John Kotre nails it! “For wisdom to operate in old age…”

For wisdom to operate in old age, it must blend with the world of youth.  It must be open to the knowledge  & innovations of succeeding generations.  ~ John Kotre ~

I’ve seen what happens when olders elders ancients have regular access to a cross-section of ages with whom they are comfy cozy discussing interesting things & I’ve seen what happens with those who don’t.  It’s in no way a scientific cross-section, not even close to objective, but I’ve seen both enough times to know the wisdom of John Kotre’s words.

He went on to emphasize this is especially true with technology, where the capabilities are so vast & change is the norm.  Mom kept up-to-date through me & my friends, other older amigos keep active on tablets & smart phones thanks as much to grandchildren then their kids.  Being computer literate is the secondary blessing – the first is the connection between teacher & student and how often a session of accessing information turns into opportunities to share/glean wisdom.  Think of a generation ago, a grandmother sharing stories with as she showed how to stitch together a skirt or bake a peach pie, a grandfather spending a leisurely afternoon showing how to attach a fly to a fishing rod or use a drill.

How do we blend the generations when children live a distance?  When an older never married or has not children, no younger relatives?  What off-the-wall, out-of-the-box ideas are itching to be tried out, social experiments in nurturing, presenting, honoring wisdom waiting to be set in motion?

 

 

Dangerous woman on a mission

It’s rare that I post something smacking of political current events on this blog, but an article in today’s NY Times calls out to be shared, summing up the WHY behind my current calling.  (I regret that it paints the president with such a coarse brush, but even his staunchest supporter should be able to acknowledge that his language & demeanor are rooted in shock jock incivility.)

It seems to me that those who think the president caused the coarsening of America’s character are mistaken – it’s a symptom, not cause.  Presidents are term-limited, but the qualities of our national culture that made millions rejoice at his “politics of rage” will go on UNLESS checked.

Hence my calling – not to take people to task for this that or another thing, but to present & model different ways of engaging with others, connecting within & across communities, feeling about our self.

My hopes dreams endeavors can be summed up in Live Like a LEGO! ~ connect creatively.  Celebrating kindness, generosity – especially emotional generosity, respect, civility & all the other core qualities of a decent life.

Having taught American history from theories about how people first arrived on the continent to 1850, am perhaps more aware than most of the shaky moral underpinnings to what we embody to ourselves as a nation.  I recently wrote out my understanding of our history in order to acknowledge it, then tip my hat as it’s left in the past because my work is rooted in the present, in this moment & this & this.  Not “What did I/we do?” but “What am I doing?”  & “How can I get to better?

In short, am a dangerous woman on a mission.

The NY Times article points out a truth that opponents would do well to remember – only Donald John Trump can get away with being unfathomably coarse.  When other people try to go toe-to-toe, it invariably ends in failure; they come across as honorable people saying dishonorable things of which they should be ashamed.  President Trump can do it without any blow back because no one has any illusions of him having any sense of honor, of being capable of feeling shame.  Love him or loathe him, that’s not a condemnation but an objective observation.

Dangerous woman on a mission.  People distrust all those qualities of decency that I listed, plus the many more I left off.  How well I know.  My corporate world co-workers were openly wary of me due to being too nice.  I learned to counter, “You’re too good to be true!” by pausing, cocking my head to the side & replying, “And part of  you believes that.”   If someone said, “You’re different,” I’d get right into their personal space, look them straight in the eye, drop my voice as I answered, “And trust me – you have NO idea just how different I am.”  It was only when I started countering with those two responses that others relaxed around me, were open to being friends.  But to the end, being open & supportive were negatives in the workplace, where people tend to put faith in the negative & see kindness as mindless fluff at best or insincere at worst.

Bring it on!

We cannot counter an coarsened culture with even more coarseness.  We need to be brave, to have the courage to act with restraint without rolling over, countering canny manipulation with conscious awareness of the values we learned at our parents’ knees.  Let Trump be Trump – praise it or rebuke it.  Just don’t lower yourself to the same level.

My thanks to my dear, much-missed mother, who advised me as a young girl how NOT to respond to school yard bullies.  She quoted George Bernard Shaw’s advice – – I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.

