Watch Your language!

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A Long time ago, there was this dog named Lassie. Maybe you remember her. She lived for a time in a black and white world (later full color), where life was simpler and happy. She was highly intelligent, loved and cared for people and never used profanity. This show ran for nearly 20 years and survived 4 cast changes, which can be instant demise for many a show. Families would eagerly await the next episode and would enjoy it together. There were other shows like “I Love Lucy”, “The Wonderful World of Disney”, “Little House on the Prairie”, etc., that were all top-rated shows and were uplifting, clean and left you with a good message.

Times have changed. In the 1960’s The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. were top rated shows on television. They contained no profanity and no sexual content. Total, these 2 shows ran approximately 11 years. By 1976, with the show “Happy Days”, there were 2 sexual references per hour, and very little profanity. In 1996, “Beverly Hill, 90210” had 8.5 sexual references per show and more profanity. A study done in 2010, by the Parents Television Council found that from 2005 to 2010, profanity had increased by 69%. That was 9 years ago and we know that sexual content has now increased dramatically, as it becomes more difficult to even find a show that’s suitable to watch. The scenes leave little to the imagination and many parents or grandparents either end up diving for the control, others turning off the tv entirely or some unfortunately deciding, “Oh well, that’s the way TV is now, and the scene will be over soon.”

A classic movie, “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid”, was rated R way back in 1969, because of the few profane words that it had. Now, a PG-13 movie, has more profanity and sexual content then Butch Cassidy or John-boy Walton ever dreamed about. I love what famous western author Louis L’Amour said, “I’ve written all these stories without pornography, without any obscenity. I grew up among sailors and miners and lumberjacks and the roughest kind of men in the world. But I never found it necessary to use all that in the stories. I can make them real without that. I think that much of that kind of writing is a cover up for lack of real skill.”

I’m definitely not against a good romantic movie. I am a hopeless romantic myself, but I like to be given enough credit that I can imagine a few things without having to be shown play by play. One of my favorite movies is “An Affair to Remember” from 1957. It has got to be one of the most romantic movies ever made. I wasn’t born when it first came out, but I’ve surely enjoyed it many times throughout the years. It is classy, charming, dramatic, suspenseful and a tear-jerker on top of that. It had everything except explosives, monsters and computer graphics. I don’t remember any expletives, and yet I could feel and share the emotion that was taking place in the movie. They were able to convey that with a great story and great actors.

It’s my opinion that Networks and Media Streaming Services that constantly produce shows filled with profanity and sexual content don’t have the creativity or originality to produce quality shows. They might dismiss it as, “Ratings show that’s what people want.” That’s just the majority of what they are producing now, and people want to watch something. Surely, ratings indicate that wholesome productions such as Hallmark Movies and other uplifting shows don’t require the garbage placed in so many others, to receive good ratings. Even though these shows are simple and predictable and what some might describe as “Hokey”, they offer viewers a happy break and escape from stress and the dark things we must deal with in today’s world. When Networks feed us trash, they are discounting us and missing an opportunity to feed our minds, souls and teach us something.  More shows such as “Planet Earth”, “The Potato Peel Pie Society” and channels such as History and Discovery would be appreciated.

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There’s a story told, about a parent who one evening brings out a plate of cookies for their family. The cookies look delicious and everyone takes one, but right before they take a first bite, the parent discloses that they contain a special, secret ingredient that they might want to know about first. It’s not a big deal, because it only contains a little amount of the secret ingredient. The family hesitantly questions what it is. The parent says, “oh just a little dog poop. No big deal.” Of course, the cookies didn’t really contain dog poop, but the point that this parent wanted to get across, is that just a little of something bad is still not edible or desirable. A lot is even worse.

People used to read literary classics, memorize and recite poetry, and learn languages. They would do things that enriched their lives and vocabulary. I hope that we and our posterity are not destined in the future to expressing ourselves with just a few choice expletives. I hope we won’t settle for rubbish. No, I’m not a prude. I just believe that Hollywood often sells us short and feeds us trash and we often times surrender to and digest it until it becomes a part of us. We are smarter and more civilized than that, and we ultimately are the ones with the power. It just takes a click of a button.

