Sunday, February 16, 2014

Needed: Good Geezer Models

I've been thinking about that middle-age thing that happens to many of us. I mean, what is a “midlife crisis” and what does it mean? To me it is a time of examination: of what we thought we wanted waaaay back when compared to what we have now, of the choices we made and the wondering if it is too late to take the risk to reach out for the brass ring, of aging and changing and loss - loss of abilities, loss of friends, of the life we think we have.

Well I think there is not much we can do if we are going to have a midlife crisis. It either is or it isn’t (and all that in between). I think more importantly to us at this age is this:

we need good geezer models

I mean - well think about it. Aging has had a bad rap in our society all these years - especially for women. (Men become “distinguished;” women become “crones.”) Growing old has been a bad joke - the majority of characters on television or in the movies are young.....and the older people tend to be cranky or selfish or lonely or spoofs - lots of old crackpots in the media. And here all we are - we baby-boomers (the generation who refuses to believe they are actually “aging” - peace brother *flashing the peace sign*) have set the pace for sooooo long.....refusing to bend to the masses and expected norms......and what? Now we have to also create our own geezer models?

I think not.

Some of us have been searching for good geezer models for awhile. I look for them at airports, at the grocery, at the movies, and at family gatherings. I am having a difficult time here. At the airport I tend to find those “distinguished gents” with barrel bellies, wearing plaid polyester pants and have on baseball caps with sayings like, “Gone Fishing!” And the women....well those “old crones” seem to have dyed fluffy hair, glasses which peak at the eyebrows, and shopping bags full of things like tissues and grandchildren souvenirs (t-shirts with sayings like, “Gramma went to Las Vegas and all I got was this t-shirt”) and the barrel-bellied husband’s pills....and they nag one another about what they left on the plane or “Now Norman, you know you always get the directions wrong” and stuff like that. Not really inspiring, eh?

What is the criteria for a good geezer model? Growing older with dignity and grace.....accepting life is as it is and not something else....accepting others as they are and not someone else......not constantly discussing their ailments (I mean I am glad they had a good bowel movement, but do I need to have that image while I eat?)....wisdom and advice but realizing that taking advice is a choice.....constantly growing and learning.....not giving up nor giving IN.

Not too much to expect from a role model, eh?

Paul Newman was a good geezer model.....so is Joanne Woodward....Katherine Hepburn......Jimmy Carter.....my mom is a pretty good geezer model (except for that annoying habit of telling me all about people of whom I have no clue.... their names and details of their lives and searching searching searching for the exact date it happened “Was it Tuesday? No, I think it was Wednesday.....*voice fading*....no no! *conviction in the voice* It was Monday last month...*slight pause*...or was it the month before?”) *rolling eyes*

Yep. GGM’s are seemingly few and far between. I continue to search. And try to decide if I want my midlife crisis today (I want to be young enough to enjoy that red convertible and those two or three young babes on my arms - what? what?....that is the male version of a midlife crisis?? damn! sex discrimination even in my own crisis?) or perhaps wait a few years until I can afford it (I could live to 135!! It could happen!). Decisions....decisions.

Meanwhile the beat definitely goes on.....peace~~~

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Celery of Life

Okay...so the morning went as usual......we woke up later than we had planned. We are heading out to San Antonio, TX to spend a few days and wanted to make sure everything was in order before we left. Never been there and I love old missions. And the Alamo. And a bit of warmth after the very cold windy days here lately. We dropped off the dog at the pet sitters (I had taken the cats to the kitty jail already. They were so happy to go that they sang and laughed very loudly all the way there) and headed to the Park n Fly lot. So far, so good. But the airport was crazy. I watched everyone of us get all excited about those little things, standing in a long line to get xray-zapped...rushing to the gate so you can sit and wait. You know, all those things that make us crazy.  It reminded me of my Celery of Life analogy.....


The Celery of Life
 
Work is over and you have a ‘few things’ to get at the grocery. You enter the busy-cause-everyone-is-stopping-for-a-few-things-after-work store with your shopping list in hand and rush to grab a grocery cart - usually out of the hands of someone seemingly weaker than you. The front right wheel wobbles a bit, slightly dragging the cart to the right so that you have to fight a straight walk. And you consider offering this cart benevolently to that little old woman you knocked over in order to grab it.....but realize there are no other carts.....and you move off through the masses.

