Aging Well

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“Oh, I’m too old for that “.

Spoken by someone 80?

Spoken by a young man. He was too old to learn to snowboard.

So often aging fosters an ageism attitude against living life in crescendo.

It creates the perspective that there is a ‘proper’ age for pursuing a life pleasure.

Even a simple life pleasure.

Like pierced ears.

Unlike babies today who get theirs pierced at six months, I had gotten mine done at the age of twelve. As so often happens (apparently), the holes kept closing up, as I stopped wearing them while caring for my young sons. Glittering gold in a mother’s ears tempts babies to touch and to pull.

When I occasionally attempted to wear pierced earrings, each time I painfully re-pierced them. Finally, I gave up, boxing my mostly gifted, pierced earrings.

I reasoned that I was too old to bother having my ears re-pierced.

Yet, if a child of ten said ,”My earholes are closing up, but, I won’t bother, I’m too old to get my ears re-pierced“, we’d laugh.

Too old?

Surely a ridiculous concept for a ten year old.

Yet, when a man or woman of 60+ says this, people typically nod in agreement.

Getting ears re-pierced is not a big deal nor is it expensive.

Yet, ageism held me back.

Where do we get the concept that we are too old?

Exactly what age is too old for challenges?

Exactly what age is too old for learning?

Exactly what age is too old for adventure?

Aging may effect both body and mind.

It need not affect aging well in spirit.

 

Live Life Aging WellAn eighty year old I know bought season tickets for this upcoming fall theatre, which commences in six months.

Therein lies the spirit of aging well.

Living life in crescendo means aging without ageism.

For me, aging well commenced with re-pierced ears.

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Beach Inuksuk

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What’s the  probability of meeting three delightfully interesting gentlemen all sitting on one beach bench?

Apparently 100%.

For me.

Heading to my local beach, I grabbed my constant companion- a bag with bottled water, protein bar, zipped bag of index cards and, the essential thin jacket. With ocean winds continually changing the weather in a blink, I never leave home without it.

The water lapping quietly against the shoreline stood in stark contrast to my earlier morning stormy walk attired in my yellow rain jacket.

But, now, the once deserted beach was filled with weekend visitors of families with grandparents and young children in tow, all turning over rocks to view crabs before they scurried away or filling buckets of sand to design quickly crumbling sandcastles.

Gaining a joyful heart overhearing their laughter, I spotted several recently created Inuksuk on a beach log.
Inuksuk Crescant Beach

Balancing on the rocks almost in front of a bench to capture a photo, someone asked :

“Would you like a picture of you with them”

Turning to the voice, there sat three older gentlemen on a bench, all with broad smiles.

“No thanks. Aren’t these Inuksuk amazing! OH, wait- Did you three make these incredible Inuksuk? ”

” No, but we watched the engineering ten year old lad who did.”

“These are incredible. i wish I knew how he choose his stones, in what order, to determine how to build each sculpture. He’s balanced each individual rock ever so carefully, matching not only flat edges but pointed ones as well.”

With my few spoken words, we looked together at them in shared awe.

Before long, the tall casual but elegantly attired Ben graciously stood so I could sit with ruggedly white bearded Bob, whose demeanour conveyed he just may play guitar in a band- oh, and he did- and beside the Italian gentlemen Gino, with his welcoming smile and quiet questions about my life and passions. Discussions of photography and light headed into how they knew one another.

Surprisingly, they were all from different parts of the ‘big city’ and had only recently connected through one to the other to the other via their mutual interests of classical cars, like Jaguar, and ‘old school’ watches, or so the millennials call them. Ben proudly showed not only his recent watch purchase but also his watch with a Jaguar emblem on it. The quest for a good watch maker had brought them into my area, and then onto this beach bench.

After a time, the ocean winds shifted, bringing cooler air and Gino, attired in only thin plaid shorts and shirt, began to shiver.

Immediately, I grabbed my jacket .

“Please use this,”  I said, as I quickly covered his shoulders, not with a jacket of shocking pink, ( too bad),  but satin black with blue splash, thin but sufficient to ward his chill.

They seemed incredulous I did so, yet , doesn’t genuine human connection always create communal care for one another.

After an hour of talking , we noted Gino’s renewed shivering and headed to Martino’s Cappuccino Coffee Bar for coffee and hot chocolate.

While it is challenging to engage with three, or rather,  I should say four, individually intriguing life stories in a cramped coffee booth, we managed until the friendly owner reluctantly informed us it was closing time.

Walking back to my car, after reciprocating warm friendly hugs with three gentlemen I’d met just two hours previously, I reflected on the ease of our connection.

But, really, it was the Inuksuk, after all,  who had acted as our introduction.

Inuksuk means that which acts in the capacity of a human, and we human beings are not unlike rocks with multiple edges. Each one of us is an Inuksuk. In that coffee booth, we were building with care various facets and commonality, even as we  carefully turned pointed edges down to listen with engagement and appreciation to each others’ interests and lives.

My delightful evening began with the serendipitous moment I admired and took time  to photograph a young boy’s amazing Inuksuk building skills.

It only became more when these gentlemen warmly embraced a woman who stepped into their field of vision. They choose being fully present to the moment to make a new connection and new friendship.

My life motto of Living life in Crescendo simply means this : An openness to being present to unexpected glorious moments of human interconnection. 

