Play while You Can

Do not know about you, but I find people of my generation absolutely set in their ways. Of course, we all have those friends that are still fun to be with and are game for many things. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. Most of our contemporaries have decided that it’s better to take things cautiously and not temp fate. Whatever that means!!!

Someone once said that we grow old because we stop playing, not the other way around. A greater truth has not been stated. We must keep our playfulness, it is as simple as that. How is another story because we are all different and because we have different ways of playing!!!

I am all for having fun, play and make mischief if we can. I believe in my heart that is the only way to face our golden years. Of course, I have been told more than once to act my age. Since I know I was never this age before, I claim ignorance. How to behave an age I know nothing about???

Enough of the teasing, you know what I mean. There is no such thing as acting one’s age. Even in the off-chance that someone can tell me what that is, I would not be interested. Would you???

This is why we must play while we still can. Dance when you hear music, hold your partner’s hand and swing them as you walk, stick out your tongue to a small child and see her reaction. No need to shy away from joining in a catch game or to stoop and talk to a child who is holding a doll. Offer to hold the doll if she allows you, why not???

Play, that’s it …..do not think twice. Do what you must to keep play in your life. Do not look around first before you engage in some silly game. Go for a swim and splash around, dunk your head in the ocean and build sand castles. Sing out loud, embrace the music when you hear it. Celebrate your birthday with cake and balloons, no matter your age.

Life is short, it is full of challenges and not always easy-to-make decisions. We act responsibly most of the time, which is to be expected. There are enough serious moments in our lives already. What we need are the moments that make us relax and smile. So, go ahead. Just do it, go with the flow, enjoy the moment and play to your heart’s content!!!

 

 

 

 

Planning is Essential

Went with my husband to see his aunt at the nursing home she is staying after a being released from the hospital. I say see because visit is not what we did. A visit is a social interaction. This was far from that. It was trying to understand why was she upset, what could we do while we were there to make it better. There was no other interaction.

No complains about the facility that we could point out. The place is spotless in a clinical sort of way. The room is well lit and it’s a double which makes it less lonely. Meals are served three times a day and there is someone to help if the patient cannot feed herself. So far, it seems alright.

The fact that you will not have someone 24 hours looking after your every need is a given. Personnel have to care for several patients on each ward. So she complained that she feels abandoned by the staff. She told us there is a plot against her and her cousin so they are kept part. In reality, is hard for anyone to come spend the whole day with her.

Let me explain first, she has been very sick of late, is 92 years old and has Parkinson. She lives with her cousin and friend who is 99!!! They started living together when they retired many years ago. My husband’s aunt is a widow, her cousin never married. Neither has children.

They did have some sort of idea of how they wanted to live their old age. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that if you live this long, you need more than a vague idea. You need a plan and specific instructions of how you want everything done.

Once you get to a certain age, everything comes to a head. It is not only old age, it is unexpected illnesses, lack of financial means, lack of family responsible for decisions once you are incapable of taking them yourself.

In this time and age, when everyone is so busy, so involved in their own lives and responsibilities, getting old is daunting. The time when older family members could be taken care of at home is a thing of the past.

Consequently, you must have your plans in place and make sure you have someone who will carry them out. Improvising at this stage is absolutely out of the question. The reality is we are living longer and must plan accordingly.

Living at home is desirable, but it depends of so many circumstances: financial stability, staff to come and live at home or at least be able to show up when needed. Not every city or town provides the resources to take care of the homebound elderly. Even when an arrangement is worked out, any small mishap can throw the whole thing off.

You may want to stay together with a friend or family member and keep sharing a home, but reality has a way of stepping in. This is when you need your plans in order. This when you should have only to decide when you want to go to where you planned to go. You have picked a place, you have made financial arrangements, you have discuss this with someone you trust.

When we cannot decide anymore, we depend on what other will think is best for us. In some cases, this is not even decided by family members or trusted friends, but by social workers, or other well meaning strangers.  In other cases, the decision comes down to simple numbers: how is this care going to be paid for, can you get into the facility of your choice or there is no space available when you need it.

Of course it can be done, it just takes time and effort to do it. It takes acceptance of the things that are coming and foresight to make the difficult decisions now. In the long run, this is the only way, so do not hesitate!!!

 

photo: This print hangs just outside the room. I found it very appropriate: Falling Leaves by Dominique Gaudin.