You first walk through the produce department for the onion, then on to the bakery department. Then you meander up and down the isles, searching for just the right box of cereal....slowly moving, searching all the shelves, weaving back and forth in an effort to avoid a head-on collision with the other shoppers.

Suddenly, out of the blue, unexpectedly (redundancy is good) the cart stops! You are flung against it, your body doubled over the handlebar. The surprise throws you and you almost lose your breath. You shake the cart, try to move forward again and...nothing. You try to move the cart backwards, then forwards and...nothing. Your blood pressure rises and you start to sweat, to swear, shaking the cart, bouncing it up and down and...nothing.

You bend down to examine the front right wheel and find a little piece of celery has lodged in the hub....lean down and pluck it out. You stand, smooth your clothing, look around and smile at the other shoppers, then continue on your way.....

How many things every day take us by surprise and we immediately react as if this was the biggest deal in the world...only to find it is simply a small piece of celery lodged in our hub that really only takes a plucking out and moving on.

peace~~~

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Coolness

You remember that old game: if you could be any animal, what would it be?  Well I always wanted to be a leopard.  Man they are so sleek and cool and sophisticated.  They slink around, powerful shoulders moving in sync with the earth, head down but taking in everything.  Cool and aloof.
And I picture myself walking through a crowd in a slinky black dress that clings to my body in just that perfect way, the hem floating across the floor.  My fuck-me shoes are glimpsed now and again as I saunter past; being cool and aloof.  People turning to watch me pass, wondering who I am and what I am thinking.  Mysterious.  Dangerous.  Powerful.

Okay....now change the question to: what animal best represents who you are?  And the fantasy evaporates........*fading to black*

See, I have never been cool.  Just not “cool” material.  I could put on that slinky dress and would never know it was caught up in the back in my pantyhose.  If I didn’t turn my ankle in those high heels, I would get a nose bleed from the height.  And how can I slink around when I kinda bounce rather than saunter?  And it’s difficult to get “just the right affect” in facial expressions to remain aloof when I give everyone eye contact while smiling all the time.  And I’d have to talk.  Oh yeah.....I’d have to talk.  A former lover and one of my closest friends calls me “Brook” cause he says I can run to babbling.

And sophisticated?  HA!

No.....to answer the second question....I am not a leopard.  I am curious and inquisitive and a bit uncoordinated (okay okay...maybe a little more than a “bit.”  Neighbors rush outside and offer to clean my gutters when they see me getting the ladder out....I have a tendency to bump into a closed door and then I actually open it.....I own my own pair of crutches....).  I want to explore everything in life - I don’t want to miss out on something important (nor obviously anything unimportant either....maybe I should examine differentiation and creating priorities....nah).  I have to check out things and sniff them, taste them, and spit them out if they are nasty.  I root through the day.

And happy?  Oh yeah.

So....a leopard is not the correct animal which represents me....that would be a full blown puppy.  A mutt.  Big feet and overzealous.  Romping and cavorting.

I dated a guy for a year who allowed me to “feel” sophisticated and cool.  We drove around in a Lincoln Town Car (Whooohoooo!), but I am a VW bug kinda gal.   He opened my doors (“It is the southern way, ma’am.”) and treated me like a “lady”  (Believe me, I ain’t no lady.  *beamin with womanly pride*).   I felt slinky and tried to act cool.  But instead of feeling powerful, I started losing power....falling into those old male/female roles that I had worked so hard to change.  I stopped being assertive and found myself in a more passive role.  I was no longer in control of my own life.....I had reverted back to allowing someone else to be in control.  Ewwwwwwww

Well it is good to try new things :)  But I am definitely a puppy *wagging my tail with my tongue flopping about while I grin and enjoy myself*

come romp with me
as we race to meet the wind

And the beat goes on.....peace :)  *woof*

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Power of Language: Verbal Abuse

What's your plan for Superbowl Sunday? A huge party with all the gang over with festive foods, large bowls of chips, creamy dips? Will there be hot salsa and those little teeny weenies? Were you creative with the cheese on the pizza, shaping it into a football complete with pepperoni lacing? And the beer! Did you order a keg, which is at this moment in the bathtub chilling on mounds of chipped ice?

