Tag Archives: seniors

A……Haiket?

 A Haiku*—or two:

Being older means

looking back and wondering

which wrong turn mattered.

 
 

Would it have mattered

if I had not turned away

from this road—or that?

 
 

Or if I had let

my head-strong will and my heart

have equal footing?

 
 

Would it have mattered

if I had taken control

and embraced MY dream?

 
 

Being mature means

seeing with clearer vision,

what truly matters.

 
 

It can also mean

embracing a new vision—

Embracing one’s heart.

 
 

Today, I look back

and see that multiple paths

rose up before me.

 
 

Some say “no regrets.”

I say we don’t learn the truth

by ignoring it.

 
 

Being mature means

Finding peace from knowing

My life is…as is.

_________________________________________________________________________________

*Haiku is a very structured form of poetry that originated in Japan. I choose to write in the traditional style of Haiku for the discipline demanded from its structure:

First line = 5 (and ONLY 5) syllables

Second line = 7 (and ONLY 7) syllables

Third = 5 (and ONLY 5) syllables

Traditionally, also, Haiku is meant to be a snapshot of something in nature. A butterfly resting on a rose. The sunrise. A flower dancing in the evening breeze, awash in its mysterious scent. Any Haiku I have written to date follows this dictate for the most part.

For a writer who normally runs on and on (meaning me), this is first an exercise in being succinct and precise. I love it! In most cases, though, Haiku is simply ONE set of three lines: 5-7-5. Being me, though, I have chosen to string together a series of “Haikus” into one cohesive “Haiket.” There….I invented a new form of poetry!

I have also been indulgent here, and used this beautiful art form to reflect my soul as I move into–and through, because we are never done– the status of Active Master. We do not stop desiring or hoping or striving as we age. People who say we do are, well, boring and have probably always been that way.

We are simply more wrinkled as we do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What will it be?

retirement_road

As I moved through the first day of my retirement, everyone kept asking me what I had done all day, as if my work day had to be supplanted with something. Right?

Our society is fueled by work. We learn a trade as young adults and then we practice that brand of work in order to earn the currency that is traded for it. That currency then is traded for our lives. Literally. We eat, we have a roof to sleep under, we clothe ourselves. So, we must then work some more to sustain the whole thing.

Is it any surprise to anyone, then, that we align our entire identity with the most visible talisman of our worth? The one that sustains and insures that the wheels stay on the track of our existence?

When we stop working, what happens to the whole system then? In the case of retirement (because there are people who intentionally jump ship earlier on purpose), we have traded all that currency as long as is necessary in our society, and hopefully have enough to sustain us throughout. Until we die.

Maybe that’s the rub. We realize that our end is breathing down our necks, a salivating beast that we cannot hope to outrun. Many people avoid retirement at all costs, fearing what lies on the other side of that alarm clock that jangles them awake at the crack of dawn.

Others fill it up with more work. We’ll see how I do.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”
Vince Lombardi

 

 

 

A two way conversation……

“The good writers touch life often.”

Ray Bradbury

There are a couple of things at work here, the “here” designated as the tension created when I write and no one reads it. Or at least, I have no way of knowing if they do or not, which I guess is the same thing from my perspective.

Do writers engage in their craft to be read (and thus, appreciated) or because they are compelled to write? As in all things, I’m sure the answer varies with the person, but for the most part, the writers I know must write. It seems to be part of our DNA, this constant need to observe and then document the world around us.

For myself, writing sorts out my emotions, forces me to unravel the errant threads of life that don’t fit anywhere, until I can stitch them all in place with my words. Much of what I write is never read by anyone other than me; it would scare too many people.

How do I reconcile that, then, with the fact that it hurts when people don’t read the work I DO put out there? One of my friends, also a writer, asked me that the other night. I don’t have a ready answer, I just know that it tickles me when I look at the stats page the day after I post a blog (alright, the hour after) and I see the number of views has increased. And the best gift you can give me is to comment on what I have written.

Does that make me needy? Narcissistic, as a young friend accused when I tried to explain this aberrant behavior?

Oh, you were waiting for an answer?

