Do We Have Unfinished Business?

 

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

Do we have unfinished business?

Asking “Do we have unfinished business?” can be a  way to mend relationships. It may be an old friend whose relationship disappeared after a disagreement or to rekindle a withered-away friendship with a  relative,   or to an adult child who hasn’t spoken to you in years. 

 It can bring resolution and forgiveness. It can also end in disaster.    I don’t recommend it without a great deal of self-reflection:  Why do I want to do his?  How will I do it and what will I do if I don’t like the answers I get?  Here’s my experience.

My time to ask.

Two of my three sons died of cancer within the last four years. The latest son’s death is still raw.  The sight of browning,  dry white rose petals falling from funeral arrangements  on  my table  puts me in  tears.  Before they died, I wanted my sons to know how much I loved them.   I told them I will remember them every day I am breathing.  I will remember how they enriched my life.  

 For over three years, I’ve greeted my deceased youngest son in the clouds on my walk at dawn.  I look up to see his beautiful face and outstretched hand waving “Hi Mom.”  I tell him I love him.   His angel puts her arm around him and turns him into a cloud.  A month ago, I told him that his brother would be coming soon and asked him to find a nice angel for him.  Now a new face appears, my beloved oldest son smiling and waving, “Hi Mom.”  He is backlit by the morning sun coming up on the horizon. It’s a glorious vision.   I give my greetings and say, “Take care of one another. I love you.”  Their angels guide them into the clouds. I  start my day  with loving thoughts of my departed sons.  

There were eleven continuous years  of their battles with cancer.  We had many conversations by phone , zoom and visits.  Some were deep conversations:  death, regrets, and hopes.  We had laughs and shared memories.  I wondered if they had any lingering pain or resentments from childhood.  I wanted to resolve  parenting  issues unknown to me or forgotten.. not apologized for.  I wanted to listen, reflect on their responses, and give them sincere apologies.   How would I know unless I asked? I wanted closure. For each of us.  Their father died of cancer in his 60’s. He was out of the conversation.

 I questioned my motives.  Why did I need to do this?  Was it self-serving like curiosity, getting praise, or getting guilt off my back? 

As the oldest child of five in a Wisconsin farm family, I grew up with a lot of responsibility, a desire to please and a strong work ethic. I wanted to be a good mother.  All of us make mistakes in family and friend relationships.    Sometimes I  have been too hard on myself.   I made parenting errors  and mistakes in other relationships,  but I try not to dwell on them.  If I can, I try to fix relationship problems.  

Sometimes I was a mother who was tired, preoccupied, worried and not able to be in the present when she needed to be.  The three boys were born within the first six years of our marriage. We were young parents.  They were all born in our twenties.    I am a pretty calm person but  sometimes emotions, on both sides,  run high and we make poor choices as parents and children. I am sure I  upset them in unintended ways that led to  pain, and unfulfilled needs.   I needed to ask.     

Because sometimes I think back on times that made me weep.

I remember the youngest son, a pre-teen,  lying on the floor with his head on the back of King, our German Shepherd,  staring through the window of the patio door into the back yard abutting  a large parkland.  He seemed so deeply and sadly  in thought that I cringed and didn’t ask.  Why didn’t I ask?   I didn’t fully commiserate with the older boys when girls dumped them, or they got in trouble at school.  One of the boys was being bullied and slammed his  locker door into the bully.  He was suspended for two days.  I took time off work to sit home with him for the suspension.  We  worked at the kitchen table, he did his homework, and I wrote  reports.   Did I sermonize or did I discuss it with him and try to help him come to better solutions?    Doesn’t everyone hate bullies and want to get even?   If we  talked openly,  I don’t remember.  It  could have been  a sermon and silence from Mom, not a discussion.  

I hoped I wouldn’t act defensively to their responses to “Do we have unfinished business?   If I wanted them to be at peace from the hurt, I had to practice a peaceful reception to their pain, their anger, and their longing for better parents.  I warned  myself to listen and use “I” statements like “I felt hurt when …” and tried to get them to do the same, to talk about feelings.   I wanted to reflect on their experiences and respond in a way that they could let it go.  

If I were shocked or hurt, I would ask for time to think about it and get back to them.   

In individual conversations,  I asked the question.  

Both sons answered “no” to “ Do we have unfinished business?”

One said so joyfully.  It seemed heartfelt. 

The other son said “no” hesitantly.

I waited to see if he wanted to go on.  He didn’t offer additional comments.  I didn’t push.  His cancer treatments were becoming more invasive, and he had lots of things on his mind. 

I didn’t entirely achieve what I was seeking, closure and forgiveness.  I had asked for forgiveness by my question.  It is never too late to ask for forgiveness for causing unintentional pain or not fulfilling the needs of close family members and friends.   I felt better for making the effort. 

 I didn’t get to have a “do over.”

 They  died of cancer.  One was 54 and one was 62: too young. I am so glad they were part of my life.    

I am glad I asked the question, “Do we have unfinished business?”

Are you facing your own end of life or that of a loved one?  Or an estranged friend?  A family member?

Is it time to ask,” Do we have unfinished business?”

 Are you ready for an answer that may trouble you?  How will you react?  What is your plan?

Want to know More?

Websites:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) resources on family support and healing from childhood trauma.

The American Psychological Association’s guide to understanding childhood emotional neglect.  

Psychology Today’s directory of therapists specializing in childhood trauma and attachment issues. 

Book: 

The Body Keeps the Score:  Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, MD.

Note:  Gemini editing tools used 5-20, 5-24-24

Unleash your Granny Power:  Change the World

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

Unleash your Granny Power:  Change the World

Using Granny Power

Are you feeling a little restless, a little lonely, and wishing you had something that made you want to get up in the morning?  

 Have you ever said, “I wish someone would tackle that problem” ?  Maybe that someone is you!  Using your Granny Power for a positive impact  could make your life more interesting, keep your mind sharp, and help reduce loneliness.  

See how grannies and grandpas are making  a positive impact.  

Meet grannies who changed the world. 

Swiss grannies won a huge climate case victory on April 9th, 2024.   Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection  won  the first ever climate case victory in the European Court of Human Rights.  The Court is  an international court of the Council of Europe that affects 700 million Europeans in member states. The court ruled that Swiss citizens were harmed by the  government’s  inadequate efforts to meet its emission reduction targets.  The case sets a precedent that states in the Council of Europe are legally bound to cut  emissions to protect human rights.  It is already having a ripple effect as more cases are being filed.

The sixty-five year and older ladies began their campaign by educating themselves about the effects of climate change and current laws.  They scheduled meetings with legislators carrying cookies and other treats  and using their granny persuasive tools to inform them about climate change and what needs to be done. The campaign went beyond granny smiles and goodwill. They sued the Swiss Government.  Their legal  action said, “We are serious, knowledgeable, and persistent.  We know how to fight.” 

 It’s hard to keep down determined grannies. 

Meet grannies and grandpas who changed their communities.  

Alan Law, feeding the hungry:

Alan Law learned about the poor and homeless as a Minneapolis middle school teacher.  He is now retired but he spends time from evening until mid-morning on the streets of Minneapolis distributing 6-700 sandwiches  from the back of his minivan to poor, vulnerable families. He works at night when homeless shelters are closed.  He is the sole delivery person.  He created a nonprofit, Minneapolis Recreation Department, in 1967 with no salaries for serving the poor.  Its  office is in his small apartment which has walls of freezers to hold frozen sandwiches. He has received national recognition from three presidents and many other awards.

Inez Killingsworth, fighter for homeowners: 

Inez Killingsworth was a janitor who became a  statewide fighter for homeowners.  She helped homeowners who were victims of unfair and abusive loan terms  in Cleveland, Ohio.  Her nonprofit, East Side Organizing Project began negotiating  with banks in 1993 for lower interest rates, fee waivers and fairer payment plans. She threw plastic sharks at bankers and posted their cell numbers (Cleveland Plain Dealer,  Jan. 18, 2013).  She took her local project statewide.  She died in 2013, a hero to homeowners.

See these stories online at  The Daily Good Organization.org.

Why should you use your granny power to make the world better?

Aiding others  can help reduce loneliness,  meet  new, interesting friends, and get you to learn unfamiliar writing, speaking and computer skills.  It will make you feel good!  

 I experienced  all those effects in leading  a successful two-decades-long effort to get a legislative ban on Ohio school corporal punishment (2009).  It took grit,  persistence, confidence in our mission,  and the ability to build a constituency.  After many years of failures, a  PBS reporter asked me if I was going to come to the State House  in my wheelchair someday.  I said, “If I have to, I will.”    I was seventy-three  when paddling was finally banned in Ohio.  I am thrilled that more than a million and a half children  go to Ohio public schools with no fear of being hit with  boards. I met many interesting people, kept my mind sharp, learned new skills in writing, speaking and computer programs, and made a small step in making the world better. 

Where do you start? 

What are you passionate about?  What comes to mind when you think of something that needs to be done to help your community or country?  

I became passionate about banning school corporal punishment when I saw a child being paddled in a school where I was serving as a school psychologist.  It was the first time I saw an adult (the principal)  hit a child across the buttocks with a board. I couldn’t do anything because Ohio law did not allow school districts to ban it.  I hoped someday I could help change that.  I knew it was ineffective and harmful.  It was a winning cause.  We started with no support from educator organizations and little public support. We learned how to  change hearts and minds. It was challenging but  satisfying work. Our tools were science, treating opponents with respect, well-thought-out campaigns, being truthful in our presentations and materials, and persistence.  We agreed to incremental gains in bills that would have failed until we finally wore down our opponents and got a complete  ban. 

Some possibilities for improving the lives of older adults:

 Improving the life of older adults in my community  who live alone and/or have limited means:

 Improving  health, security, affordable  places to live, transportation, medication, home maintenance and cleaning,  and nutrition.

 Possible global and state actions:

   Sensible gun control laws, Climate change, Ageist attitudes, and Elder abuse.

Engage in a little self-reflection.

What are the strengths and abilities you have to offer?   Are you a good leader of people?  Can you educate and  persuade people?  Can you write well?  Are you persistent? Are you a life-long learner? Are you  social media savvy? These are strengths and skills that make you an influencer.  You don’t need to have them at the start.  You will learn them as you become active. 

