Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Grey and the Pandemic
For most people, seeing the first grey hair is more often than not a long-remembered unwelcomed event. In my case I recall thinking that surely I was not yet old enough for it, yet there it was in all its glory, and as if it were lonely it soon invited a bunch of others to sprout at a dizzying speed. Thankfully for some of us someone had been wise enough to realize the commercial benefits of color in a bottle.
            But as the fellow said, in this time of pandemic we will soon see everyone’s true hair color, and we are. Even celebs on television who are working from home and who have had no access to their hairdressers cannot fully hide the fact that like the rest of us, they too are getting grey.
            After this is all over, will women, and men, see the benefits of going the natural route? Perhaps they should. One case in point is a doctor I know who has just turned 50 and whose long hair is almost all white. She looks fabulous and is proud of her natural look. To color or not to color is a personal choice, of course, but I say if you want to ignore the grey reality on the road of life, go for it.
However, you can’t avoid noticing that time is marching on when your child begins sprouting his own grey hair. In my case, this happened relatively early because his father’s side of the family has had a long-standing affair with grey. My son prefers it to seriously thinning hair, a trait of my side of the family. A nephew of mine who is in his 50s regularly shaves the hair on his head. Like many young men these days, the shaved head suits him very well, and he doesn’t have to worry about grey or fuss with a comb-over!
The out of sight, out of mind approach of color in a bottle can only last so long. One my sisters went natural – read snowy white – after decades of being a blonde. An unexpected benefit is that she looked younger.
Go figure!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Rainbows of hope can be seen in
countless windows these days and
even on the ground like this one by
young Alex Jackman. They remind
us that faith is always in season!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A New Normal Spring
For several weeks as we lived the new reality of a pandemic, our actions have been and still are altered in ways we never expected. Many people have been finding it difficult, if not totally depressing, to live in that changed world.
           Talking on the phone to a relative a few days ago she told me she makes an effort to walk outside every day to fight depression. Because she lives alone she tries to talk to people she sees while keeping the necessary social distancing. She says it helps her see the light at the end of the tunnel. But she added that spring is starting to make her realize that the world will get better and be brighter.
           I can only agree. Today, as I was walking along the lake where I live I had to marvel at how quickly our world has come alive. Just a few weeks ago we had snow that, fortunately, quickly melted. That gave way to what I call the brown season, the dull almost lifeless look of nature before the sun has a chance to warm things up. That was certainly the case two weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to see green.  I got my wish as, almost overnight, lawns are once again showing off their green blades in the warming sun. Close to my house the dark red shoots of the peonies, seemingly growing an inch a day, are rushing to be able to display their large blooms for everyone to admire.
All the while buds on trees are bursting at the seam. Before we know it, the leaves will all be out and with us for the whole coming summer.
Our world may have changed and we may be facing a new normal, but nature will never let us down. It will always renew itself and give us hope of  better days ahead.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

After, Before
The media is commenting more and more on the way the world will function after the pandemic. The signs are everywhere that people will continue to keep themselves safe as the world reopens and that social distancing will be with us for a while after the virus is under control, or as under control as it can be.
            The world of after, that’s where the hope lies right now. We all dream of the day after the pandemic when we no longer need to fear our neighbors, our friends and even our family. When the world will no longer be a source of anxiety but rather an easy place to maneuver as it was before.
In the coming years people will look with nostalgia on the life we knew before. Young people will age and instruct their children on the world of before and after the pandemic, just like their ancestors recounted the before and after of wars.
            One thing that is clear is that the current pandemic has taught us how vulnerable older members of society can be and how many faced a lack of respect in senior residences. I predict that this will be a segment of society that will benefit after the pandemic. After all, those making the decisions right now realize full well that they too will reach their golden years faster than they ever realized. I see the end result as being more attention paid to those who have spent their lives building the world of before, a world where we grew, where we thrived.
            The world of after should evolve to be one where lessons learned in dark times will carry us to a better future, especially for those of us--all of us--who are aging.
At least let’s hope

