“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”


“Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive.”

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people my age tend to simply stop. They stop doing fun things, they stop being involved, they stop thinking and growing intellectually. They just stop. Then they sit about and complain about how boring life is, how hard it is to do things they used to do, how much they wish they had done such and such before they got too old. They are failing to thrive in the late years of their lives. And there is no excuse for that- period.

I know, things are a bit harder to do when knees hurt,backs don’t want to bend, and the body gets tired much easier than it did at the age of forty. We all have to slow down,but that doesn’t mean we have to stop. It may take longer, but there is no reason not to at least try.

Years ago there was a movie entitled Cocoon followed by another, Cocoon Returns. If you haven’t seen them, I suggest watching them at least once. It starred a lot of “stars” who were getting quite elderly. All stuck in a nursing home, waiting to die, fussing at one another, etc. Until things change due to a visit from the aliens. Look, I know it is really a sappy story, but what I loved about it was the willingness of almost all of the elderly folks to embrace that which was different. If their youth didn’t return, their joy for life certainly did. And, at the end of the day, their inaction became action, and their lives infinitely better.

Another movie I loved was Driving Miss Daisy, a stellar performance by one and all. Again, another character that defies the tendency to just sit down and stop. Fried Green Tomatoes is a fantastic film. Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy were great together and the flashback between Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson is equally dynamic. At the end of the day, we are still not sure which woman Jessica Tandy was as the elderly friend of Kathy Bates. Ambiguity saturates the film, while turning Katy Bates’ character from a meek doormat into a woman filled with confidence. And, of course, the character played by Shirley Mclaine in Steel Magnolias is just like I want to be when I get old.

I see many older folks off and doing things all over the world. They travel, explore, serve missions of compassion – regardless of sore knees and aching backs. They move, act, and they live every minute of every day. That is what I want to do too.

When our youngest son went off to college, my husband and I decided to work our way around the world. Eight years later, we finally returned to the US. As we were raising our granddaughter, she went right along with us. We lived in London, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, and only came back to the US due to health issues and the awful Socialized Medical care in NZ. We traveled all over each region and were enriched many times over by our experiences.

But I was in my forty’s when we did that. Now I am sixty, and it is going to become more difficult to do some of the things we did. So, we chose other things to do so we could travel. A cruise or four, a road trip across the US, and our big adventure this year is to travel across country by train. I don’t hike for miles any longer, but I sure can sit and enjoy the view from the train.

So there is no excuse not to thrive, people. Just get up, take a few steps, find a hobby that fulfills you, volunteer as a surrogate grandmother to rock babies at the hospital. Volunteer at the schools or libraries to help kids with their reading skills. Go help out a nursing home if you have a talent like playing the piano. There are a multitude of things you can do to overcome the lack of inertia and sedentary inaction. For me, being with my grandchildren is one of my greatest motivators. I write, I hang out on social media sites, I keep up with friends and work on my family history, and I am planning on taking art lessons. I have always wanted to learn how to paint. That will be so much fun!

So, you are old, so what? Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. Just because your body is starting to creak and moan, it doesn’t mean your brain isn’t functioning. (Unless you have a serious condition, of course.) With all the medical miracles out today, most of us will live well into our eighties or nineties.

I have a friend who is ninety-eight. For the several decades, she has traveled the world following the performances of the operas of Wagner. All on her own, she would jump on a plane and off she would go to Italy, France, Germany, or any place in the world that the operas were being performed. What an amazing lady

who just kept on going like an Eveready Battery. She is running down now, but she is still in control of her life and decided to go home until the end of her days. It is heartbreaking, but at the same time, what a life she has had! Even now, she keeps busy with doing her family history and chatting with her friends and family.

Even if you are homebound, unable to walk, unable to drive, so what? There are a million things you can do to keep your brain healthy and busy. Never just stop and wait to die. We all have a finite amount of time here in this life. I could spend it worrying about death, or I can just get on with living while I am still here.

The more we let inaction rule our lives, the less likely we are to live a long life. Not just because our bodies need to move to function well, but because our brains atrophy at an alarming rate. Inaction is not an excuse for failure to thrive. But it is only you that can take that first step. I can’t wait to become a feisty old woman who says exactly what she wants to say about everything.

