Is Everything Going To Be Okay?

June 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog

Photo by Angie Rubin

First I used to ask my best friend if everything would turn out well.  Then I asked a therapist, my late husband and then the new best friend.  What I was really asking was: regardless of all that is going on in my life today, tell me that in the end I’m going to be okay.  I will be left standing and happy.

As I extracted these assurances from others, deep down I knew no one could guarantee the outcome of anything.  But, hearing the words “everything is going to be okay” – even knowing they held an empty promise – made me feel safe.

I am spending time with my dad, who is 87 years old, and who last year spent two months in the ICU.  No one thought he was going to come out – including me.   The combination of 47 years of cardiac history, age and a nasty lung infection did not bode well for a good outcome.  But, he did come out.

My dad has forgotten how close he came from dying and is unhappy by his current physical limitations.  I reminded him, at his age he has outlived everyone in his family.  And yes, at 87 his life is different.  He can still have any experience he wants in his mind and heart, but not in the physical world.  His frame is frail.

Life is seldom what we imagine it to be.  It is what it is.  What we do with it, is where we get to express who we are.  Am I lucky to be alive at 87 years of age or am I unlucky to have limitations?

I still ask from time to time if everything is going to be okay.  I ask that when I feel vulnerable and need a quick fix of an empty promise.

But, most of the time I have learned to appreciate what I have in my life and trust the never ending flux of opportunities.

Truthfully, I don’t really know what having everything turn out okay really means.  What I do know is from each obstacle I have to surpass, I learn to jump higher and my legs get more limber.  And in the end I’ll be left  holding a large bag of wisdom.

Share

Don’t Travel Alone The Aging Process; Learn From Others

January 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured

I have always liked having older folks as friends.  I’m talking about people in their 80s and 90s.  The reason is pretty simple: they’ve been there and done that.

At some point in our western social and cultural development the pendulum of wisdom swung from the elders to the young.  Experience became secondary to the glow of youth and in the process we – young and middle aged – lost plenty.

In our shortsighted view of the world we have forgotten that regardless how many diets we follow or how much cream we buy, we will all age or die. But instead of having a road map from the people that have gone through the process before us, we end up having to discover the way all over again by ourselves. Questions like: is life still worth living when we look like prunes, can we still have fun when we have to move a little slower, can we love, can we have intimacy, what are the things in my life now that when I get to be in my 80s I will realize were not worth losing sleep over, go unanswered.

My neighbor is 87 years old and she lives by herself.  She travels either to Hawaii or Vegas once every two months.  She flirts and her social life is intense.  I ask her questions.  From her I learned it is possible to be content at any age.  It is possible to still be curious about life. It is still possible to want to love.  And it is still possible to be physically active.  I look at her and I realize – unlike what I hear and see from the media – that life is worth living at any age.  She inspires me.

I hope I will have her around for a long time so I can continue to get directions as I travel through life’s journey.

Please read on…

Get Happy: 5 Surprising Resolutions from the Wisest Americans

By Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D.

Work. “Ask yourself: Are you glad to get up in the morning?” When it comes to your job, the elders propose a diagnostic test: How do you feel when you get up on a workday morning? You may be ambivalent about your job and have your ups and downs. But when it comes down to it, how do you feel when you are having that first cup of coffee?

Are you at least in a tolerable mood, looking forward to something about work? If instead you feel dread and foot-dragging, the elders say it may be time for a change. As Albert, 80, put it: “It’s a long day if you don’t like what you’re doing. You better get another job because there’s no harsher penalty than to wake up and go to work at a job you don’t like.” …Continued

Share

Deepak’s Second Lifetime Is Actually Happening Earlier

April 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

Looking through the internet for interesting posts, I came across the below by Deepak Chopra.  In his post Deepak discusses the quality of life we now have as we live longer.  He refers to a “second lifetime” one that we can focus on a spiritual retreat.  Using the Indian belief of four stages of being – where in the end a person abandons his/hers family and possessions to care for a spiritual journey – Deepak suggests a spiritual retreat where the “old” materialistic preoccupations take back seat to new spiritual ones.

While there is no argument to his suggestions – a life does not have any meaning based on money and power alone – I am of the belief this shift is now happening way before the 50 year old mark to many of us.