Who doesn’t love a bargain?

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Truth be told, almost everyone loves a bargain. There are times, of course, for some people, when it’s worth it to pay the extra cost. But for the most part, even for those who are well off, there’s just something about getting 2 for 1, filling up your punch card, or getting 25% off of an item. I mean, if you have to buy something, don’t you want to get the most for your hard-earned money? Teenagers might cringe at Grandma reminding the clerk about her 10% discount, but hey! She waited a long time for that…

Of course, seniors are indeed on a fixed income, and most seniors welcome discounts. But whether you are a senior, a student, young marrieds with kids, or someone with teen-agers, a penny saved is…well you know. So, after learning to look for these deals in our society over the years, from the time we are young, it has conditioned us to be experts by the time we reach the golden years.

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Once you get the hang of it and use the discounts, getting into the movies for less, getting your groceries for 5% off on a certain day, or receiving a discounted haircut (this could be risky), or a hotel room at a better rate, feels good. Honestly, not many people would say, “What the heck? I demand to pay full price!” Oh, sure, there’s a few, who may be in denial and argue that they certainly are NOT a senior citizen! The rest of us, for the first while, are pleasantly surprised. We feel a bit pampered and valued. It’s a bit like someone empathetically stating, “Oh hey, I recognized that you’ve lived and experienced a lot. You’ve given, now it’s your time!” or “I see you are older than the rest of us. You get a break because you will never be young again- and because you have to spend your money on crap like pain relievers, Prilosec and shoe insoles.”

I don’t know if a discount really helps though because when I go into a store and see other great sales and clearance items, I’m like a fish on a hook. It doesn’t matter that I already have 4 pump handsoaps in a cupboard, or a certain snack or herbal supplement at home, if it’s a good deal, I’m likely to buy it. You just never know, right? Also, If something is geared towards my grandkids, I’m especially vulnerable! With good reason. There’s always a party or birthday around the corner. I of course have to hide the purchases from the kids. That could explain why I’ve found gifts near Easter, that I hid around Labor Day, that were meant for Christmas!

Just don’t insult me with “senior” discount meals that offer 20% off, but as you examine it, you realize the portion is 20% less. That is not a discount. That is basically a kid’s meal. You might as well put it in a small paper bag with a prize for old people. Maybe throw in a pill cutter, or wrinkle cream.

 I suppose it’s not really the discount itself that matters. It’s more the recognition and appreciation about a lifelong contribution to society….ok, and also about winning a small victory. As you age, sometimes it can sometimes feel like less victories are obtained. So, when someone gives us a little one, let’s take it and be glad.

What Shall We Learn Today?

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You don’t give yourself enough credit. You know more than you think you do! Sure, there are some downsides to aging, but have you considered the knowledge that you’ve gained along the way? It’s inevitable that as time marches on we all gain from experiences and hopefully learn while on our journey. That’s what enriches our lives and can also enrich the lives of others as well. In my journey, which has been shorter than some of my wiser , more mature readers, I’ve learned and continue learning on my education. Others who are older, might consider me an ignorant pup, and that’s ok. That’s the perks that come with each decade. I am not here to teach, but to learn and to share, and I’d like to share with you some of my life’s lessons. They are not numbered in any order of importance, just observations.

Enjoy and appreciate the beauty around us.

There was a time when people spent a good part of the day outside. They worked, farmed, gathered and raised their food and so much more outside that was necessary to sustain themselves. In our modern times, people can (and sometimes have to) stay in their house or a building for days on end. It’s easy to run out of time to get outside. Nature offers so many benefits that can fortify us throughout the day. Besides the obvious benefits of Vitamin D (which so many are lacking now) clean air and exercise, there are also less obvious benefits such as stress reduction, mood improvement, and new studies indicate eye improvement. We are so blessed to have this beautiful, diverse world. To me, there is something so therapeutic and calming about taking in our surroundings, whether it’s the ocean, mountains, desert or even, just our backyard.

Every day presents an opportunity of some kind.

