Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Simple Answer for A NEW YEAR!




You barely need to scratch the surface of the “self-help” section before you are assaulted by endless publications to help you find “your calling.”   We are all in pursuit of our calling, our mission.  Why are we here on the third rock from the sun?  What is that thing that is going to make our existence significant?

At the New Year most of us set out on an analysis of our life.  What do I want to change?  What’s working?  What’s not working?  Wouldn’t my life be perfect if I could lose 20 pounds?   That new job is going to be the thing that brings me satisfaction.  If I can find the man/woman of my dreams that would be the ticket.  The resolutions come fast and furious.

Why is it that we never see ourselves as complete?  Are we not children of a loving God?  Are we not perfectly made?  Why can’t we trust that our Heavenly Father knows our mission and will allow us to complete it to his specifications and not ours? 

I certainly don’t have the answer to this question.  Like most of you reading these words I question the reason for my existence daily.  How can I matter?  Do I even matter?  Is this all there is? 

Having been blessed with the opportunity to work and talk to seniors on almost a daily basis I went on a mission to ask my dear senior friends, “What if anything would you change about your life?”   The answers may or may not surprise you but they certainly gave me something to think about heading into the NEW YEAR.


Here is what they shared….

“I wish I’d traveled more, experienced more, risked more.”

 “Knowing what I know now…I wouldn’t have been so afraid.”  

 “I should have worked less and played more.”

 “It took me a long time to realize that possessions are not that important -the real value is in people and relationships.” 

“I wish I had realized sooner to take more JOY in the simple things.”

“I should have been kinder, more forgiving.” 

“Why did I hold a grudge?  There was no value in it.”

 “All my life I’ve been too quick to judge.”

                                             And what did I hear most of all?

I wish I had said I love you more often.”  



Could it be the “why are we here” question is quite simple?  Maybe we are here to experiment, try new things, have new experiences, to take a risk, and to make mistakes.   It’s possible we are all just in prep school with the ultimate goal being to be better today than we were yesterday.

As the NEW YEAR peaks over the horizon I’m going to challenge myself to take the advice of these “older and wiser” folks.   I hope that you do too and if you have a senior in your life I hope you can carve out more valuable time to share with them in the coming year and pay close attention to their wise counsel.  I think you’ll find that they know “the secret.” 

 Life is precious, don’t waste a moment of it and we are here simply to love and be loved.


Happy New Year!  


Cyndi 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boomer Finances Top Tips: Change, Innovate, Re-invent!





We’re the Baby Boom Generation.  Ever since we arrived on the scene, we’ve chased change and innovation.   We invented rock music, the computer age, and plunged headlong into difficult social issues from  civil rights to equality for women.  We’ve managed to crash through barriers and redefine our world.  Now here we stand on the threshold of senior status and once again we’re facing some significant challenges.

Corporations are downsizing, analyzing expenditures, and seeking survival during a weak recovery period.  We’re supposed to be in our highest earning years yet many of us are being reassigned, downsized and handed a pink slip. What happened to the golden years of retirement?

After the economic set back of 2008, some of us Baby Boomers are questioning whether we will even be able to retire.  Putting our kids through college and also caring for our aging parents has put us in a squeeze.   After college, Junior is moving back home into his old room and eating out of our fridge.  No wonder we’re just a little wacky.

A May 2013 Gallop Poll indicated that 3 out of 4 Americans believe they will be working PAST retirement age.  In the same poll it was indicated that the average retirement age in America is 62, the highest since the Gallop poll started measuring in 1992.
Starting with those born in 1960 and beyond the Social Security Retirement age with full benefits has been raised to 67 and will more than likely continue to rise. 

Many of us may have spent a lifetime feeling that we “are” our work and our paycheck, but were not the best at saving.  In some cases, planning for retirement was put on the back burner in an effort to “do” for our millennial kids.  Now the cold hard truth looms large - “Will I have enough money to last the rest of my life?” The fact may be that most Baby Boomers will have to work longer than expected – and at careers or just plain jobs that we never imagined.

So what’s a Boomer to do? 

1.    Evaluate your financial situation.  If you haven’t already done so schedule a consultation with a financial professional.  He or she can help you look at all your possible resources for income: employment, Social Security, pensions, securities and savings, property, insurance, and inheritance.  After a closer look you may find that you’re going to be OK!