Dangerous woman on a mission.  Recognize & call out incivility when it raises its head without stooping to return in kind.  Openly practice the qualities of a decent life.  If you are frustrated with 45, do all you can to channel 16, Abraham Lincoln.  Put your inner Lucy on mute, amp up your inner Charlie Brown.  Focus on resiliency more than resistance, on being awake & aware & active instead of going numb or shrug off.

Forbes had a great article six years back – The Ten Golden Rules on Living the Good Life.  make a great prescription to counter today’s civil malaise:

  1. Examine life, engage life with vengeance; always search for new pleasures and new destines to reach with your mind.
  2. Worry only about the things that are in your control, the things that can be influenced and changed by your actions, not about the things that are beyond your capacity to direct or alter.
  3. Treasure friendship.
  4. Keep your life simple. Seek calming pleasures that contribute to peace of mind. True pleasure is disciplined and restrained.
  5. Master Yourself. Resist any external force that might delimit thought and action; stop deceiving yourself, believing only what is personally useful and convenient.
  6. Live life in harmony & balance.
  7. Bear responsibility for your actions (and lack of them).  Hold yourself accountable.
  8. Prosperity by itself, is not a cure-all against an ill-led life, and may be a source of dangerous foolishness.
  9. Don’t harm others.  Doing people dirt is a dangerous habit. 
  10. Kindness to others is a good habit that supports and reinforces the quest for the good life.

Easy to copy, not so easy to live.  My older sister was uneasy around me because, as she rightly pointed out, I wallow in joy doing things for others.  She was right – doing things for others is a great pleasure.  It wasn’t for her, but she felt like my way was a rebuke to hers.

Mim might have been the first to think my Goody Two-Shoes, Pollyanna ways make me a dangerous woman.  She won’t be the last!

Power of MEMOIR

My mother didn’t leave much in the way of money or treasures ~ ~ she was like one of those old contests, where you had to be present to win.  But she did leave behind a priceless legacy in the series of e-mails sent to an ever-increasing dist list of friends & loved ones.

Her bequest – Mindwalker1910, written from February 2000 to September 2001 – wasn’t planned.  Originally, she was just connecting with two online discussions on dear-to-her-heart church matters.  As their questions & comments came in, she slowly awoke to the fact she had things that only she could say, memories only she could share, with people who wanted – longed – to hear them.

My brothers & sister were not on her dist list.  They were not happy with what she was doing.  One brother told her that at 90 it was natural for her to want to meander through past years, but no one was interested – if she wanted to share such memories, she should limit them to the family & not others who were too polite to say they were boring.

Instead of getting in a huff or – worse – taking Mike’s suggestion to heart, Mom put it out to her readers ~ ~  just let her know to take them off his distribution list & she (I) would make it so.  The deluge of responses begging her to NEVER strike them from her list, telling her how much her reminiscences, her comments & commentaries meant to them.

It is to weep that I’ve never been able to rouse older friends to do write down their family stories, going back to their little kid days, their impressions of past  & current events, their hopes & dreams from days gone by & what stretches out ahead.

Praise be for an article on NextAvenue.org about a memoir by JEAN OLIVER LAWLER, ultimately a self-published book for her 12 grandchildren.  YES!  For years, I’ve tried – without success – to get older friends to write their own memoirs, only to be told, “My children don’t care.”  Thanks to Mike & Peter & Mim, I can lean in & agree, adding, “But your grandchildren will!”

Where I failed to get olders elders ancients to share their lives, thoughts, experiences, am hoping Making a Memoir a Reality helps set their sense of the possible roiling.

Jean Oliver Lawler was triply blessed ~ ~ she was open to sharing her life stories, had a friend who encouraged & helped, and offspring with great writing chops.

When her efforts stalled, the article’s author – her writer/editor son, Edmund – lent his loving support.  Perhaps best of all, she had a granddaughter who shared her uncle’s writing & editing gifts, coached & critiqued her grandmother & kept begging for more.

My own experiences with Mom, who dictated as I transcribed her unintended memoirs, tells me that her son & granddaughter will always hold dear in their hearts the time spent helping their mother/grand put stories to paper & print.   Heartfelt thanks to Lorraine & Edmund & Moira and above all to Jean transforming memories into memoir.  May many more be inspired & do the same!