Read more

Share

Getting Older = Getting Wiser

August 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

One of my favorite phrases these days is: “One of the good things about getting older is experience.”   I’m still learning – just as I did when I was a child and a teenager – but backing me up now is my life experience.  Today I know in my DNA, nothing stays the same.  Life is in constant transformation and if sometimes we feel we are cornered we will soon be proven wrong.

Read more

Share

Learning To Age

May 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

hosOne of the things I’m always sorry about is how few elder friends or elder family members we have around to share their wisdom and experience with us.

We all avoid age like it is the plague but the truth is; either we get old or we die.  So somehow we need to learn how to age.  But where are the stories about people in their 70s ,80s, 90s on television?  Or in the movies?  Or many of us socialize with older people? And how many of us can go to our parents for advice?

Most of my friends either treat their parents as children or never had or are about to have a meaningful friendship with their parents.

I’m close to my parents.  I also seek out making friends with older people because I want to know how to age.  I don’t want to be caught with my pants down when my time comes.

I know aging means accepting the physical changes that happen to us.  Sometimes it is not an easy process, especially for us women whose physical attributes are so cherished in our society.  So I bargain with life.  I let some of my youthful energy go in exchange for wisdom.  And I ask my older friends and my parents how to they do it.

My mom is always saying things like: “we all walk in the dark”, or “we have to be happy today”.  Hearing those words from a woman who just turned 79 years old carries more weight than from a woman in her 30s or 40s because she says it from experience.  And then she laughs and she’s always ready to do things.

When I spend time with her, I realize there is a way to age that does not give up on life.  It’s a way that recognizes the different phases and knows how to adapt.

As I see my parents walking still holding hands and loving each other after 51 years of marriage, I know love lives on if cared for by people.

I’m not saying I’m looking forward to aging but by talking and spending quality time with older people, I know life can still be great in our 70s, 80s and 90s.

Share

Making Friends With Aging And Dying

April 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Yellow Rose

Yellow Rose

Yesterday, I was talking to my dad on the phone about my upcoming visit to Brazil.  We discussed all the things we were planning in doing together and right before I said goodbye my dad said: “I so look forward to seeing you.  I don’t know how many more times I’ll get to see you.”  I felt sad about his remark because it is true.  My dad is 86 years old and we are coming to the end of our path together.

After we hung up the phone I thought about death and aging.  I’m not a morbid person at all but after losing my husband, I’ve become more acquainted with what it actually means to see someone die and to be the one left behind.

Death and aging are part of life and both happen to us every second, or whatever tiniest measure of time there is.  Not being aware of their power is like standing on the shore watching a tsunami approach and doing nothing.

I’m not advocating thinking about aging all the time.  But I’m suggesting being aware of time and not putting all of our eggs in the basket of youth and appearance.  I’m suggesting creating a basket for wisdom, understanding and growth.

I’m also not advocating thinking about dying all the time.  But I’m suggesting being aware of the preciousness of life by relating to others, doing what’s important and not squandering our energy in things that truly don’t matter.

As hard as it may seem, being aware of aging and dying has the power to enrich the life we have today.

Share

Connecting The Dots

August 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

I often try to think about our existence in relationship to history and the world at large.  I do that looking to connect the dots and hopefully find more meaning than our routines offer us. 

I’m willing to bet that most of you reading this blog have experienced the game playing of time, the trickster. The never ending years to get to be eighteen years old and then the faster than the speed of light to get to be the age we’re in. 

I am now fully aware that one day I’m going to be an old woman and that day will come sooner rather than later and when it does arrive I hope that I will have understood my existence a little bit better than I understand it today.

Yesterday, I did some reading about love, sex and spirituality.  While doing it I came across the historic evolution of women and sex.  I think that is a very important topic not just for women but for men as well.  When we are in partnerships we want to experience the greatest amount of pleasure and growth in our sexual lives.  So both sides need to commit and it shouldn’t be a job it should be ecstasy.

Yes, it is true that until the 50s (Kinsey) and then 60s-70s (Masters and Johnson) the idea of female orgasm was not widely accepted but if you go back in history when females were the guardians of spiritual things you will find that sexual intercourse in most cases was much more spiritual and ritualistic. 

Today we are all in a hurry.  We don’t have time to relax and connect and end up losing out on a lot of what life is about. 

