The Breakfast Morbidity Club

death-breakfast-20110511-090504Today Bitty and I went to our favorite bakery for breakfast. We were discussing — as we often do — how I don’t listen. (In my defense, I listen when I want to — like any good husband.)

“If this is you at 51, how senile are you gonna be at 81?” Bitty says to me, between bites of her apple muffin.

I tear into my cinnamon danish. “I told you the other day, after I’ve lost it, just come up from behind me and shoot me.”

“With a gun?” She takes a sip of her coffee.

“Well, I’d rather with something less messy, like a poison dart, but I want it to be a surprise and I want the end to come fast.” I lick cinnamon from the paper.

“I’m not James Bond.” She points to the apple top of her muffin. “Hey, look, it’s a shrunken head.”

“Okay, then use a bullet. Just don’t blow out my face.” I acknowledge her muffin. “It’s more like a Cabbage Patch kid.”images

We sip and munch. Then I interrupt. “You think anybody else spends breakfast talking about how they want to die?”

“What’d you say?” Bitty asks. “I was already planning how to spend my free days in retirement after you kick it…”

And she says I don’t listen.

Get Mad, Not Sad

20120909-210601Last night I went to bed mad. Not Hulk-throwing-furniture-out-the-window-mad, but disgusted mad. Last week was an unusually frustrating and misogynistic week in Hollywood for me and it all boiled up as I tried to squash my emotions and just sleep.

And I thought to my self, “Self, you can sit on this anger or you can use it.”

I’m aiming to turn my anger into a positive. Here’s how:

1. Recognize that life is not fair. Not for me. Not for anyone.

2. Number 1 sucks, yes, but move on. Action is key.

3. Use anger to motivate, ridicule, self-analyze. But, for God’s sake, use it. Remember number 2: Action.

I write these rules for myself as much as for anyone else. An old therapist once told me that anger is simply depression begging for action. If I don’t use my anger as motivation, I will fall into the inactivity of depression. And if that happens, who wins? Certainly, not me.

 

 

Time Travel with Deepak Chopra

Aging Gals and Guys, have you ever dreamed about traveling through time? Well, we may not be able to visit Pompeii in its heyday or fast forward to the year 2070, but we can change our perception of time and even reset our biological age.

time-travel-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve decided I want to be forty again.

And Deepak Chopra is showing me how. In a new interactive online journey, Mr. Chopra is meshing the biology of youth with the wisdom of experience. Chronologically I may be 51, but Timeless You is teaching me how to biologically be up to fifteen years younger.

Positive affirmations lead to belief and that belief becomes reality.

Before you dismiss this all as a bunch of baloney (and I say this to myself as well): “Why not try it?” Starting each day with a positive affirmation has got to be better than waking up deciding if I’m more repulsed by my morning breath or my crusted eye mucus.

So — up and at ‘em — Aging Gals and Aging Guys. Check out Timeless You at http://www.siminars.com/timelessyou and get young with me.

Race ya!time-travel-10

A Note to My Younger Self

I’ve been fumbling for the last few days with what to write, which is to say I haven’t really been in the mood to write anything. I don’t have writer’s block exactly; more like writer’s lethargy.

letter-writingThen, as if from the gods, this morning I opened my website to discover a comment added last night on one of my long-ago-written blog posts. It was sent by a new reader, to whom I’ve given credit as the author of this post. It reminded me of a book I read last year entitled Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self, a collection of letters written by celebrities to their younger selves. I thought the book was a great idea and have (in less lethargic times) intended to begin a series of us regular blokes writing similar letters. Some of the book’s letters are uplifting, some are thoughtful and pensive. But, again, those letters in the book are from very famous and well-off celebrities. What, I wondered, would “normal” folks write? Would ours be a chin-up type note? Or an it’s-all-downhill-from-here ditty? Regardless, I’d like to know. Really. So if more readers are interested in sharing their own “letters to my younger self,” I’d be happy to post those as well. Leave a comment and I will get back to you. But, right now, thanks to Susan for finally giving me the kick in the arse I needed.