2.   Discuss with your adviser the implications of “when” to start taking your Social Security.  Holding off can actually make your financial outlook better and mean more money in your pocket when you need it most.  Special Note:   Every year you wait to claim social security benefits until age 70 you will boost your annual payouts by 8%. Waiting until you're 70 will give you 32% more in benefits than if you took them at age 66 and you can receive 76% more than taking them at age 62. If you can afford to delay benefits until age 70 and if you live past age 82, you will receive more in lifetime income from Social Security than if you had waited until full retirement age.

3.  Take a good hard look at what you want from the next 30+ years. Whether you continue to work to enhance your current standard of living and retirement resources, or you decide to offer your experience and expertise as a volunteer, you are in a unique position to redefine what you will be doing.  Before you jump into something new, now is the time for self-assessment.  Understanding what motivates you and makes you happy is critical to your success.  This is your chance for a second act, and the chance to pursue long-held dreams. 

4.  Focus on what you have to offer.  Don’t marginalize your strengths.  Starting a new career or having been out of work or downsized can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally but you bring a lot to the table:  experience, stability, maturity, and a strong work ethic are just the beginning.

5.  Determine what you need.  Do you need additional credentials?  Should you go back to school?  Are you up to speed on technology? To be productive in an “encore career” or even in a volunteer capacity, you may need to beef up your skill set.

As Baby Boomers, we may also need to get in line for a reality check.  “Encore careers” are often not as lucrative as our previous career.  If you’re holding out for a similar job to the one where you made six figures, you may be in for a long wait.  The good news is that you may not really need to have the income you previously enjoyed.  Now that the kids are (hopefully) out of the house and many of your bigger expenditures are behind you, that part-time work, volunteer work, working with a non-profit, or mentoring opportunity may be just what the financial doctor ordered.  Some examples of growing career segments that are actively seeking more mature workers consist of education, healthcare, and retail.

So don’t despair Baby Boomer, we still have much to do and more to offer.  It’s once again time to chase change and innovate.

Best to you,
Cyndi


Should you have a story about how you've reinvented your career, found employment, reworked your finances or enhanced your skill set, please leave me a message in the comment section so we can all help each other!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

THE HOLIDAYS ....BRING IT ON!!



The radio stations are playing Christmas carols, the ABC Family Channel has put out their list of specials for the “25 Days of Christmas”, every retail store is decorated to the rafters and I say…….BRING IT ON!   I love the holidays.  Of course there is always that Ebenezer in the crowd who barks about how early they start the carols, and huff and puff about the tinsel but I’m not one of those folks.  I love everything about the holidays….the smells, the sounds, the sights, the food, the spirit of giving.  I’ll take it all. 

I believe life is about experiences, the kind of experiences that memories are made of.  Ask almost anyone and they will more than likely have a Christmas experience that holds a special place in their heart.  Our eyes light up, our hearts beat faster and we step back into a sweet place of magic when we think of our favorite holiday memories.

When I was a child my mother used to decorate our tree with ivory snow detergent.  Believe it or not if you whip that stuff up in a mixer it makes a gooey mixture that can be put onto your tree and when it dries it looks just like real snow!  Oh my goodness the smell is divine.  So as you can imagine whenever I smell Ivory Snow detergent – BOOM it’s Christmas.  That’s the magic.  It’s as simple as a smell or a sound and you go back in time.

We all have those magical triggers.  For my own children I think it’s probably my Christmas village. It just wasn’t the holidays until the village was in its proper place.  I knew this was part of my daughter’s Christmas treasure chest when I saw her explaining in great detail which figure was Tiny Tim and which one was Scrooge to her fiancĂ©.  Long after the X-box is obsolete, we’ve outgrown the lacrosse gear and the Little Tikes plastics are sold at the yard sale it will be the wonder of the season that will remain. 

Over the years whether spending time with my own family or in my professional life working with seniors, I’ve found that the traditions and memories we treasure find their roots in where we “come from.”  I can’t think of a better reason to find special and specific ways to include the seniors we love in our celebrations throughout the holidays. 

I remember reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve and assigning each family member –my husband and me, my children, and most specifically my own parents each a passage to read as we lit the candles on the Advent wreath.  The joy that was created just hearing the different voices reading the story of Christ’s birth was astounding. My children still remember the words of their Grandfather as he read the last few verses of the Christmas story.  Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.  18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” Just reading together as a family was such a simple thing to do but a memory that I will hold my whole lifetime.

