Somewhere in my pile of “to be labeled” pictures is a snapshot of my mother & John’s at Daddypop’s, sitting side-by-side in a booth, laughing. Mom Murphy’s eyes are twinkling & Mom’s head is thrown back. The ladies are having a blast, something both of them did throughout their long lives. As different as they were in many ways, the two of them always made fun part of their day.
It was relatively easy for them to include a little delight in each of their days, both living in their own homes right up to the last. For Mom M., it might be a phone chat with one of “the girls,” tending her roses outdoors & her African violets inside, or watching a favorite show on the telly. For my mom, it might be dashing off a note to one of her cavalcade of friends & family, (Rosamunde Pilcher was a great favorite), or working with me on one of her Mindwalker1910 blog postings.
I learned from the two of them & other incredible older friends in my little hometown the importance of purpose & of play. Sadly, as people tip upward into their sixties & well beyond, they often lose easy access to both.
Here’s something else I’ve learned over the years – it’s possible to have a sense of purpose without a sense of play, but a sense of play naturally teams (& teems!) with purpose. Play is a purpose all by itself. I saw that often enough with our two mothers, with Aunt Gay, with Miss Cornelia, with Mrs. Ridgeway & so many others. They each regularly reveled in fun for fun’s sake – and each displayed a great degree of resilience, no matter what their age or physical condition. Coincidence? I think not!
The challenge is how to make play easily accessible, whether an older lives on his or her own, in a retirement community, a continuous care residence or elsewhere.
It seems to me that seeking a solution is typically hamstrung when we look at how possible answers can be monetarized. I’ve let go of that consideration.
Years ago, when I worked at Prudential HealthCare, a very senior VP at PRUDENTIAL asked why I’d gone out on a limb with a project that had borne great fruit, but initially had NOT been well received by key execs. Why, she wondered, had I taken the risk?
Because it was a risk that needed taking & if it meant I was out of my job… well, as I saw it, taking that risk for the sake of the company & our clients WAS the heart of my job.
It’s the same today – looking to see how a solution can be monetarized makes money as or more important than finding an answer. Think of me as considering the lillies, believing there’s something we’re here on this little world of ours to do. For the two of us, there’s no debating or dithering – this is it; if it means taking a big risk for the sake of a greater good, seeking the good is the heart of our purpose.
It’s been 20+ years since that senior Prudential VP identified me as a rebel ~ seem to have only gotten more so with the years!
SO (finally!), we’ve come up with a way to help oldsters elders ancients of every stripe & ilk, their families, care partners & facility staff find ways to tuck moments of joy into their days – a COMEDY RELIEF KIT, 1st aid for the funny bone.
Not much to share as to contents; the idea is at the most fledgling stage – just hit me this afternoon. As envisioned at this moment, it would NOT contain a bunch of things that might or might not meet particular tastes & interests; it WILL provide guidelines & directions for people to find their own solution. We’ll provide the prescriptions for fun joy glee; others will come up with what works best for them, their loved ones, clients or residents. And it’ll be available through open sourcing, eliminating cost as a barrier to access.
Doing the research will be part of the fun. Ideally, the olders will come up with their own material, using the internet (which might requiring teaming up with computer-savvy partners), the library, 1st person resources or to-be-discovered methods. It can be built on, revised, handed along to others to expand or winnow. It would be organic, no two alike.
Here’s rub – the way to effectively monetarize an idea is to design a standard version, figure out the easiest way to pro duce it & find the most effective way to market it.
The way to solve a problem – like how to interject fun joy glee into sometimes bleak situations – is to find ways it can be customized to adapt to individual people & situations. Do NOT break out the cookie cutters!
John & I will do our best to make a dent in the current dilemma, in part by creating connections to solutions that are already out there. That puts energizing lives & sparking enthusiasm over securing income sources & expanding bank accounts.
Taking a moment to thank the Universe for my years in schools & in the corporate world – it turns out the education I received from each place I worked gave me invaluable insights no college, workshop, seminar or conference could. My first & final jobs – both in teaching – taught me to not be surprised at forces that seem to pull you away from your primary use & suck you into the petty but powerful (educating students v. dealing with administration & parents). My corporate experience showed me that exceptional worker is rarely (if ever) done by people strictly following what they learned through classes or manuals ~and~ that it sometimes takes being a bit of a rebel to get a tough job done. And they all taught me the wisdom of putting what seems right over job security, even if it means taking a risk – the end result is what ultimately provides true value, not your pay check.
Just as I could have ended up out of a job back in my Pru’ days, we realize we could end out on the street. No risk, no reward. At least when the goal is to whip together a ready-to-customize COMEDY RELIEF KIT, we’ll never be short on laughs!
(John asked to add a joke from the great Groucho, “I took a train to Chicago once, but they made me take it back.” Done!)