I don’t have one. The best I can do is this: I must write. It is a part of who I am. But, my choice of topics to share with an audience has a purpose.

Aging in this country is not pretty, so I decided to offer my experiences, and the lessons taught through those events, with two audiences: younger people who might learn from my own struggle to remain relevant, and those my age for a good laugh at ourselves. My immediate impetus was how many times I found myself exclaiming, “Why didn’t someone tell me about this??”

There have been other topics, too, such as my journey to become complaint-free. (That one was certainly good for a laugh by all ages.)

Have you ever left a succession of voice mails on someone’s machine with no return calls….ever? Publishing one’s words with no feedback is kind of like that.

Climbing off the ladder……

I have managed. I have supervised. I have hired, trained, and nurtured employees. I traveled and stayed in hotels, attended company meetings and got lost in a rental car or on a subway. I did it all in the pursuit of my career, whatever that was at the time.

When we are in the fray of our careers, our days are filled with tests of our competence from one end of the clock to the other. The pressure is intense, and our personal lives and families very often suffer. We suffer. But, unless we consciously jump off the treadmill of western civilization, it happens to all of us.

Which is why I’m enjoying my last stint at a full-time job as I approach semi-retirement in about 6 weeks. As it is, I haven’t worked in an office setting, complete with a cubicle and an eye on the clock from 8-5 for….well, decades. But, life is endlessly entertaining, so here I am in front of a computer with a name badge around my neck and a wristwatch on my arm. I agreed to do this only because it is a temporary job, covering for a young woman out on maternity leave. And the paycheck, of course. I knew there would be an end and I wouldn’t have to flip too many pages on my wall calendar to reach that end. At this point, I am a little over half way through.

We seek out responsibility in the early years of a career. It proves to those above us on the ladder that we are worthy to join them up there in the corporate clouds. Today, I avoid ladders like a superstitious plague. I don’t want to be noticed and I don’t want anyone to know how much I’ve done in the past, from clerical work to teaching to becoming the VP of a company to becoming a professional mediator to writing books and owning my own company. I just want to tap on this keyboard until the new mama returns to continue her career and her own search for significance, however she defines that for herself.

This job is pressure-free because it means nothing to me, other than the source of a paycheck to fund the next stage of my life. The fun one where I will work part-time at something I love. And the rest of the time I will expand the horizons of my life into areas that interest me, like writing, reading, volunteering, checking out as many cruise ships as I can and, of course, ballroom dancing.

So, for the next six weeks I will show up, do what I’m asked to do to the best of my ability, and then leave it all behind for the next phase of my life. And not a ladder in sight.

It’s a minefield out here…..

It’s a dilemma. My mind is that of a woman of 40, maybe even less, but my body tries to betray me whenever I’m not looking. I’m not looking because I’m appalled at what is happening to it, with wrinkled and droopy skin, veined hands, and other signs too personal to discuss here. (Yes, there are things that even I won’t talk about.)

My dance instructor wants me to incorporate sensual hand movements at certain places in a routine and all I can do is giggle. Yes, I can still giggle like a girl but don’t ask me to do that with my arms in a rumba, OK? It’s not “seemly,” as my grandmother would have said, probably when she was the age I am now. If I laugh at it, I can just imagine what those on the dance floor with me are thinking. And, let’s face it, my instructor is not even 40, with an agenda that requires him to encourage me to do such ludicrous things. Cute, but unaware on a personal basis about what many of his students are facing either now or imminently.

I have a fear of not recognizing a boundary between the way I feel and the way I look. I feel young, probably younger than I felt when I WAS young. Transformation can happen at any age, and it did for me about 15 years ago. Not sure what prompted it, but let’s face it, I used to be boring. Smart, but not much fun. Today, I’m a hoot, but it’s a dilemma for me to be this really young soul entrapped in a body that betrays me on a regular basis, even though I take good care of it.

It’s not bad for a woman in her mid-60s, but no one but me ever sees ALL of it anymore. I know what’s under the clothes and those shape-shifter things that merely push skin into strange places and requires great strength to peel off. Needing to use a restroom while having one of those things on is a recipe for disaster. Believe me. Another betrayal.

