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I remember the first time I voted. The year was 1972, and thanks to The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 18 year olds were granted the right to vote (July 1, 1971), and it was the quickest amendment ever to be ratified.  I remember the national debates over lowering the voting age because it focused on all our friends being drafted to fight in Vietnam when they had absolutely no say about the war, who was sending them, and why.  draftHaving participated in the anti-war movement with hundreds of thousands of other young students across the country, I’d like to think our protests made a difference and forced the government to lower the voting age.  So, when the time came in 1972 to vote in the presidential election, I cast my ballot for George McGovern.

George McGovern
George McGovern


Shortly before the election, McGovern came to the University of Cincinnati where I was studying.   After his campaign speech, he thanked all the volunteers back stage, and I was thrilled to shake the hand of the next President of the United States of America. I just knew he would win.  And, trust me, to this day, I still can’t believe that Nixon won (by a landslide) despite the fact that 52% of 18-24 year-olds showed up at the polls, the highest ever voter turnout of young adults including the 2008 Obama-McCain election.

votepinSo, I write this post the day before the elections as a reminder that anything can happen, and every vote matters.  Here in North Carolina, we have a very important Senate race.  I know who I’ll be voting for?  You?

Kennedy’s Assassination and Funeral: A Memory

JANEIt is a little late to be writing about Kennedy’s assassination, but it has taken me a while to “process” (as people like to say nowadays) the 50th anniversary of that day.  My first reaction was to be completely  horrified that it has been 50 years since I was in the 4th grade!  How is that even possible?  But now that little more time has passed, I thought I would write down my own memories of that day, since I suspect they are somewhat different from those of others.

I was sitting in my 4th grade classroom at Savage Elementary School in Savage, Maryland, listening to Mrs. Smothers, my beloved teacher, read another installment from our latest Hardy Boys mystery.  I was completely enthralled, so it was a little hard for me to come back into the real world when the school secretary, Mrs. Patterson, came tearing into our room with tears streaming down her face.  “President Kennedy has been shot!” she gasped to Mrs. Smothers.  I don’t remember much else, except that we got let out of school a little early, and I came home to find my mother sitting glued to the black-and-white television set in our living room.  I know that my father arrived soon after that, and my sisters came home from their respective schools, but I don’t remember much in the way of detail except the distinctive face and voice of Walter Cronkite as he announced that President Kennedy was dead.  I know that my mother and my oldest sister both started crying.

I was completely fascinated by the pictures in the paper for the next couple of days–the black-bordered portrait of Kennedy, the side-by-side images of Jackie Kennedy in her beautiful pink suit with the pillbox hat, smiling and carrying red roses as they arrived in Dallas, and Jackie in that same suit, now blood-stained, her hair disheveled, her roses left on the floor of the limousine, standing by as President Johnson was sworn in on Airforce One.

jackie kennedy in texas

johnson sworn in

We lived outside of Washington, D.C., only about thirty or forty minutes from downtown.  The next thing I remember is standing in freezing cold temperatures in the dark on Capitol Hill, waiting with thousands of other people in a line that wound up several and down others, all the way to the Capitol, waiting to file past Kennedy’s coffin lying in state in the Rotunda.  I would like to say that I was deeply aware of the meaning of that night, but the main thing I remember is feeling very cold and very hungry and longing to be home in bed.  The highlight of that night for me was the fried egg sandwich my father bought for me from a little corner drugstore that had stayed open to sell food to the people in line.  That sandwich was the best thing I have ever tasted in my life.  I felt guilty for years after that about the fact that my family didn’t actually get inside the Capitol to see Kennedy’s coffin because we ended up leaving the line for me:  I had two bad leg aches, and I guess I complained enough that my parents decided to give up and take me home to bed.  I would like to think that they just wanted me to get some sleep so that I would wake up early the next morning for the actual funeral.JFK casket

We drove into D.C. very early and found a good place to stand and watch the procession go by.  I know that we had a perfect, close-up view when Jackie Kennedy came walking by in her black outfit and long black veil, flanked by Robert and Teddy–and followed by tons of  other famous people.  I mainly remember Charles De Gaulle and Emperor Haile Selassie–De Gaulle because he was so tall and because I recognized his distinctive nose and hat, and Selassie because he wore a beautiful uniform with fancy medals.  His beard just added to his mystique.

