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When “Do As I Say” becomes “Do As I Do”

May 14, 2017

http://www.nextavenue.org  re-posted this piece once again, originally written in 2015 in honor of Mother’s Day and my mom.

Their title: My Mother, My Inspiration…

 Rant:

You remember the phrase our parents used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do?”  Here are some “Do as I say” edicts spoken by my Mother:

-Sit up straight.

-Walk looking up, not down at your feet. (My sister Linda stepped on a nail when she tried that!)

-Your face is going to freeze like that.

-Don’t talk to strangers.

-Yes you are going with me to so and so’s house.  Why? Because I said so.

-Go to school.  If you still feel sick in a few hours, call me.

-Play nice with others.  Treat them as you want to be treated.

-Put on lipstick.  You never know who you are going to meet.

 Rave:

There were 25 people at Mom’s 95th birthday February 2nd. It was a joyous, energized and eclectic occasion filled with relatives and friends, old and young, gay and straight, black and white. People couldn’t wait to hug and kiss her and tell stories about where they met and how she inspires them.

Linda and I are in the most enviable position of being able to focus, and change, the second half of the phrase ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ We now tell ourselves, as we navigate through our lives, ‘do as she does’ .

 

 Attitude:

I bet some people look at Mom’s wonderful smile and her ‘in the moment’ energy and think, “Wow, this woman has had an easy, happy life.” From loosing both her parents by the age of 12, raising three children with no child support, to the loss of one of her daughters, how wrong they would be.

Author Vivian Greene wrote: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

This is how Mom chooses to dance:

-By not putting herself down, beating herself up or saying negative things that demean who she is.

-By never saying, ‘why me?’

-By accepting that “this is the way life is.”

-By recognizing the good in others and treating everyone as an individual.  She still tells Linda and me not to speak to    strangers, but she never meets a stranger. It doesn’t matter if it is a clerk in a store or the person in the auto detailing shop, the first thing she’ll ask is their name.

-By never forgetting about the little girl who lives within her. She brings her out to play. When I called the other night, she told me she was watching a ‘penguin movie’ and could not talk.  She failed to hang up the phone properly so I was able to listen to her laugh, all by herself, while watching Happy Feet on TV.

-By repeating daily, “Some one up there is watching out for us and I’m so GRATEFUL.” Grateful being the optimum word.

-By getting out of her house and engaging in life. “I have to see people every day.”

-By saying, “Exercise. I notice one of the first things to go are your legs.”  Mom rides a stationary bike at a gym almost every day.

-By carrying herself with dignity and grace with her head held high. And I don’t remember her ever stepping on a nail!

-By putting her lipstick on before she walks out of the house!

 

Mom at 95, rocking those red lips and looking her elegant self

Mom at 95, rocking those red lips and looking her elegant self

 

Do what she does?  You bet. I’m learning how to dance in the rain.

One of my goals is to celebrate my 95th birthday, happy and healthy, with family and a group of eclectic friends, while wearing a brilliant shade of red lipstick!

How about you?

 

 

Connection-How To Find It

May 4, 2017

Rave:

Connection-How to Find it.  I’m grateful Mom is a 96-year-old happy woman who still inspires so many. Grateful because if I read the article below, not knowing it doesn’t have to be that way, I’d be breathing in a bag right now:

http://www.nextavenue.org/boomers-less-tied-to-friends-and-family-than-others-are/

It states:

The most dramatic change in social engagement was observed in 55- to 64-year-olds. This cohort, which is nearing retirement, is not only engaging less with their communities, but they have fewer meaningful interactions with their spouses or partners and weaker ties to family and friends.

 

Mom grabs life any way she can.  Sister Linda and I live in Virginia and all of her friends and family are gone.  Connection is extremely important to her.  Whether it be eating breakfast at the same deli every morning because, “I have to see people every day” to walking around the common area at her condo to “be in touch with a little nature ” or knocking on a neighbor’s door to introduce herself.  She said hello to a family next door who had a little boy. She supported his school by buying wrapping paper and chocolate over the years. The last time I was there, that ‘little boy’ was 19 and home from his first year of college.  He saw Mom as we walked to our car, ran out of his house and gave her the biggest hug.  They talked for 15 minutes about college and his life. As I watched the two of them, I couldn’t help getting teary eyed. Mom was in heaven.  When we got in the car she said to me, “See, it doesn’t take much.”

