Those Birthdays Keep Coming

512px-Schokoladentorte_Buttercreme_Tulpen_dritter_Geburtstag_001

courtesy Wikimedia Commons

 

 

For his eightieth birthday, a friend gave my husband a T-shirt. The words emblazoned across the chest read, the older I get, the better I was.

No, no, no. keep going. Reinvent yourself. Deal with the infirmities as they arise.

Remember Betty Friedan? She wrote The Feminine Mystique fifty years ago. (Dell has produced an anniversary edition.) “Shake off the shackles of your vacuum cleaners and get out of the house,” Friedan told women. Now that it has been fifty years, of course some women would just as soon open the front door and head back in. Anyway, Friedan gave the movement a name. F-E-M-I-N-I-S-M.

Several years later, Friedan wrote The Fountain of Age. (Simon and Schuster, 2006) This book celebrates old age as an opportunity for new beginnings. New contributions. Pleased when a group of Harvard physicians invited her to join them in a study or aging, Friedan found Alzheimer’s Disease to be the new beginning they most wanted to study.

Sons, daughters, grandchildren. Don’t write us off. I, for one, write. (Three books—one published this year, two languishing in the storeroom.) Blogs and Facebooks. I’m not the only one. I know of a ninety-two-year-old woman who has recently written a book called, Still Boy Crazy at Ninety.

I adore my grandchildren. Their creativity, their fresh outlooks, and their joy renew me as I watch them explore the world and grow. But sometimes they’d just as soon savor each year a little longer before it passes forever. On his fifth birthday my grandson told me, “I don’t want to grow up. I want to grow down.”

I hope you see fine possibilities ahead even if you don’t have a birthday cake like the one above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation and Family Stress

Bas Relief, Suknothan Thailand depicting walking meditation

Bas rellief in Suknothan Thailand depicting monks during walking meditation

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I can’t think of a way to honor this ghastly anniversary. The world is neither safer nor kinder so I’ll just mention stress. I’m grateful for my family, health, and life. I live in two places, I’m preparing a memoir for publication, and I blog. But like many writers it’s a struggle to find peace and quiet.

I’ve joined a meditation group. Every Wednesday night we gather in a circle, play soft music, and empty our minds for an hour. It is amazing how it refreshes. With practice you do learn.  Our leader turns on the soft music as she aligns us with the universe, the planets and the stars. I’m not sure about those alignments, so since I’m getting a little deaf, I start emptying my cares as soon as I enter the room.  A  year of meditation practice has enabled me to tune out for brief periods of self renewal.

Meditation practice takes many forms—transcendental, several Buddhist varieties, also mindfulness and walking meditations where you try to focus on the present moment. Christian centering prayer removes us from personal cares.

I’ve even bought a meditative Zen alarm clock. How I hate the harsh jangle of any alarm that jolts me out of a dreamy sleep. For those of you who understand the “Golden Mean” the clock follows this.  The alarm features ten minutes of “temple bells.” First a soft bell tone. Three minutes later, another one. A minute and a half until the next. Then a series of tones. If you don’t hear the first, you’ll hear the last. Supposedly you have time to record your dreams. Anyway, it’s a gradual, gentle wake up.

My husband hates it. “Whang, whang, whang, over and over,” he says.

Different strokes for different folks.

Eighty is the New Seventy

Courtesy Wiki Commons

Courtesy Wiki Commons

 

For his eightieth birthday, a friend gave my husband a T-shirt. The words emblazoned across the chest read, the older I get, the better I was.

No, no, no. Keep going. Reinvent yourself. Deal with the infirmities as they arise.

Remember Betty Friedan? She wrote The Feminine Mystique fifty years ago. (Dell has produced an anniversary edition.) “Shake off the shackles of your vacuum cleaners and get out of the house,” Friedan told women. Now that it has been fifty years, of course, some women would just as soon open the front door and head back in. Anyway, Friedan gave the movement a name. F-E-M-I-N-I-S-M.

Several years later, Friedan wrote The Fountain of Age. (Simon and Schuster, 2006). This book celebrates old age as an opportunity for new beginnings. New contributions to the world. Pleased when a group of Harvard physicians invited her to join them in a study of aging, Friedan found Alzheimer’s Disease to be the new beginning they most wanted to study.

Sons, daughters, grandchildren. Don’t write us off. I, for one,  like to write. i’m not the only one. I know of  a ninety-two-year old woman who has recently written a book called, Still Boy Crazy at Ninety.

I adore my grandchildren. Their creativity, their fresh outlooks, and their joy renew me as I watch them explore the world and grow. But like me, they’d just as soon savor each year before it passes forever. On his fifth birthday my grandson told me, “I don’t want to grow up, I want to grow down.”

How about those new possibilities?

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