Choose your cause and learn about it.

You don’t have to have a grand goal for change, there are community problems waiting for someone to work on, a new library, more community services for people living alone, increasing senior housing, or getting transportation for seniors for medical appointments. If you have a grand goal like sensible gun laws, reducing child abuse, or increasing medical care for old people in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, you don’t have to do it alone. You can work through a large organization.

If researching on the internet is hard, ask a younger person.  A grandchild, niece, nephew, or neighbor could help you.  Seeing an older person with a thirst for knowledge and change is a powerful lesson for youth. You may want to check with a college computer program to see if you can hire a student to teach you social media skills.   I’ve learned computer programs that way at my own speed.

Are you interested in community issues or national campaigns? 

Community Issues:

If it’s a community issue, attend public meetings on it.  Do preparation.  Find out who the key speakers are and what their point of view is.   Prepare questions. Dress professionally.  Arrive early.  In public comment periods, make your responses brief and concise.  Listen and take notes.  See what can be done, what is impeding change and how you can  help.   Join local organizations that can help you and even give you some activities to engage in like letter writing, fundraising, and putting together groups to educate about the issue.  

National Issues: 

If it’s a national issue  you want to unleash your granny power on, join organizations to help you understand the issue, what changes are needed and how you can help.  Online research on national organizations may give you names of state and local organizations you can help. You may learn some new skills or keep up your current skills. Writing letters to editors and government officials, making calls to raise support for a cause, fundraising, and sharing petitions and your story with others will expand your horizons. 

The following organizations advocate for seniors as part or all the mission.

American Association for Retired Persons (AARP)

National Council on Aging (NCOA)

The American Society on Aging (ASA)

League for Elder Advocacy and Disability Services (LEADS)

National Consumer Voices for Quality Long Term Care (NCVQLR)

National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)

 Unleash your Grannie Power to influence change in your community or beyond that, the country, or the world.   

How can you use your Granny power?

Make a small start:

  • Go to a meeting about an issue in your community. 
  • Write a letter to your congressperson about pending legislation. 
  • Share an article on an issue you feel  passionate about. 
  • Work with young people on a cause.  You can bring a granny perspective.  

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  Harriet Tubman

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  Mother Theresa

Do you want more information?

Do you want to improve your social media skills? Do you want to be a TikTok  Grannie?    Check out AARP’s free and low-cost social media skill building classes on Senior Planet for people 60 and older.  Need help joining a class? Call the free Senior Planet Hotline: 888-713-3495

Tips on Advocating for a cause:   

Book:  Breaking the Paddle: Banning Corporal punishment in Schools, Nadine Block, Center for Effective Discipline, Columbus, OH,2013.

Note:  Gemini ai editing tool used:  4-21-24, 4-23-24. 

Building a Legacy, Day by Day

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

 Building a Legacy, Day by Day

What is a legacy? 

Retirees are often told they should consider the legacy they want to leave. What are legacies?  Memoirs?  Documented  family history and  stories of ancestors? Passing down family traditions and recipes?  Caring for grandchildren so parents can work?  Giving money to family members  or things we feel enthusiastic about like art, churches, or  health institutions. Passing down family businesses or helping young family members start businesses?  Mentoring others?  Helping the poor, the homeless, and others who are suffering?   Leaving creative objects like paintings, hand-stitched quilts, and sculptures to family or community institutions.  Legacies are something handed down from the past, something important to you, and a  part of your history.  In broad terms, it includes all the things listed.  How do I want  people to remember me?  

Do legacies matter?

Legacies matter because we want, in varying degrees,  to leave a footprint on earth.  We think about how we were raised, our values, and what our responsibility is to others.  Those things determine how important a legacy is to us and what we want to leave. I have mixed feelings about legacies. “ Legacy”  sounds grandiose.  Maybe  only important people leave legacies…in science, art, music, religion, philanthropy,  business.   I didn’t grow up expecting to be a consequential person, just a good wife and  mother.  I was born at the end of the Great Depression and beginning of WWII.  There were specific roles for males and females.  Girls were taught to be modest, respectful of authority, and self-effacing. I didn’t always meet those expectations. My mother said I was a particularly good baby and toddler but grew up to be mischievous.  She said I was “sassy.”  “Sassy” meant asking too many questions or disagreeing.   Being independent and strong was the role of boys, not girls.    It began in cradle days on a family farm in Wisconsin in the mid 1900’s when doctors told our parents to let us cry.  It was good for our lungs.  They said catering to children and too much affection made them spoiled.  Parental authority was not questioned. Our parents described as “fighting” our childhood bickering about who did what or whose responsibility something was.  Such behavior was subject to punishment,  hours of gardening or chores.  Pertinent to  legacies which ask  us to list out achievements,  we were told,  “Don’t toot your own horns.”  “Don’t brag about yourself.”    While we weren’t  encouraged to seek grand achievements, our  parents instilled strong values… be good citizens,  be honest and truthful, campaign against injustice, and be achievers.  I am grateful to them.

Redefining Legacy.

Is my footprint on earth meaningful and important? I have decided to be kind to myself. I  am reframing the  meaning of  legacy.  If you have trouble knowing what to do about a legacy, you might  do as I am doing.  Think about these for your own definition of legacy. 

What is the purpose of my life?

What was the proudest accomplishment of my life?

How do I want friends and acquaintances to remember me?

What would I  like written in my obituary by my family?

After asking myself these questions I decided to stop worrying about my legacy.  It is up to all the people who I have known, family, friends, neighbors, teachers, colleagues at work, and even my enemies to determine my legacy.    I cannot control it. I will stop comparing myself  to  others and certain standards.  I will keep trying to be a good neighbor and good friend.  I will try to  be kind,  honest and truthful.  I will try to be a good citizen and involve myself in my community.  I will create my legacy every day by what I do and how I treat others.    

That will be my legacy.

What is your legacy?  

 

Fueling Your Curiosity, and Fighting Loneliness with Conversations

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

Fueling Your Curiosity, and Fighting Loneliness with Conversations

Have you wondered how staying curious and engaged in the world can impact your life as you age? Look no farther than “Conversations.”  Once a month seven women meet in our senior retirement community from 5-7 pm.  It is not a book club.  We delve into thought provoking topics.  In the past few months, we discussed Super Agers, Ageism, Loneliness, Friendships,  and  the Golden Bachelor Reality Show.  We meet in a club room and begin with sandwiches and wine.  Then we dive into the selected topic.   We treat it as a ritual, same time, same place, and every month. It is fun, thought-provoking and has led to deeper friendships.

The seed for “Conversations” was planted forty years ago when I was visiting our new vacation condominium.   I attended a condominium association meeting. We were the youngest owners.  A vote to  redecorate the lobby came up.  A northeastern snowbird raised his hand. “I am not voting for something I won’t be able to enjoy.”  Nods followed.  The vote failed.  I came away thinking, “I hope when I get old, I don’t fixate on myself.”  Do I have to wear out every chair in the lobby before I die to make sure I get my money’s worth?  What happens to people who do that?  They fail to stay connected.  They lose a sense of their relevance to society.  Seeing the resistance to lobby renovations led to a “Not in my lifetime” mentality.   My life lesson from the lobby renovations experience  was to age with curiosity, an enquiring mind, and engagement in my community.  That is the antidote to loneliness and a sense of relevance in old age.

Sparking the conversation this month will be  “WHY ARE MARRIAGE RATES FALLING AND DOES IT MATTER?”  

I will provide a brief  summary  and conversation starters  which promote personal views on the subject.  I thought back to my own experience of marrying just out of college.  At my graduation where I was still dressed in my cap and gown, my mother who had encouraged me not to get serious about college boyfriends, said with a disappointed voice,  “Aren’t you being a bit picky?”  I married the next year and gave birth to my three sons before I was 30 years old. Times have changed.  

What we know:

Marriage rates are falling. 

In 1960, 72% of all adults ages eighteen and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the married  share  will drop to below half within a few years. Nearly four-in-ten Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete. (Pew Research Center).

 How did this happen?  

The  decline in marriage rates between 1960 and 2020 suggests a  complex interweaving of causal  factors:

Economic factors: Changing economic realities have impacted the decision to marry for some.

Shifting attitudes:  Marriage is no longer seen as the sole path to fulfillment.

Focus on individual growth:  The pursuit of personal goals and self-discovery has become more important to many.

Age at first marriage: People are marrying later, allowing them to prioritize education and careers,

Beyond the numbers:  A multi-faceted discussion follows  which emphasizes life experiences. Example: “What were the expectations for marriage in the mid-20th Century when most of us married?” and “What are expectations for marriage today?”

Our discussions go beyond dry statistics.  We bring a combined total of over five hundred years of life experience. We weave humor and vulnerability into the discussion.  As trusted confidantes, we share openly, fostering connection, learning and mental agility.  We combat feelings of isolation and build valuable friendships.  

The Invitation: Start Your Own “Conversations”

Do you live in a retirement community or simply desire a stimulating social circle? Consider starting your own “Conversations” group! 

Here is how:

Find a group of 6-8 friends or neighbors who are like-minded in being interested in such topics.  Some may be close friends.  Some may be people who you would like to  have as close friends.

Brainstorm topics: Collaboratively generate a list of engaging themes.

Take turns leading: Rotate discussion facilitation, food, and drinks.

Embrace the awkwardness: Give it time! Strong bonds form through open communication.

Remember, staying curious and connected is vital at any age, but especially for those of us who eye the final  exit door.  With “Conversations” or a similar initiative, you can cultivate a vibrant, intellectually stimulating space to share experiences, learn new perspectives, and forge lasting friendships. So, what are you waiting for? Start a conversation, keep talking and see your world come alive!

  

It’s Never Too Late To Meditate

NOT in the slow lane, YET
The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

It is never too late to meditate:

“Meditation”
Block: paper silhouette

I told my mother when she was one hundred she was lucky she did not have to learn new phones, watches, or anything technical. In retrospect, I would not tell anyone they are too old to do something. Sorry mom.   It is never too late to learn how to paint, play piano, or learn chess or a lot of other things. Yes, there are sometimes physical impediments that limit what we can do. I have a hand tremor which makes painting a straight line difficult.  Wavy lines are much more interesting.  Oil crayons help me to draw a straighter line when needed. There are usually ways to work around limitations.   Learning new skills keeps my mind sharp, boosts my feelings of self-worth, and improves my cognitive functioning (as far as I know).  I encourage my life-long curiosity.   I used to believe if you tried learning a skill and failed, the next time it would work.  “If at first you do not succeed, try, try again,” goes the adage.  No. At my age, if at first you fail, find someone who knows how to do it. Time is short.  That is my background in  learning meditation.  