So what is your treasure chest filled with?  Is it Grandma’s special Christmas cake recipe, a stocking you’ve had since childhood, lighting of the Advent wreath, or Christmas Eve service at midnight?  Ask yourself, “How can I include the seniors in my life in a specific and meaningful way?” After all the holidays aren’t just for children but for everyone.  Honoring your senior loved ones and including them will enrich your life for years to come. 

The good news is that holiday “magic” is there for the asking.  Contrary to what the circulars may say it isn’t “on sale” at Kohl’s.  (no offense Kohl’s)  The Christmas story- the birth of our Savior- IS the magic.  What could be more mystical and magical than that?  How we share the GOOD NEWS with one another is where memories are made.

So this holiday season I encourage you to take this GOOD NEWS and translate it into the magic of the season.  Treat your special food, decorating, carol singing, visits with friends, holiday movies, shopping trips, faith based rituals, and family traditions as the true Christmas gifts of the season.  Think of ways that you can enhance your traditions and make them even more meaningful by including that special senior in your life.  Deck the Halls – it’s the holidays!  Make them the merriest yet and decorate your heart with memories. (after all memories can last a lifetime and they aren’t even fattening)




Merry Christmas!

Cyndi

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Six Steps for Positive Conflict Resolution of Family Dynamics



Family dynamics are never easy, but they can be especially complicated when it comes to decisions that surround the process of aging.  In a perfect world, the family unit works together to provide their senior the best options and loving outcomes.  Remember, I said "in a perfect world."  Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

Families with a senior struggle because of differing opinions on care, location, money, property, time constraints and more.  Even the strongest family groups can be torn apart during this stressful time.  While doing research on the issue of conflict resolution, I came across leadership expert Michael Hyatt and his thoughts on conflict resolution in the workplace. No, we're not dealing with bosses, and employees; however, these same basic steps with a little tweaking can be very useful when working through issues within the family. Communication is critical when seeking the best possible outcome, so before the threads of the family unravel, consider steps 1 and 2, then open the dialogue with steps 3-6.

1.  Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they don't know all the facts involved in caring for your loved one or are unaware of the total amount of time you spend in care activities.  Are you making assumptions regarding their willingness to help? Stop - and keep an open mind and open heart.

2.  Always speak directly to the person with whom you are having an issue. How many times do we complain about someone's behavior but yet don't let them know our concerns?That hardly seems fair.  If you are upset with a family member, caregiver, or friend, talk specifically to them.  Don't share your feelings with others who can have no impact on the situation.

When you do decide to have a meaningful conversation to resolve your concerns:

3. Affirm the relationship. Let this person know that you love and value them, and are opening up because you care about your relationship. Let them know that you need to share something that is bothering you so that you can resolve it together. Confirm the fact that you have a common interest in what is best for your senior loved one.

4. Outline the issue objectively. This is often hard to do since these topics are emotionally charged but try to isolate exactly what is causing you pain.  For example, simply saying you feel "taken advantage of"  is not specific enough. Isolate what the circumstances are that cause you to feel this way.  "I am currently taking Mom to all of her doctor appointments."  "I am responsible for handling the expenses for Dad's care and he doesn't have the funds to cover it."  Write down your pain points so you don't get off track.

5. Be clear about what it will take to fix the problem. It is important to communicate and then listen. Be clear about what meaningful measurable steps can be taken to move forward.  "I need your help in taking Mom to her appointments.  If you can take her to run errands, I can take her to doctor appointments, but I can't continue to do both."  You also need to listen to understand the dynamic of how together you can reach positive resolution.

6. Discuss the outcome - positive and negative - and the consequences. The outcome you hoped for could be as simple as being upfront and open.  Congratulations! However, should you find that you can not resolve the problem at least you will know where you stand and can make decisions accordingly. Opening the lines of communication with your family member or caregiver helps to make things transparent.  If the resolution is not what you had in mind, then this is the time to indicate what the consequences will be. "If you can't find a way to help me with Dad's care, then I fear that the family and our relationship will suffer irreparable damage."  "You've stated that you can't  help take some of the responsibilities for Mom's care. That will mean we will have to hire some help.  I will need you to assist in covering the cost and interview caregivers."

Remember...

