Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Living Longer
We all get older, but some do it faster than others. The idea should be to make the most of every day, to be involved in life because research shows it has a direct impact on quality of life and longevity.
Aging need not be negative. In fact, those who have a more positive view of aging live some seven years longer than those with a negative outlook, according to a Yale University study. 
     Here are some of my personal tips for aging well and longevity:
<        - Try new things as often as you can
<        - Find satisfaction in your endeavors and your abilities
<        - Keep only cheerful friends
<          - Keep learning so the brain doesn’t idle
<        - Enjoy the simple things and joys of life, i.e. family, friends, pets
<        - Laugh often, long and loud, and spend lots and lots of time with those who make you laugh
<        - Enjoy life to the fullest, and when tears happen (which they will) grieve and move on
<        - In your home, surround yourself with what you love, whatever it is: mementos, music, plants
<        - Cherish your health: if it is good, preserve it, if it is unstable improve it or get help
<        - Give back through volunteering which is a source of satisfaction while being good for your health
<        - Don’t take guilt trips (they are a waste of time)
<          - At every opportunity, tell those you love that you love them
<        - Forgive now because you might not get a second chance
<          - Dance at every opportunity for the health of your body and spirit
<          - Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle
<          - Be aware of your mortality because it fuels positive behaviors such as kindness and helpfulness as well as better health decisions
          And, even if your children chide you for eating dinner early, pay them no mind. Many studies have shown that eating dinner early and fasting for 12 hours could be the secret to long-lasting brain health and improved memory function.
In short, laugh, keep busy and eat early. Nothing difficult about that, is there?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