I failed “Relaxation” 101

It was at least five degrees below zero and dark as midnight at 7:30 in the morning in Madison, Wisconsin.  I left  Elizabeth Waters Dorm jumping over two-foot snowbanks on my way to class a mile away at  Lathrop Hall, the University of Wisconsin  women’s gymnasium.  It was in the mid-1950’s.    I dumped my snowy boots at the classroom door  and laid down on the floor to begin my first experience with “Relaxation.”   I was supposed to shut my eyes,  breathe softly, and relax.  My feet were blocks of ice.  I was shivering,  hungry, and my muscles were twanging from the run.    A teacher was suddenly kneeling next to me.  She lifted one of my arms and let it fall. “RELAX!” she scolded.  My arm was supposed to be as pliant as a noodle. It  was as stiff as a board. I was angry.  I am an early morning person. I woke up full of energy and  power to slay dragons. How stupid I was to schedule this class at  dawn.   The purpose of relaxation was, well, to relax and  feel good all over.   I never learned to relax.  I was lucky that it was a pass/fail class.  I  showed up and passed  but failed relaxation. 

I did not give up on it although it took many years for me to try again.    There were many times in my long life when meditation would have been useful.   About 10 years ago, I decided to try to control my stress and persistent worry when my husband developed vascular dementia with behavioral disturbances.   I spent sleepless nights trying to figure out how to change his behavior.  Mostly using reasoning which, of course, was useless.   I knew that,  but I persisted.  I ended up losing weight, having sleep problems and fell into a constant state of anxiety.  Medication only gave me facial tremors.  I would have to solve the “me” problem.  I kept reminding myself, “ I, not events, have the power to make  unhappiness or happiness.”    More was needed. Along with substituting useless thoughts of restoring my husband, I decided to walk at least an hour a day with controlled breathing. I already walked but I  would be paying attention to breathing.   I knew I had my work cut out for me.  I really identified with “Monkey Mind,”  a yoga term meaning mind chatter.  Picture a monkey jumping from tree to tree.  That was my mind.  So, I walked every day and  re-directed thoughts of changing my husband.  I kept working on paying attention to my breathing.  I should also have paid attention to where I was going because I fell, my eyes shut as I was concentrating on being in the present.  Substituting useless thoughts for helpful ones  meant just agreeing with my husband’s irrationalities.  That and freeing my mind from its chatter at least part of the day helped me get better.  It helped get my husband in a better state.  

An  octogenarian, I am still in a learning mode on meditation.  I am taking a meditation class from a yoga instructor in our senior living Wellness Center.  My goal  is to make meditation a part of my daily life…not to cure myself or anyone else but to make me healthier.    I am learning that I can use the practice of controlled breathing to make my life better.  I help  myself become present and aware.  Time is precious to an octogenarian.  I do not scold myself for losing attention.  I wrap my arms lovingly  around myself and am thankful I can return to the present. I want to make it a habit. I am sitting for 8 minutes daily, practicing controlled breathing, and letting little thought bubbles float through my mind to my “hi” and “goodbye.”  I return to being present and being thankful for each day.  Could life be better?

A Golden Bachelor Show Report: Will a Platinum Bachelor Show follow?

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

A Golden Bachelor Show Report: Will a Platinum Bachelor Show follow?

“Dreaming” Oil Painting 2021: Block
Love: Companionship, shared memories
Empathy, acceptance, and support.

I was intrigued by the Golden Bachelor, the new reality show based on the younger-audience predecessor, The Bachelor. The Golden Bachelor, Gerry Turner, would be dating a throng of ladies around his age of seventy-two among whom he was hoping to find someone to share “ the sunset of my life.”    How would it treat love in old age?  I live in a continuing care retirement community.  It has independent living, assisted living, memory care and health care depending on the needs of its residents.  It requires a hefty downpayment to enter and charges monthly dues that allow  amenities like housekeeping and meals. We are Platinum Bachelors and Bachelorettes, about ten years older than the Golden ones who are the 60–75-year-old  participants in the Golden Bachelor show. 

I wanted to see how older women were treated, women with past loving relationships,  impressive work accomplishments, and strong family relationships, like most older women among my friends.  Many of us are widowed.  We wish for a loving relationship for companionship in leisure activities.  Most of us want to remain autonomous.  We do not want a  long-term commitment or long-term care duties.  We are often seen as invisible, asexual, and uninteresting.  However, we feel good about ourselves and feel that we are doing OK with or without partnering. 

Older men still have an “eye” for pretty women who are friendly and supportive.  A woman with a car and willing to drive  gets dating points.  Widowed men are sometimes reluctant to start dating or partnering.  Many have adequate social ties and are comfortable with community care which provides meals, social events, and transportation.  Some need more time to grieve a loving wife’s death.  There is a large pool of women to choose from for dates.   Women in my senior retirement home outnumber men by 4:1.  A friend went to see his dad in a senior facility one evening and, peeking through the window, saw all the lamps covered with dark sheets.  He asked his dad what was going on. “The widow ladies, the widow ladies! ” he lamented, “They won’t leave me alone.”

Acknowledging that old people looking at the exit door seek  loving relationships  is quite remarkable in a reality show.   Would it be presented realistically?   Would it show older women as diverse in many ways? Would it show our resilience?  We fell many times, but we got up and kept going.  We have experienced failures  in life. We lived through  the death of loved ones  and grieving.  We have a medical problem or two. Would it show us as the remarkable survivors we are?

I tuned in to ABC TV for the Golden Bachelor.    The scene was pleasant, a handsome 72-year-old bachelor and an adoring audience of  22 women seeking  his love.  The ratio was quite nice for Gerry.   If I were the Golden Bachelorette facing twenty-two men looking at me adoringly, I would faint or have a TIA.  The Golden Bachelor took the challenge comfortably.  He is an aw-shucks, “Midwestern Nice”  guy.  He seemed a bit dull.  He might have been trying on a role laid out by the producers.   I prefer educated, kind, and well-informed men.   The women had varied interests and talents and were well-spoken and clever.   They were mostly tanned and mostly blonde, physically fit and adorned in evening gowns or cocktail dresses.   Not the average cadre of 60- to 75-year-olds. Gerry would give a rose to each woman he dated and dismissed until he ended up with the chosen one.   I had trouble believing that love would catch fire in this artificial atmosphere.  It felt more like a competition.     I came with some biases and gave myself a check up on how they were  guiding my thinking.  So far, I graded myself “a bit snarky.”

Overall, I was positive about the show.  The contestants seemed interested in one another, got along,  and cared about each other.  Gerry’s  chosen, Theresa, seemed to be genuinely fond of him and he seemed fond of her.  I wish the absolute best for them.   Attention to our growing older population, its needs for belonging and loving relationships, was given a big  audience and may have changed some attitudes about old age being a time of stagnation, resignation, and negativism.

The ending was a bit flummoxed…background information arose to discredit Gerry’s dating history, Leslie implied he asked her to marry him, and some speculated he was marrying Theresa for her money.  It was over, the longest running dating show.  It is bound to have sequels like the Golden Bachelorette.  Will there be  a Platinum Bachelor show for the eighty and older population?   That would be interesting and leads me to musing.

If I were being interviewed for the Platinum  Bachelorette position (fat chance!), I would channel Phyllis Diller (deceased), the irreverent American comedian with spiked hair and a husband named “Fang.”

My interview questions and responses:

Nadine, would you give bachelors a rose when you dismiss  them as was done in the Golden Bachelor?

Answer:  No, of course not.  Men do not care much for flowers.  I would give them a ham sandwich, so they have something to eat on the way home.

 Nadine, where would you take the bachelors on a date?

Answer:  Definitely not pole dancing or tabletop dancing.  No Jitterbugs or twists unless they are slow.  I have a bad back. 

We would go to dinner and do some slow dancing or watch a movie.  I want to be home by 9:00.  

Nadine, what would you wear?

Answer:     Long dresses (covering my comfortable flat shoes)  with long sleeves (over the knuckles), something dark and slimming.

Nadine, What do you want from the Golden Bachelor? 

Answer: The most important thing is finding a guy who is genuine, kind, and truthful.  Another important quality is family closeness.  I want to stay close to my family and hope he has good family relationships too. Keeping good family relationships is challenging work  and is a good sign for our relationship.  

Actually,  I want someone who will make candlelight dinners for us and clean up the kitchen.  

Back to serious. 

More research should be done on dating and partnering in later life because of the aging of the U.S. population and  because social relationships help us overcome loneliness and isolation. Loneliness and isolation pose health risks like depression, cognitive decline, high blood pressure and even death. Does the need for loving relationships extend into the platinum generation of the eighties and older?

I will watch the Golden Bachelorette.  We have a lot to learn about relationships between older men and women and this is a “golden” opportunity.

Want to know more?

William DM, Locker L Jr, Briley K, Ryan R, Scott AJ. What do older adults seek in their potential romantic partners? Evidence from online personal ads. Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2011;72(1):67-82. doi: 10.2190/AG.72.1.d. PMID: 21391407.

National Council on Aging: Why Is Intimacy Important in Older Adults?   12-15, 2021 

A LOVING LETTER TO MY GRANDCHILDREN: 2023

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

A LOVING LETTER TO MY GRANDCHILDREN: 2023

TO MY BELOVED GRANDCHILDREN
FROM GRANDMA December 2023

To: Sydney, Will, Tabitha, CaroleAnne, Nat, Declan, and Jack

You are always in my heart and often in my mind.  As you have grown to be young adults, I remember you as babies and my mind often drifts toward your futures.  I thought someday I would write about my love for you and hopes for your life.   

What are the things I want you to know? I keep putting off writing my letter, probably until a doctor tells  me it is time to “settle my affairs.” What if I did not have a warning of death? What if I splatted on the floor going to the mailbox?  Why not write the letter now?  