There is no guarantee that open communication will solve all the concerns of caring for seniors that we love, however, it is the best tool in our toolbelt.  If you are still struggling to work together, don't just throw in the towel. Patience, time, and prayer are powerful healers.

-Cyndi

Should you have suggestions on how better to navigate working within families for productive outcomes, please leave me a message in the comment section so we can all help each other!



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Home Sweet Home - Top 10 Considerations for Aging in Your Home


A 2011 AARP report on the aging preferences of seniors found that 90% stated that they would prefer to age in place (stay in their own homes).  Wow, what a surprise!   Of course we want to stay in our own homes. The surroundings are familiar, our friends and family may be close by, our church home could be just blocks away.  Only makes sense, right?

Not so fast.  If 90% of us say we want to stay in our own homes as we age then the question is "are 90% of us SERIOUS?"  If you said "yes!", here are 10 things to consider if you want to stay in your own home.

1. Home Location. Consider the location of your home. Are doctors and emergency medical facilities readily available, and basic shopping necessities close by? What would happen if your power went out, your plumbing backed up, your were snowed in, etc...? Is family close by and accessible?

2. Home Exterior. Review the terrain around your home. Is it steep or uneven? Gravel or paved? Are there slippery surfaces outside? Do you have exterior steps to enter your home? Where do you park your car?  Do you have to go out in weather to access your car? Consider home maintenance. Do you have a plan for long term maintenance of your home? Do you have exterior motion sensing lighting installed?

3. Home Interior. Does your home have interior steps? Your essential rooms should be located on the first floor, i.e.  bedroom, laundry, bath. Interior entrances and exits should be wide enough to accomodate medical devices or you should have the ability to widen. Your shower should have grab bars and handles and be large enough for a seat. You want to have easy access (not a tub/shower combination).  Door handles in your home will be easier to manage if they are levers rather than knobs.

4. Home Furnishings. Rugs or carpets can be a trip hazard. Could they be easily removed if needed? Check out your closet. Hanging clothes bars should be within easy reach. Critically look at your bed. You should be able to place both feet firmly on the ground while seated on the edge of your bed,  If you can not would it be possible to lower the height of your mattress?  Can you rise easily from your sofa/chairs or are they too soft?  Dining chairs should have arms to allow for stability when rising.

5.  Declutter. Less is more if you want to stay in your own home. Have a yard sale, donate, go ahead and give heirlooms to your children. Reorganize your kitchen so that you can get rid of things you don't use and move things you do use to lower more accessible cabinets. Now is the time to clean out and make your life simple.  Get rid of old magazines, books, and papers. Donate all old clothing that is out of style, doesn't fit now, or never did. Make your closet simple to navigate. Clean out your attic, your basement, your garage.  Be ruthless in getting rid of the clutter. Your children, nieces, nephews do not want your stuff and they certainly don't want to have to manage it when you no longer can.

6.  Physical Fitness. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and ongoing medical checkups will go a long way toward keeping you healthy allowing you to stay at home as long as possible. Having a fall is the single most significant event that changes your ability to stay at home. Minimize "fall risk" by making sure that you are as strong and mobile as possible.

7.  Support System. A key factor in staying at home is having support systems in place.  Family, friends or services who are willing and able to assist you is key.  Thinking you will tap into someone as a resource who already has established obligations is a mistake.  For example, if you live near your daughter and she has children and is working as well, this is not your support system. Consider your options and develop a plan for what is feasible.  Here is a BIG ONE - think transportation!  If you become unable to drive what public transportation services will be available to you?  Even having cab service in your area can help in a pinch.

8.   Legal Documentation. Now is the time to establish your Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, and Living Will documents. These important documents need to be solidified while you are still able to make sound decisions.  Your Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney should be someone you can trust. That person should be available quickly in an emergency situation.  Your POA/POM may also need to be available for financial paperwork and doctor consults. Someone having to take a flight or drive for hours to be available is probably not your best choice for representation.

9.   Socialization. Are you connected?  Human beings require human interaction.  If we stay at home but are housebound and not interacting with others our physical and mental condition declines rapidly.  Review your social connections. Make sure that you are active with friends, family, church, and community.  It's your most important line of offense to stay in your own home.

10. Give Back. If you want to have support and connection that allows you to live in your own home, then now is the time to provide that support to others.  Review your heart to serve and ask,  "What am I doing to support my friends, neighbors, family and community?"  Not only will these acts of service enhance your sense of purpose and value but acts of service help you maintain the physical and mental vitality to remain at home as long as you can.


