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.


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