I am grateful these men gifted themselves and shared their lives with me.

 May we meet again.

ETrade’s Fabulous Super Bowl Ad

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Isn’t it fabulous when an ad seen by millions starts a viral conversation?

Etrade’s ad  ‘This is Getting Really Old’ ignited a vital conversation over Ageism.

But why?

As a promoter of living life in crescendo my initial reaction was- this is a creative ad. It shows elderly people engaged in non- stereotypical jobs for the elderly:  lifeguarding, tech support and DJing.  It is quirky, with an off beat twist.

Think about it.

Technological illiteracy is an ageist mindset towards olders, Ashton Applewhite’s  coined term in her book and blog This Chair Rocks. 

So, to have an elderly man rolling into the office in his wheelchair (hey, what happened to remote work options?) beats that cliche.

It shocks the viewer.

DJ Nana does the same,

It creates viewer dissonance to viewers’ ageist responses.

Until it doesn’t.

In contrast, there is praise for Goggle’s Pixel 2 Ad.

Its calm dull fact driven ad still contains an objectionable tone- the narrator’s voice lifts up just before she says Sumiko is a DJ, as if to convey, whoa, can you believe it.

It also has an offensive line:

‘Sumiko is 83 but she feels much younger’.

Aging well is too often associated with ‘feeling younger’.

That comment is ageist.
As an older, I have no desire to feel/look younger.

As Popeye says, ” I yam what I yam”.

I yam the age I yam.

I don’t need to ‘feel’ younger in order to achieve my ongoing personal and life goals. 

Both ads have ageist and aging well content.

Whether they have enough retirement savings or not, an older DJ or tech support worker frame the aging well conversation.

Aging well is the freedom to open whatever door one wants, to live life as one wishes.

Together, these Ads inspire old and young to  Live Life in Crescendo.  

 

 

Related links:

Agesim is Prejudice   

This Chair Rocks 

Aging Well: Develop Latent Talents

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“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot

 

1511916_834909929863282_5932348446737741190_n“Yvonne, could you draw my daughter petting a bunny in our garden, a purple bunny.” Over eighty years ago, six-year-old Yvonne accompanied her grandmother to clean wealthy clients homes. After completing her cleaning duties, she’d pass the time drawing with her left-hand while she waited for her grandmother. Women who owned those homes often paused to admire her talent. Over time, Yvonne spent less time cleaning, to her grandmother irritation, and more time fulfilling requests for unique drawings for the women’s children. Several of these wealthy women approached the grandmother, offering to pay Yvonne’s way through art school. But the grandmother’s pride prevented her from accepting, or even informing her granddaughter of these offers. She believed that becoming an artist was neither an appropriate skill nor job for a young woman in the 1940’s. She firmly declined all offers.

That grandmother’s prideful refusal affected my life, for Yvonne is my mother.

At age fourteen, instead of training her artistic talents, my mother trained to became a welder for WW2 aircraft. A job she lost to returning untrained soldiers, for only under extra-ordinary circumstances were women allowed in untraditional fields like welding.

Educational limitations thrust her into what was considered an appropriate labor job for women in 1946 – waitressing.

I was unaware of her missed life paths until I walked passed a florist and saw pussy willow twigs.

I automatically stopped to caress the soft gray buds. When I handed my mother four eight inch twigs as a gift, I mentioned recalling a picture where kitten heads replaced the pussy willow buds. Staring at me in surprise, she replied that she had drawn that exact sketch nearly 40 years ago, right after my brain injury. With my head still swathed in bandages, she’d been inspired to draw it after listening to me giggle while caressing a neighbor’s kittens.

DSC06013In honour of my attachment to that sentimental childhood memory, she drew me another for my 41st birthday.

Perhaps you look at this picture and think –  this art is amateur.

There is a reason for that.

While it is now known that 3-10% of the population is naturally left handed, eighty years ago being a leftie was ridiculed.

My mother’s grade one teacher intentionally called my mother to the chalkboard to write, and encouraged ALL the children to mock and laugh if she wrote her answer with her Left Hand. As I am a leftie, I can well imagine her humiliation.

So she focused her efforts on training herself to use her right hand, but the drawing did not flow as easily. She placed her art skills on the back burner. Occasionally she drew whimsical cards for her grandchildren.

408150_510030765687786_1782231890_nIn my mother’s early sixties, she took art classes in earnest, trying to develop her latent talents, but still using her right hand. Just before Christmas, she slipped on puddles of water in a mall, and broke her right elbow in three places. Three plates and six screws recreated the joint inside her arm. But, surgery did not return her right arm to its previous capabilities. Each morning, she awoke to a claw fist. No matter how diligently she did her weight exercises she never regained strength or ability in her right arm.

A year after the accident, a rehabilitation therapist suggested she try drawing with her left hand. She could barely contain her excitement when she gave me my pussy willow picture drawn 60 years after being forced to give up drawing with her left hand.

1459973_10152422703103581_6679445278463784322_nIt grieves me that my mother had so little time to restore her neglected left handed artistic ability.

Yet, this pussy willow drawing demonstrates that it is never too late to foster a latent or denied talent.

Despite a tragic loss of life opportunities and her harsh life circumstances, my mother’s legacy to me is her left-handed drawings.

They are a testimony of her resilience.

And an inspiration to develop late in life talents that her proud daughter plans to follow.