Charles De Gaulle and Haile Selassie

Mostly I remember the horseless rider, with the boots turned backward.

That horse, the muffled drums, Jackie’s face under her veil, and John-John’s salute (which I only saw in the newspaper the next day) made Kennedy’s death hit home for me in a way that nothing from the national news ever had before.  I know I will never forget any of it.

Riderless Horse
Riderless Horse

Sadhvi Asks: What is “Labor Day” Anyways?


We had some friends over yesterday, and I had to find out if anyone knew what Labor Day was for.

They were all under the age of 30, and they didn’t know. One laughed and said it was a day off – Ha Ha! And so it is for many of us.

At one point, at the end of our brunch together, the smart phones were taken out to “share” some things, you know, funny YouTube clips, and the latest and greatest “app’s” for doing things that you can just as easily do without one.

There is one app that if you hold your finger over the place where you look to take pictures, you can get your heart rate.
Who cares?  Then they were asked which were their favorite games, and the energy level went up in the room.  Games. A toy in your pocket or bra.  Nice.

BTW “Labor Day” is:
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country

Share it – maybe the meaning will go viral, and it won’t have anything to do with the internet, just maybe it will just make a lot of people informed, and no one will know about it except the ones that got it.

What else? I’m thinking about getting a new car, and all of them have this capability to plug your smart phone into it, and VOILA, you get to hear and talk and speak without having to hold the phone.  I know, this has been around for a while, but now they say, it really works.

I guess I am too connected to a computer with work to want to be connected in a new and questionably better way.

When you think about it, isn’t a smart phone just another computer?

It certainly is not a phone, cuz it turns out that most people I know don’t use it as a phone. No, mostly they play games on them, or visit porno sites.  I don’t know why I was surprised to find out that most internet activity is about sex in some way or another.

Or they “text” or type short snippets of grammar to communicate with someone that is usually a family member, like their mother or father.  And the mother or father has to text, they say, in order to communicate with their children.  And since it is hard to type on a leeetle teeny pad, the smart phones came along, and the iPad’s, to make it easier.  Hmmm.

I have one friend my age who is no longer comfortable speaking on the phone; she said it makes her nervous. She only likes texting and emailing.  Nice.  She doesn’t like to interact in person any more. Awesome.  I hope that we can get her to loosen up in a month or so when we have the annual get-together!  Karen, I hope you are reading this.

I just love my flip phone, and will try to get the same one on eBay, which is where I was gifted the last one (thank you Sandesh).  I am not ready to become number and dumber holding something with a name that is supposed to make me feel cooler and “smarter”!

Ok, I hope you have a good day off, maybe you were able to sleep in like we did; kind of like a lazy Sunday, only it’s Monday – LABOR DAY!

And maybe you will think about how today is the day to be thankful that THE WORKERS of this country got together and fought for better working conditions when what was normal were sweat shops and minors working.  Kind of like how it is in China right now.

I will go relax on a hammock outside and read a book.  Not on Kindle, no, one that I can hold and touch and feel.

Oh, and check out this clip below.  I really feel like the girl who is trying to relate.  It made me happy in a way to see that she was not over 50!

Selves in a Box: Pulling Myself Together


I’m a writer and artist, but I hardly ever put my work out in public. As a woman over 50, I volunteer with several community action groups, and am a vocal participant, but often come away from meetings feeling like I’ve said the wrong things, alienated potential friends, or revealed all the possible flaws in my personality. I love my husband, children, aging mother, and my only brother who is her primary caregiver, yet I find myself tip-toeing through conversations with them as if I’m picking my way gingerly through a minefield, constantly at risk. I know I’m strong, and bright, and have value to offer, so what the heck is wrong that keeps me from feeling comfortable in my relationships with other beings?