Are you serious about staying in your own home?  If you are then get busy! As always I invite you to share your stories, thoughts and ideas in the comments section!

Best to you,
Cyndi

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Universal Design - get on board!


Whatever happened to the 1960's brick ranch? Okay, it may not have been the most attractive house on the block but it certainly was the most practical.  As baby boomers we wanted to get out of those boring cookie cutter brick ranches where we grew up and into a sprawling multi-level but ask any real estate agent what is "hot" right now and you'll hear, "One level ranch style - they're getting snapped up like hot cakes!"  Wow, things sure do come full circle.  

One of the most consistent comments I hear from older adults and baby boomers, "I just want to stay in my own home."  All sounds great in theory but is your home ready for you to age gracefully and stay at home?  A recent study from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP says probably not.

American housing has primarily been built for the young and mobile. So what is it that our seniors and the rising population of baby boomers need in their homes?  The 2011 American Housing Survey indicated five primary features that are key to keeping a residence livable when mobility and dexterity is compromised :  extra wide hallways and living spaces, no-step entries and exits (including bath/shower entry and exit); one story living;  rocker light switches, waist high outlets; and door levers. 




The buzz word you are looking for is "universal design".  It is exactly these "universal" adjustments to current housing and new construction that can mean the difference between having to move out of your own home, or finding the right living arrangement should you decide to move. 


If you are a baby boomer who intends to stay in your home as long as possible then age proofing now should be priority Number 1! Some of these adjustments (light switches, relocation of outlets to waist height, and door levers) can be relatively inexpensive.  More significant adjustments can be costly but addressing them now could keep you in your home a lot longer.  Wait and you could potentially paint yourself in a corner.  No one expects to have a fall or an illness that would confine them to a first floor bedroom or make it challenging to step into the shower but it happens.  If you're not already equipped at home to face these challenges then you could end up paying high fees to be in a rehabilitation facility that can meet your needs.

With the cost of long term care hovering around $4000.00 to $7000.00 a month, the cost of a remodel to "universal design" starts to look better and better.  Plus it will increase the resale value of your home.  If your current home isn't "age friendly" then consider downsizing to something more manageable while you can make the move.

A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) can help you remodel your home using universal design concepts. To find a CAPS remodeler in your area visit www.nahb.org/capsdirectory (National Association of Home Builders),

As Jeff Foxworthy says, "Here's your sign!"  Get busy making the decisions that can make your life or the life of a senior you know work more efficiently.  This is your "next right step" to be in control of your life, your living arrangement and your long term happiness.

Best to you,

Cyndi
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

THANKS for GIVING to a SENIOR !




As we head into the holidays there will be lots of opportunities to be with family and friends.  This is an important time of year not to forget our seniors.  After working in a senior care community I noticed that during the holidays all manner of folks would head our way to sing carols, have the day care kids come by for a visit and drop off various treats.   While all of that is appreciated more than you can know – if you were to ask our seniors what they would love for Thanksgiving (or any day for that matter) you might hear something like this…..

ake me out.  (for a drive, to lunch, let's catch a movie,  to go for a short shopping trip)
ave a meal with me. (or bring dinner on over - and some for the freezer) 
sk me to tell you some of my favorite stories about my life.
otes and cards tell me you remember me and are thinking about me.
eep tabs on my personal needs (clothing, toiletries, haircuts, nails, undies)
end me a surprise in the mail. (everyone likes to get a package now and then)
o to church with me. (I miss the ceremony and rituals)
nvite me over to your house for a visit. (maybe even overnight)
V oice.  (please be mine when I need an advocate with doctors, caregivers, family)
nclude me in special events (life events are important to me)
N  ever forget how much I gave to you.
G ive me a chance to talk – while you just listen.

To show our parents, family, neighbors and friends who are seniors that we are truly THANKFUL for them we must give them the most precious thing that we have to offer…. OUR TIME, one on one, fully engaged, paying close attention to them and their needs.  Ask any senior what it is that they really want for the holidays – they will tell you.  I want you!

I'm giving you this information EARLY so plan now how you will include and honor the seniors in your life this holiday season.  


