You’re old. You sag. Get over it!

Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls certainly has a way with words!

Sophia Petrillo SmallerI never watched The Golden Girls when it was in “prime time,” but I love to catch the reruns. And Sophia is my favorite!

As The Golden Girls Wiki on Fandom points out, “Sophia is best known for her wisecracks, put-downs and brazen remarks.” I do think “You’re old–You sag–Get over it” meets all three criteria! Let’s just say Sophia isn’t known to pull any punches.

The Golden Girls offers a comedic perspective on what “old age” was like in Miami in the late 1980’s. What totally amazes me now is that when The Golden Girls premiered in 1985, actress Rue McClanahan (Blanche) was actually 51, Bea Arthur (Dorothy) was 63, Betty White (Rose) was 63, and Estelle Getty (my Sophia) was 62!! What’s wrong with that picture?? I’m 70! If they were old, what am I?? Aye yai yai.

But I digress. Regardless of the ages of the actresses playing the roles, cheerful programming about aging women was and is a welcome diversion from programming that exalts youth and beauty above all else and minimizes the value of those of us who have celebrated many, many birthdays. While certainly there are stereotypes in The Golden Girls, the program balances happy times and sad times and also exemplifies the importance of sharing our lives with kindred spirits who will help us navigate our ups and downs with both humor and caring.

Moving on now from The Golden Girls…a 2017 HBO documentary entitled If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast is worth checking out. First of all, I love the title! In the article The Sunny, Funny View of Old Age, Sophie Gilbert describes how in this Emmy-nominated documentary “acclaimed nonagenarians including Carl Reiner and Betty White challenge stereotypes about life after 90.” Now I’m feeling a bit more youthful!

Sophia Petrillo’s harsh quip about aging aside, whether we’re mere septuagenarians or we’re current or aspiring nonagenarians, we can do ourselves the favor of maintaining a positive spirit and being grateful for our blessings.  And also – for good measure – let’s be sure to do what Oprah advises…“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”

Great advice, I’d say!

P.S. Thanks, Pat, for the great “tip” about If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat BreakfastIt’s a keeper!

Toto, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore…

And that could be a GOOD thing!

Dorothy 2 with borderHow many times have I seen The Wizard of Oz?  Too many to count! Many lessons could be learned from that enduring old movie. Today I’m thinking about how Dorothy’s “We’re not in Kansas anymore” observation applies to those of us at 70 years old – or older – now.

Not so long ago being 70 often meant watching the world pass you by. It doesn’t have to be that way! Today at 70 we can choose to be a part of the world around us…and be happy and content. While the media and even some of our contemporaries might suggest that folks our age are depressed and lonely, thankfully that is often simply not the case.

An article in The Guardian entitled Could your 60s and 70s be the best decades of life? shares great insights. For example, “Research suggests that…sixty-five to 79 is the happiest age group for adults…” Is that not a “delicious surprise”?!?

This article also quotes Monica Hartwell, 69, as saying, “The joy of getting older is much greater self-confidence…It’s the loss of angst about what people think of you: the size of your bum or whether others are judging you correctly.  It’s not an arrogance, but you know who you are when you’re older and all those roles you played to fit in when you were younger are irrelevant.” Such liberation! I love it!

Will all of us in our 70’s be traveling, running marathons, or creating unbelievable adventures? No. The lives we create in our 70’s will be as diverse as the lives we created in our younger years. Each of our journeys through the 70’s and beyond will be both personal and unique. What’s really important is that we surround ourselves with kindred spirits – people who share our perspectives, interests and values. And don’t forget. Even if we can’t get “out and about” to do that, we can connect with those kindred spirits virtually…like we’re doing right now, “as we speak”!

No, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re not 40 or 50 or even 60 now. However…we can choose to be joyful and grateful…and embrace life with a positive spirit!  Let’s view our 70’s as an interesting new beginning.

In the words of an old Swedish proverb, “Those who wish to sing always find a song.”

So…let’s find our songs!

A Rose by Any Other Name…

Am I “revered”…or just plain “old”?

Pink Rose 2 with outlineIn Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare penned that, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” We could debate the context of that proclamation, or we can just use it as the starting point for a conversation about how we are perceived as we age.

I’m seventy years old.  Am I officially elderly? Did I cross that threshold years ago and just didn’t know it yet? Or…am I a distinguished person whose life and experiences are valued? That depends in large part on your perspective.