Today in this holiday season of 2023, I want to tell you so many things.  This is my start.

My world is better with you in it.

I love being your Grandma.  I loved seeing you shortly after birth, holding you and smelling your sweet baby smell. I was dazzled by your beautiful face. I ached for your mom and dad who wanted so much to be good parents.   I lived halfway across the country  from most of you, and tears ran down my face knowing that I would be a far-away grandma.  Our work kept us in Ohio.  I would not see your first steps.  I would not see you going off to school. We did not have Zoom or Facetime for frequent visits.  Telephone calls and semi-annual visits were not sufficient. Sometimes I cared for you when your parents were out of town.  I authored story books for you when you were little.   Sometimes I read parts of them to you.  They were stories about my travels using travel photos and my illustrations.  Mostly they were  about fanciful animals like Corey the Camel in Timbuktu and Casey the Cat in Kathmandu. I hoped you would enjoy traveling and be curious about the world when you grew up.   You  grew up so fast.  I love to hear what you are doing. I am so grateful that I have lived long enough to see you as young adults in college or beginning your way in the world of work.

Make the World a Better Place. 

Your dads, my three sons, each made the world a better place.  Greg hoped his children would see the First Step Staffing vans delivering homeless people to jobs and be proud of their dad.  He used his own funds to build the largest non-profit staffing program for homeless people in the country.  Jeff, like his brothers, was a triathlete. He helped high school students who needed success experiences to train for and complete a marathon. Many of them were having difficult times in their daily lives. He not only helped them train but he accompanied them on marathons.   Steve put his many talents into being a successful and hardworking Councilman serving his community.  I am so proud of them. Greg received an award from Turner Broadcasting and mentioned that my work helping end corporal punishment in Ohio schools  was  influential in his becoming a person who gives back. I slobbered all over the unknown man next to me.  We got more out of helping others and our communities than we put into it.  I hope you are lucky to find something you want to do to “give back.”  It may be in your genes!

Find Something to Celebrate.

Sometimes I get up in the morning with aches and pains.  I find that changing my thinking to what I am thankful for changes my mood…a sunny day, a zoom meeting with my four siblings, or having lunch with a friend. Happiness begins in the mind.   I, not events, have the power to make  unhappiness or happiness.   I think how lucky I am to have you in my life, how lucky that I am to be able to walk and  paint and write and socialize.   I am surrounded by retired seniors in my continuing care retirement community who have experienced grief, regret, death, and failures.  We have coped with them. You will have those things in your path. You will learn to cope.  Do not be afraid to fail.  When you are striving to achieve something that you desire in work or relationships, defeat is hard.   Do not spend a lot of time looking back at failure…learn from it and move forward.  

Be a Lifelong Learner.

Always be curious.  Treasure learning.  It is good for your mental well-being.  You can learn new skills that benefit your career.  You can learn an art like painting or sculpting. You can learn practical skills like fixing plumbing in your house.  It builds your self-esteem to have learned something new.   It helps you connect with people who enjoy your interests. I started painting when I retired.  I have taken art classes since then.   I take zoom classes in art from a local artist and online with an art school.  As an octogenarian,  art classes will not get my paintings in the Louvre, but I like talking about and learning about art. It makes me young.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” –  Henry Ford 

Put away  for your future.

You are young.  I know it is hard to think about retirement.  It will arrive sooner than you think.  You cannot depend on Social Security to live on in retirement. The monthly benefits are small, and they may need to be reduced in the future  to accommodate people living longer and a low birth rate.  The number of workers is falling, and their taxes might not keep Social Security healthy. Start investing in retirement early, even if it is a small amount. Do it regularly before it is spent.   It is convincing to look at what  money saved and invested does over time if you start early.  You take advantage of compounded earnings.  Be sure to contribute to your 401(k)s if your employer offers a match. Small investments over time  lead to big opportunities.    When each of you was born, I established an educational trust for you. On your birthday each year, I contributed the maximum amount allowed by taxation laws and continued to do that through your school years.  It was not a large amount yearly but over time with good investments by your dads and compounded earnings, the education fund  gave you the opportunity to attend the college of your choice.  It is an accomplishment in life that gave me immense pleasure.  The best investment I ever made.

Honor your family relationships.

Your grandfather and I both believed and taught your dads that family relationships are important. Families  ground you for the world.   They are there for you in the best of times and worst of times.  They bring out the best in you. 

 My four siblings and I agree  that our relationship is more important than money or politics or who does what.  We are scattered throughout the country.  We attend family gatherings, reunions, weddings, and funerals.  We do a zoom meeting weekly.  During Covid,  in  our Zoom meetings, my siblings helped me put together my memoir by adding to and correcting my drafts.   We laughed and argued about whose memories were correct. We are competitive but we know when to reign it  in.  It was a sibling bonding experience.  Our memories provided the family history in my memoir.  We are all in our seventies and eighties.  Our investment in relationships has paid off and our relationship is especially comforting  in our time of life.  Like plants, relationships need tending.  That means going out of your way to nurture and treasure family by practicing courtesy and respect in your dealings with one another. It means treating them as your best friends because that is what they are.  A lifetime of honoring family relationships will be rewarded with a sense of peace and comfort.

Writing this letter to you was so much fun.  I have more to say.   I may do it again next year.  God willing.  Grandma Dene

 

Block Loneliness: Chat Up Someone You Don’t Know

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

BLOCK LONELINESS: CHAT UP SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW

Chatting up some street art in Iceland (2019)

United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a Surgeon General Advisory (May 3, 2023) calling attention to the public health crisis of loneliness caused by isolation and lack of social connection.  He said we could  help people feel less lonely and more connected  if we prioritized building social connections the same way we prioritized other public health issues like tobacco and obesity.  

Older people are especially likely to be lonely.  We may have friends who are dying. We may  be unable to drive, have hearing and vision problems, mobility problems, and financial problems.  We  may need to  move from neighborhoods with long-time friends to senior retirement communities  or to unfamiliar neighborhoods to be near families. 

Increasing socialization is important. Even weak friendships are worthwhile. I was emailed  a one-minute YouTube of a young man urging his dad to move to online  banking.  It would free his dad from tedious chores.  His Dad balked.  He would miss the bank tellers and personal bankers who greeted him when he did banking.  He saw them as friends.  A couple of additional urgings were met with a stone wall.  Weak friendships were important to his Dad. 

Weak friendships often give my days a boost.  The grocery store cashier said she missed me.  We spent a few seconds chatting. I felt a little burst of happiness  as I wheeled my cart toward the car.  The salesperson at the dry cleaner noted that I had not been in for a while  and said she was happy  to see me.   I commiserated with her about how uncomfortable  it must be working in the hot steamy laundry on a ninety-degree summer day.  She smiled as she pulled my dry cleaning off the rack.  She  appreciated my concern.  

Sometimes weak friendships not only give you a lift, but you learn from them.

I recently went to California to visit my gravely ill son. I left with a heavy heart and a grim thought of busy airports and five hours of flying.  I brought a book, but I knew concentrating on it would be a challenge.  I brought  along another possibility…a New York Times article, “Happiness Challenge Day 3: Chat up someone you don’t know.” (9-4-23, New York Times Wellness Series).  It suggested that brief interchanges with casual acquaintances and even complete strangers contribute to a sense of well-being.

I decided that I would do a “deep dive” getting to know my seatmate on each leg of the flight.  Maybe I would be rejected.  Maybe they would be boring.  Or maybe they would be fun, and I would learn something.  I opted for the latter.  

My first seatmate looked like a tough deep dive…a young man about twenty.   How does an octogenarian  lady  communicate with a young man more than  sixty years younger?  I started asking questions.  He said he grew up in the south and had not gone to college. What a delight he turned out to be!  He was a member of a rock band that had performed the night before at a State Fair.  He thought I would recognize the band.  I did not.  He does eighty concerts a year.   At his youthful age, he already had two businesses that were an outgrowth of his band experience.  He hoped some day they would be successful enough so he would not need to travel so much and  could be a hands-on dad and standby husband to a young woman he would soon marry.  When he left, he took my name and the name of my memoir book, and we both agreed that we had a special visit.  I learned about rock bands.  I met a special young man I really liked even though I would not have much in common with him  in my everyday  life.  I felt calm and had a  sense of well-being.  Our brief, but rewarding, friendship took place in a chat on an airplane.  

Want to know more about loneliness?

New Surgeon General Advisory Raises Alarm about the Devastating Impact of the Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in the United States

Develop a Positive Mindset on Aging

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

How to develop a positive mindset about aging

Jimmy Mercer’s lyrics in the l944 song, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive and eliminate the negative” give us happiness advice.   If you are my age you may remember hearing that song. That advice from l944 is still good. Accentuating the positive can lead to better health and a happier life. A study of 14,000 adults over age 50, co-authored by experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found those who had a good attitude about aging lived longer,  had fewer diseases, slept better, and had a stronger sense of purpose. 

I started posting  happiness quotes  on a lobby bulletin board in a busy area of our retirement  facility. I did not have a behavior change study  in mind. I was not even sure anyone would read them.   I hoped they might bring smiles to residents.

The quotes are cheery. Today I posted a Chinese proverb:

 “If you want happiness for an hour—take a nap.  If you want happiness for a day—go fishing.  If you want happiness for a year—inherit a fortune.  If you want happiness for a lifetime—help someone else.”

Last week, I posted a quote by Henry Ward Beecher.

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”

The previous week, I posted a quote by Earl Nightingale.

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life.  Be happy now.  Do not wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.”

It is not always easy to be happy.   I  have real things that are bothersome.  I have foot problems and arthritis.  Sometimes my sciatic nerves are unhappy.  I have had a bout of cancer.  My thinking is slower, and I forget things.   Sometimes the misery thoughts can make me smile,  “I’m learning  about body parts I didn’t know existed.” 

 Happiness begins in our brain.  It  depends on how we think about our lives.    I have negative stereotypes about aging to deal with, thoughts that old people are  “crotchety,” “ don’t want to learn new things,”  “ forgetful,” and “complain about everything.” We  learn  negative thoughts about aging beginning in childhood from our families, communities, and media.  Recognizing them helps to blunt their damage. 

How can you develop a positive mind-set about aging?

Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative.  Instead of getting up in the morning with a list of pains and aches, think about the things you are grateful for: a good night’s sleep, a call from a favorite relative, or a warm and sunny day.

Become aware of your negative stereotypes about aging.  Name them. 

Have role models who are doing well at aging.  In old age that might be people who help others, people who maintain a commitment to healthful living including physical fitness, and  people who volunteer for a cause.

Eliminate negatives in your life like non-stop watching of news channels.  

Hang out with happy people.  You build on one another’s happiness.

Practice gratitude.  Let people know how much they mean to you.

Meanwhile, I will keep posting my happy quotes for my neighbors and I will try to live by them.

My efforts may confirm for a few, that I wear rose-colored glasses and  live in make-believe land.  I hope happy quotes I post will strengthen a positive mind set on old age.

Why not start by replacing a misery thought with happy thought?

Do you want to know more?

Mayo Mindfullness: Overcoming Negative Self Talk by Dana Sparks, May 29,  2019

 

Thoughts About Art After My Exhibition Ends

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

Thoughts About Art After My Exhibition Ends

A few days ago, I took down an exhibition of my art at our continuing care retirement community.  My oil painting collection had been up for two months, and another artist patiently waited for my paintings to come down so she could hang her treasures.  I began musing over the show and what I had learned from the experience.

The art committee chair asked me to share my paintings about three months ago. I had given away or sold my paintings when I moved to my continuing care retirement community.   I have since  produced only eight new paintings.   The rest would come from previous work.  I decided I would learn how to frame them.  It costs $200-400 to get midsize paintings professionally framed. I could do it for less than half of the cost.   A fellow art committee member helped me with  drilling and screw placement. It was a new skill for these octogenarians.  

I had thirteen paintings in the show.  Three sold, four were not for sale, two were donated, and four remained unsold.  It was fun to do the paintings, fun to relive my memories though painting, and fun to make people happy.  The  money raised was given to a Foundation which supports our community residents  whose money has run out, so they do not have to  leave. 

The gallery is on both  sides of  a long hallway on the way to the Health Care Center from Independent Living facilities.  Many people, visitors,  staff, residents, some in wheelchairs and walkers, go by the paintings every day.   I enjoyed watching them looking at my paintings.  They told me they found the paintings  fun,  colorful and joyful.  

I do not expect everyone to love my work.  What one person finds beautiful, another might find boring, or ugly.  We bring individual experiences, knowledge of art and individual tastes to observing visual art.  People are  entitled to their own opinions and artists learn to live with that.  Those who persist in producing art often do it for personal reasons.  I must paint.  It makes me happy.  It stirs up my creativity. It makes me feel productive and worthwhile. You could throw rotten  tomatoes at my art.  I would persist.

I painted from  photos of family, and photos of sights and people on my trips.  I love painting photos of trips. Memories of three weeks in many Turkish destinations, lush foliage in the south of India, and ten days of sights in Havana, Cuba flooded my mind as I painted. 

I give names to my paintings.  Some artists do not do that.  They want you to figure them out and give them your special names.   I can understand why they do that for abstract paintings but otherwise it seems pretentious. Names of paintings in my show included  “The Way Home,” “Istanbul Market,” “Blooming Fantasy,” “Remembering Rosie,” “Fall Blooms,” “Hopes and Dreams,” and “Sassy Sisters.” I sign and name my paintings and write a brief paragraph describing the subject to post next to the painting. I hope the story will bring paintings to life for people who viewed them.  The stories  I wrote about the paintings included:

“SASSY SISTERS”                    

An oil painting, cartoon style, of my sisters and me.  They both hate the painting. The sister who  draws the short straw will get it.

Sassy Sisters

“ HOPES AND DREAMS”

Poof and away they go, hopes and dreams  floating away.  A multi-media painting.

Hopes and Dreams

 “ISTANBUL MARKET”    The Kadıköy market district, on the Asian shore of the Bosporus, has bright fruits and vegetables, lots of fish, and good restaurants. 

I did several oil paintings from photos of this Istanbul, Turkey market.

Istanbul Market

“ LITTLE FARM GIRLS 1940”

Oil painting, semi-abstract, from a photo of my sister and me on our Wisconsin farm.

Little Farm Girls in 1940

 

 “HAVANA CUBA BALLERINA”

On a Columbus Jazz Orchestra tour of  Cuba  8 years ago, I took of photo of a lovely young  woman in a ballet school for children.  I was so intrigued by her intensity.   I tried to capture that  in this oil painting.  

Havana Ballerina

“THE WAY HOME”

On this semi abstract oil painting, a gravel road leads into the distance.  I was remembering the Wisconsin rural community where I grew up.

The Way Home

 “FALL BLOOMS”

This oil painting was chosen in a juried contest to be one of ten public art installations in Upper Arlington, Ohio.  It is copied on a utility box at Ridgeview and Tremont, the Northeast corner of Tremont Elementary School. 

Fall Blooms

 “BLOOMING FANTASY”

This oil painting is full of colorful summer blooms. I love vibrant colors and am usually happiest with work I have done that is bold and colorful.

Blooming Fantasy

“SOUTHERN INDIA FOLIAGE IN BLUE”

I sold an earth-toned painting of this subject to a man who came to my first exhibition in 2016.  His wife called me to tell me a couple of years ago that he died.  He loved the painting so much he had it brought to his care facility room when he was dying.  I wept.  

I did this oil painting with some of the same foliage I had photographed in Southern India, but in blue. It still brings a tear to my eye.

Southern India Foliage in Blue

I hope you have enjoyed a tour of some of my paintings.  

My art show is over.  I hope I will be able to produce more art and to learn new skills for a future exhibition.  I go away with the memory of a man in a wheelchair who was looking at a painting of a country road, “The Way Home.”  His aide pointed me out and told him I was the artist.  He smiled and said, “That brings back such wonderful memories of my childhood.”  A tear came to his eye.  And to mine.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE?

I hope you enjoyed a tour of some of my exhibits.  

See more of my paintings at my website www.nadineblock.com/

Helping New Residents Adjust To Continuing Care Retirement Communities

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

HELPING NEW RESIDENTS ADJUST TO CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES

Wine and Welcome gatherings for new residents: Block Mixed Media

I have lived in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) for almost two years.  I chair our care community’s Ambassador Committee. The committee is composed of a dozen gregarious, helpful, and caring residents who volunteer to  help new residents make a comfortable adjustment to our CCRC.  As residents, we know the community and have memories of our own adjustment here.  We make new residents  feel safe and comfortable.

Ambassador Committees are an important part of most CCRCs.  Adjusting to living in these communities requires a substantial change in life for most people.  Most new residents in our community are moving  from single family homes. They are unaccustomed to living in multi-dwelling buildings.  I lived half of my adult years in condominiums so the transition to the CCRC multi-family dwelling facility was easy. 

The move to CCRCs requires a great deal of thought and planning.  Before moving here, I consulted family and professionals to help me wade through contracts, financial commitments, health care options,  and  living unit options. I  made heavy financial, social and health-care related decisions.  I  took  a risk, trading the known for the unknown. I  hoped I  made the right decision.      

Like others entering CCRCs,   I wanted a home, not just a place to live.  Like most of our residents, I  had relatives nearby but  did not want to have to rely on them for most of my social needs.  I  hoped to make new friends in my final home.    Friendships take time.  It takes time to  develop trust in one another and feel comfortable sharing ourselves with others.  

Friends are a buffer against loss and sorrow.  At our age, we have experienced many happy memories, but we have also experienced loss, grieving, failure, and sorrow. When I moved in two years ago,  I had recently  lost my youngest son to cancer. My  husband had advanced vascular dementia and was in an assisted living facility. I was not alone in shouldering loss and carrying sorrow.  I had company.

How do Ambassadors contribute to making a senior care community a home?

Ambassadors are chosen for their ease in meeting people, their kindness, and their willingness to spend as much time as needed with new residents to help them get to know the campus and the activities here.  They attend monthly meetings and help develop informational materials for new residents.  They  share information on health and safety,  how to get maintenance help, and how to contact staff who can help them. We alert them  to helpful  community  publications. We offer personal tours. We help them make social connections through dining, interest groups, and  events.  Our Ambassadors try to put themselves in the shoes of  new residents who might lock themselves out, be scared by fire alarms, do not understand the dues billing, and how to get their state driver’s license.

Ambassadors introduce new residents to other residents. An example of an Ambassador welcoming activity in our community is “Wine and Welcome.”

“Wine and Welcome” is a monthly affair with wine and appetizers. It is sponsored by the community marketing department. Parties like this one are well attended.  Ambassadors introduce residents who have moved in since the previous month. Usually they are entertaining as well as informative.  I recently began to introduce  a new resident who announced that he preferred to introduce himself.  I asked him if he knew about the “Two Minute Rule” (keep the introduction short).  He said he was a judge, and I was overruled.  

Ambassadors play a vital role in making senior care facilities more welcoming, and interesting places to live. Ambassadors help the retirement community to  meet the needs of its residents and their families. 

If you are interested in a continuing care retirement community, check out their Ambassador program.  

Art Is Good For Us

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

Oil paintings from my July 2023 exhibit

 

ART IS GOOD FOR US

Art is good for me whether I  see it,  or  feel it, or create it.   It increases my happiness, lowers my anxiety, boosts my creativity, and stimulates my mind.

I felt the effects of art as a small child in a one-room rural school in Wisconsin.   It did not come from taking  art classes.  Our solo teacher had more than forty students in grades 1-8 to teach reading, writing and arithmetic.  There was  little time to teach art.  I spent hours with a box of cards having  a picture of art on one side and a story about the artist on the other.  I tried to reproduce the art with pencils and crayons.  Drawing was pleasing.  It was an opportunity for self-expression.  Dreaming that I might see an  original piece of art from my cards in a museum in France, or Spain, Italy, or England was inspirational.  It gave me a purpose in life.

As an adult, I was fortunate to be able to travel to many countries where I saw great works of art. My husband enjoyed art too.   Our first destination  in a  country was usually an art museum. It was exciting to see the  magnificent sizes of some paintings and the surprisingly small sizes of others. I always enjoyed contemporary art, more abstract than representative art.    I collected art, at least as much as I could afford.  That gave me a sense of purpose.  I was connected to the world through art. 

