Short Term Paranoia

Evernote Snapshot 20160317 205903

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

Evernote Snapshot 20160316 190417

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

Evernote Snapshot 20160315 142354

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!

My Greatest Accomplishments

Evernote Snapshot 20160130 183829

When I made the decision to not only have children but also to raise them myself, I took a lot of criticism from people who had no qualms about letting others raise their own kids. I never voiced my opinion about their decision to work full time and hire strangers to look after their children and I expected at least that much in return.

It’s funny how people view the same situation in such different ways.

Be that as it may, I consider myself lucky to have been able to devote all my attention to my sons and I never regretted that choice.

When I decided to take care of my aging parents I could do no less than that. My parents gave me life just as I gave life to my children. The choice was a no brainier. I am fortunate that, even in their eighties, both my parents are still in my life.

Loving and caring for someone is not a part time job – it’s a lifetime commitment. 

Not that it’s been easy, by any means, but the benefits of this unique living arrangement far outweigh the difficulties we’ve endured. Living with and caring for elderly parents is not a choice to be made lightly. It may not be the right choice for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work and a ton of patience but it can also be one of the most rewarding and selfless things you will ever do!

Bad Hair Days

Evernote Snapshot 20160315 100532

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!”

Waiting For Godot

Evernote Snapshot 20151118 110501

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!

High Tech Drama

Evernote Snapshot 20151223 142711

Last night, I innocently showed my Dad a video on my phone. Granted, he couldn’t actually see it but he heard it and was able to get the gist of its content. This morning, he told me he had a restless night because he couldn’t stop thinking about that video.

Because I know how my Dad’s mind works (most of the time), I was able to decipher that what bothered him was not so much what he had heard but, rather, that I was able to access it. He was concerned about how and when I managed to ‘get into this person’s house and possessions.’ The fact that anyone at anytime has free and clear access to the ‘Internet’ and all that that entails, is beyond his comprehension.

I would imagine that, to his mind, I am someone akin to an Edward Snowden for his generation. All kidding aside (and, yes, I am most definitely kidding), I  am much less computer savvy than even MY contemporaries. So I can, truthfully, see how confusing that must have seemed to him.

But his mind, nonetheless, went immediately to his own privacy and he just couldn’t shake the idea that ‘big brother’ was now watching him. I tried not to insult him by explaining that no one was looking into his past – not the time he argued with his classmate at the bus stop and not the time he drove a few miles over the speed limit when Carter was president.

Unfortunately, what started out as a simple means of sharing (what I considered to be) interesting information turned into an eye-opening, educational lesson for us both!

Hurry… Slow Down!

Evernote Snapshot 20151123 100713

We’re in such a hurry all the time. We eat fast food, we get instant messages – we place too much emphasis on instant gratification… we do everything at top speeds from driving to speaking to shopping. Why can’t we slow down anymore?

Where’s the fire in our lives?

From the time we’re little we’re in this giant hurry to grow up. Then, when we’re grown, we wonder where all the time went. We have indigestion yet we eat some of our meals while driving to and from work or while standing in line waiting to catch a train.

My mother always used to say: “A watched pot never boils.” Sounds profound but, seriously, it ‘always’ boils. In truth, it only seems to take longer because we’re focused on it and, now that we’re all multi-taskers, who’s sitting around watching water boil?

So, give yourself a break. You don’t have to make every single moment count. Don’t go directly from one activity to another. When eating, don’t forget to chew and (maybe) even savor your meal… There will be plenty of time to rush when you’re done!

Maybe Next Year

Evernote Snapshot 20151229 152321

They tell us: “never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Nobody can predict what tomorrow will bring so why procrastinate? I wonder how many people never got a chance to view a sunset or see the leaves change or watch the tide come in?

These aren’t earth-shattering events and most of us probably take them for granted. How many of us, do you suppose, actually stop and look up at a full moon or count the stars up in the sky? We’re always in such a rush. Even the biggest moments of our lives – weddings, births, graduations – they’re usually captured on film, with our eyes behind the lens of a camera instead of on the subject at hand in that crucial moment.

In life, there are rarely second chances. Do overs are something we play at as children. They don’t really exist. As they say: “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Convincing yourself or others that you’ll get around to doing something ‘next year’ is a bet you should not be willing to take. Because you just never know…!

A healthy and happy 2016 to all.

 

State Of Mind

Evernote Snapshot 20151119 130156

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!