In the American culture youth is valued. Actually that’s really quite an understatement! As we baby boomers age, the market for face creams, cosmetic surgery and other harbingers of the illusive fountain of youth continues to grow.  Someone near and dear to me has laughingly professed that each night she washes a hundred dollars’ worth of makeup off her face!

A message that implicitly runs loud and clear in the American culture is that we lose our value as we age. We might be thought of as a fossil, an old goat, over the hill, or even decrepit. (Yikes!) The list goes on and on.

But wait! Some cultures actually do value aging! In an article in the Huffington Post aptly entitled 7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect Their Eldersauthor Taylor French shares that…

•  Koreans are socialized to respect and show deference to older individuals.
•  In ancient Rome, elders were a precious resource.
•  In India, elders are the head of the family.
•  In the Native American culture…elders are respected for their wisdom and life experiences.
•  In Greek…culture, old age is honored and celebrated, and respect for elders is central to the family.

I feel a little better now!  Words to describe “the elderly” in some cultures might include revered, respected, honored, distinguished, esteemed or…my personal favorite…celebrated! Regardless of how “the world” views us or chooses to describe us, we must always be “crystal-clear” about our own true value.

As Eartha Kitt once said, “Aging has a wonderful beauty and we should have respect for that.”

Hear, hear!!

Are you like Tigger…or maybe more like Eeyore?

And…who are the other characters in YOUR Hundred Acre Wood?

Winnie-the-Pooh-Characters TRY THIS.png

When I set out to write this post I simply thought it might be fun to think about Tigger and Eeyore, beloved characters from Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. Little did I know when I “Googled” this seemingly playful topic that so much has been written about the Winnie the Pooh characters!  Some of what’s written is positive…some not so much. And…I had absolutely no idea that the movie Christopher Robin recently opened in theaters, offering us a chance to get reacquainted with Tigger, Eeyore, Pooh and the rest of the gang!

In any event, I will take a light-hearted approach to the oh-so-compelling Tigger or Eeyore question.

Tigger is generally a glass half full type of person – optimistic, happy, energetic, outgoing, and fun-loving. Eeyore, on the other hand, is more glass half empty – pessimistic, gloomy, tired, shy, fearful…and also a very kind soul.  We may see a bit of ourselves in one or even both of them. Or maybe we’re more like one of the other Winnie the Pooh characters?

I found a quick quiz online that helps us discover which Winnie the Pooh character our own personality favors! There are only eleven questions (and you can easily “skip” one ad).  Click here if you’d like to give it a try.  While you may or may not agree with the outcome of the quiz –- Let’s just say I never thought I was like Piglet! –- it is a fun little quiz. Do keep in mind that each character has positive attributes!

Now that we’ve thought about which Pooh character we might be like, here’s another interesting question to ponder. Who are the other “characters” in your very own Hundred Acre Wood? I’ll bet your “world” includes some very interesting personality types. I know mine does! (Hmmm. Is a Negative Nelly the same as an Eeyore…?)

I’ve heard it said that as we grow older we become “more of” who we really are. Whether we’re like Tigger, Eeyore or another Pooh character, we always have the opportunity — the choice really — to interact with the world around us in a positive way. From my perspective, my friends, that is ultimately — always — the best approach!

Would you agree??

I may be a senior, but so what? I’m still hot!

Betty White may be on to something…

Betty White is 97 years old.  She said that just few years ago. Amazing!

Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at. It’s what you see.” Betty White makes the case for that being true.  In another post entitled What Matters Most is How You See Yourself, I talked about the importance of seeing ourselves in a positive light, and how important that is to our sense of well-being and happiness. Perception truly is reality in so many ways.

Several years ago, when having breakfast with a few friends at a small family-owned restaurant here in “my neck of the woods,” I excused myself to go to powder room. Vintage Retro Old Picture FrameWritten in bright red lipstick across the mirror in that little room were the words “Isn’t she beautiful?” How wonderful!  Whoever wrote those words must have wanted to remind all who looked in that mirror that we are, indeed, beautiful.  And that’s regardless of our age, our weight, our color, our height, our style, our social or economic status, or any other ridiculous arbitrary criteria.