Don’t forget there are many seniors in every community who may have no family, are unable to be with family or friends or who may be housebound.  Offer them your time and share your blessings with them.  You will be richer for the experience and will learn the true meaning of the abundance of Thanksgiving!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Top Five Lessons I Learned Caring for my Parents

 
Wasn't it just last week you patted Junior on the head, sent that “last one” off to college (on your dime), poured yourself a glass of wine and said, “whew, finally an empty nest!"   Then the phone rings and it’s your Mom.  “Honey, do you have time to take me to the Doctor next week?  He just talks so fast I can’t understand a thing he’s saying.” 

Get ready, you are officially the Bologna in the generational sandwich.  No, you’re not ready for this.  You’re probably still working, making ends meet is more challenging than ever.  You've got college tuition payments, retirement savings to think about, and you just joined the gym so you could finally get in shape.  Mom and Dad seemed fine at Junior’s high school graduation now all of the sudden they decided to get “old”?  It’s so unfair!

If I can offer any comfort – you’re not alone.  Your feelings are normal.  Through the process of working in senior care and caring for my own parents, I've learned a few things.

So here are...

“Five Lessons I Learned Caring for my Parents.”

1. Be Present.  You may want to stick your head in the sand but the fact that your parents are growing older is not going away.  The sooner you get knowledgeable, take action steps, and have conversations with them, the better things will be.  This is the time you are going to learn things about yourself and your parents. There will be strengths and weaknesses in your family and in yourself that will open your eyes. Be present, whether that means physically, financially, emotionally or all three, in whatever way that you can.  Yes, it is important to remember that your first obligation is to your own health and wellness and that of your immediate family; however, that is not a hall pass to turn a blind eye.  One thing I know for sure, this is a situation where you won’t get a “do-over.”

                    If you have children of your own – do not forget they are watching.


2.  Make the Decisions.   As my parents got older they fought ferociously not to lose their independence.  My Mom and Dad both struggled with letting us “help". Now that I've been through it, I know that the smartest thing we did was to make these life changing and difficult decisions as a family.  I have seen families torn apart because of the inability to navigate issues concerning housing, finances, inheritance, dementia care, living arrangements, car keys, medical expenses, Medicaid qualification, VA benefits, end of life care, legal documents, family possessions, and funeral arrangements. I could go on, but you can see where I’m going.  If your parents are still young enough to have these conversations, then initiate the conversation with your whole family and don’t take “we’ll talk about it later,” for an answer. 


3.  Ask for Help.  No, you will not get a martyr award after Mom or Dad passes. Silently hoping that your brother/sister/husband/wife notices you’ve been the one “doing everything” is an exercise in futility.  Enlist the entire family in the decision making and the care taking.  If you don’t have family seek out the resources your community offers through your church, government service organizations, support groups, friends and neighbors.  These resources are out there, but you must seek them out.  Sometimes you just have to say, “I need your help.”  There is such power in those four little words.  People want to help but don’t know what to do.  Make a list of the things that are required to care for Mom and/or Dad and then don’t be afraid to ask.


4.  Forgive.  This is the most important thing of all.  I remember my Mom and Dad both said things that shocked me.  They were angry. Not at me – but at time.  It’s a cruel robber of our health, home, circumstance, community, youth, friends, and family. We always seem to lash out at those closest to us.  Even though mentally I understood where the feelings were coming from, it still hurt.  There were many times when I would call my sister, or she would call me to talk me off the ledge.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive yourself for the frustration, the exhaustion, the anger that you will sometimes feel. When you think, “How long will this go on?” Forgive yourself. Forgive your parents, and your family. 


5. Let Go.  When you have done what you can do - there is no room for guilt, anger, hopelessness, or despair.  When you have listened, and shared, and wept and LOVED.  Let it go.  Life doesn’t guarantee us anything except “the next thing.”  My Mom wrote in her testimony to her church family, “Let Go and Let God.” I hold on to that. It gives me peace.   Find what allows you to hold on and ultimately “move forward.”


I wish you Peace,


Cyndi 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

TAKE THIS TEST.....JUST FOR FUN!

Have you seen them?  The "TESTS" that everyone is taking on line.  "Just for fun"  they say.  You know the ones.  "Do you need to get a life? Are you a worrywort? Are you a neat freak, lazy, a fierce competitor?"  In just 10 questions "they" can interpret your most deep seeded personality traits.  The one that caught my eye and my ire recently was "How young are you at heart?"  Always such fixation on being young.  So I took the test.  (C'mon you knew I was going to.)  The result....good news!  I'm 21- at least in the eyes of the computer.  It got me to thinking........why this preoccupation with youth?  
So I  put together my own test.  No research behind this one - just life experience. (wow what value is in that "they asked".)  Here are the questions,  If you're game - go ahead and take this test. It's a simple True or False. There won't be a score at the end but I do expect there will be a revelation.  The title of this test?   "Are you a grown up?"