According to Linda E. Savage Ph.D. (www.goddesstherapy.com) and author of “Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality” the great problem of sexual experience today is that women try to fit into a male sexual model.  While males can achieve fulfillment quickly through intercourse, women need to be caressed, and our imagination stimulated to achieve fulfillment.  Spending the time without the goal of having an orgasm is often more satisfying to women than the orgasm itself.

I know to my husband giving me pleasure was often more important than achieving his own.  With him I finally had found someone who truly was not in hurry and loved being with me thus our love making was special.

So I’ve gone around the world in my thinking to come to the point I want to make which is we need to be conscientious of our existence.  We need to connect the dots with history and we need to slow down otherwise one day we will wake up old and wrinkled and wonder what happened.

Share

My Older Friend Part II

July 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

My older friend left back to New York yesterday but before he went we had dinner together.  As I sat looking at his wrinkled face I wondered if he looked at younger people with jealousy and so I asked him.  He said his jealousy, if he could call it that, was only about younger people having more time to make mistakes, something he no longer had. 

I continued to push him in this subject and asked if when he looked in the mirror he felt sad for the aged face now staring back at him.  Without hesitation he said “no.”  Seeing that I needed more than just his “no” he went on to say that if you are happy in the moment with what you are doing and living than there is no space for longing then he opened up a big smile and said:  ”you also get used to seeing yourself in a different way”.

I often ask my friend Lori, a therapist whose specialty is dealing with the aging, if we are going to be looney tunes like our parents when we get older – we both love our parents  but truthfully they are a little out there.

Lori always says no, that the key to aging is attitude.  If you are basically a happy, stable individual, that’s who you will always be.  If you are open to life that’s how you’ll be when older.

And so I had a great time with my dear friend who in his 70s who hoped on a red eye back to New York full of excitement from two days in Los Angeles ready to share his experiences with his wife and eager for his next adventure.

I think if we all had older friends we would know more about the process of aging and maybe even avoid some very silly mistakes and not waste our very precious time.

I look forward to my older friend’s next visit.

Share

My Older Friend

July 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

A friend of mine who is in his 70s is visiting from New York.  He’s a funny and smart man and he’s known me for quite some time.

Unlike our society, I do like having older people as friends.  They’ve been there and done that and so they are a good source for life questions.

We had two major topics for last night’s dinner conversation.  The first was about aging. He said as you age you toughen up, pain doesn’t cut as deep.  By the time you get to your 70s you’ve had many losses and you’ve learned to protect yourself otherwise you couldn’t survive.  You also learn to differentiate from real pain and made up pain.

Still within the same topic of age, he continued on to say that you also start to face your own mortality as your friends start to die and so you become more protective of yourself.  You realize you don’t have as much time as you used to have and so your time and your energy become a little more for yourself; to do the things that are really important to you.

He also said he was happier now than he was when he was younger.  That caught me by surprise as usually we all look back with teary eyes to when we were younger and prettier.  So I asked him what he meant.  He said he was less anxious.  He now gave himself permission to relax and not try to occupy every single moment of his life with something to do.  He realizes now he could have done that earlier in his life without changing in any way how his life turned out but he didn’t know that then.

My last question on this topic was about dying.  Of course we can die at any age but when you are older even if you still live a long time that long time only means 10-15 years.  He looked at me and said:” You don’t think about it.  If you did you wouldn’t make it”.

We moved on to talk about getting into relationships after losing our partners.  He had been married to a woman for thirty years when she passed away from a heart attack.  Four years later he met a lovely woman, who was also a widow, and they married.

As I’m also a widow I wanted to know how do you make the transition from the sadness of losing someone to loving someone else and he said: “You heart is big enough to hold the memory and the love for the partner that is gone and to love just as deeply a new person”.   My next question was: “Don’t you then compare the two people, the two loves?” “No” he said “if you really love the new person you love them for who they are”.

So from my friend’s visit I’ve learned that maybe I don’t need to wait till I’m in my 70s to take better care of myself and to also give myself the permission to just take some time off and do absolutely nothing.  That doesn’t mean days on end but it means that it is okay to take time every day to just slow down.  I’ve also had it confirmed to me that a heart has the ability to deeply love many different people.  And lastly life is really meant to be lived one day at a time.

Of course not all older folks are as full of life as my friend but he can be an inspiration for younger people.  We can learn from him that life is worth living till the very end.

Share