When I retired I decided to learn to paint.  For the past twelve years, I  have taken art classes online, in a cultural arts center, and from four local artists.  I currently take zoom classes from an artist.  Talking through my work with instructors and observing others has helped me improve my skills.   It is therapeutic for a slight essential tremor that has developed in my right hand.  Even as I sometimes struggle using small brushes, I tell myself,  “This is good for me.” It improves my hand-eye coordination, my problem-solving skills, and attention.  

 I took human figure painting three hours a week for five years.  I was intently involved in trying to bring the personality and form of the model onto canvas.  After the three hours of  painting, I was in a Zen mood as I put down my brushes and observed my  art. It blew away feelings of anxiety and depression.  It helped focus my mind.   During times of challenges, it helped stimulate my mind and improve my sense of well-being.  

Through painting, I developed an artsy friendship group,  a mixture of ages and backgrounds born through painting together.  We helped one another with art projects,  visited exhibits together, and developed a fondness for one another.  I miss being an active  part of those groups.  My world has gotten a little smaller without them.  Carrying all my supplies and parking downtown to take part in group instruction is getting difficult. Getting to evening show openings is difficult.   I‘ve switched to zoom with an art teacher and the companionship of a few artists in my care facility.  We have a lovely art studio where I can leave my easel and supplies.  Life is still exciting,  and art is still immensely enjoyable.

Creating art is challenging.  I make a few accommodations to age and  declining endurance. I have trouble painting  fine lines and small  objects. So, I go bigger and more abstract.    I find it hard to paint for three hours, so I am happy to paint for an hour or so at a time.  I am so happy that I can still find joy in art.   It improves my emotional and mental well-being whether it is by creating it  or seeing it or feeling it.

Visit an art museum. Create your own piece of art.   It is never too late to learn to draw, paint, and sculpt. Most communities have senior art classes.  There are online tutorials about how to start an art project.  Many are excellent. 

Want to know more?

Mental Health Foundation (UK)  How Arts Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

The Mental Health Benefits of Art: Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups

.Everyone can create art…imagination. 

 

 

What Can I Do about Ageism?

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

Last month I wrote about the effects of ageism, a term defined as  prejudice or  discrimination on grounds of a person’s age.   What five words come to mind when you think of older people? Do you think they are  calm, contemplative, and wise,  or do you think they are slow, stubborn, and out of touch?  I list some of mine in this blog. 

What can I do about Ageism?

Collage of Good Stereotypes of older Persons: Block

I started by looking in the mirror and checking my own stereotypes of aging.    I blamed old age for forgetting a name or misplacing my cell phone.  I thought most old people have short attention spans. I laughed at cartoons about aging. Yes, I used words like “old hag,” “Over-the-Hill,” and “Old Fogey” describing older people.  Just this week I said, “You can teach an old dog a new trick, but it takes a long  time.”  I have not taken a 180-degree turn, but I am more aware of my own negative perceptions. Once we are aware of them,  we can challenge our thinking.  I went through my blogs and removed ageism’s. There may still be some there.

We should not be too hard on ourselves.   We started learning stereotypes about older people  before we went to school. Our beliefs about aging came from words and actions in our families and communities, advertising,  movies, social media, and books.  We learned them.  We need to unlearn them. 

What can I do to unlearn ageism?

When I catch myself using an ageism stereotype,  I sometimes self-talk an alternative statement.   “Old people have attention spans of fleas “ could be changed to “Some older people have attention span problems.”   I can make a verbal correction as a response to my own words. I can talk about ageism with friends to solidify my attempts to correct my own perceptions and I can help raise awareness for others.  

What can I do when I am challenged by ageist remarks?

Now that I am more aware of ageism, I find it in medical care, in social events, and  in  family relationships.  What can I do when someone seems  prejudiced against me because of ageism?

I could react like my mother who told a medical worker,  “You can’t treat me that way just because I am old.” She got their attention. She lived to be 101 so she had more chances to correct medical workers.  My brother called a doctor who was caring for our mother to inquire about how she developed MRSA after a shoulder operation.  He said, “Maybe her shoulder skin wasn’t clean.”  My brother was incensed!  “That’s your job,”  he said.

It is nice to have a family advocate but that is not always available.  If you feel you are being belittled, ignored or the subject of condescension or rudeness, you have a right to respond.  You must be your own advocate.

There are other ways to react to being stereotyped as old and less entitled to respect.  I might  say, “Tell me more. What do you mean?”   I listen to what the person says.  I  may be satisfied with their answer, but I remind myself not to back down if their answer is still demeaning.  I can tell them how it feels to hear their words, like my mom did but, in a less stinging way.  

What can I do to push back on ageism in our culture? 

Educate myself about ageism:  Read articles and books and talk to people who are knowledgeable.  We should be proud of being life-long learners.  People who keep learning and evolving stay young. 

Prevent it in the first place:   Start talking to children in the family  about positive age beliefs  and support  teaching positive age beliefs  in school.

Support programs that provide older people with experiences like tutoring, mentoring, and volunteering in schools and other community organizations:

 They give a positive image of older people  and  a  reward that comes from helping others.

 Support giving opportunities to older people  to take classes with college students to learn about young people, stay active and learn new things. 

 Travel with younger people to explore unfamiliar places and cultures: You can see it from their perspective and your own.

Seek out interage experiences: Such experiences provide opportunities for us to learn new things and make new friends.  Younger people can understand that we are all different and develop empathy for older people.   A friend and I went to an art event. We dressed in cocktail clothes. Most of the attendees were young creatives who came in elaborate costumes.  What fun that was.  We sat with a young couturier and her friend. The conversation was exciting.  Next year I will put together a costume for the event.

Post positive quotes about older people in our communities to counteract negative stereotypes:

  Examples:  

“Youth can walk faster but the elder knows the road.” African proverb.

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”   Eleanor Roosevelt

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”   C.S. Lewis

“Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.”  Carroll Bryant

Help Build a Better Society

If you observe ageist behaviors and speech, speak up. Let them know such behavior is unacceptable.  Continue to educate yourself and others. Support  programs that provide  workplace environment improvements, social opportunities, and medical care for older people.    People with positive stereotypes of living appear to live longer and be happier. Supporting positive perceptions of older people helps create a kinder and more respectful society for all people.   

Do you want to know more?

This study indicates people with positive perceptions of aging live longer.

Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging.

Ageism is Harmful

A Letter From the Old Folks Home:

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. A Letter from the Old Folks Home  is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose (see the contact form on this website). Come walk with me.

Ageism: Prejudice or discrimination against people based on their age.  

Octogenarian Blogger Block

I had just gleefully emailed cartoons about old people to my four over-seventy siblings. A couple of the cartoons featured Maxine, the grumpy old cartoon lady.   I read them again to have another laugh before filing them.  One, with a daffy-looking senior, said,  “How do I know what I am doing tomorrow? I do not know what today is.”  That seemed mean.  Did passing on those cartoons make me guilty of ageism?  Suddenly, I felt ageism guilt.

I  read a  book and online articles  on ageism and decided to get some in-person experiences.  I emailed a few ladies in my senior retirement community inviting them for “A Conversation on Ageism.”  I said I would bring wine and cheese.  I invited eight.  Seven came.  After a brief introduction on ageism and a one-pager with statements and resources, I presented conversation starters which focused on their experiences. These are their comments.

What are stereotypes of seniors?

Negative: Q-tips (white hair), crabby, doddering old people who did not take care of themselves, set in their ways, hard of hearing, blind, poor drivers, weak, feeble,  crazy old man, senile old woman, computer illiterates,  old geezer, and dirty old man.

Positive:  News stories about seniors who are active, productive, and contribute to their communities in old age.

Neutral:  It used to be worse.  It was not long ago that you were “old” at fifty.

What are your experiences of ageism?

The first time I went to my doctor after my husband died, the nurse started talking to my daughter instead of me.  She took my arm and guided me when we walked and asked if I wanted a wheelchair.  She had known me for years. Why was I was suddenly treated like a person who could not walk or talk?

We must be careful when talking to younger people…our use of words sometimes brings looks of condescension.

It took me nine months to get a primary doctor.  They limit Medicare patients.   

At age 55, it is so clear that they want to get rid of you at work so they can hire someone cheaper. 

Doctors say, “At your age, you don’t need that test.”  What if I have someone in my immediate family who died from colon cancer or cervical cancer? What if I would like to live a few years longer?

The drugs they want me to take  are sometimes not normed on people my age. How do I know they will work and not be harmful?  I investigated getting into  treatment trials.  They will not accept seniors for drug or other treatment trials.

At my age, I see several specialists. The doctors have a nonchalant approach of adding more drugs to my list.  They might interact with the other drugs prescribed by other doctors. Who checks?  There is not enough team approach to prescribing.

I feel invisible.  What do I have to do to be seen as I am?

Commercials are only about young people.  Clothes are not tailored or designed for old people.  We do not dress like women did years ago.  They do not treat us like we are interested in clothing.  We travel and want to look nice.

You must be confident in your own skin to survive ageism.

What is ageism?

Ageism is a term that was used by Robert Neil Butler in 1969 to describe bias against older people. His book Why Survive?  Being Old in America won a Pulitzer prize.  When we think of stereotypes, we may act by staying away from old people or treating  them in demeaning ways. This can happen in institutions like hospitals, nursing homes, the workplace, the media, and the legal system. It can happen in social exchanges when old people are ignored or spoken to.  It happens when we accept stereotypes and apply them to ourselves. 

Research shows increased stress, a decreased will to live,  less desire to live a healthy lifestyle, a slower recovery from illness,  and a shortened life span.

Think of a person who refuses to get a hearing aid because it makes her look old (and it is costly and not paid for by Medicare).

Think of a person in a wheelchair who stays in the house all day instead of getting out because he does not want to look old and handicapped.

Think of abused and neglected seniors:  At least 10% of adults aged sixty-five and older will experience some form of elder abuse each year (Elder abuse statistics, U.S. Department of Justice).

Think of an old person who refuses to go to the doctor for a health problem because he is going to die anyway.