I always welcome the beginning of a new day. Even if the previous day was awful, the next, fresh day brings hope and light to us. It’s an opportunity to make things right with someone, to improve job skills, to try and go a day without any negativity, to brighten a stranger’s day or even to do something simple, like finally cleaning out the garage (which you’ve been putting off for months…or years). A new day offers new possibilities and new starts. I remember telling my youngest married daughter to never go to bed while angry with your spouse. She said something that I thought was profound. She said, “I disagree. I think at times it may be better to go to bed angry. Nighttime is often when we are stressed, tired and short-tempered. After a hard day, it may be better to go to bed angry and when you wake up to a new day, you may be softened and see things differently.” I have thought about this, and see the wisdom in this. This brings me to another observation.

We learn just as much from children and young people as they do from us.

I cannot imagine our lives without our children and grandchildren. We have all learned so much together, mostly about love, and life has been so much better surrounded by them. I remember a son-in-law worrying that he might not love his soon-to-be second child. It’s hard to explain to someone that whether it’s a 2nd, 3rd, or 20th child, your love continues to exist and grow with every new day. Of course, when his next child was born, he fell in love all over again. It’s wonderful how that works.  The marvelous thing about grandchildren, is that you have learned what really is important and what isn’t along the way. Grown children have often looked at their parents in disbelief as their parents spoil and love and forgive grandkids for things, they themselves never got away with. But perfection isn’t a prerequisite for parenthood, and we learn as we go. It is interesting how our own parents become smarter to us and more appreciated as we go through many of the experiences they have already gone through. We also come to learn at how fleeting those precious years with our younger children are. Fortunately, you realize that although the housing arrangements may change as they leave, the sweet association doesn’t have to.  I love watching our kids raise their kids and how kind and patient they are. They are all good humans raising good humans. The sweetest reunion is family coming through the door, hugs and kisses and the sound of, “Grandma, Grandpa!” We feel younger when we are around them all and they are so appreciated and loved.  

To stay young, we must continue learning and progressing.

Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning, stays young.”  Life is about always learning and progressing. It can be through reading, studying about places and traveling, learning a foreign language or the language of the computer. It can be studying about gardening, politics, cooking or relationships. Whatever it is, learning rejuvenates us and motivates us and we can share our findings with others. To quit learning, is to give up on life. There’s always something to learn, we each have a desire to learn, and as we cultivate it, it brings meaning to our life. It can also enlarge our circle of friends. I was invited to join a book club, and I was hesitant. They were all very smart ladies. What if they hated my comments? What if I was too busy? What if I felt uncomfortable? What if, what if, what if? I decided to give it a try, and I loved and continue to love it. Not only is it bringing friends into my life, but it has brought back my love of reading and has helped me to just slow down for awhile and enjoy a book. I love learning, and can be found researching many topics. After 2 attempts, I haven’t given up on learning Spanish, if someone wants to teach me!

Lastly, we are all in this together.

It’s easy in our society from a young age to be competitive and that can be healthy and necessary for life. But, it’s a balancing act along with compassion, empathy and charity. I appreciate the people I associate with of all ages, who are so kind and caring. I teach a Sunday School class with 5 and 6-year old children. They are so sweet and caring. They are smart and know the answers, but they are also so considerate not to embarrass someone. They also are ready to encourage someone as hugs abound and also kind words. It’s very inspirational to me and reminds me that it’s never inappropriate to be kind. It’s always important to remember that almost every person that you come in contact with is dealing with something. If we remember this, it will help us to be more patient and understanding. Little things can also go a long way. I’ve often noticed older ladies in stores and restaurants, looking lovely, and I try to compliment them when I see them. I also thank Veteran’s for their service, which is heartfelt and I can’t imagine the things they’ve been through. It just takes a minute. I likewise, have been the recipient of kindness. That grouchy clerk may just have received some tragic news before you dealt with him. Or that driver who just cut you off, may be in a hurry to get to a loved one. Or he may not. It doesn’t matter. It’s a struggle every day, because we too are dealing with things.  We can only try to do a little better every day and know this, you are not alone.