In the midst of feeling increasingly inhibited by this judgmental self-talk, I have lunch with a friend who asks me to write a review of, J. Tamara Stone’s Selves in a Box.” She pushes a shiny 6”x8” box across the table that contains 52 self cards, 2 wild cards, and a 144-page guidebook which “offers a fresh look at where you are in your life” and promises “to help you think and feel outside the limitations of your everyday personality, freeing you to live, truly, outside the box.” Exactly what I need.

I don’t believe in Tarot cards or fortunetellers, but for decades I have pulled one or two “angel cards” every Sunday. I use these tiny laminated icons as reminders of forces that may be influencing my daily life. Now I have a new deck to pick from. I’m excited, ready to “befriend my family of Selves” and “enrich my relationships with others.”

Packed in a silky black pouch, each sturdy and beautifully illustrated card corresponds to a “self” whose “portrait” or description is purportedly detailed in the guidebook. From the intro, I choose the “Daily Draw: Opening to Counsel” method for drawing cards, to see what I can discover through the use of this tool.

On Monday morning, I pick my first card, after setting my intention to draw the Self that I need to hear from in that moment, as instructed. I repeat the process each day for a week, and find myself less than enthused. I won’t continue. My first pick, “The Teacher”, is a good example of how shallow and unoriginal the material is.


“Your Teacher shares information, thoughts and ideas. It may specialize in one subject or generalize in many different areas, as a guide, counselor, coach, guru, mentor, trainer, tutor, or professor. Your Teacher’s love for learning inspires its passion or teaching. It wants to contribute to others, from recommending a great movie to delivering an inspirational talk.”

Like, so what? In addition to the not-so-detailed portraits, two lines below each one reveal that self’s “personality motivation” (that which operates on auto-pilot attempting to “help us realize our safety, security, and well-being”) and that self’s “essence motivation” (the “pure, unadulterated expression of who we are”). The personality motivation of my Teacher is “to share knowledge” and its essence motivation is “to inspire learning.” In what way is this news? I’m equally unimpressed by the portraits of other cards I pick or the pages facing each Self Portrait – “the spectrum descriptions,” each of which repetitively reminds us that “all selves fall somewhere on the spectrum between primary and disowned.” One or two examples of how this self may appear as primary (“Your Teacher may seem like a know-it-all”) or disowned (“Your Teacher may feel inadequate in the knowledge you possess”) are given. This might be more helpful if accompanied by questions and/or journal space to provoke introspection about how I personally see each self and its related characteristics at work in my own life. Overall, I find “Selves in a Box” to be dull and uninformative.

As soon as I decide there’s got to be a better approach to self-enlightenment, the universe provides an amazing alternative. Ruby Sofia Warren, a local counselor I got to know in a poetry writing workshop some years ago, calls to inform me about her newest program – “Awakening Wholeness: Mentoring, Education & Groups for the Whole Self”. Out of friendship, she gives me two free one-on-one sessions. In each of our meetings, Ruby brings her full heart and diverse background in psychology, expressive art therapy, permaculture, and spirituality to a pleasant process that effectively helps me understand and connect compassionately with my inner selves.

There is something in the way Ruby illustrates the process of getting to know oneself with examples from nature and her own journey that helps me quickly connect my surface attitudes and actions to their roots deep within. I see from her modeling behavior how to be compassionate with the needs of selves that have been wounded by or stuck in emotion provoked by my own previous experiences. I also get practical tips about helping those parts of my total self, without succumbing to their demands. As compared with the disappointment I felt after spending a week with “Selves in a Box”, only two personal interactions with Ruby Warren energize me and imbue me with a sense of strength, wholeness and confidence in negotiating sensitive relationships.

Overall, I would say if you want to gain the peace of mind and authenticity that comes with deep self-awareness, it is better to begin by communing with a knowledgeable and empathetic human being than a deck of cardboard selves in a box.

For some Quick Thoughts on the Passage of Time and Time Itself, visit Sharon’s blog: What’s Up This Time?


Oops50: Do You Know About the Discounts for Baby Boomers?