            Are you keeping up?
          English is dynamic i.e. it changes and evolves as the world changes and evolves. Old words become archaic and fall by the wayside as new words and expressions are created when people find nothing suitable exists.
                        The recent and current political climate of the U.S. has resulted in a plethora of expressions most people had not been familiar with such as fake news and the post-truth era. These clearly define the current social climate where lies are often seen as truth. The latter was chosen as the word of the year by the Oxford dictionaries.
                        Other words were shortlisted. These included: adulting, meaning behaving like a responsible adult (although it is often used ironically on social media); chatbot, a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users; alt-right, an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints.
                        While surreal was chosen as the 2016 word of the year by Merriam-Webster, other words and expressions also looked up often in 2016 included: revenant (remember the movie?) which means one who returns after death or a long absence; faute de mieux, often used in legal decisions, is French for lack of something better; feckless, which was often used in last year’s U.S. campaign, means weak and ineffective. 
            The English language has over a million words. And the number continues to increase. These words are not all in the dictionary because a good portion of them simply become part of the language landscape gradually. Case in point: on applications for dating services no-longer-quite-as-young people find all sorts of ways of avoiding terms like plump or balding, preferring things like warmly hugable. Other interesting words: nomophia: fear of being without access to a working cell phone; Mx: the new gender neutral title of courtesy (if you don’t like Mr. or Ms.). 
            One expression, which was recently used by Trump staffer Kellyanne Conway is one that I find rather worrisome. The woman used alternative fact to refute a proven fact, and thus lie. Imagine if that expression becomes widely used by teenagers!
            Other terms making the rounds: banana republican, one who wants to lower taxes for the rich leading to increased income disparity and thus bring the country closer to banana republic status. Tweetplomacy: using social media to conduct diplomatic discussions publicly. And then there is infowar the “countering of false narratives,” which may be needed by parents whose kids have discovered alternative facts!
            Millennials seem to favor certain words at certain times. Bitching (meaning good) has dropped out of fashion. Awesome is now the word du jour which applies to almost anything and anyone. But, let’s not forget that cool is still very much in usage, while ratchet is used to describe a gross or bad girl. Of course, if you don’t already know, sick also means awesome or cool, while wicked and uber add emphasis, i.e. “That story made me wicked sad” or “I’m uber tired.” My bad is used to refer to one’s mistake.
            With today’s instant communication, we embrace abbreviations. Here are a few I came across: FOMO: fear of missing out; DOX: publishing private info about someone; SNM: say no more; MA: my angel; and TMI: too much information.
            We’d better try to keep up because language will continue to evolve whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Are You Really Ready to Retire?
Whether we realize it or not, as we age our bodies and psyches undergo subtle changes which by their nature bring all of us to a point where we need and want to modulate our lifestyle. That point when we begin to explore the possibility of retirement is reached at different times by different people, so how do you know if you are really ready to leave your working life behind?
You may be well on your way when you begin asking yourself: Why should I work so hard? Why should I fight traffic every day? Why do I put up with an insecure boss? Or bitchy customers?
Today, age is no longer the factor it once was when envisaging retirement. Of course there are some people who may subconsciously equate retirement with one of life’s tragedies, and therefore convince themselves that they must continue to work until they drop. However, the average person will reach a point of decision where changes will need to be acknowledged and retirement considered. And that point may be reached much earlier or later than the traditional retirement age of 65.
As a natural byproduct of decades of repeated tasks, boredom often sets in at some points as we age. Monotony may become more than we are now willing to bear. We search for a change.
At the turn of the last century, both genders could expect to live to age 50. Today, most men can expect to live to 84 and women to at least 87. People reaching retirement age today are in generally in better physical shape than their parents were, and they can look forward to decades of pursuing a dream, whatever it may be, or starting a new career.
          We all have dreams of one kind or another. Some people start planning their retirement so they can finally devote themselves to a new interest, whether it’s writing a novel, joining an orchestra or building a boat.
         If you have decided that retirement is for you, before exploring your options you should be well aware that you can’t leave behind a career that has spanned thirty or forty years without some sense of loss. This is especially true of those who traditionally have focused the bulk of their energy on getting ahead in their field. They must refocus their aims and perception if they want a successful and happy retirement.
In many ways, retirement can be generally easier on women who have had to juggle a career with the care of children and the management of the household over the years. For many of them, retirement is a welcome blessing.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wise Ways for Life
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have it all together? They are unstressed and peaceful, no matter what, no matter their age. Research shows that these people often have common traits or common habits.
            Here are some ideas to consider:
<    * Don’t do anything you will have to lie about later.
      * Practice preventive maintenance in every aspect of your life, i.e. your car, your health, your  teeth, your personal relationships.
<    * Do not procrastinate which is stressful. 
      * Hard work is often just the accumulation of easy things you didn’t do when you should have.
<    * Take 30-minute walks every day, an easy way to cure stress and a great way to think.
<    * Seek the friendship of non-worriers.
<    * Simplify all areas of your life.
<    * Before speaking your mind, ask yourself if it is true, necessary and kind.
<    * Every day, do at least one thing you enjoy.
<    * Laugh often. It’s good therapy.
<    * Don’t sweat the small stuff.
<    * Learn to live one day at a time.
<    * Focus on understanding and loving.
<    * Reflect on the fact that we are trinity: body, mind and spirit.
<    * Hardening of the heart ages people more than hardening of the arteries.
<     * Lack of interest wrinkles the mind and the spirit.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Post-truth Era
To quote the Oxford Dictionaries, post-truth is a state “in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” That is certainly true of politics today when pure lies are seen as truth because some people believe whatever they see on social media.
            A Stanford University survey found that in this day and age most of the people who get their news from social media don’t know the difference between real and fake news. Truth is no longer as influential as it was when everyone read major newspapers and knew that opinions were based on facts, not emotions. They also knew that the news printed in newspapers and seen on major television networks had been confirmed by reliable sources. In our current post-truth era, whatever anyone posts online can be seen as being the truth, and the more followers the more believed the fake news is it seems.
            It is very sad to see so many people not taking the time to base their opinions on reliable sources, preferring instead to go the quick route of instant media. How does that affect the transmission of important and vital information so that the public will see and understand it as being the truth? I don’t have the answer, other than the fact that instant media is a reality which will not disappear tomorrow.
            Every age has its problems and concerns, of course. Reversing the post-truth era is certainly one we should all want in this day and age. How to do it is of course the question. Enticing people who use instant media to become more responsible could be an option, but I’m not holding my breath.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Positive View
As I was stepping out on a particularly cold morning a few days ago, so was my neighbor. I commented that that cold weather was far from over, however he had a more positive view. He pointed out that the days were already getting longer and that we would see the January thaw any day. And then, after a short February, March with its warming rays would appear. Interesting view given that we are all aware that time simply flies by after we reach a certain age.
            I thought that was a motivating way of looking at the two months of cold winter weather still in the offing in our part of the world. Rather than complaining about the less-than-welcome temperature, my neighbor is concentrating on the better days to come. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Don’t let the bad of today get you down because the good of tomorrow is not far behind. It puts the This-Too-Shall-Pass adage into concrete action.
            Can this positive view be used in other aspects of our lives, I wondered. A gentleman who manages a small store in my neighborhood certainly thinks so. He broke his right arm when he fell on an icy patch a week of so ago. When I commented that he must feel frustrated at having to rely on others to do things he can’t manage with his arm in a sling, he replied that it had its benefits. He said that it gives him a chance to sit down more often, and that when he uses the computer he has to input with his left hand. “A little awkward at first, and slower, but I’m getting used to it. Besides, doing things using your non-dominant hand from time to time is good for the brain. So it’s not all bad.”
            He is right. Research is showing that making an effort to do some things with your left hand (if you are right handed – or vice versa) is proving to be helpful in the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is something I try to do often.
            So that man is right. A positive view on whatever happens in life has its benefits. We only need to look for them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Another Year

As 2016 came to an end, surreal was designated by Merriam-Webster as the word of the year.  Surreal (meaning strange, abnormal) was chosen because it was looked up significantly more in 2016 than in previous years. No doubt because people wanted to make certain they understood what it meant since it was used extensively in the coverage of events that took place in the last twelve months. It was chosen to qualify important happenings from terrorist attacks to the U.S. election.

         It’s also a good word to qualify what I feel as I contemplate that I will soon be one year older. And it is certainly surreal that by adding enough years, the number could become very impressive! But to counteract this feeling my resolution this year is that I will not waste time bemoaning my age. After all, as the saying goes: Do not regret growing old. It’s a privilege denied to many. 

          It is indeed a privilege to be able to enjoy our families while many are only memories to those they loved. And I have been especially blessed. You see, I am the only survivor of my high school graduating class. Of course it was a small class at a small all-girl school. There were only eight of us, but seven were not blessed with growing older. They all passed away in their prime years in a variety of ways. And here I am, unable to relive my youthful years with those who knew me then, but then again I can laugh with my grandchildren.

           So what if wrinkles become deeper with each passing year and my pace a little slower, I’m still the same person I was twenty years ago. Of course, then I didn’t give much thought to the reality that would be mine further down the road. I see that as a good thing because each decade has its own demands and opportunities.

           As we get older we only need to look around and expand our horizons to see the many blessings we have been granted and how much we can still give and enjoy no matter our circumstances.

            I plan to make 2017 a year where I forget my age to focus on my wisdom.

            Happy New Year to all my readers.