Lean on me, when you’re not strong…

I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.

CareIf you’re reading this post, you may just be old enough to remember Bill Withers’ soulful song from 1972. Lean on Me helps us remember that all of us can use a hand sometimes…and we can lend a hand sometimes as well.  The older we get, the more challenges we face. As “they” say, it is what it is. But guess what?  We have a choice about how we face those challenges!

Let’s see. On one hand, we can be proudly and doggedly independent and not reach out; that approach may work…or not. We can be dependent, accepting help when we best do things ourselves. We can be co-dependent, giving so much of ourselves to someone else that our own well-being suffers.

OR…we can embrace interdependence! How does interdependence work?  We build relationships in which we reach out for help when we need it and lend a hand to others when they need it. We can achieve a wonderful balance and we all benefit!

I first became aware of the concept of interdependence through Skip Downing’s wonderful book On Course.  This textbook is used to help new college students learn strategies for success. One success strategy is interdependence. In On Course Mr. Downing describes interdependence as building mutually supportive relationships that help students achieve their goals and dreams, while helping others do the same. That’s good advice for all of us! We – absolutely – will be most successful when we ask for help when we need it and give help when someone else needs it.

In his July 2011 article entitled Interdependence Day(s): How to Create a Balanced Relationship in Psychology Today, Dr. Barton Goldsmith has this to say about interdependence:

The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly interdependent. This is where two people, both strong individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values. What they have is a balanced relationship…Living in an interdependent relationship gives you both respect and nurturing. What a nice way to go through life.

Back in ’72, Bill Withers was onto something! While he might not have conjured up the word interdependent, he had a wonderful way of explaining the concept…

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
’til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Let’s all reach out to both lend a hand and accept a helping hand.

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Whether we call it interdependence or not, let’s get on board, my friends. We’ll all be better for it!

Kate

P.S. Here are a few variations of Lean on Me for your listening pleasure.

Michael Bolton – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpH7CXfDUUo
Audio only – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOZ-MySzAac
Audio with lyrics – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdlPVBvkr-s

Yes, many a fine tune IS played on an old fiddle!

Old fiddles, unite!

Violin and red rose on black background.Try as I might, I couldn’t find the indisputable origin of the proverb “Many a fine tune is played on an old fiddle.Celebrating70 is all about making the very most of growing older and this little “ditty” seems to support that mission! In a culture that values youth, it’s good to be reminded that as old fiddles we do still have value in this big old world. If we don’t truly believe that, who will, my friends??

Now, we could argue all day about just when we become a metaphorical old fiddle. Heck, I’m 71 and really – on most days anyway! – I don’t feel like an old fiddle. To define old fiddle, we first might have to answer this question: How old is elderly? Hmmm.  Is it 65? Is it 70?  It definitely depends on who you ask. When I Googled “elderly” I saw some references to “early elderly” and “late elderly.” Does that mean there might even be “pre-elderly” or “post elderly” as well? Aye yai yai.

Whether I’m an old fiddle…or elderly…or any of the other what-could-be-considered misnomers, from the inside out I’m no different than I was when I was younger.

I’m smart.
I’m an honest person.
I’m kind-hearted.
I’m a loyal friend.
I learn new things.
I’m a good writer.
I have a great sense of humor. (At least I think so!)
I love pink and purple.
I read murder mystery novels.
I love to dance. (Old fiddles dance party, anyone??)
I make really great cookies!

Yes, I still play those same tunes! Maybe this old fiddle doesn’t look the same as I did “back in the day”…but I am the same. I’m me and I always will be. Call me what you will!

Something else comes to mind when a think of an old fiddle. My precious Grandpa, Pap, actually did play an old fiddle. Bless his heart up in heaven! Pap was a humble man who started working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania as just a kid. He went on to create a great life…and he always loved music. He could sing. He played the piano. He played the trumpet. And he played his old fiddle. Pap went to heaven at the age of 72. I do admit that seemed old to me at the time…

Pap played an old fiddle. Pap was an old fiddle I guess. Now I’m a proverbial old fiddle. And guess what. It’s not so bad!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, many a fine tune is played on an old fiddle. Those who are young may not appreciate that. The old fiddles among us must stand tall and proud and be sure to remind this world of our true value…who we really are.

Old fiddles, unite!

“I’ll give that song a 73. It’s hard to dance to.”

Oh, does that bring back memories!

RockabillyDick Clark’s American Bandstand! Wow! It was soooo much fun to watch those teens dancing and listen to all the wonderful music. I was a shy country girl and couldn’t even imagine what it might be like to dance on national television!