A friend of mine at was waiting in line behind an older gentleman at Wendy’s recently, and heard him ask for a senior discount. The young woman at the register apologized and charged him less for his meal. When my friend asked the man what the discount was, he told her seniors over 55 gets 10% off everything on the menu, every day. This incident prompted her to do some research, (thanks Va) and she discovered a list of restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, travel deals, and other types of offers giving various discounts with different age requirements. Below, you’ll find a long  list of discounts for us baby boomers, and it’s surprising just how many of them start at the young age of 50.

Just think, when you get that craving for pancakes IHOP is ready with your discount, or on the day you’re having a real ice cream emergency, Ben and Jerry’s will add a 10% discount to that rich creamy cone, and  all you have to do is ask. 

Hmmmm, it seems to me if Dunkin Donuts is willing to give free coffee to us boomers and you’re paying for a cup every day, you might want to start getting it for free. Oh, and my very favorite is the savings you get with our National Parks – I’m just saying…

Here’s the list ladies. It’s long. Enjoy!

Applebees: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
Arbys: 10% off (55+)
Ben & Jerrys: 10% off (60+)
Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
Burger King: 10% off (60+)
Captain Ds Seafood: discount varies on location (62+)
Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee (55+)
Chilis: 10% off (55+)
Culvers: 10% off (60+)
Dennys: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members (55+)
Dunkin Donuts: 10% off or free coffee (55+)  
Einsteins Bagels: 10% off bakers dozen of bagels (60+)
Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
Hardees: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
IHOP: 10% off (55+)
Jack in the Box: up to 20% off (55+)
KFC: free small drink with any meal (55+)
Krispy Kreme: 10% off (50+)
Long John Silvers: various discounts at participating locations (55+)
McDonalds: discounts on coffee everyday (55+)
Shoneys: 10% off
Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
Steak n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday (50+)
Subway: 10% off (60+)
Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off (55+)
Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
Wendys: 10% off (55+)
White Castle: 10% off (62+)

Retail And Apparel
Banana Republic: 10% off (50+)
Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month (50+)
Belks: 15% off first Tuesday of every month (55+)
Big Lots: 10% off
Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days (55+)
C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
Clarks: 10% off (62+)
Dress Barn: 10% off (55+)
Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
 Kohls: 15% off (60+)
Modells Sporting Goods: 10% off
Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions
Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off (55+)
Stein Mart: 20% off red dot / clearance items first Monday of every month


Albertsons: 10% off first Wednesday of each month (55+)
American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday (50+)
Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
Food Lion: 6% off every Monday (60+)
Frys Supermarket: free Frys VIP Club Membership & 10% off every
Monday (55+)
Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday (50+)
Publix: 5% off every Wednesday (55+)
Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
Uncle Guiseppes Marketplace: 5% off (62+)


Alaska Airlines: 10% off (65+)
Alamo: up to 25% off for AARP members
American Airlines: various discounts for 65 and up (call before booking
for discount)
Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members
Best Western: 10% off (55+)
Budget Rental Cars: 10% off; up to 20% off for AARP members (50+)
Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Clarion: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club
& special fares for select destinations
Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off (50+)
Econo Lodge: 20%-30% off (60+)
Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members
Greyhound: 5% off (62+)
Hampton Inns & Suites: 10% off when booked 72 hours in advance
Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members
Holiday Inn: 10%-30% off depending on location (62+)
Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Travelers Discount (50+); 20%-30%
off (60+)
Marriott Hotels: 15% off (62+)
Motel 6: 10% off (60+)
Myrtle Beach Resort: 10% off (55+)
National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members
Quality Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Sleep Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before
booking for discount)
Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50 and up
United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before
booking for discount)
U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking
for discount)

Activities And Entertainment

AMC Theaters: up to 30% off (55+)
Bally Total Fitness: up to $100 off memberships (62+)
Busch Gardens Tampa: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)
Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
Cinemark / Century Theaters: up to 35% off
U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services
including camping (62+)
Regal Cinemas: 30% off
Ripleys Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket (55+)
SeaWorld Orlando: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)

Cell Phone Discounts

AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $29.99 / month (65+)
Jitterbug: $10 / month cell phone service (50+)
Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99 / month (65+).

Great Clips: $3 off hair cuts (60+)
Super Cuts: $2 off haircuts (60+)