Here is her comment in it’s beautiful entirety:

Heather, I happened upon your blog after writing my own post on aging…and having nowhere to put it, I’m emailing it to you. I don’t expect you to do anything with it. I just want to post it somewhere. Anybits, I very much appreciate your viewpoint. Nicely done. Keep up the good work. ;)

letterHere’s my two cents:

Words from the future to my younger self:

You know how you feel now – so isolated and alone? Wishing someone/anyone would see you/hear you/recognize that you have value? That’s how it is, sweetie. You’re going to be feeling that for the rest of your life. Get used to it.

And you know how you’re always chasing boys around the playground? Writing their names on your notebook…sometimes making up a name, just so people will think you have a boyfriend? How the ones you like always let you know they have a crush on someone else? That’s pretty much the way it is. You might as well give it up now because you could be spending the rest of your life looking for someone, and he never shows up.

And then, there’s school. You never manage to get your work done on time. Everyone thinks you’re smart, but you’re really just scraping by. Too bad. You’re going to take those lousy habits with you throughout your life and it’s really going to fuck you up. I don’t know what to tell you about that.

You think you’re kind of funny looking now? Well, you are. You won’t change much. You’ll never grow out of the “interesting” stage. No one is going to be coming after you for you looks, let’s put it that way.

And friends. You never managed to figure out how to make it into the “in” crowd, and you won’t. You think you feel isolated now? Just wait a few decades. It gets worse.

In fact, just about everything gets worse. You can try all you like, and G-d knows you probably will, but it never makes much of a difference. You’ll just keep doing the same stupid things over and over.

So what can I tell you?

Don’t try to please anyone else. They won’t be there when you need them.

Start putting away your pennies, and putting cream on your face now. You’re not going to like what happens when you don’t.

Don’t bother looking for love. If it finds you, you’ll be lucky. And if it doesn’t, you won’t have wasted years of your life searching for something that isn’t there.

Try to find something you can trust and believe in.

Enjoy what you’ve got now.

It only gets worse.

Shield Me from that Giant Ball of Fire

I was born with a third eye.

Okay, not really.

But, as I’ve written before, I have always needed some form of vision correction. From Coke bottle lenses to contact lenses to Lasik surgery to progressive glasses, I’ve lived through every trend in eye wear since 1962.

Rock your sunglasses like me and Gaga

Rock your sunglasses like me and Gaga

Now I’ve found Solar Shield shades. My current pair of glasses, a retro pair of tri-focal Ray Bans actually make me look (and feel) hip and cute (shocking, I know). The only problem was wearing them in the bright Southern California sun. My eyes are quite sensitive to the rays from that giant ball of fire, but I didn’t want clip-on shades to wreck my frames.

That’s when I stumbled upon Solar Shield’s “fits over” sunglass collection. I ordered a pair of the Shades by Solar Shield, which are not only ultra lightweight and fit perfectly over my Ray Bans, but they block 100% of UV rays. Oh, and they also rock my image.

So if your eyes also need protecting from that giant ball of fire, and you want to look like a rock star (like me and Lady Gaga), then check out all the styles from Solar Shield.

I received a free sample of Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses via Vibrant Nation’s Vibrant Influencer Network, but the opinions written here are purely my own.

“Four-Eyes” and Proud of It

Okay, confession time: You know that little kid in elementary school with Coke bottle lenses for glasses? That was me.

iStock_girl_with_coke_bottle_glassesAnd I hated it. I hated the discomfort of such heavy lenses. I hated feeling like a fish in a distorted bowl. I hated being ugly.

So when I hit high school, I got contact lenses. And, as an adult, I even opted for laser surgery. For years, I haven’t worn glasses at all.

Then something very odd happened: I missed wearing glasses.

Fortunately, I’m at an age now where I need readers to get through ordinary tasks in my day — ordering off a menu, reading a letter, or writing this post. And, even more fortunately, I found the hippest glasses courtesy of Borghese readers from Icon Eyewear.