I’d love to hear about the things you are learning on your journey. Leave a comment so we can learn from you!

One Scoop or Two

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One of my earliest memories, is hearing the sweet, warped strains of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, or “Pop Goes the Weasel” on a summer day. No, it wasn’t from my mother’s loving voice or a favorite toy. This favorite melody came from a speaker attached to an ice cream truck! I would hear it and jump up from whatever I was doing and beg Mom for a nickel and a dime and head outside. I would run as fast as my 6 or 7 year-old legs would carry me to the multi-colored truck, waving my coins, hoping the ice cream man wouldn’t overlook me and drive away. I felt so important as I gave him actual, real money and made such grown up decisions such as whether I wanted a drumstick, missile or push-up pop.

When I was a bit older, my Dad would occasionally invite me to go to a drugstore named Thrifty.  Thrifty had a wonderful ice cream counter with a glass window showcasing the ice cream in cardboard tubs. There were many interesting flavors, but my dad would always get Pistachio, and I would usually get Mint Chocolate Chip. It was such a simple pleasure, and all the kids at the counter would be staring wide-eyed at the ice cream with their fingertips on the glass, waiting to be handed their own treat. Creamy goodness and sweet memories for 5 cents a scoop.

As a teenager, I would go with friends to an ice cream parlor called Farrell’s. It was noisy, filled with families, kids and colors. This place, was “THE” place after movies and occasionally, someone would order something called The Zoo, which was a huge silver bowl of many scoops of ice cream and little plastic toys. The waiters would put the bowl on a stretcher, run around the parlor as a siren sounded and present the zoo to the lucky recipients! It was pure fun.

You may be thinking, “Oh wow, an article on ice cream?!” Yes, in part, but for me ice cream is more than just a treat made out of cream, eggs and sugar that we eat after dinner occasionally. It can turn everyday life into a celebration. It rarely is brought out during tragic times, or funerals. It is brought out to emphasize happy times and although best eaten with others, can also turn a quiet, lonely evening into something just a little better.

I remember starting out our marriage with both of us working in an ice cream parlor/restaurant called Leatherby’s, that his parents had purchased. Rick was the manager and I was a waitress, complete with a pinafore and striped blouse. The floor was a blue and white checkerboard, and even back then, it had a nostalgic atmosphere and served the best made-on-the premises ice cream. Some creations contained 32 ounces of ice cream and people loved receiving these very special, over-the-top indulgences. Later in life, I remember fresh peach milkshakes my sweet husband and I would make as young marrieds with small children. I recall my husband began making luscious homemade ice cream at our family celebrations. He would make vanilla, Rocky Road, Strawberry and an amazing recipe called Swiss Milk Chocolate, which contained malt powder and grated pieces of chocolate. Our 4th of July, Memorial Day or birthday celebrations might have the whirring sound of the ice cream maker, accompanied by children laughing, running around and hoping to lick the ice cream paddle. These were good times surrounded by good food.

Ice cream isn’t just for the young, but it is for the young at heart. We once went with our 3 children to visit an elderly couple, that we had become friends with. They had relocated to another state, and we had the opportunity to go visit them. It was in the middle of winter, snowing, and it was 10 o’clock in the morning. When we arrived at the Greenwood’s home, Mr. Greenwood ushered us into the living room, where his wife, lay on a couch, unable to sit up because of health reasons. After the greetings, he happily exclaimed, “It’s time for ice cream!” We looked surprised, and the kids looked delighted. He scooped up our bowls, and the potentially serious visit turned into a party at the Greenwoods.

Perhaps you aren’t crazy for ice cream. Maybe it’s a get together around your grandmother’s lasagna, or your husbands barbecue ribs. If you are like many of us over 55, on a restricted diet, it may be over a salad, tofu casserole (heaven forbid!) or simply sugar-free lemonade. Whatever our situation, we need to remember the simple pleasures of life. We need to keep inventing excuses to enjoy life and to enjoy each other. Our society today promotes seclusion and exclusion. With the conveniences of internet shopping, cell phones and cyber education on everything from college to replacing a spark plug, also comes the danger of isolation and loneliness. We must work extra hard to keep sociality and relationships alive. I feel a block party coming on… or a call to that neighbor who seems to be lonely. A little pralines and cream, might be just the ticket…

S.H.’s Basic Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (contains raw eggs)

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 – 3/4 cups half-and-half

1 Tbls vanilla

1 cup whipping cream

In a lg. bowl, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in half-and-half, vanilla and cream. Pour into ice cream machine canister. Freeze in ice cream maker according to directions. Makes about 3 quarts.