Dick Clark started hosting Bandstand in 1956. I was only eight years old!! The fact that the doctrine in my little church frowned on dancing – I never did really understand why – likely made Bandstand even more fascinating. And it wasn’t just me! According to Groovy History, “Young people everywhere thought they had died and gone to heaven when Dick Clark introduced the American Bandstand television music show.”

On Bandstand Dick Clark provided an opportunity for audience members to give their opinions of songs, on a scale of 35 to 98. As Groovy History tells us, “A song usually got a better rating if it had a beat that was easy to dance to…If a song makes you feel like dancing, it has to be great!” I would definitely agree!

With Bandstand Boogie by Les Elgart as its theme song, American Bandstand over time introduced us to the likes of Roy Orbison, the Beach Boys, Chubby Checker, The Silhouettes, Fabian, Little Richard, and even a very young Michael Jackson.

If you’re a septuagenarian like me – or even if you’re not! – take a look at a few of these videos. They might just bring a smile to your face! (Who couldn’t use more smiles, y’all?)

Little Richard – Long Tall Sally and Tutti Frutti – 1957
Dion & the Belmonts – I Wonder Why – 1958
The Chordettes – Lollipop and Mr. Sandman – 1958
Chuck Berry – Sweet Little Sixteen – 1958
Danny and the Juniors – At the Hop – 1958
Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops – 1959
Bobby Rydell – Wild One – 1960 (vocal only)
Chubby Checker – The Twist – 1960
Little Eva – The Locomotion – 1962   This is MY personal favorite!
Peggy March – I Will Follow Him – 1963
Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman – 1966
The Diamonds – The Stroll – 1968
The Jackson Five – I Want You Back – 1970
The Silhouettes – Get a Job – 1973

The list could go on and on! Now that we’re thinking about great old music, how about a couple more songs from 1956. While these tunes are not from Bandstand, I know you’ll enjoy them. They’re by a singer who needs no introduction!

Hound Dog
Blue Suede Shoes

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey down memory lane, my friends. Anybody out there want to do The Locomotion with me??? Just sayin’!!!

 

 

 

“Someday we’ll laugh about this.” Why wait??

Rediscovering our “funny bone” is actually good for our health!

LAUGHING.jpgWhat makes us feel better than a good hardy laugh? Not much I’d say! A couple of weeks ago I went for the very first time to hear a few stand-up comics at a wonderful local venue. Oh my goodness, did I laugh!! I had been stressed all day and nearly cancelled on my daughter and her fiancé. I’m so glad I didn’t!  Those big old belly laughs were exactly what I needed.

I think Norman Cousins would have agreed! Doing research while he was critically ill, Cousins discovered that humor and healing go hand in hand. In his best-selling book Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient, Cousins wrote about the “triumph of the human spirit” in contributing to our healing.  Yes, ladies and gentleman, the healing power of laughter is very real!

I’ve thought a lot about humor over the years. A couple of decades ago I was one of only a very few people in the Fortune 500 company where I worked who thought that humor actually had a place in a corporate environment. I will never forget once at a big quarterly meeting when a kind-hearted human resources person stood to announce that there would be a lunch–time session on stress management that everyone was invited to attend. Well, now. The serious-faced, buttoned up, three-piece-suited vice president who was running that meeting immediately challenged loudly: “Raise your hand if you have time to go to a session on stress!”  Wow. Nary a hand went up. The message was crystal clear: No time for that frivolous pursuit.  So sad. All I can say is…Yay! I’m not in that environment anymore! Smiles galore now!

Now let’s get back to the healing power of laughter. Think about this: What makes you smile? For example, what movies always bring a smile to your face? For me one would be My Cousin Vinny!! I’ve watched that movie so many times and I still laugh!  Does a particular friend’s sense of humor always lighten your mood? Give him or her a call! Remember that laughter is not always about jokes. Smiles come for many reasons!

Go ahead now. Make a list!! Consider funny photos, jokes, quotations, songs, animals, people, television shows, memes, comics, etc., etc., etc. Everyone’s list will be different.

I believe it may have been Liz Curtis Higgs who said, “Someday we’ll laugh about this. Why wait?” Liz was right. There is truly never a bad time for a smile or laughter. Perhaps in the darkest of times is when a little smile or a bit of laughter will do the most good.

My advice to you today? Do whatever it takes to put a smile on your face! You’ll be glad you did!

Thank you, hands! Thank you, arms!

I couldn’t have done it without you!

Grandmother and grandchild kneading doughI’ll get right to the point today, everyone. Our body parts don’t look like they used to! Pick a body part, any body part. All together now….Waaaahhhh!!! Boo hoo!!! Sniff sniff!! (Onomatopoeia anyone?) It is what it is, and we’re not particularly happy about it.