What you can do:

Educate yourself and others:

Ageism is a global challenge: UN” (who.int) World Health Organization (WHO) 

What is Ageism & How Does it Affect Health,” (mentalhealthandaging.com)Medical News Today, November 3, 2021  

 Applewhite, Ashton: This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, Celadon books, New York, New York, 2016   

“Fact-filled, witty, a call to arms for older folks.”   Nadine Block

A Gift to Your Family: Write a Memoir

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. It is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover firsthand experiences, thoughts, and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

A gift to your family: Write a memoir.

My Memoir Remembering Rosie: Memories of a Wisconsin Farm Girl

Have you thought about sharing your experiences and life lessons with others?   Do you want your memories to be remembered? Do you want to improve your writing?  Are you looking for something to do that is useful and keeps you busy?

 Have you thought about writing a memoir?  

I will share my walk in writing a memoir.  I hope it will encourage you to start writing. 

Why did I write a memoir? 

The author, Isabel Allende, states: “Write what should not be forgotten.” 

Sometimes, writers want to change minds and hearts like I did in my books about ending hitting  of children, Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment and This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You:  Children Share How Spanking Hurts and What To Do Instead (Publisher of both: Center for Effective Discipline). Social progress is slow, and I wanted to push along the idea that children deserve the same legal protection adults have to  be  free from physical punishment. Over sixty countries do not allow children to be hit, even in homes.  All US states allow hitting children in families and eighteen  states still allow paddling in schools. I wanted to add my knowledge and experience to history.

Memoirs are different.  They are stories about important times in our lives.  In writing Remembering Rosie: Memories of a Wisconsin Farm Girl (Page Publishing, Inc. 2021),  I hoped to provide my grandchildren with an authentic and entertaining  story about the life of  farm children in  the 1950’s when I grew up. I wanted to gain their respect for the contributions of our pioneer families. I was looking at the end of my life and wanted to make sense of it.   I did not make a list of why I was writing a memoir. I just knew that I had to do it.

Writing has always  been a link to my seven grandchildren who live out of state. They are now in their teens and early twenties. When they were little,  I tried to connect with them through small books (12 in total).   I wrote, illustrated, and privately  published stories for children  about my travels. I was grateful for being able to travel.  I hoped travel would be part of their lives. I wrote fanciful stories about countries I visited and used travel photos and my  drawings of imaginary figures such as “Corey the Camel in Timbuktu” and “ Casey the Cat in Kathmandu.”  As they grew older, I added historical and geographical information to my travel stories. 

I  compiled a picture book (Our Family: Wisconsin Pioneers) with biographies of  our German and Lithuanian immigrant families who were pioneers in Wisconsin. One day one of my grandchildren was complaining about the number of chores expected of him. I thought, “Someday I will write about real W-O-R-K,  the hard and dangerous work of farm children 80 years ago.” 

My memoir, Remembering Rosie: Memories of a Wisconsin Farm Girl  gives my grandchildren a snapshot of my life  on a Wisconsin dairy farm.  The main characters are my four siblings and my parents.  My mom was an important part of the story.  She suffered from depression as a young wife but found her own happiness and joy owning her own business.  To our delight, she also found  her long-lost sense of humor and wit.  Her recovery was a lesson in finding a place where you can grow rather than feel trapped.  A Gannett reporter said my book is a feminist farm memoir.

How I wrote the memoir:

I decided to write about my early years in a mostly linear manner, from birth to leaving home as a young adult. The subjects were historical and personal:  work of children, education, economics,  medicine, religion,  and family dynamics. My four siblings contributed their memories as I wrote chapters.  I wrote most of it during our Covid shut-in times.  We communicated by zoom and email. My siblings helped me recall forgotten events.  It was a great bonding experience for our family. 

Halfway through drafting the memoir, I decided to get it published  because it might appeal to people who grew up on family farms or visited them as children.   It also might appeal to people who like nostalgic books about life in the past.   Covid lockdowns also had me looking back to calmer times.  

Lawndale Elementary School, Wisconsin one-room school 1950’s

Was I happy I wrote the memoir?

Yes. I got to know myself  better. I realized that I thrive on structure, even in old age. An hour of physical exercise and two hours of writing or painting are daily goals for me. 

I learned more about my family relationships.  My siblings and I  were sometimes surprised at how differently we remembered events. One of my brothers commented on a memory I offered,  “Did we grow up in the same house?”  How lucky I was able to share memories of a close-knit family and to appreciate  and gain from their viewpoints!

I became a better writer.  In my work life, I authored reports and position papers requiring research interpretation, providing  conclusions and making recommendations. In writing a memoir, I  learned to think about more than facts and conclusions.  I learned to care more about piquing the interests of the reader while still being true to representation of facts and historical information.  I had to learn to write like a fiction writer.

Why should YOU write a memoir? 

Everyone has a story to tell.   When you are gone, your stories may die with you unless you write them down.  You may  write to learn more about your ancestors and gain insight into them. You may want to put into words what meaning life holds for you. Your words may become lessons that help others. You may  write to get to know yourself better. You may want to become a better writer. I wrote for all those reasons.  

Start writing your memoir:

Find courage to start drafting your story. Take a chance!  You may end up with a short story to share with your family. You may end up with a longer story, a memoir.  

  • Think about an important part of your life.  Write down memories and scenes from that time. If you have painful memories, let them come back, cope with them, and put them into words. 
  • Organize the memories.  Ask family members to share memories and family photos.  Ask them to tell the stories behind the photos. 
  • Check Ancestry.com or other genealogical websites for information about your family. 
  • Do historical reading on that period for information and to bring back memories. 
  • Check with your local library or senior center to see if they have classes on writing  a memoir. 

 Share your story  with a couple of friends or family members and ask for comments.  Most people will cheer you on.  You have begun your memoir. Keep writing.

More to think about:

How to Write a Memoir: 13 Steps for a Gripping Life Story

Six Steps to get you started in writing your memoirs 

Humor is Good Medicine

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

ROBOT: “Take your medicine.”

Turn a grumpy rant into a smile!

Someone wrote to my blog NOT in the slow lane YET that I viewed the world through rose-colored glasses.  I need to clear up that misunderstanding. Sometimes I am a crabby senior citizen who thinks the world is going to hell. Grrrrr.

This little note written by an unknown source appeared in my email. I threw my arm in the air and fist pumped, “You tell em girl!”

Not only does my grocery store have me bag my groceries in personal shopping bags (or get charged for paper ones),  but the cashier no longer handles cash.  I need to pull cash from a clear plastic bag in my purse (I know that sounds a little looney, but bills are easier to see than in a wallet), and  I put it in an elaborate change apparatus.   After my purchase, it proceeds to cough out bills and coins, some falling to the floor where I retrieve them while anticipating a scream from my sciatic nerve.

Years ago, I forecast that the decline of service would escalate.  I think it began when we started pumping  our own gas.  In my childhood, an attendant pumped gas. In rich communities, attendants wore snappy uniforms.  In poor communities, they crawled out from under cars they were working on to do the gas pumping duties.

Attendants not only pumped gas but checked oil and tire pressures and washed car windows.   

Herb Timms invented the system in 1964 that allowed an attendant in the store to activate the gas pumps without leaving the store. It was a cost-saving device.  Fewer people needed to be hired. It took a while to catch on because most states had  fire codes that did not allow self-service and because it was costly to implement.   

Forty-eight states changed their fire codes to allow for individuals to pump their own gas by the early l980’s.   The devices were not cheap: they cost $10,000. It took years to get the system widely available.

When she was in her nineties (about 2010), my mother had a gas station in her small town of Abbotsford Wisconsin she called “Widows’ Gas Station” where an attendant  pumped gas, checked tires and washed windows.  It survived until that time because the device was costly and there were quite a few widows in town who bought their gas.

What is in our future?  A nursing home staffed by robots?  An ATM Pharmacy?  A phlebotomist kiosk for blood tests?   List future machines that might take over for people. Draw a picture like I did.  It might make you smile.

“A Brief History of Self-Serve Gas Stations” By Petroleum Service Company on Jan 22, 2018

Go from GRRRRR to GRIN. Laugh more!

“Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke,” Mayo Clinic

 

A Train Trip Story

A Letter From the Old Folks Home:

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. A Letter from the Old Folks Home  is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The  blogs will be short and appear once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose (see the contact form on this website). Come walk with me.

A Train Trip Story

Book launch party for Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment

A train trip is a metaphor of life as a journey.  You get on a train when you are born.  Other people board  the train with you.  Some of the people who board with you become life-long friends. You have happy destinations and some bumps along the way.  Eventually, you get off the train.  You die.  My  journey’s end is unknown, but it cannot be distant.  I am an octogenarian. 

In the mid-l980’s I got on a train with about a dozen people who traveled together for over 20 years.  We all agreed on our destination: the  end of school corporal punishment in Ohio.  We thought our journey would be short and successful.   Hitting students with boards (“paddling”) is inhumane. All humans (except school children in some states), even most animals, are protected from this barbaric practice.  Children were injured.  University and college studies found that it is ineffective in the long term and harms children. In the mid-1980’s at the beginning of our journey, sixty-eight thousand school children in Ohio were paddled, many multiple times. 

The little group in its early years was composed of two clergymen, a clinical psychologist, two superintendents of schools, a social worker, a child abuse prevention professional,  two physicians,  a PTA state director, and me, a school psychologist.  We thought the reasoning and research we brought would dazzle the legislature.  It did not.  Educator organizations and many clergy fought a ban.  Educator organizations said it was an indispensable discipline tool for teachers and clergy opponents used Old Testament words to demonstrate God’s affirmation.   I led the legislative fight which eventually gained the support of fifty statewide organizations.   The trip took longer than we thought. There were many stops along the way.   Even when our bills went down to defeat, we celebrated with new supporters. Our group enjoyed our time together.  Social progress moves at a snail’s pace.  Eventually, we changed enough minds and hearts to succeed. Paddling ended with a ban in Ohio public schools in  2009.  I recounted this journey in  Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment (Center for Effective Discipline, 2013).

In old age, we look back on our lives and savor the happy days.  I am jubilant  knowing that school children in Ohio no longer fear being hit with boards.  A significant friend on the trip, Jack Conrath, told me that Covid has curtailed his hugs as greetings to old friends.  He has substituted telling friends what they mean to him for his previous hugs. What a wonderful idea! He also knows he is near the  end of his journey.  