A Short and Sweet Escape

Think back to when you were a child. To the days when you might run out of the house to meet friends, or jump on your bike to explore. As carefree as a lark. Those were the good times, free from the stress and worries that later came with adulthood.

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A little later on, when you were a young adult, right out of high school or college age, you might, at the last minute, jump in the car with friends and take a little day or weekend trip! Your necessities might consist of just a map, some Cheetos or jerky and whatever money you could scrounge up, from couches, siblings or lawn mowing. Why don’t we do that now? Is it because we are so much more responsible? Is it because we think of all the things that could go wrong? Is it because we might have to explain to our children our behavior?

We can’t relive those youthful, frivolous days, but we can indeed experience moments like them and savor them like we did a “Sugar Daddy” sucker or a “Missile” popsicle.

As the over 55 group (and many of us empty nesters), what a great time to bring day or weekend trips back into our life! We might even keep a bag packed for such spontaneity. It could contain; water bottles, sunblock, sunglasses, hats, snacks, a first aid kit and of course some dinero. Also, remember comfortable shoes and your phone and camera. Fill up your car with gas on Thursday or Friday, so you are ready to escape first thing in the morning.

There are some wonderful places for seniors to visit, and many have discounts, so check to see. The lifetime senior pass (for those 62 and over) to US national parks is  only $80, which is quite a deal if you like the outdoors. We’re talking about places like the ocean, Yellowstone, Gettysburg and Yosemite, to name a few! There are 418 National Parks in the US. Of course, trips can expand to other activities and sites. We recently went hunting for opals at an opal mine. Another trip included a beautiful mountain lake, paddle boarding and a Melodrama theatre.

The Oregon Coast

On other weekend trips, we’ve gone whale watching and to festivals and concerts. Everyone’s trips will be individual. It all depends on what is in your area and what your budget and interests are. Of course, if you are limited medically, that too is a consideration.

My husband and I still work, so longer vacations don’t happen as often as we’d like, but day and weekend trips allow us to explore the beautiful and interesting areas that are closer to home. They also provide rejuvenation, as we unplug from stress, work, social media and tv. Also, remember that the drive is part of the experience. Whether you are with a spouse or friends, being free from these distractions, you are able to reconnect with each other. This seems to be a lost art in our fast-paced society that we live in.

We may think that in order to enjoy a vacation, it needs to be at a 5-star resort or in another country. Not only are day and weekend trips less stressful and fun, we can take advantage of them more frequently. We may have to get older, but we don’t have to act old. Keep the thrill and wonderment in your lives. Now, go act your age and have fun!

I’ll Always Be a Dreamer

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I’ve been a dreamer for quite some time. Even now that my hair has a significant amount of white and my birth certificate is somewhat of an antique, I still have hopes and dreams. It’s honestly what keeps me going. When my sweet husband and I were young, he would try to bring me back to reality. He would list logistics and facts, to help me realize my dream was an impossibility. Basically trying to lesson the blow of any future disappointment. He is a kind and supportive man, and after a few years (and a little coaching), I think he realized it was just the way that I process and deal with life. Now, after 36 years, he dreams with me, and has learned to play the game well. At times, he will even embellish my dreams a bit to make them even better.

He supports me in my latest adventure of writing a blog. I’ve always enjoyed writing, interacting with people, and I have achieved expert status as an overthinker. As I enter a new phase in my life (which honestly, is my most exciting, explorative, and reflective phase), I decided that writing a blog would be a good outlet. Maybe it is just a declaration that I’m still here. Maybe it’s attempt to keep pushing forward and make every moment count. Or maybe I just thought that someone might relate with and share the feelings and thoughts that I am having. Or… maybe it just gives me something to do when I’m awake for 2 hours at 3 a.m.