Shoulders to the wheel

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – – a red letter day in my life!  John & I sought counseling from our pastor for some irksome communication issues that have been gumming up the workings of our relationship.

Much as my human nature likes to think of them as my KEET’s issues or ours, it became very clear very fast that a) they were in fact MINE; b) were tightly entrenched in past issues which are no longer active in my life EXCEPT when my Ego drags them in, unbeckoned by my healthier sense of Self; c) the very things that I’ve worked on faithfully for 44+ years to identify, engage & resolve have been stubbornly hanging on by their fingernails to keep a presence in a life that’s ready to roll onward & upward.

At the end of that first session, Tom made one simple suggestion – stop dragging the past into the present.  Live in the NOW.

While the suggestion was simple, neither John nor I expected its implementation to be easy.  To our surprise & delight, living in the now has come easily, naturally to me.  We had three situations since Wednesday that could have turned nasty (on my part) pre-06/13/18 that instead turned out, in each situation, to stay first civil, then tender, then loving.  And each was informing & enlightening.

Today, at my beloved Be Well, a friend who’d seen us yesterday at a social gathering told me how much joy she gets seeing me & John just being with each other.  She commented, “You’ve been married a long time, right?”  Twenty-nine years this 09/03 – – head over heels since 02/03/89.

We were super “old” when we married – John was 43, I was 37.  When my brother pushed me to have him announce our engagement instead of a mutual friend, I pointed out that studies indicated I had as much chance, at 37, of being hit by lightening than getting married for the first time & I would do as I jolly well pleased.

One of the things that has kept our marriage such a pleasure for both of us is our willingness to face difficulties in the face, to head ’em off at the pass whenever we can.  Started almost twenty years ago, when we sought communications coaching from Mom’s psychologist.  We were ready to shell out big bucks for top-notch care, but were never billed!  Turned out the psychologist was so happy to be able to provide a couple with preventive care – rather than mend breaks & heal wounds – the sessions were her gift to us!

When we went to see Tom on Wednesday – an appointment which John took total charge of arranging, to my joy – I was edging closer & closer to being the basket case I was in 1998, torn between John’s healthy persona & Mom’s sweetly yet determinedly dysfunctional.  Only now a healthy present was being dislocated by a mislocated past.

It’s my experience that even the happiest marriages are filled with unhappy moments.  In our case, from day one, we acknowledge distress when it rears its head, do what we can to resolve it between the two or us ~or~ seek help.

In my experience, the same holds true for all relationships. Husband & wife, brother & sister, mother & daughter, friend to friend, co-workers, boss & employee. Being willing to spot potential quicksand, seek firmer ground or a steady hand to avert disaster, strive for the ideal & accept the real.

There, in a nutshell – my prescription for a happy marriage, friendship, family connection, work space!  Don’t expect perfection, welcome hard work, put that shoulder to the wheel & work for good better best!

Summertime fun – local concert series

“Concert in the park” series abound across the USA, from June through August!  They are wonderful events for all ages.

From gospel music ministries in Ocean Grove’s grand auditorium to less regal but still stirring musical treats in Souderton to my own little home town’s series in a sweet little park at the foot of Cathedral Hill, music draws people together in one huge smile.

Our dear friend, Ann, loved the performances almost as much as she delighted in watching the children playing all around her!

 

A misleading heading, an ode to LIVING

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer includes an interview with one of the great restauranteurs – Georges Perrier.

The headlines says “Georges Perrier talks about life after death,” but his comments on the subject are few.  Most of it is a glorious song of praise about full-throttle living, leading up to the wonderful close – – “No. I have no regrets whatsoever. If I do it again, I hope I would do the same mistakes and do it the same way. I have a beautiful life. I don’t regret nothing. I got a lot of friends who love me, a lot of nice people. I consider myself a very lucky guy.

May we all be so blessed!

“Older adults at greatest risk of suicide” – link

My thanks to NextAvenue.org for updating a 2015 article on olders & suicide, currently reposted in response to the high-profile deaths of Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain -and- the unrelated yet timely release last Thursday of the CDC report on rising suicide rates in the USA.

Older Adults At Greatest Risk Of Suicide – poor health and isolation can increase suicide risk