Rant:

Connection is risky but at this point in our lives, we probably have taken a few risks along the way.  That’s why the article from http://www.nextavenue.org was jaw dropping. Really?  People disengage? YIKES!  A good friend said, “Risk taking is a conscious decision.” I agree. When we were younger, most of us thought less about the consequences associated with taking a risk. As time goes by, we tend to forget how elated and proud we were when something we jumped into worked out. It seems now we concentrate more on the “I think I’ll remain in my comfort zone because I don’t need to prove anything anymore” mode.

The questions we ask, before taking on something new or getting out of our comfort zones, change. 10 or 20 years ago we might have said, “What do I have to lose?” Now the questions become, What do I really want? What am I missing? Am I happy? If the answer, especially to the last question, is no, take a deep breath and dive right in.

 

(This portion taken from a previous blog dated March, 2014)

Connection:

Keeps you in touch with you

Keeps you interesting

Keeps you involved in life

Keeps you healthy

Keeps you engaged with others

Keeps you excited

Attitude:

How to find connection:

Volunteer. There are so many people in our age groups that are volunteering.  Even if you are an introvert, it’s a great way to connect with others of like mind.

Take a trip. Day trips, overnights, cruises, educational…So many trips out there.  I know people who have made life long friends from all over the world.

Go for a walk.  Nature is a wonderful feeling of connection.

Learn something new.  Everyone in a class is there because they want to learn something new, too.  Takes the scary out of trying it when you realize that.

Sample working with your hands. A friend of mine started knitting.  She’s in the knit shop all the time getting mistakes corrected and meeting others in her same situation.

Read.

Learn to dance.  Everyone is a novice.

Smile a lot.  People will be drawn to you.  I see it with Mom all the time.

Get a pet if you can.  Nothing like walking a dog to meet other people.

Knock on a neighbor’s door. I moved to Dallas Texas not knowing anyone.  My girlfriend, who drove to Texas with me said she was going next door to meet my neighbor so I would at least know someone.  NOOOOOOO, I said.  Believe it or not, I was quite the introvert and very shy. I practically tackled her!  Well, she did it anyway and it’s a good thing she did.  He knew everyone in the apartment complex and included me in all that was going on.  I learned right then if she had not made that move, I would have been so very lonely.  That lesson has served me well.

Join a team sport: After reading this post the day I published, a rowing buddy and my good friend Eleanor reminded me that 3 out of the 4 of us that rowed the Head of the Charles (a premier rowing regatta in Boston) had all begun rowing in our 50’s! How could I forget that!! When we started in our respective novice programs none of us knew what we were doing, but we have stuck with it. The camaraderie and team spirit we have developed between the four us as well as the rest of the team will last us a lifetime.

 

Staying connected

Three of us started rowing in our mid-50’s

Please, please, please stay connected! What ever that looks like for you.  It will prolong your life.

Just look at Mom!

 

Connection

These folks are in their 60’s and 70’s

My friends visit Mom when they are in Florida!

My friends visit Mom when they are in Florida!

Connection

Mom’s 95th. These people are in their late 90’s

Originally posted 2016-06-14 20:35:38.

What’s Age Got To Do With It? Nothing!

May 4, 2017

Rave:

What’s age got to do with it?  According to my 96-year-old mother, NOTHING!  I notice that she is never focused on how old she is and is always surprised at the reactions of others when they ask her age.  Mom inspires others to think the same way just by being herself.

It’s not like she hasn’t experienced losses that remind her how old she is because she has.  Mom is the only remaining member of her immediate family and the last of her friends.  I can’t even imagine that.  I’d be curled up in a ball somewhere.  Not her.  Even though she has had her share of losses, it isn’t a place where she dwells for very long.

I am on a rowing team with 22 other women.  The youngest is 27, the oldest is…well, me.  The fact that there is a 42 year difference between us doesn’t register.  Actually, I take that back!  Writing it here makes me want to breathe in a bag!  Seriously though, it doesn’t stop me from participating and it certainly has never stopped Mom.  She goes to a gym twice a week.  She walks around her neighborhood, with the help of her aide, at least once a day.  Her aide comes from 8 to 1pm, 6 days a week.  One Sunday she told me she was going to walk outside to get some fresh air by herself. I remind her to take her walker after I am able to catch my breath.  “Oh, I’ll be fine.” is her response.  “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” I scream inside myself but outwardly I remind her in as calm a voice as possible, that if she fell she’d not be a happy camper.  “Okay, I won’t!”  Whew!  It’s like telling a teenager what the possible consequences could be for their actions.  And, you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

It’s not like she hasn’t experienced losses that remind her how old she is because she has.

What’s age got to do with it?  That’s the look on her face when my sister Linda and I say, “Mom the doctor said you need to walk with your walker in the house.”  She sustains that look and says, “I’m experimenting.  I want to challenge myself.  I walk close to things so I can grab on and I haven’t had to grab yet.” While challenging herself she has been overheard saying, “I did it. I did it.”  Who can argue with that?