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Crisis and Mental Health
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is especially essential to be aware of its importance during the unprecedented crisis we are currently living. It not difficult to believe that everyone’s mental health is affected one way or another at this point in time. Especially older members of society who live alone.
            Most of us are in lockdown or in quarantine with little real social interaction outside the home. Those who live alone can talk to their children and grandchildren on the phone or visit with them via video calls. It’s enjoyable, but it does not truly replace visiting with them in their home and embracing them. A virtual embrace lacks a certain warmth, don’t you think?
            The result is that it’s easy for people to feel sorry for themselves and sink into depressing thoughts. That’s why taking steps so that our mental health remains robust is important, experts say. There are many ways of accomplishing this, of course.
            Despite health issues, a friend of mine who lives alone never misses to walk the length of her long condo balcony for fifteen minutes every morning. She exercises and takes deep breaths in the fresh air to help her make the most of the rest of the day. She is following a simple pattern that has positive results. We all know that physical exercise is an essential element in good mental health. So even if we are in isolation, it does not mean that we cannot go for a walk every day if we minimize the risk of interacting with people who might have the virus by keeping six feet away from anyone we encounter.
            It has been suggested that we should not compare ourselves to others however I believe that in this time of crisis we should make an effort to be grateful for our own situation because many people are suffering so much more than we are. It should make us see the positivity in our own isolation state which is, after all, only temporary. We should not forget to remind ourselves that the world will again soon be back on track.
            Another way towards mental health is meditation. Even if we do it only a few minutes at a time, the benefits accumulate for the mind as well as for the body. It renews us and helps us avoid anxious thoughts that should have no place in our lives.
            Avoiding loneliness and the fear it can engender can certainly be achieved by keeping busy with a hobby or another outlet. Something as simple as trying new recipes or putting some order in long-neglected closets and drawers can bring a welcome sense of accomplishment. The idea is to keep busy. 
            Keep well and smile.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

While watching the news on television, it is easy to get depressed. The world is in such a dreadful place right now as the numbers of the sick and the dead grow daily. The pandemic has us all in its grip and seems unwilling to let go. But it will. It has to.
            Why? Because even in our darkest hour we must not forget that this too shall pass. I was reminded of that truth while walking around the lake where I live. The buds on the trees are now clearly visible and they sing their ode to the newness that spring brings. In a very few short weeks the leaves on the trees will be totally open and May flowers will have burst into the brilliant colors we might have begun to believe would never reappear. But they will be there as they have always been every spring. 
            I remember my mother saying how afraid she and all those around her were during the dark days of the Second World War. While communications were far from being as sophisticated then as they are today, people listened to the radio every day for news from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. I am sure newscasts then must have been as, if not more, upsetting than those we experience in our current crisis especially for those who had loved ones at the front.
            Each generation seems to face a disaster of one stripe or another. In our current one, while we might be worried about family and friends we can’t see in person, we are so very fortunate to have means of seeing and conversing with them with our various devices. They are just a click away, aren’t they? It should make us all grateful that we have rays of love in the darkness.
            Our modern communications also means that we can easily be there to help with donations for those who are hurting due to a lack of funds. And also to express our gratitude and love to the frontline workers risking their own health by taking care of all those who need attention.  While we may never be able to fully repay them, we will always remember their courage in giving us hope.
            Hope, the world’s quiet faith.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

When are you a Senior?
Or to put it another way, when does one go from boomer to senior? As we know a boomer is someone born between 1946 and 1964. So when exactly does one cross the barrier to being a senior?
While COVID-19 is limiting our lives, in many areas older individuals are being protected through special efforts. One of these is giving seniors a chance to shop for groceries early in the day before the general public can gain access. In the area where I live, a 67-year-old retired gentleman who needed groceries joined the line-up of older people at his local store one morning recently only to be turned away because he was too young. He was told that people become seniors at 70, not before.
            That prompted me to conduct a survey--not especially scientific—to find out at what age people think a person becomes a senior. While some people gave the traditional retirement age of 65 as their answer, others considered that one specific age is not necessarily the right answer because of variables.
            I found some of the opinions very interesting. One of those was that a senior is a senior when benefits from the community can be accessed. So, in other words, the word senior is adaptable. If a person can get a discount at a store, at a hotel, at a restaurant, etc. at age 60, he or she will gladly accept being a senior. Or do you become a senior when strangers begin calling you Sir or Ma’am?
            People can become members of AARP at age 50. Is anyone a senior at that age? I think no one would say yes, yet it’s certainly not too early to start getting benefits from an organization dedicated to helping people in myriad ways as they age.
            Personally, although not at this time of crisis, I take advantage of age discounts all the time and have been doing so for years. Why not? These can add up over the course of a year. Even if senior discounts are not posted, I ask and it has been my experience that merchants and service providers are eager to provide them. They know that loyalty is sure to follow.
            Then there are some people who fight age as long as they can and avoid getting discounts rather than admit they might be closing in on their senior years. It does not change things in any way. It’s simply a way of delaying the inevitable.
            While the moniker senior is just a word, anyone who first hears it in relation to them can be taken aback until they get used to it. I am now in my senior years and have made peace with it. I mean there comes a time when you can no longer get away with saying that you are almost the same age as your children.
Nature, in its wisdom, sees to it.