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!

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!

Taking The Road Less Traveled…

It CAN make all the difference!

Autumnal trees in sunshine.One of my very favorite quotes is found at the conclusion of a Robert Frost poem.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.

While interpretations may vary, to me this quote very simply means that in this short life we can be happiest and most fulfilled by creating our very own path…whatever that path may be.

In 1978 Dr. M. Scott Peck wrote a wonderful book entitled The Road Less Traveled.  I first became aware of this book years ago through my daughter Michele.  Then, as luck would have it, Michele and I had the opportunity to attend a Road Less Traveled seminar right here in our hometown. I took notes (I’ve always been a big note taker!) and came away with some “nuggets” that I remember to this day. Here are just a few…

•  Our own view of reality is like a map…the “road” in our lives.
•  We should always pay attention to our inner wisdom – our intuition – and combine that with logic (of course!).
Be open to “serendipity” – when something good happens that you’re not looking for.
Grace” is the connecting force in life that shows us how to grow.

I especially like the idea of serendipity, defined in the Oxford University Press blog as experiencing happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. How wonderful! Sometimes the “map” we follow in life is structured, “humdrum,” and we don’t keep our minds and eyes open for serendipity.  We best change that!

Grace is another remarkable concept. While grace is often defined from a theological or spiritual perspective, from my perspective grace is the heartwarming, comforting sense of peace, gratitude and love that comes to us at special moments in time. It can occur anytime and anywhere and can help us truly sense the goodness of life. (I do know I’m waxing philosophical here!) While feelings of grace may be fleeting and rare, my guess is if we were more open to its existence we could experience “amazing grace” much more often in our lives.

I like to think that, as I create my life in however many years I have left on this earth, I will welcome serendipity, open my mind and heart to experience true grace, and then confidently take that inviting Road Less Traveled. I know for sure that will make all the difference!

Care to join me, anyone?

“It is what it is.”

Wait! There’s more to the “story”!

How many times have you heard someone say “It is what it is”? Countless times? That’s pretty much true for most of us.

So…what does “It is what it is” mean to you? While I know what it means to me — I’ll get to that shortly! — I decided to Google the idiom and found that some folks feel very strongly about this little phrase!

In a 2015 article on inc.com entitled The Stupidity of ‘It is what it is…’ author Peter Economy (Is that a real last name??) declared that “It is what it is is especially damaging when used to frame a response to a problem…an admission that the problem is too hard…This all too common phrase has no place in the lexicon of leaders who rely on the intellectual, emotional and creative power of their people.”

Okay Peter, you’re right to a point. However, let’s not just say “It is what it is” and leave it at that. Instead, let’s say this…                                     

It is what it is 2

Now that is about acknowledging the reality of a situation and then making a conscious choice about how that reality will impact us and what we are going to do about it!

Case in point: I’m 70 now. (Yes, indeed, it is what it is!)  And…I choose not to bemoan the fact that I’m not younger. I choose to embrace the fact that I’m still waking up in the morning, have people to love, and can still make a contribution to this world. I choose to accept responsibility for my attitude…and I choose to be an optimist.

It is what it is, my friends!

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!!