I’m not here to sell you a magic potion, lotion, cream or device that will bring back the easy outward beauty of youth. We all know that can’t happen. I’m here today to help us all not simply accept ourselves as we are but, more importantly, actually love ourselves as we are…all body parts included!

Here’s an example. As we age women often have “a problem” with their hands and arms (think age spots and bat wings!). Not long ago as I pondered my old hands and old arms I suddenly realized how very, very thankful I am for them.

These hands once touched so many people I love who have gone on to heaven before me…my Mom, my Dad, Munner (my grandma), Pap (my grandpa), my big brother Tim. These hands once touched the silky newborn faces of my now-grown daughters and nearly-grown grandsons…and my arms encircled them and lifted them up when they cried. With my old hands I have made pies and cookies and cakes and other goodies for my family and friends to enjoy. These hands have felt the smoothness of a handsome horse’s back, the prickly stem of a beautiful rose, and the sweet softness of a beloved dog’s floppy ears. And so much more…

Yes, I am so lucky to have these arms and hands…and all the other parts of my no-longer-young body. I’m grateful that my old heart still beats, allowing me to be a part of this good life for however long that will be. That truly is a gift.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Well, this beholder is feeling new appreciation and seeing beauty where I didn’t see it before.

Thank you, arms! Thank you, hands! I love you, my old friends. Oh, the memories. I simply couldn’t have done it without you!

One door closes. NOW what??

That is totally up to us!

Green door European styleWe can thank Alexander Graham Bell for this wonderful quote:

When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.

That is so very true!

While we may think of Alexander Graham Bell only as the inventor of the telephone (we learned that as kids!), there was much more to Mr. Bell. He endured many hardships in life – as we all do – but he persevered to “see the good” and have an appreciation for the new doors that could and did open in his life. Hopefully we can do the same.

Have doors closed for us? Yes. We can all think of a few…or maybe even several.  Loss may close some doors. Age alone may close some doors. Unexpected life changes can close some doors.

Have new doors opened for us? Yes! To see those doors we must approach life with an open mind, an open heart, and with our eyes wide open. How else can we take advantage of wonderful serendipity when it comes our way? Of course, hope and optimism are also required!

Years ago I read the book Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for The Rest of Your Life by Richard Leider and David Shapiro. Here is a great take-a-way from that book:

There are many doors to open and close in our lives.  Some we leave ajar, where we hope and plan to return.  Some doors are slammed shut decisively – ‘No more of that!’  Some are closed regretfully, softly – ‘It was good but it is over.’  Departures entail arrivals somewhere else.  Closing a door means opening onto new vistas, ventures, new possibilities…

Yes, I’ve slammed some doors. I’ve closed others regretfully. And some doors have been closed on me. Did that hurt sometimes? Sure. Did life go on? Yes, it did!

As kindred spirits in aging, we can view this life journey as a time for new opportunities with new doors to open. Not doing so would be boring…and frankly depressing!

Let’s not move backwards (we’ve already been there!). Let’s not stay the same. Let’s open new doors, keep contributing, keep learning and make the very most of “the days of our lives.”

Here’s to opening new doors…together!

What on Earth is Perspective Transformation?

And what does it have to do with aging??

Quite simply – according to Kate McKenzie anyway! – perspective transformation is putting on a new pair of glasses and “seeing” something in a different way. And how we “see” aging makes all the difference!

Children sunglasses, sun shades or spectacles isolated on whiteGetting a bit more “technical” now…in grad school – not so very long ago! – I became aware of the late Jack Mezirow’s theory of perspective transformation. And I loved it! Paraphrasing Mezirow, a sociologist and Emeritus Professor at Columbia University, perspective transformation is a conscious recognition of the difference between an old viewpoint and a new one…and “seeing” the newer perspective as being of more value. Voila! Rather than seeing aging as a sad state of affairs we can see aging as a God-given opportunity to learn, grow, and do more with our lives.

Our perspective – like a pair of glasses – affects the way we see everything in life….not just aging. If you think about it, every day – consciously and unconsciously – we all engage in “meaning-making.” We assign meaning to everything that happens in our lives. To a large extent that assigned meaning determines the quality of our lives. We “see” things as good or bad, positive or negative, worthwhile or worthless, happy or sad, fun or boring, important or unimportant. Need I go on?

In 1978 when Jack Mezirow wrote about perspective transformation, I am quite sure he didn’t have perspectives on aging in mind. Well, I do!

How about we all try on a brand new pair of glasses and see getting older as an amazing adventure that we will experience together on this life journey?

Please say you will!