Tag Archives: women over 50

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?????

I’m Getting Sentimental Over You!

Jane On a recent visit with my three sisters (our annual get-together), we got to talking about all sorts of things, including, of course, our children and how quickly they have all grown up.  One sister said the hardest thing for her about having her children grow up is that, in the process, she lost the little people they were at age 2, 4, 6, etc., as if someone came and spirited them away.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I got back from the trip and realizing that there is always a part of me that is half expecting those little ones to show back up, as if they are hiding somewhere in the house.  And thinking about them makes time compress and expand at the same time.

Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY
Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY

If I close my eyes, I can remember Lizzie, our first daughter, tromping into our kitchen in upstate New York in her favorite rubber boots and saying, “I ahna Goo-Koo,” (I want a cookie) or singing her way downstairs in the morning.  Same with Parker, next in line.  I can see him playing Power Rangers with his buddy Max or sitting at the kitchen table with his pirate ship and pirates and doing all the different voices for the various pirates and their enemies.  Becky is often sitting in her high chair (I think I must have left her in there a lot!), smiling at the thought of all the mischief she is cooking up to get her brother or sister to pay attention to her or standing at the bathroom mirror, cutting herself trying to shave her chin with her father’s razor.

Becky
Becky

Josie, the youngest, is always living in some story of her own making, like the millions of worlds she created for her dolls, or like the Madison Avenue world she inhabited one night in the bathroom, washing a hand towel over and over while singing out her version of the ad for OxyClean: “it gets your whites whiter and your bwights bwighter!”

Josie in Asheville
Josie in Asheville

 

So, the memories are vivid, but, if I think about it hard enough, they are not as fresh as I would like them to be.  And sometimes it’s hard to sort out what I really remember from what I have recorded in pictures and videos.  The hard part, I guess, about trying to hold onto memories of your children as little people is that, when they are actually little and getting bigger every day,  every memory is constantly getting replaced with a new one, each time the child does something new and different. (This is why I should have written things down in baby books!)  Before you even have a chance to catch your breath, the two-year-old version of your child is replaced with the three-year-old version, and you’re off and running on a whole new child!  Or, to state it more accurately in terms of how it feels, the two-year-old is replaced with the twenty-six year old version!

The "Men in Black" Christmas Card
The “Men in Black” Christmas Card

One great thing is that I still get glimpses of those earlier children in their new, larger bodies.  Every now and then, one of them will smile or laugh a certain way or turn their head at a certain angle, and there is the three-year-old version of themselves peeking out from behind their eyes or the six-year-old version looking worried and serious.  Same look, new source of worry!

Here’s to all the different versions of my children, in all their glory, including those little people who are hiding somewhere (maybe they will come back as grandchildren?) but especially these wonderful and strange grown-ups now inhabiting my world and saying they came from me and Tom!

Lizzie's Wedding!
Lizzie’s Wedding!

A Recent Encounter with Vanity: Or All’s Well that End’s Well

Jane It was an important event.  I wanted to look thin in my outfit—well, at least thinner!  I’ve put some weight on recently in reaction to stress. (I try to eat stress away and am surprised every time it doesn’t work.)  So, I squeezed into my Spanx, put on my fancy clothes and heels, and headed off to the gathering of nice people, where I was going to speak about my organization and convince them all to become members!

The evening started out fine.  I nibbled on finger foods and drank a glass of wine.  Then, it came time for my talk.  Standing in front of people like that always makes my heart beat a little faster, so nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first.  I simply started talking and thought, any moment now, I’ll hit my stride and feel comfortable.  But the moment didn’t come. And yet I wasn’t really nervous; I simply could not breathe.  My breath was coming in little gasp between words.  I thought maybe I was having a panic attack.  I talked faster, to try to feel more relaxed.  Things just got worse.  I could feel my face getting hot and flushed.

I looked around the room and could tell from their faces that a few of my friends in the room were a little concerned:  this was not my usual presentation mode!  Then, all at once, there seemed to be no air at all left in my lungs for breathing.  The thought crossed my mind that I might be having a heart attack.  I could picture myself collapsing in front of the gathering and being carried out the kitchen door on a stretcher.  I wondered if it might be a stroke. I wondered if my husband would ever forgive me for working so hard that I died on the job.  I prayed that, if it was a stroke, I would die quickly and not linger for years in a vegetative state while my children came for obligatory visits.

 

Spanx for Men?
Spanx for Men?