I have no solution for this dilemma, one that I’m sure many women face, at least if they are interesting, vital people at all. Where is the line between staying young and presenting oneself as ridiculous? It is a great fear for me, and I’m not sure there is anyone I can trust to be brutally honest about this. We live in a society that reveres youth above all else, with little respect (or actual disrespect) given to anyone over 50 or so.

To maneuver between the two worlds—aging and a youth-drenched society—is a minefield. I don’t know where all those landmines are hidden, but I know they are there, just waiting to explode if I make a misstep. It won’t be pretty.

Older women know who they are, and that makes them more beautiful than younger ones. I like to see a face with some character.

I want to see lines. I want to see wrinkles.
Naveen Andrews

Parts A, B, C, and D: It can’t be!

 There isn’t any funny way to say this. And I’m not really laughing too much myself right now.
I applied for Medicare the other day.
Oh, my……
How did this happen? I’m about 25 in my head, complete with fantasies of all kinds as well as a full work load and an active life.
I can remember (yes, I DO remember most things) when any discussion about people over about 45 resulted in an inner shudder, thinking about all those OLD folks, decripit and wizened gnomes who could hardly get from armchair to the potty much less from the gym to a country bar. (Fill in the blanks as to why I chose that comparison, which only extends my point.) To be 65 must be practically dead, for pete’s sake!
And now, here I am, a few months shy of that dreaded year myself.
Oh, my……
The application process wasn’t bad, once I opened all the envelopes that had been arriving in my mailbox for months now. First, I had to read long enough to get into the zone of bureaucratic lingo, you know the one where they use 25 words to say something that really only requires about 10, and includes enough acronyms to sink an alphabet? But once I was there, and knew the difference between Parts A, B, C, and D, I went onto the official website and registered in about 15 minutes. I do think they need some nursery rhyme-type jingle to aid in retaining it all, though. It works for little kids, and I’ve heard tell that senior citizens often revert to the behavior of children, so maybe it would help? Just a suggestion……
There isn’t any way possible I can be eligible for Medicare, though. There just isn’t. This is going to take some getting used to.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
  We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it. ~ Frank A. Clark

No one warns you…..

OK, what’s with the chicken skin? I’m serious.

Nobody warned me about this, just like they never warned me about the Independent Fives when my daughter was growing up. She was the sweetest two year old and never terrorized anyone at three, either. But a little prima donna emerged when she was five who simply didn’t need ME anymore, thank you very much, a blonde dynamo I didn’t recognize. Anyway, someone stores all this information in a virtual vault somewhere, and then snickers gleefully when we topple over into a chasm of some personal ignorance we didn’t even know existed.

One night I was reading in bed, holding the book up so my arms were subject to gravity a bit. And there it was: Chicken skin hanging from my forearms, striated and loose and pale, and just plain disgusting. I might as well have been holding a dead fowl over my head; you know how it looks when you take the wrap off before you put it in the oven for your Sunday dinner?

Nobody tells you these things.

I put my book down and the skin returned to its un-disgusting shape, smooth and….well, normal. If I raised my arms up again, there it was: Loose, flappy skin marked with long lines like someone had driven furrows into my arms with a knife or something. And the thing that is so maddening about this is that the rest of my arms are in better shape now than when I was twenty. OK, maybe thirty. I’m buff from hours of working with free weights in the gym, and the underarm flab is gone, so this stuff hanging from my arms isn’t due to being out of shape. That’s the scary part of the whole discovery. Does that mean that I’m stuck with arm poultry for the rest of my life?

If I allow myself to think about it long enough, I have to admit that I probably am. Stuck with it, I mean. I’m not a Hollywood star with unlimited funds to do whatever it would take to get rid of this drooping flesh. There must be a way…..although, we don’t really see those stars when THEY’RE laying in bed at night, so I’m not sure. Maybe I can hire some paparazzi to look into for us.

Just consider yourself warned. And lay on your stomach when you read at night.

“If we spent as much time feeling positive about getting older, as we do
trying to stay young, how much different our lives would be.”  
Rob Brown