And what’s not to love? The Borghese style is rooted in Tuscan royalty, combining traditional Italian beauty with modern sensibilities. Check them out: http://www.iconeyewear.com/

Their readers are easier on my aging eyes than other over-the-counter brands I’ve tried, plus their light weight makes me forget I’m even wearing glasses (but I don’t forget that I’m stylish).

Jack in GlassesBitty even got herself a pair of the sunglasses and loves the gradation of shading. She can read through the lighter shade in the lens while the darker portion shades her eyes from the sun. And, trust me, Bitty knows sun.

How great are these glasses? Jack T. Dog even wants a pair…

Disclosure: We received a free product sample for review purposes, but the opinions stated here are entirely our own.

 

Prepare to Die

Don’t mean to sound bossy. But, to borrow from Mandy Patinkin’s character in The Princess Bride, “Prepare to die.”

What happens if (God forbid) you are in an unexpected accident? Do you have a will? An advanced directive?

Have you even discussed your end of life wishes with your family or close friends?

Again, not to be bossy. But DO IT.

I’m not just talking to you older Aging Gals and Guys. I’m also talking to you twenty and thirty year olds.

Think nothing will happen to you? Read this New York Times story about a young mom and her healthy, athletic husband who was training for a bicycle race one second and hit by a van the next. Then go to her website for free templates of all the forms you’ll need to, as she says, get your shit together.

Or if, like me, you use Quicken then perhaps you too have access to Willmaker. I am practicing what I’m preaching — I sat down a few days ago and followed the easy steps to fill out my first Will and Advanced Directive. I got two friends to sign as witnesses and it didn’t cost me a dime. Easy peasy.

And now I can go on my tandem skydive next month with a clear conscience. Geronimo!

Photo credit: Woody H1 / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: Woody H1 / Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

Crap Collector

A few months into my 50s, I’ve decided to succumb to major surgery… by cleaning out all the crap I’ve collected over my five decades.

10-Intro_1263963005I am shocked flabbergasted appalled at all the stuff junk crap I have held onto over the years. Now I’m not talking about family heirlooms or valued collectibles. I’m talking about plain old useless crap:

The tiny plastic baby that was a garnish in my cocktail from that hip New York bar I went to in 1986. My high school cheerleader’s outfit with a waist so small it now wouldn’t fit even one of my thighs. Hundreds of holey old T-shirts that I’ve kept because their logos have “meaning.” Oh, and about the same amount of Dallas Cowboys figurines (a.k.a. dolls) from their Super Bowl winning decade in the ’90s… housed in plastic bins in the garage… for twenty years… because I am a freak. Or, as Bitty would say, a “crap collector.”

pSo as I was cleaning out this crap (throwing away some, selling the rest on eBay), I had an epiphany — we spend the first half of our lives collecting stuff and the second half getting rid of it.

Gulp. I am officially on the downhill slide…

Think/Sleep

think-sleepTwo things I’ve never had a problem with — eating and sleeping. In this regard, I was the perfect toddler, teen, and adult.

Then I turned 50.

Now, I still have no trouble wrestling up an appetite. But sleep? Dream on…

What I do now is what I’ve named… Think/Sleep. It’s not really sleeping and not really thinking, but both at the same time and neither done very well.

homer-doh-squaregreenI’ve long been a wacky sleeper. I talk, cry, snore, and generally torture whoever shares a bed with me. But those habits never bothered me. Now I’m, well, I’m worrying. About everything — money, career, if the sky is falling, how many licks it really does take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop… and on and on and on…

It’s like I turned 50 and have really grown up. Oh my God!

How did I used to deal with worry, you may ask? I slept. Doh! So much for that plan…

 

 

A Path to a Fulfilling Retirement: Living in the Moment

As 2012 ends and a new year begins, I thought it would be nice to have an inspirational post from a guest author. Aging Gals and Guys, please welcome Boyd Lemon, author/lawyer/traveler, whose new book can be found on Amazon.com.