 

Attitude:

 

What’s age got to do with it?  Nothing.

 

 

Age

Mom’s vibrant, winning smile

What's age got to do with it

Mom’s flowers…the ones on her nails.

 

I began writing this blog to let the world know we are not a stereotypical group of people growing older. I wonder where I got that from.  I’m not saying you have to do it Mom’s way. However, every time you begin to think, “Well at my age I can’t do that or I shouldn’t do this…”

STOP!

Remember. Make up your own rules.

Let’s go for it together!  I’m game.        

Hope you are too.

 

 

 

Originally posted 2016-05-12 21:33:46.

Tip For A Long Life: Laugh-Play

May 4, 2017

Rant:

 

Tip for a long life: laugh-play!!  Did you know the word ‘play’ can be used as both a noun and a verb?  The example given using ‘play’ as a noun is, “a child at play may use a stick as an airplane.”  ‘Play’ used as a verb, is defined as ‘activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.’  Example given: “the children went outside to play.”

And therein lies the rub.  How come I could not find any examples using the word ‘adult’ when describing the word play?  Does something happen to us as we ‘grow-up’?  Does society give us the message that ‘play’ is only for children and at a certain age it’s time to get serious about life?  I think it does.  And, guess what, we forget about playing!!  I’m talking about ‘activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose’ too! I’m talking about ‘goofing’ around, giggling, screaming with delight, laughing so hard no sound comes out, doing a silly dance, jumping in a pile of leaves, expressing yourself for pure enjoyment whether through art or dance or any of a thousand other ways!

Rave:

Laugh-play, that’s my Mom.  She has such a cute little girl.  Oh, wait, I bet you think I’m talking about me!  Nope.  I’m talking about the little girl that’s inside her.   I realize that I have known her little girl since I was a little girl!

See Mom’s little girl in this photo?  I can.

Laugh/Play

Mom being a goof

Mom was a single parent and on most Sunday mornings my two sisters and I would pile into her double bed, which at the time seemed enormous.  The biggest fight we had was who was getting each side of her.  “You were there last time, Susan.  It’s my turn”, I’d say.  Mom would intervene and figure it out then we’d settle down and wrap ourselves around each other.  We would giggle and laugh and talk about silly things.  She was as silly as we were. At our goofiest we would make up games and songs.  She would tell us the whole story about musicals such as  South Pacific or My Fair Lady and transport us to wonderful places. As we aged subjects were added, like taking care of ourselves as young women.   I remember the first time Mom told Susan it was okay for her to pluck her eyebrows, then looked at Susan and said,  “Susan, what happened to your eyebrows?”  Hence laughing so hard no sound came out.  I visited Mom a few weeks ago (right before her 96th birthday).  When I awoke the first morning my little girl was all excited to jump in bed with Mom and her little girl, which is exactly what I did!   As we were snuggling she said to me, “Too bad we don’t have a paper route.  I could fold them, you could throw them!” Once again laughter, giggling and goofing commenced.

I believe that the little boy or little girl we once were still lives within us. I am amazed to learn that many people are surprised when I say that.  My friend Ann Ranson is one of those people. I was telling her a story about Mom’s little girl and she said, “Wait, your Mom has a little girl? I didn’t know there was a little girl/boy still with us.” Well, I say ‘yes!’ Ann has always talked about playing more and creating more. I saw her recently and BOY has she tapped into her little girl. She sets a timer and when it goes off the music plays, that’s her time to dance around her house. She also has carved out a space to create her art and recently was accepted into a show at the Bath House Cultural Center.

Look closely at this photo of my friends Andy Taylor and Marie Taylor-Morrison.  Andy is in the stripped shirt and Marie is to his right.  Two ‘kids’ having the time of their lives!  For the record, play and fun are a HUGE part of their lives together to this day and I love it!

Laugh/Play

Andy and Marie…doing what they do best…PLAYING

 Attitude:

If you are a parent or grandparent with young children, show them that play and laughter are wonderful things.  Play WITH them.  So, I say to you, get re-acquainted with that little person.  Experiment.  Give yourself permission to be a goofball, laugh, sing, dance, scream with joy and giggle with abandon!

I believe we still carry that little girl or boy inside us because I see and hear my 96-year-old Mother’s little girl all the time!  Wow, thank you Mom!!  If she is any indication that laugh and play helps prolong our lives what are you waiting for?

 

 

Originally posted 2016-02-10 20:09:36.