Continue reading A Recent Encounter with Vanity: Or All’s Well that End’s Well

Capturing My Grandparents

post 50 women

My grandfather, Surry Parker, was more of a myth than a man.  I never met him, since he died before I was born—even before my parents got married—so my only knowledge of him was from the stories people told.  And there were tons of stories—about, for instance, how he sped into Washington, NC in his Model A Ford, in the very earliest days of cars on the road and speed limits, and got stopped by a policeman, who said he would have to pay a fine for driving too fast.  My grandfather handed the policeman double the required amount and told him to keep the change because “I’ll be going out the same way I came in.”  Or there’s the one about the one or two times when my mother’s date might have stayed a little too long in the parlor, inspiring my grandfather to throw his shoes down the stairs, yelling, “Janie, tell that young rooster to go home!”  Or there’s the much earlier one about how he made my mother, five years old at the time, stand in the middle of a pile of dead-but-still-wriggling snakes in the Great Dismal Swamp (where the family lived in the early years of my mother’s life), so that he could get her picture, since he loved to take pictures.  My mother never questioned him; she did as she was told, but she remembered those snakes with terror to the day she died.  I was always proud to have Surry Parker as my grandfather, and all those stories played a useful role for me.  Whenever I was afraid of doing something bold and daring, or even just slightly out of the ordinary, I would think of one of those stories, and that would give me the courage to move forward.

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My grandfather as a young man
oops50 women
My grandmother

But there was also a problem with the stories, in that people in my family got so caught up in talking about Surry Parker that they never really talked about his wife, my grandmother, lovingly called “Dovie,” except to say that she was basically one of the best people that ever lived—and that she loved Surry Parker!  But I would like to have known her better.  I would like to be able to get a picture in my head of the real Dovie, not just the one on the tombstone with the engraving, “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed.”  Don’t get me wrong:  I loved those words, and I desperately wanted to be the kind of mother who would inspire that kind of saying on her grave.  But I also wanted to know more about my real grandmother.  I wanted to know what kinds of things excited her or irritated her or made her happy or sad.  I wanted to know what her vices were—she had to have at least one, didn’t she?

I’m thinking that kids nowadays are lucky because they have at least a decent shot of having videos of people who have died before them.  I would give a lot to have a video of my grandmother—one that included sound!  We do actually have one movie of her, since my grandfather also had one of the first movie cameras in his area (he loved technology!), but it’s a very jerky, very badly lighted 16 mm film, and it has no sound.  So, the only impression I have of her is of someone walking around like Charlie Chaplin and turning her face away from the camera.

Which makes me think this:  you should be careful to tell your children stories about the people who went before them, even the ones who weren’t extroverted or dramatic.  And you should take real pictures of people, real videos, of them doing the ordinary things that make up their lives, like cooking or telling a story or laughing.  You shouldn’t only take pictures of them on special occasions, all dressed up and stiff.  You should capture them in their natural habitat!  What I wouldn’t give to have a video of Surry Parker and Dovie not just looking good for the camera but having a real conversation together, maybe arguing about the wisdom of making their five-year-old daughter stand in the middle of a pile of snakes just to get a good picture!

Slow Down Your Life: Letting Go of Technology’s Grasp

Barbara Brady
Barbara Brady

Is it just us?  Women over fifty who feel like our life is speeding up each day, and it’s all we can do to keep our  head above water? Jogging in the woods this January, I felt that way, and thought if I could pretend it was 1970 something instead of 2014, then maybe I could slow my life down again to a pace more in keeping with my natural biorhythm. If it was 1970 something now, what would I still do, and what would be different? I would do what I did this morning – make coffee, meditate, say prayers/affirmations, and go running. I would be focused internally, connecting with and filling myself up first, before focusing on the expectations and demands of the external world. Then I may talk to people on mypushbutton phone landline or meet them in person. I certainly wouldn’t turn my cell phone and computer on first thing in the morning or leave them on until bedtime to check voicemails, texts and emails. When I have done that before, I’ve felt pulled from my center. Depletion and disconnection followed, along with the feeling of treading water to keep my head above it. What can you do to slow down and release technology’s hold on you?

  1. Claim one day a week to be completely unplugged from the internet or email.turnoffpcoops50
  2. Set boundaries around technology each day. Create a self-connection routine first thing in the morning and at the end of your day. This could include prayer, meditation, walking in the woods or on the beach, exercising, journaling, painting, etc. It’s very empowering to do this, because you’re telling yourself and the universe that you value yourself and your time, choosing to be proactive and creative vs. reactive and  programmed.
  3. Turn your computer off by 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. and don’t check email after this. Spend your evening connecting with friends in person or by phone. Read, create, play.
  4. Put your cell phone away when with other people and mute it. Honor who you’re with.
  5. Pay attention to your time spent on social media. Is it really adding to or subtracting from your life?“A 2013 study published by the Public Library of Science showed that more use of Facebook meant less sense of well-being and more feelings of envy.”

Yogaoops50Finally if you were to die tomorrow, would you wish you’d spent more time on email or the web? Or would you wish you’d spent more face to face time with loved ones or seeing the world?     Barbara Brady, Coach & Trainer Global Leadership / Intercultural / Transformation through Transition www.mycoachbarbara.com