2013 year celebration with fireworksOne of the secrets of those of us who live a happy and fulfilling retirement is to exert control over how we think, mind control.  One form of mind control is “living in the moment,” sometimes described as “being present.” Be aware that we cannot change the past nor predict the future. All we have and all we can experience is the present. Therefore, we should focus our consciousness on experiencing the present, the now or the moment. We really don’t know anything, except what is right now––the moment.

To live in the present or the moment is more difficult than it sounds. Our minds want to wander and take us back to past experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, and to plan, anticipate and worry about the future. Living in the moment 100 percent of the time, even if possible, would invite disaster for all but cloistered monks. Sometimes, it is necessary or desirable to think about what we have learned in the past in order to solve present problems or avoid present threats to our well being, and to plan for the future, but clinging sentimentally to the unending stream of items that have flowed through our lives detracts from living.  Similarly, worrying constantly about what will happen in the future is futile and stressful.

When I talk to a person, I try to focus completely on them and what I am saying. I don’t think about something else or pay attention to what is going on around me. I practice when I am doing mundane, everyday tasks. When I brush my teeth, rather than daydream or think about what I am going to do that day, I focus my attention fully on brushing my teeth, noticing exactly where I am brushing, what it feels like, what it tastes and smells like and the sound that it makes. When I do the dishes, I try to concentrate totally on that, rather than daydream about something. When I walk on the beach, unless the purpose of my walk is to think about something, I try not to think of anything except what I see, hear and smell on the beach. What a difference from when I used to walk on the beach and afterwards barely remember the walk! Being present is experiencing life; anything else is less.

By the way, living in the moment or being present has a practical value, too. It is common for old people to fall. This, especially for those in their 80s and beyond, is often a catalyst for a downhill spiral to death. You are less likely to take a misstep and fall if you stay in the moment, because you are paying attention to exactly what you are doing––getting out of the bathtub, walking, going down stairs, etc.–rather than thinking about something else.

Being present or living in the moment is the opposite of the practice that has become revered for its efficiency: multitasking. People strive to multitask. Curiously, brain research has revealed that the human brain is incapable of multitasking; it cannot pay attention to more than one thing at a time. What looks like multitasking is actually switching back and forth among multiple tasks.

While trying to multitask, I did not fully appreciate anything I was doing, and I was not doing anything as well as I could. As I practiced being present—and it requires diligent practice—I realized that I was experiencing my environment, living life closer to the fullest, instead of scrambling, oblivious to the multifaceted world around me.

The more we practice being present, the less frequently our minds will wander back to the past or forward to the future. In retirement, we have the time to practice. I, for instance, practice observing everything around me wherever I am—just being.

happy-new-yearHere are some techniques I use to bring myself back to the present when my mind wanders.

• Use my senses to focus on what’s right in front of me. I look at what’s in front of me now. I listen to the sounds around me, and touch something near me that is appropriate to touch, and notice how it feels.

• Focus on my breathing. I take a couple of dozen deep breaths and focus my mind on inhaling and exhaling, as in meditation. This brings me back to the present moment.

• Focus on my body. I try to feel the energy inside my body. One way to do this is to focus on my hand, to notice how my hand feels and how the energy flows through it.

• Talk to people who are present. This is more of a long-term solution. I really can pick up on their presence, just as I can pick up on some people’s enthusiasm.

• Practice when I travel. Practicing being present is often fruitful when I travel because I am often seeing things for the first time. It is easier to focus on something new, and not as difficult to keep my mind from wandering.

• See things as for the first time. This can be useful when I have a hard time just observing my surroundings. I try to look at things as if I were observing them for the first time, like a child who has never experienced this before. Sometimes it feels really nice. I have watched my grandchildren. Young children live in the present. It comes naturally to them.

Boyd Lemon is the author of Retirement: A Memoir and Guide, available in print and ebook formats.