1.   I am saving 10% to 15% or more of my salary. 
2.   I eat right and take exercise seriously.
3.   I respect others - their time, their talents and their tenacity.
4.   I believe in forgiveness, forgiveness of others and myself because human beings are flawed.
5.   I know that I don't know all there is to know so I make an effort to continue to grow.
6.   I am responsible for myself, and my behavior.
7.   I know that relationships are a two way street and take work on both sides. 
8.   I give back.
9.   I know that what is of value in life can not be bought or sold.
10. I have learned that love is the reason we are here.

How did you do?  You aced them all? 

CONGRATULATIONS -- you are finally a grown up. Age is a number - youth is not the goal. Spiritual, and intellectual growth and maturity-  now you've achieved something!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ageism - Worthy of discussion!

Photo credit: The Equality Authority

One of my Facebook friends recently posted a cute pic of two dear elderly ladies with the caption…We will always be friends until we are old and senile – then we can be new friends.  
The sentiment was heartfelt. I’m sure that my friend wanted the recipient to know that she was celebrating lifelong friendship.  The comment that hit a raw nerve with me was the caption she added above the picture, “then we can pee our pants and nobody will care.” I don’t want you to think I don’t have a sense of humor.  I believe we have to find the humor in the circumstances of life and the joy that sharing those moments with a loved one can bring. However, the sobering fact is my friend’s comment is not completely off the wall.   I’ve been privy to circumstances where “no one cared", and it's nothing to laugh about.

Facing age discrimination in one's everyday life offers a multitude of challenges, but can be especially damaging when experienced in the workplace. According to a 2012 study commissioned by AARPover one-third of respondents reported that they or someone they know has experienced age discrimination in the workplace.  Older workers are too often considered “past their prime” or “unwilling to change with the times.”   Overlooked for promotions after the age of 50, difficulty finding employment when over 50, and being forced out due to corporate downsizing is just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s not much better in the healthcare community, where we see additional stereotypes imposed on our aging population.  Impairments can be treated as just “part of growing older” or go unrecognized completely. Seeing more than one doctor is cause for different medical concerns. Medication therapies and prescriptions can be handed out without appropriate consideration due to a lack of communication between physicians.  This can cause serious medical and cognitive issues.

Much of the fuel behind negative connotations for older Americans is perpetuated by the media.  Television sitcoms, commercials and movies often depict older adults as dependent, unproductive, and health impaired.  At times, the cultural fabric of America appears to not revere their older generation.   Media can at times make them the butt of the joke and a characterize them as a drain on society.  I believe this portrayal is unfair to seniors, many of whom are still functioning well and are financially independent.

The issue of Ageism is only going to become a higher priority with the Baby Boomers heading full steam into their golden years.  According to the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly 40 million Americans were over 65 years old, and that number was expected to double by 2050, or 20.4% of the population.

"We need to raise the consciousness of the need for aging material," says Forrest Scogin, PhD, a University of Alabama psychology professor. "There needs to be a greater awareness of who the older adults are--they are a diverse group. Ageism and stereotypes just don't work.”

Could it be that I’m hypersensitive?  Possibly. But having been behind the lines in senior care, I’ve personally witnessed dismissal of seniors' concerns, overlooking of healthcare needs, and needless instances of loneliness and despair.   I can’t help but take a stand when I see what in some cases seems to be a cavalier attitude.  Age discrimination should be taken seriously, and not just dismissed as harmless.  If I can shine a light toward increased awareness of a growing problem in our culture, then I’ll take that challenge. We have fought hard against discrimination on the basis of race, gender and partner preferences, yet ageism is just as worthy of discussion.  This nation is blessed to have one of the greatest resources for enhancement of life experience, spiritual growth and family heritage right here with us.  Rather than discriminate or make fun of our seniors, let’s celebrate and honor them at every opportunity!

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Know That Spring Will Come!