Or maybe you sent a scout out ahead to track down a wide screen TV so you can circle the wagons and enjoy the big game with pitchers of beer and pizza. Will you be wearing your lucky hat and team shirt? Do you have your order of hot wings already into the kitchen?

Superbowl Sunday is a man's day. Yes, women love and watch the game and enjoy the day, but the prime design for any party is to establish an environment safe for aud-ible belches and a breeding ground for testosterone. Everything about the Superbowl is centered on men or things appealing to men.

It is possibly also the day of the highest reported count of domestic abuse. Some reports have found that approximately forty per cent more women will be battered on that day, calling it Abusebowl Sunday. While other research refutes the findings of increased abuse, it would seem to be the perfect time to discuss the issue of domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is not just about physical violence. It’s never just about physical violence. Many women (and I say 'women' because over 95% of all abuse is from men to women) are never physically harmed but are abused nonetheless. Mental and verbal abuse is just as powerful. This is an article I wrote for an online magazine discussing verbal abuse. I thought it fitting to reprint it here on this day.

The Power of Language: Verbal Abuse

He doesn't beat you. He doesn't even threaten to hit you. You have neither visible bruises nor scars. No one stares at you, worries about your welfare, nor considers calling the domestic abuse hotline for you.

But something is desperately wrong. Every time he talks to you, he puts you down. When you try to help solve problems, he belittles your ideas. He calls you hurtful names like "stupid" or "idiot." He tells you that you are too fat or too skinny, that you can't cook, can't think, can't manage-money. Sometimes he hurdles these hurtful things at you at the top of his lungs; sometimes he says them in that sneering, joking voice as if you are not even worth his energy. He constantly corrects you--both in private and in public--corrects your pronunciation and your behavior and your ideas until you begin asking him what to say and do and think before you speak out.

And then you stop speaking out.

If you tell him you do not want him to say these things to and about you, he tells you that you are being "too sensitive" and he is "only trying to help you." He says he doesn't want you to embarrass yourself. Or him. He tells you it's all in your head, that you can't take a joke, that you have no sense of humor, that it is no wonder you don't have many friends. And then be belittles the friends you do have, trying to prevent you from seeing them. Over time, you become isolated; your partner becomes your only social contact. He says he doesn't mean anything he says in a negative way and that he loves you. But then he does it again. And again. And again.

Verbal abuse is as deadly to our self-esteem as domestic violence is to our bodies. Over time, some women become so despondent they simply cease to exist--either through fading away as a separate being or through suicide. Verbal abuse is about control and power. Verbal abuse can create what Virginia Satir calls, "crazy-making." It is a passive-aggressive behavior that is difficult to address because the abuser denies his part in trying to control you.

Communication creates a system between two people--each person in this system allows certain behaviors and power aspects to be within a relationship. Verbal abuse doesn't happen overnight but over time. We begin to question ourselves: our ability to do certain things, our worth, our validity. And the more we allow this type of language, this controlling behavior to continue, the more difficult it is to see this is not normal, not a loving and sharing relationship. Until it becomes the norm.
The only way to stop this behavior is to get out. Leave. Until if and when your partner learns that controlling you is not healthy. Until if and when your partner sees you, not as a possession, but as a partner. Until if and when he stops abusing you.

Our mothers told us that "sticks and stones can break our bones but words can never hurt us." Our mother's lied. Words have the power to hurt us deeply and carry a longer healing time than mere broken bones. We have no bruises or scars visible to the outside world, but we carry them deep within our hearts and psyches.

Learn to respect yourself and to grow in confidence once again. Learn to accept your imperfections as well as your gifts. Do not allow others to belittle you but insist they show you respect as a person.
You do not have to go through life feeling you are inferior. You are important. You have talents and gifts that the world wants and needs. You are worthy of respect.

For more information on how to identify verbal abuse:
For more information on how to leave the cycle of abuse:
peace~~~