Tag Archives: babyboomerwomen

SENIORS WHO SPELL

Audrey Fischer Partington
Audrey Fischer Partington

They came from all over the county to participate in a Senior Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Friends of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Library.

But this was not a competition for high school seniors. Competitors were seniors citizens. You know, the generation born before spell check. The folks who learned to read phonetically, and who memorized rules like “i before e, except after c, or when sounding like ay as in neighbor or sleigh.”

Yes, those seniors.

Some came in wheelchairs from a nearby assisted living facility. What they lacked in physical ability they made up for in mental agility. A few were retired English teachers. But what they had in common was the love of words and libraries.

“Public libraries are one of the best things about America,” said a competitor whose first language was not English.

Senior Spelling Bee
Senior Spelling Bee

The joy of browsing the library shelves may be lost on younger generations for whom “googling” too often replaces a visit to the library.

Another lost art is etymology (word origins). Contestants not only asked for words to be repeated, defined or use in a sentence, but their place of origin, which can provide clues to their correct spelling.

Phonics and etymology have been replaced with … “magic spelling.” My daughter was introduced to this approach when she started first grade in 1992.  In a desire to get young children comfortable with writing, teachers told them not to worry about spelling correctly.

Okay. That made some sense, but why not at least correct the misspelled words for the child’s edification? Unfortunately, the writing and spelling methodologies of the day childwithtrophycoincided with the self-esteem movement. You know, “No Child Left Without a Trophy.”

And also lost to posterity is cursive writing. How are future historians going to decipher primary source documents written in cursive?

Oh, of course, they’ll be an app for that!

 

 

Audrey:  I’m a writer-editor with nearly 35 years spent working in the federal government. When I think I began working for the government at the tail end of the Carter administration, it really does seem like a lifetime ago. In a way, it was a lifetime ago. I’ve since married and raised a wonderful daughter with my husband, with whom I now share our empty nest. Our baby bird flew across the pond to live with her British husband. So, to keep up with her life, I got on Facebook, where I have since reconnected with many old friends from my childhood in Brooklyn, New York, as well as from my other walks of life. Most recently, I had the joy of reconnecting with Annice, who launched this blog. It should feel like a lifetime ago since we met in our twenties, but happily, it’s like time never passed. That’s one of the secrets of getting older—the face and body may change, but at heart you may remain very much the same.

 

 

The Perfect Pouch to Stash Your Stuff

Annice
Annice

Ladies, (not only women over 50), have you ever left your cell phone on a restaurant table?  Or how about searched for your glasses when they were already on your head functioning as a headband? I’m sure none of you have ever lost your keys even though you threw them in your purse – that infamous black hole where objects vanish.

If you’ve ever done any of these things, you will surely identify with our beloved Nora Ephron when she says, “I am living in the Google years, no question of that.  And there are advantages to it. When you forget something, you can whip out your iPhone and go to Google.  The Senior Moment has become the Google moment, and it has a much nicer, hipper, younger, more contemporary sound, doesn’t it?”  I Remember Nothing.

Eleanor at Woolworth 'Walk
Eleanor at Woolworth ‘Walk

So, now you’re wondering what my memory has to do with the perfect pouch.  For starters, it’s attached to my body.  It is a perfectly designed, handmade pouch that clips to your jeans or any pants/skirt via belt loops.  It’s stylish and sized perfectly for your cell phone, car keys, and lipstick.  I love it, and so do all my friends who’ve received them as gifts who in turn buy them for their daughters.  It’s my gift du jour and I have designer, Kathleen Lewis, to thank.

 

Kathleen Lewis
Kathleen Lewis

Kathleen Lewis has spent over forty-five years creating art with fabrics, fibers and other art mediums in Asheville, NC. Kathleen can take a piece of fabric and change it into something totally different such as a whimsical owl to carefully stitched bags, one-of-a-kind hats, and beautiful hand-dyed clothing.  I can’t thank her enough for that perfect pouch.  