After my kids left the nest, about a decade ago, it was quite a transition. It was even harder than I thought it would be! I wondered what my next role would be and felt a bit lost. It seems as you enter this confusing time, you are also inconveniently going through other challenges such as illness/death of parents, menopause (that’s a whole other blog post!), children’s problems and thoughts of your retirement fund. It can simply be overwhelming as you contemplate the future. In a way, it is similar to graduating high school, and trying to figure out your future. Except that you have way less future.

So, I like to think of the older examples in my life, who looked at the golden years as opportunities. They were of course responsible people, but they also had a lot of fun! I knew a lady in her 90’s that was taking college classes. I knew a group of dynamic elderly ladies, who loved socializing and going to basketball games together. I know another lovely woman who is able to travel a great deal and enjoys every trip. My brother volunteers at a food banks and also for an organization that benefits young single mothers. He finds fulfillment and purpose in those activities.

I’m fortunate enough to have good health, and so I’ve been blessed to see many dreams come to fruition. I was a rather late bloomer, but once I got started I couldn’t stop. I took piano lessons in my 30’s. It wasn’t until my 40’s when I returned to college and got a degree. In my 50’s I decided to become a massage therapist and a certified aromatherapist. Both of these endeavors required hundreds of hours. I then started my massage business, which I love. Now, in my mid 50’s I’ve decided to start this blog. Is it scary? Yes! Do I know what I’m doing? No! But do I love learning and continuing to gain experience? Yes! Besides, how old would I be if I didn’t try these things? Exactly. I would be the same age, without the acquired knowledge, training, challenges, and wonderful people I’ve met along the way.

We may not have control of how long we will be here. But we do have control over our attitude and what we accomplish while here. Living life to the fullest and enjoying the journey is something I will never regret. Getting to do it with people I love, well that to me, is heaven on earth.

Welcome to my new World

Private! Do not read this if you are under the age of 55! Does that sound discriminatory? Perhaps. Are people over 55 ever discriminated against? Yes, of course! There’s even a word for it – “Ageism”. But I’m here to lend support to my peers.

As someone who has crossed that threshold and still feels young inside, I find it puzzling. I’m still the same person with the same brilliant ideas and great sense of humor, but since allowing myself to go grey, things have changed. Ok, actually my hair is more of a lovely silver on top, but regardless, it still classifies me as old, I guess. From what I understand, it’s not as distinguished for a women to let her hair go natural. I think people see it as “giving up”. But I felt it empowering somehow. Of course, it’s not just my hair that makes me appear older, but that definitely was a game changer.

What I noticed was that people talked to me differently. Strangers began calling me dear and sweetheart! Some talked a little louder. When attending a Zumba class recently with my oldest daughter, some participants seemed concerned for my well being. I was actually able to keep up quite well. I had to – I had to prove a point. I’ve noticed too, that at restaurants and in lines, I have acquired a superpower. I believe I am now invisible! I must be, as I do not receive the attention or help that I once did.

I decided that the people my age and older need a cheerleader and advocate. I’m here to tell you that you can still achieve dreams, still see the world, still feel attractive and still enjoy living. You can fall in love, learn a new skill, be a mentor to someone and be there as a great influence for your grandchildren. You have great worth. Other cultures value their elderly and recognize their experience and wisdom and celebrate them. They are viewed as treasures and in their country, could even be punished legally for not taking care of their elderly. The US has a few things to learn about these matters.

All right, if you are under 55 and still reading this, it’s ok. I don’t mind that you are here, because I want to tell you that when your time comes, don’t be afraid. I’m here to validate and encourage you on your journey. I’m here to say that there are still exciting opportunities ahead. You may have to fight a little to be heard, but I am optimistic, and believe that 50, 60, 70, and beyond, is changing from what it used to be perceived as. Boundaries are being broken, as we see older people running marathons, being body builders, still working into their 70’s and going to college. I’m also here to tell you to value the older person in line in front of you at the store that might be a little slower or chatty….it might just be me.