A short time after that enlightening breakfast I threw a big 60th birthday party for myself. (That was ten years ago now…and a fun party it was!) Guess what was written on the mirror in the powder room of the little Polish club where we celebrated my special birthday. You got it!  Written in beautiful pink lipstick – were the words “Isn’t she beautiful?!”  Truth be told, those words were even on a mirror in my own little “cottage” at one point in time…

As we age we sometimes forget how valuable we are as human beings. And the world around us often fails to remind us of that important truth. Whether we agree with Betty White or not, it is important to always see ourselves as absolutely valuable human beings. Our happiness – and maybe even to a certain extent our longevity – might just depend on it.

What do you think, my friends?

 

 

Learning from “The Oak Tree”

“The Oak Tree” by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr. reminds us of our strength.

nature red forest leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let me just start by saying that I am definitely not a cryer.  While I often feel like crying, for whatever reason (not to be explored here!) I don’t often experience that luxury.

The other day I did cry. What brought me to tears was hearing this poem for the first time.

                   The Oak Tree
            by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew.

As I read this poem again, tears threaten. Something tells me that, like me, you have at times felt “at the end of your rope,” wondering how you could possibly face another minute, another hour, another day. Isn’t it wonderful when we recognize that we have strength we didn’t realize we had? And isn’t it also wonderful that, when we need it most, a friend will reach out to help us be strong?

Just one more thing. Let’s never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help when we need it is a sign of strength rather than weakness. Fellow travelers on this journey of aging are within reach, ready and willing to help. As the Beatles reminded us a few decades ago, “I get by with a little help from my friends!

Choose to be The Oak Tree, my friends!

Care to share??

Old Age Ain’t No Place for Sissies

When we are blessed with many birthdays, we have already faced many challenges…and will continue to face challenges for as long as we are given the gift of life.

closeup photo of adult white and tan american bulldog near wall
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Bette Davis was right! (Younger folks might have never heard of Bette Davis.  “Oldsters” like me recognize that name.) Yes, Ms. Davis was “on the money” when she made the declaration that “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Obviously she was old enough to know that when we are blessed with many birthdays, we have already faced many challenges…and will continue to face challenges for as long as we are given the gift of life.

Do you know any aging folks who seem to have given up and sometimes almost relish wallowing in some kind of self-imposed purgatory? How sad is that???

Let’s see. I’ve experienced the death of both of my parents and my big brother, Tim. I said good-bye to my precious grandparents, “Munner” and “Pap,” so many years ago. Today I am trying to help a very close family member navigate more-than-difficult life twists and turns that have come her way. Tomorrow? Who knows?

But…I have also been blessed through the years with two wonderful daughters and two grandsons that I love more than life itself. My best friend of close to fifty years  has brought me so much strength, happiness and balance as we have lived our lives and faced life’s challenges. While we live miles apart, we are always close at heart!

In other words, Bette Davis was indeed right. Old age ain’t no place for sissies! It’s a place for those who have both survived challenges and been blessed beyond measure.

Get on board the old age train to contentment, acceptance, happiness and thankfulness. You’re in good company!

Do you have any inspiring “old age quotes” to pass along??

70 is the new…70?!

Wait a minute…

70th CakeI’ve heard it said that 60 is the new 50. Hmmm. And did you know there’s actually a French film entitled 50 is the New 30? (A romantic comedy of course!) I do absolutely appreciate those perspectives.  After all, we look and act much younger than our parents and grandparents did at our age, right? Well, maybe! So, we could proclaim that 70 is the new 60…or even 70 is the new 50. (Remember, we’re optimists!) But wait a minute…

As much as the number 70 can be a bit frightening in terms of age, I have been on this good earth for 70 years. I deserve credit for that!

If I wasn’t 70 I wouldn’t remember that crank phone on the kitchen wall when I was a kid…and our “phone number” being two longs and a short. (My grandparents’ was three shorts!) I wouldn’t have memories of watching Sky King, Hopalong Cassidy, or The Lone Ranger on Saturday mornings with my brother Tim. I wouldn’t have the memory of holding my precious grandmother’s hand as she cried at the sight of her father’s work boots hanging in “Pap’s shanty” after he passed away. And I wouldn’t remember sitting in study hall in high school and learning that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. Or − on a much lighter note – how about seeing Elvis Presley making his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956?  Woo hoo! Those old memories are all a part of me.

Would it be nice to be 50 again? Or be 60 again? Sure. But I’m not and I won’t be. I’m 70 and proud.  70 is what we make it.  Bring it on!