Why not tell friends what they mean to you now?  The devoted people  who traveled together  on that journey mean a lot to me.  I send virtual hugs,  love and greetings to my friends on this journey.  

Christmas 2022 at the Old Folks Home

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover firsthand experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The  blogs will be short and appear once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.  Nadine Block

Christmas 2022 at the Old Folks Home

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly” is sung and put into practice  here at the Old Folks Home. Fresh boughs and twinkling lights grace outdoor trees and the building entrance.  Musicians often entertain after dinner in the weeks before Christmas.  Musical events are likely to  end with audience sing-alongs.    Christmas trees and a collection of Nutcrackers decorate public areas. A  Christmas party and Christmas dinner are scheduled. There is an increase in smiling faces here at the Old Folks Home.

My apartment in independent living has  reminders of the holidays, a poinsettia, a couple of live wreaths, and fragrant candles.  I gave away my tree and decorations before moving here.  I have no place to store them.  I am happy to enjoy public area decoration.  If I really want to keep some familiar holiday  practices, I can sign up to help decorate trees and display the nutcrackers. 

I sit in front of a public room Christmas tree and let my mind wander to happy holidays when my husband and I played Santa after the children went to bed.  I remember wrapping presents and  shushing him from cursing as he put together toys. Little ears were listening as mine once were on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa.    My sister and I, little preschoolers,  laid fitfully in our bed Christmas Eve. We peeked out the window looking for Santa.   Our family farm in Wisconsin  was quiet.  The buildings, fences and snow were lit by a bright full moon.  It was impossible to sleep. We finally fell asleep after we heard reindeer paws on the roof. Santa had come.  A few years later, the same sister and I convinced our younger brother to believe in Santa until he was in fourth grade.  Of course, his friends told him the truth, but he refused to believe them because his big sisters said there was a Santa.  Our family of five children remains close and we still believe one another’s lies.

If I sit long enough reminiscing, Christmas sad times come back.  My husband died on December 21st of last year.  His last years were dimmed by dementia and my grieving is complicated. My youngest son died from cancer two years ago.  His cancer journey began in his forties.   I am still mad at God about that.    I let the memories flow through me.  I cannot remove the grief, anger, and sadness. It hits me at unexpected times. Someone mentions a recent family death, or  a photo of my deceased son shows up  on Facebook and I tear up.  

The old folk’s home is full of elders whose memories of Christmas, like mine, are both sad and happy.  All of us  have lost dear ones.  With silent  admiration and warm love, we feel unspoken kinship.

I remember the fork in the road that I want to take.  I want to honor but not dwell on sad times.  I think about why I am lucky.   That gets boring and ineffective after a while. I laugh.  It gets me out of a sad swoon.  I decide to go to Happy Hour and have a glass of with wine with my neighbors.   Cheers and happy holidays to all.  Nadine Block

 

To learn more:

Stress, depression, and the holidays: Tips for coping

Mayo Clinic:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

Health Line: How to Deal with Stress and Depression During the Holidays

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/holiday-blues

 

 

Remain stylish into Old Age

A letter from an old folk’s home

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. A Letter from the old folks’ home:  NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover firsthand experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The  blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose. 

Do seniors need to look old and frumpy? Can they be stylish? 

 Think about the poem, “Warning,” by Jenny Joseph. 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which does not go, and doesn’t suit me. And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.”  

You might think that look would be frumpy. I propose that Jenny Joseph is talking about an old woman with style. If she knows color, she will choose a complimentary red/purple. She is a woman who knows who she is and develops a memorable look, a style.  It leads others to follow.

Fashion in clothing regards clothing of the moment,  current fads. At my age, being fashionable seems hopeless. Imagine an 85-year-old in a sleeveless mini-dress with tractor-trek sole boots. Throw in a crocheted swimsuit. Scary, hysterical. I look at the latest fashions and do not despair. Sometimes I find something that works for me. This year, it is the hoodie under a blazer. I can wear a lightweight hoodie under a blazer and look fashionable. 

Style has a timeless, memorable look.  Elderly women and  men can be stylish. I can still wear dresses. Straight cut, midi- dresses in muted colors with long or three-quarter length sleeves are perfect for me. For casual wear, long straight leg pants and a nice black blazer and crisp white shirt or a nice white tee work for me. Men’s wear favors classic styles, double-breasted fitted sport coats and double-breasted overcoats. Part of my  style involves my hair. I let it grow out white. It is heavy and attractive, but boring. I decided to get feather extensions, about three different sets of red-brown and teal blue rooster feathers. I bought all the equipment needed for about $25 and feather extensions online (Amazon and Etsy). I found a hairdresser who knows how to insert them. She  puts new ones in my hair with bead holders about every three to four weeks.

I asked my niece, Linzey, a fashion executive, what style advice she has for seniors. Linzey says, “I think one huge advantage that those over seventy have is that they have lived through all the trends and brands that continue to circle back around. You can experiment with bringing them all back around in a refined and unique way.”

Tips from Linzey:

“- Embrace nostalgia, wear meaningful items from various times in your life that tell a story or feel like home to you.

– Play with color, whether it is choosing complimentary colors or creating a monochromatic look with different shades of just one color.

– Conversely, play with neutrals. Layer neutrals. Try an all-white look. Do not be afraid of black and brown together, a huge upcoming trend.

– Fabric matters. Natural and more sustainable fabrics like cotton, linen and silk are not only usually more comfortable but elevate a look. 

  Natural hair is on trend, younger women going grey are letting it be and embracing it.”

I have four siblings all over seventy who Zoom weekly. I asked them what they think style is at their age.

“For a guy, a smart sport coat with relaxed straight jeans, maybe with a little stretch in them and a nice tee shirt.”

“For a guy, a great pair of sunglasses. I found a pair of the Alpina M6’s at an estate sale. They are one of the most wanted vintage glasses, all handmade between l987 and 1991.”

“For a woman, an attractive hat that suits the occasion. I collect them. People give me hats.”

“For a woman, colorful scarves to hide neck wrinkles and throw on over jackets and dresses.”

“For a man, a great pair of socks.”

“For a woman, high-waisted relaxed jeans with a cropped jacket.”

“For a woman, relaxed  jeans, a black blazer and  a crisp white shirt.”

“For a woman, a haircut ending just below the chin line, to cover a sagging chin.”

“For a woman, a little black dress midi length with long sleeves and pearls or colorful accessories.”

We do not need to look old and frumpy; With good choices, we can be fashionable.  We can always be stylish.   

One Year at the Old Folks’ Home

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose

A Letter from the Old Folks’ Home:  After one year of living in a continuing care retirement community

I have lived in my independent living apartment  for a year. I had grown tired of maintaining a home. I  looked forward to a retirement home and  a care-free life of meals in the dining room and weekly housekeeping services. A large community art room could keep my easel,  paintings and paints instead of having the clutter in my small office. I would have more  time for writing. I am healthy for my age. My criteria is I take only one prescribed medicine, walk without assistance, and can participate in physical and social activities easily. But I had little hints that I might need more care. I walk more slowly. I have a hearing loss and new hearing aids. My thinking is slower, I get distracted more easily,  and I  have difficulty remembering names of people I have recently met. I did not like living with the uncertainty of what other changes might be in store for me. I wanted to be in a place where I could get more care if I needed it.

I had my first opportunity  to view my independent living apartment  in July 2021. It was newly built and had just gotten a certificate of occupancy. I stepped out on the balcony and shouted, “I won the lottery!”  The view was spectacular. I could almost touch a beautiful silver linden tree which was over l00 years old and soared overhead. I grew to love it for its beauty, shade, and calming effect on me. Its leaves whisper in the wind. I strain to hear its voice. It seems to say, “Be calm. Be still.” I breathe slowly. My anxieties and worries go away. What a great greeting to my new home! I often stop by the tree and give it a hug.

When I moved in a month later, I was surrounded with support. The chef delivered sandwiches on moving day,  an Ambassador Committee member called on me and gave me tips on how to adjust to the community. Maintenance services workers  hung paintings for me and installed my TV’s. Meeting new people was easy because everyone in my new building was looking for friends. We  wore name tags and neck lanyards bearing our digital door key for getting in our building and our apartments. The name tags helped us deal with memory problems. The neck lanyard door key  made me feel I was in a guarded community, like a prison. I keep it in my pocket. 

I jump into new surroundings enthusiastically. I am an Energizer Bunny. I was quickly asked to be an Ambassador and two months later was the committee chair. I ran for the resident council and won a two-year term. One of my neighbors told me  I seemed to have a “service gene.”   I chewed on that for a while. I like helping people, but the truth is I am a curious  person who wants to know how everything works.

 I found quickly that any event that included free wine, drew crowds. Monday Coffee and Chat events provided information about activities, rumors, and an opportunity to complain. Many folks have hearing problems and ask others to speak louder or use a microphone. I am one of them. With Covid masks, those with even mild hearing problems  cannot read lips and find conversation difficult. I hated the hearing aids which fit over the top of my ears. They kept falling off when I took off my mask or reading glasses. I give instructions to Ambassador Committee members to keep their presentations short because some of us have the attention span of fleas.  I was surprised at the number of people who needed assistive devices, like walkers or canes. I saw myself as one of  the beautiful, healthy people in the ads that sold  me into moving here. Ha! I realized that was a sign of arrogance! One fall would put me on a walker or, even worse, a wheelchair.

There are many activities for residents. An education committee brings in speakers weekly. Musicians and entertainers do presentations. Busses take residents to museum, theatre, and musical events as well as dinners at restaurants and grocery shopping. Everyone can become part of groups on  landscaping, social activities, recycling, bridge, book clubs and chess clubs. There are so many activities. A state-of-the art wellness and physical fitness center provides classes and training in health and physical fitness. It would be hard to be bored here.

No one reaches this age without having experienced grief, unfulfilled dreams, failure, and loss. I lost my youngest son to cancer two years ago. My husband died in December 2021. Aging is not easy. Most everyone has a medical problem, cancer, bad knees, heart disease, vision loss,  hearing loss or beginning dementia. People do not carry around sandwich boards with a written list of their losses and worries. They must feel comfortable and trusting to divulge them. That is what friends do. That is what we are becoming.

Feeling safe and making friends are high on my priorities. After a year, I felt  that independent living in a continuing care retirement community  was the right choice.