Declutter to Destress

Every time I see a rocking chair, I relax. Yes, I do not even have to sit on the chair or start rocking. It is definitively in my genes. My mother and grandmother were both great rockers, but that is something to explore in another post. Unfortunately, we do not make time for these small pleasures anymore. Simple, relaxing movement….slowly rocking your stress away. Nowadays, there is so much going on in our lives that when we do sit, it’s because we are exhausted and need a reclining chair. Have you felt like that sometimes???

I do, more times that I want to admit. Never mind all my good intentions, stress is never too far. What to do, where to turn to? It has been a simple discovery for me. I started getting rid of things at home. Cleaning closets, donating as much as I dare, selling, throwing away. Slowly turning my home into a simpler, decluttered space. Very much a labor of love: self love, that is.

I started by organizing papers, boxes and boxes of them. Doing this, I have discovered so many things: Christmas letters from friends, years worth of them; invitations to weddings, baptisms, bar mitzvahs and baby and bridal showers; letters from friends with good news and not so good news; thank you notes and sympathy notes; boxes of journals I have kept for years…..in longhand!!! My children’s awards, papers, report cards. It’s been like going over parts of my life, all over again. It kept my heart fit for weeks.

Then I started to organize my kitchen, living and dinning rooms. Now I am sure I don’t need to buy anything new for my house…well, maybe for the kitchen. Appliances can always be replaced, knives, pots and pans, too.  No cutlery or china, but maybe some wine glasses. No knickknacks or vases or silver of any kind. I actually sold all my silver last year. Wonderful feeling. No more polishing pieces that are only displayed and seldom used.

The linen closet was overhauled. Towels and sheets and throws, cushion covers and beach towels…I had more than my share. Kept was needed and will replace as I go. Felt fabulously and was a great opportunity to buy what I love…..should have been done years ago. Bought the perfect bed and it has been such a change in my sleeping habits. Will replace when needed.

We all have art pieces that we once loved. We also have some we inherited from family or friends, but we didn’t really like. We have pieces we can’t use anymore with our new decor or in our downsized home. There are just so many things you can hang on your walls or display on tables and shelves. They make wonderful gifts for friends and family and we know they will have a good home.

I discovered that the only things I must keep buying on a regular basis are: books, clothes and shoes……and handbags!!! Why not? My mind needs the constant infusion of knowledge and entertainment and I want to look good. One thing, when buying anything these days, I am visiting more vintage places. Looking for things that have a history and still look good, it is like a treasure hunt, exciting and surprising. Also I donate my gently used things in there.

There are benefits to decluttering and trust me, it’s a perfect exercise. Donating always gives you a good feeling. Selling what you do not want is liberating and profitable, so it’s a winning combination. Of course, throwing things away, has to be one of the best therapies….ever!!!

The biggest benefit of all is that while doing all this, you can keep your stress at very manageable levels. A great thing all around!!!

Plan and Flexibility

Having spent most of our lives, planning, coordinating, making sure that everything moves like clockwork, we are now free to plan without rules. The days of strict adherence to what was planned, or what was supposed to happen are things of the distant past. This should not come as a surprise to any woman in our age group, but somehow it does!!!

Everyday we are reminded of how time is of the essence, how things must be done, enjoyed. It has become a priority to do what we love, make the best of every day and live in the moment. Indeed we are living with the knowledge that more years have passed than those that will come. The thought is sobering, to say the least.

For that reason, if not for any other, we must learn to un-plan. It does sound strange, this un-planning business. What is it? how does it work? Must we be on the lookout for plans that suddenly change themselves? For surely, we are not going to carefully plan anything, knowing that we can change our minds at a given moment.

Here is what I have learned. We must always have a plan, we must work on anything having a step by step idea of how to carry out our task. That is a given, but we must also know that flexibility in our plan is what makes us work through it without stress, without feeling anxious.

Planning flexibility is what we need. The idea of a strict plan, following it without getting out of step is an absolute impossibility at this stage in our lives. There are so many factors that can throw our well laid plans by the wayside. So we must incorporate all possible variables into our plans. We must learn to un-plan!!!

First, there are the outside variables. The ones you really cannot control: financial reverses or a sudden windfall, break-ups or a new love interest, unexpected illness or the passing of a loved one, a job promotion or a dismissal….you know what I mean. No matter what you think, there are things you cannot control, so accept and adjust.

Then there are your personal variables. You must prepare to stop and reconsider, to add something at the last minute, to listen to your heart, to just decide that the plan was not exactly what you wanted. There is no one to please, no one to tell you what is best, no one to give you instructions, no one to approve your plan…..no one, but yourself. Plan to your heart’s content and, when needed, un-plan accordingly!!!