Please take a look, and if you’re in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC you can find them at Woolworth Walk, (the chicken salad is pretty good there, too.)  eleanor standing

Visit Kathleen at:   kathleenlewisdesigns.com/ 

Gift Giving, Thank-you’s, and all the Rest

Annice
Annice

I’ve been thinking a lot about gift giving lately.  Maybe it’s because there’s a lot of it in June.  Birthdays, graduations, baby showers, Father’s day, new jobs, retirement, and just a lot to celebrate.  Coupled with all those celebrations and gifts, I have noticed the lack of thank-you’s over the years and that makes me feel sad.  I know I shouldn’t expect anything in return when I give a gift, and believe me, that’s not why I give, but what about a simple no frills thank you letting me know the gift was in fact received?   I find it embarrassing to call to find out if my gift ever arrived.  And, if it was a check or gift card, why do I have to log into my bank account to verify if my gift was debited, leaving me with the feeling of having just paid my utility bills?  Don’t get me wrong, I have lowered my expectations – I certainly don’t expect a hand-written note.  Heaven’s no!  They are somewhat inconvenient to write and then there’s the stamp and the post office.  But, how about a voice mail or even a 3 letter text that says thx?

Giving Gifts

Thank-you starts with parents teaching little ones what a gift is, and that a gift is not a requirement.  It is not an obligation to give either, and one is not naturally entitled to receive a gift.  This is an important lesson in giving and receiving, not to mention gratitude. I will admit that Baby Boomers (and generations before us) learned to write thank you notes at a very early age – in fact, as soon as we learned to write.  But since kids don’t actually learn to write anymore, I’m very willing to accept a digital note.   Something!  Anything!

I am not totally alone in my thoughts.  I have conducted a very informal survey and talked to women over 50 who have told me if they don’t receive a thank you (in any format) – they simply stop sending that person a gift.  One friend had a great solution for the non-thanker.  The next time she is “expected to give a gift,” she makes a donation to her favorite charity in that person’s name.  What a concept. kidtocamp

Here is what Cicero has to say: 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

Let me know your thoughts – am I unrealistic?????

A Retiring Mind: Part IV: Amoke’s at it Again

Amoke Kubat
Amoke Kubat

My retiring mind is on the mends.  It’s a fighter!  I’m on the other side of a health crisis. Physical conditions finally identified, and I have clear directives for maintaining my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

My days begin in deep gratitude.  I wake up.  Others don’t.  I’m not in pain.  I herd bottles of pills around, vitamins and minerals and one for blood pressure, until I get them all down, generally needing 2-3 cups of tea to do so.

tea time

I make it my job to laugh at least 3 times daily.  The shaking, hurting belly laughter, you know, that breaks out from between your legs, whereas you just might pee yourself, if not sling snot, piggy snort or cry.  Sometimes I laugh at myself.

I’m at that age where you have to have TESTS and PROCEDURES that nobody really wants to talk about: example, the colonoscopy.  At my appointment, I arrived feeling confident about the necessity for this procedure and what to expect.  I balked upon entering a very crowded waiting room.  My ticket was number 26.  I took a seat and summoned my big girl attitude.

My name was called.  I was ushered to a room, guided through changing into a gown and positioning myself on a table.  I would watch the exploration of my guts on a big screen.  I thought the whole thing to be cool, like my own Magic Science Bus adventure.

I greeted and asked the doctor, “Have you really seen 25 assholes today”?  She blanched but continued her preparations.  Her nurse struggled to keep a straight face.  My excitement and curiosity blinded social decorum, “What kind of doctor are you?  What did you have to study”?  I continued my own bedside banter.  The doctor muttered something about gastrointestinal something or other.  She was quick, thorough and seemed surprised that she didn’t discover nothing from rooter to tooter.

Fast forward.  Last week, I began a more aggressive response to the arthritis along my spine’s lumbar region.  A young physician and two assistants injected epidurals into my lower back to shrink bulging herniated disks and relieve pain, spasms and numbness in both legs and feet.  I was positioned face down on a table.  My pants were rolled and tucked to reveal the small of my back and a behind that gives “mooning” a whole new concept.  Think, “A Total Eclipse of the Heart” (as in cardiac arrest) or “Bad Moon Rising”. They informed me about possible discomfort as the series of injections begin.