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

-Percy Bysshe Shelley


                                                                 












Ode to the West Wind

I have been blessed to know many friends and family that are in the winter of their life.  It has caused me to look at life and think about the order of things.  Take a moment and look at the world.   Notice that there is clearly an “order”, “design”, a “plan.”

Consider the seasons.  The first fresh scent of spring, the sticky humidity of summer, the smoke-filled, golden essence of fall, and the crisp snap of the frost of winter. Just as you think you can’t bear to hear the crunch of snow under your boot for one more day the first signs of spring appear.  The daffodils poke their brave heads through the soil as if to say, “Me first!” The leaves on the trees unfurl almost overnight. The birds are busier than ever planning for their new family members soon to arrive.  Life begins again.

Consider the sunrise. A simple day begins at dawn with the first pink hue, followed by a glint of the sun’s rays over the horizon.  High overhead the sun warms the earth and activity abounds.  In late afternoon the hustle dies down and before long the sun dips below the horizon to give us rest in the soft breeze of night.  We do not doubt that there will be another sunrise.

Consider your loved ones.  When my children were little, I felt like I was the only one who had “been so tired” or “worried myself silly” or “loved so much”.  Now I realize this love is not a thread between my children and me but instead a circle that came through me from my own Mother and Father and into my children.  So it goes.

When I stand on the shore, watching the waves gently break, my toes awash in foam, I can’t see the other shore but yet I know that it is there. Even when we don’t know what is next that is okay too.  Does the baby in her mother’s womb worry about the transition from the safety of her world to the open spaces of this?  Hardly, because it is part of a grand design, a perfect plan, the order of things.

Then why do we have so much fear of dying?  We don’t want to talk about it, or prepare our loved ones to manage the circumstances when we die. Simply observing the natural order of things would lead us to believe that death is as much a part of the process as birth. Embracing the notion that dying is nothing more than another transition allows us to take away the fear.  It is because we know there is order, symmetry, and a circle of continued expansion that we can feel confident that we are headed toward a new beginning. 

We can’t see the other shore, yet we know that it is there. 
When each baby is born we celebrate a new beginning.
At the end of each day we look forward to another sunrise.


Open your eyes and your heart to embrace the order of things.
There is no reason to fear,
       Spring will come.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's Time for a Play Date!



It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said

“We do not quit playing because we grow old – we grow old because we quit playing.”

Wow – isn’t that the truth.  What happens to our youthful exuberance for life as the years creep up on us?  Some would say, “Well, I don’t have the energy I used to have",  “I just can’t seem to get away”, or  “My health issues have limited me.”  Could it be that it is exactly the opposite?  Should the answers be more along the lines of  “Maybe I don’t have the energy because I’ve been sitting down too long?”  “Is the reason I don’t get away because I don’t take the time to plan?”  “Are my have health issues because I haven’t made health a priority?”  

The benefits of “play” are well documented.  Research has consistently found that there is a positive association between social interaction, exercise, and mental stimulation – ie: PLAY, and good health. 

Play is sometimes defined as anything that gives us joy. A better definition may be anything that gives us joy and expands us as human beings.  Our favorite television program may give us joy but is it improving us and expanding who we are as people?  Doubtful. On the other hand, going on a walk in nature, taking a trip, spending time with family, baking a cake, eating right, volunteering, taking a part time job, or visiting a friend - all of these not only give us joy – but also expand our horizons.  Making these choices allows us to give more, make us more interesting, enhance our relationships, and as a result, we feel more alive.

I recently joined a group of 250 women in my community over the age of 55 called The Golden Girls.  Their mission is to connect, to find common interests, and to serve one another. In essence, to find the joy of human interaction.  They meet up in groups of 10 or 12, or sometimes even 50 or more and plan events, excursions, exercise groups, and service projects. They enhance each others' lives and support each other in difficult times. What a breath of fresh air.  Their mission – TO PLAY! 

So what’s stopping us?  If the thought is, “well, I’m pretty much a couch potato,” how do we motivate ourselves to peel the potato and get up off the couch?  It’s really one question. Is what you are doing right now making you a better human being?  If the answer is “hmmm, I’m not sure,” or “I’ll deal with that question tomorrow, I’m just too tired”, then clearly you need to find more time to PLAY!  Reach out to your community, visit your local YMCA, spend some time with family, or the ultimate way to incorporate joy in your life – SERVE!  You’ll be astonished at the joy the addition of play can bring to your life.