly commemorated as this one.

September 11th is now part of our history and our culture – alongside two World Wars, too many genocides and the Holocaust. But we have never before dedicated a single day, every year, to publicly name those millions of people who have perished. Didn’t their lives matter, too?

Tragedy and heartbreak come in many forms – death from disease, arson, shootings, car and plane crashes. Who are we to decide whose death is more horrific or more memorable? We ALL matter both in life and in death. Isn’t it possible that the 9/11 families are not so much ‘honoring’ their dead as making their own lives (and losses) matter more?

New York has renamed countless bridges and streets in honor of politicians, policemen and even sports figures. The 9/11 Memorial, in its entirety, takes up much of downtown Manhattan. Since when isn’t a ‘moment of silence’ – generally heard around the world – enough?

I’ve always felt bad for people born on September 11th. How do you celebrate your special day when there’s such sadness all around? Do children innocently ask their parents why THEIR names aren’t being read aloud? Everyone grieves in a different way but most observances are kept private.

There’s a time and a place for remembrance of all kinds. But I believe it’s up to individuals to take on that personal burden if they so choose. We will never forget the events of September 11,2001. But isn’t the whole point for us to move ON and look FORWARD to a brighter future?

 

Is Easier Better?

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My parents and I just celebrated our second anniversary of generational living. Has it improved their quality of life? Has it made their lives any easier?

I’ve decided to let them speak for themselves. So I quickly jotted down a few key questions and I’ll share their answers with you. These are things we all wonder about in our own lives so I figured they’d be helpful on a number of levels.

Me: “Are you happy?”
Mom: “Yes.”
Dad: “I’m learning to deal…”

Me: “How much stress do you feel daily?”
Mom: “A bit.”
Dad: “Tons.”

Me: “If you could have one wish?”
Mom: “That your Dad’s eyes were better.”
Dad: “That I could get my eyes back.”

My takeaway from this is that, while my parents (after nearly 60 years together) are basically on the same wave length, their commonality works best when they are at their best selves!

Something For Everyone

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If you’re still at an age where you’re working full time, you probably haven’t thought much about retirement. Unless, of course, you’re miserably unhappy at your current job. Or you’re close to retirement age and you’re just counting down the days or years till you can sit home and collect Social Security.

In today’s society, with people living longer lives, there’s a strange new phenomenon whereby as soon as someone retires, they immediately look for part-time work. I guess, for some people, the idea of relaxing and enjoying your ‘golden years’ is unheard of and, after all, why would someone want to spend all their time at home… with their loving spouse or, perhaps, traveling the world together??

In my opinion, some people just aren’t capable of being happy and others are only so when ‘they’ are the most important person in their life!

 

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!

Cause And Effect

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Some things are better left alone. That might sound defeatist but there are just times when one must leave well enough alone.

Here are a few examples concerning older people:

  • If you ask for a different medication, you may suffer worse side effects.
  • If you send out appliances to be fixed, you will find yourself without them for possibly long periods of time.
  • If you wait around for perfect weather conditions, you will be spending a lot more time stuck inside.
  • If you wait for others to do things for you that you’re capable of doing yourself, you will lose your independence at an alarming rate.

Most aging Americans today refuse to let their limitations rule their lives. Instead, they find ways around their disabilities and power ahead. I hope my generation has as much moxy and determination as theirs. It’s to their credit (those that are thriving) that they’ve defied the odds and entered into a new world of technology and hope!

 

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?!

Words And Phrases

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A diamond is forever – with divorce rates up, is that still true?

A dog is man’s best friend – I love dogs as much as the next person but shouldn’t your spouse be your BF?

A skeleton in the closet – let’s hope that isn’t a literal meaning.

A watched pot never boils – a quaint expression but, obviously, untrue.

I understand and appreciate the feeling cited above. But we cannot live fortune cookie lives. We can’t possibly take a few nice words (written on a small, folded piece of paper and shoved inside a dessert) seriously. We hear about tragedy and suffering on the news all day long. We see injustice and cruelty all around us. Sure, it’d be great to live in a world wearing rose-colored glasses but, eventually, reality will cross our path and bite us in the butt.

So, by all means, think positively and be considerate of those around you. But know that, against our better judgment, words CAN sometimes hurt!

The New Normal

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There’s nothing wrong with getting older. It’s almost as if the ‘over 65’ crowd is ‘the new normal.’ Aches and pains aside, more people than ever before are living into their eighties, their nineties and even living long enough to hear Willard Scott read their names (not as part of a memoriam but) on a Smuckers jar.

One noble aspect about aging is that it doesn’t discriminate – all races and genders, if they’re lucky, can be members of this inclusive club. The only rule is that you do it right… the living, that is, not the dying.

Old people are constantly portrayed as those suffering from incontinence, heart disease, arthritis and memory loss. They’re seen as cranky, unattractive, frail and forgetful. The fact of the matter is, today’s elders are actually computer literate, taking classes, starting new jobs and finding ways to improve their lives.

It’s no longer enough to just sit back and enjoy your retirement. You must keep an open mind and not be afraid to fail. You have to be open to discovery and appreciate life – especially knowing that your time may be limited.

Always remember this… You don’t get to choose how you’ll die but you sure can choose how you’ll live!

Waiting For Godot

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We are always waiting for something – a check to arrive in the mail; a parking spot to materialize; a job to magically fall in our lap. We sometimes spend more hours waiting for things to happen than we do actually living our lives.

Here is a small sample of a daily ‘self-induced’ holding pattern:

  • Waiting to take the perfect selfie
  • Waiting to win the lottery
  • Waiting for Ed McMahon to show up on the doorstep (well, maybe 30 years ago)
  • Waiting for Godot 

You might laugh at the absurdity of listing the well-known play but, really, isn’t that what we all do? We have our ideas and our opinions but most of us never act on them – deciding, rather, to just discuss them, over and over again, with anyone and everyone who is unfortunate enough to be within earshot.

With all the tragedy going on in the world today, we offer prayers, we speak the names of the victims, we color our monuments with their flags but, really, we do nothing. The truth of the matter is, no matter how upbeat or positive we try to be, we’re always just waiting for that other shoe to drop!

Ready Or Not

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“Ready or not, here I come…,” we shouted as children playing Hide and Go Seek. And, not surprisingly, we always found our playmates. “Are you ready, yet?” we asked our own children when we were running late to an appointment. “Let’s Go” and “Chop Chop,” I often, and as kindly as possible, say to my parents when I know they would rather just stay home but they’ve got places to go and things to do.

With 24 hours in a day, you’d think that we would have plenty of time… we rush to work, we rush getting dressed up to go to events and we even rush so that we don’t end up having to rush. Time is a funny thing. We think we have so much of it when we’re young so we’re always late. Then we want time to slow down because things were so much easier when we had nothing BUT time.

“Youth is wasted on the young.” Wouldn’t it be great to have known then what you know now that you’re older and more experienced? Sadly, all of that knowledge and wisdom comes too late to be able to really enjoy it – as our younger selves could.

They say you’re never quite ready for marriage or children. There isn’t necessarily a perfect time in our lives for such life-altering events. But we do our best whether or not we’re truly ready!