As the team worked, they chatted about a ten dollar taxable bonus check gained for their personal healthy health practices.  What could you buy with less than ten dollars, they lamented.  The physician, young and slim said, “SUBWAY”!  She loved SUBWAY!  They discussed in details the variety of breads and endless combinations of meats, cheeses and veggies.  Mind you, I was being stabbed in my behind. They asked if I liked SUBWAY.  I told them about how I loved a very carefully constructed BLT Footlong on wheat, with spinach instead of lettuce.

We were all done in about 20 minutes.  I was sat up, stood on my feet and given after-care instructions.  Did I need a wheelchair?  I bristled.  I was independent and capable.  I stepped, and my right hip swung like a wagon turning a treacherous corner.  Tried again, and my step produced a swagger and a slow dragging foot.  I walked like a pimp! They assured me this would pass.  I told them that I really hoped they wouldn’t think of my butt every time they went to SUBWAY.  We laughed. I t wasn’t the socially polite and awkward giggling but deep women’s laughter.  I accepted the wheelchair.

Despite trekking along a path I never imagined to take, I remain really optimistic.  I take my vitamin L (for laughter) as often as I like, it’s addictive!  It’s real medicine.

She knows it, too.

Amoke Kubat

I’m a writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 

Sharon Is Definitely Not Done Yet –Read All About It!

Sharon Willen
Sharon Willen

I must confess, when this book Not Done Yet:  A Tale of Transformation Through Transplant Surgery was first brought to my attention, I felt a bit of trepidation, the trepidation that comes from social responsibility.  After all, the writer was a neighbor, and reviewing it would be a neighborly thing to do.  I thought, “Well, what’s the harm in a short read, a quick compliment, then back to the bedroom for a short nap?”  Well, it didn’t turn out quite that way.

As sordid as the subject matter may appear on the surface (a tale of  transformation through transplant surgery), the author, Sharon Lamhut Willen, handles it in amazing fashion.  The book made me cry, but it also made me laugh:  a hard thing to do when writing about our health care system in this country on a social level and about the incredible personal angst one must feel when dealing with the imminent failure of one’s vital organ.

So many rules and regulations, so many forms to file…a forest so thick there seemed no path through it.  Yet the grace, strength, and most importantly, the spiritual faith Sharon brought to the battle won her the victory.  The ease and eloquence of her writing turned this hard distasteful journey of hers (and her husband’s) into a triumphant mission from which we can all take solace and wonder.

Not Done Yet

Sharon’s story made me revisit my own story.  It made me reflect on how I was handling my own distress, my own disease and dis-ease.  Whether it be my Parkinson’s or just my own reflections on aging itself, I thought about how best to embrace it.  What there is in this book, is validation.  With dedication and diligence, my friend and author found equanimity, and with that tranquility, reaching a near Satori experience in some of her meditations.

And in the end, she proves once again that the love you take is equal to the love you make.  And that love is the balm that eases the pain.  She documents the process in a striking way in some very dramatic circumstances.  She’s made it hard for me to give up, that’s for sure.

Sharon Willen
Sharon Willen

The book reveals a tear-filled wonder into what a truly loving couple can do even under the most dire of circumstances.  In the end, the book is a story of journey, of discovery.  It is not a journey of youthful exuberance about the world, but rather one of an older, wiser, more seasoned toughness.  We travel with the author as she leads us along the way to her entrance of grace, in spite of its ineffable way. This is a book well worth your time.  I will end by saying, I hope to go through the rest of my life with half as much dignity and grace as Sharon has.  

Here is the link to Sharon’s book:

http://www.amazon.com/Not-Done-Yet-Transformation-Transplant/dp/0991298209/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397683931&sr=1-1

And here is the link to Sharon’s website:  http://sharonwillen.com/

This is Nancy Puetz’s first contribution to our blog, and we are happy to have her!  Welcome, Nancy, and thank you for this review!

Nanci S. Puetz and her family
Nanci S. Puetz
and her family