Come on people, get up, find a cause, reason, purpose, or passion to fill your life. Go on!

 

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No New Year Resolutions.


I have no New Year Resolutions, not a one. I stopped torturing myself with those things ages ago. Every year I would start out with a list of things I wanted to do. Most were self serving, like losing weight, and some were grandstanding, like I will not let others tell me what to do. Of course, they were destined to fail, leaving me feeling like an idiot. I mean, how can one be so stupid as to always let themselves down, every year, on a regular basis?

After failing so many years in a row, I finally realized that I was simply setting myself up to feel like a loser. I hurt my own feelings, and made myself mad at ME, all for some stupid non-tradition that is encouraged by popular demand. Why? I don’t know, maybe it was just a desperate attempt to fit in, to succeed, to find something worthwhile about myself. But it always worked just the opposite from what I planned.

So, a few years ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to give in and make impossible resolutions about my life. Because, you see, life doesn’t stick to a plan. It has a way of making its own path, and we are pretty much along for the ride. I can’t control life around me, only myself. Most of the time, life around me is on a whole different page than I am at any given moment! How can we resolve to accomplish anything in a measurable way when it comes to feelings and thoughts? If it is something concrete, for instance, completing a course at school, going to the gym, or getting a promotion, perhaps we can make a plan. However, you might get sick, and miss a lot of school. You might be too tired, busy, or bored to go to the gym after a week or so. You might be downsized at your company and have to start your own business to survive. There is no getting around it, no matter your resolve, life just keeps happening while you plan. And it almost always throws a spanner into the works to muck everything up.

Now that can be a good thing, making you move outside the box and do something different and new. But, it means that you will have to forsake your resolutions – again – and if you are emotionally tied to those resolutions, it can make you pretty miserable. Or not. Depends on how much you have invested yourself in the process and plan. I suppose, one should be flexible with resolutions.

I know many folks out there in the world managed to stick with a resolution come hell or high water. No matter what life throws at them, they stick to the plan. But, have you ever wondered what would have happened if you went out to your friends dinner party instead of going to the gym? Maybe you would have met the love of your life, or, if already with the love of your life, maybe you would fall into romance all over again. You see, your choices always have a possibility of at least two outcomes. If you stick to the plan, you know exactly what will happen. You will be tired, smelly, and sore from a workout. But, maybe the second or tenth outcome, well, it might be magical enough to change your life forever.

Now, in my crazy life, I no longer set myself up to fail. Because I have finally figured out what a New Year means. It isn’t a do over, remake, new start, or second chance. It means that you get to change course, learn from last year, and make a choice to be flexible in all that you do. All the New Year does is to make it easy to switch paths, change gears, explore something new, or simply stop always doing and just be. A New Year is a date on the calendar. Nothing will be any different on the first of January than it was on the thirty-first of December. All your problems will still be there, the difference being, that after the holidays, time with family and friends, maybe you have a clearer vision of your life.

No New Years Resolution means I am not locked into a plan. I can do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and with that flexibility, I cannot fail. I can only move forward, just like the path in front of me encourages me to do. Happy New Year everyone, I hope you find it magical.

Cinema Passion


Some people go to the movies because they are bored. Some people go because the kids are driving them crazy and it is too hot to send them outside, or they refuse to go outside. Some people, especially teenagers, go to hang out with friends and to see the hottest, new movie. Not that they actually watch the movie with all the socialization going on between them. Some people go to the cinema out of habit, and some because it is a particular genre they enjoy. There are some people who actually go just to be entertained. There is, however, a breed of cinema goers who are in a class all their own.

These are the people who have a true passion for movies. Some of them are passionate about certain actors, making it their business to know all the statistics about each and every one in every movie they see. They can recite chapter and verse about all their favorite actor’s parts and quote, line for line, the dialogue from their favorite scenes. They are fanatic about every detail of the character, and will argue endlessly about what scene in what movie was the best scene for the actor they adore.

Another group passionate about the movies is the technical fanatics. They love to go to the movies and pick apart the special effects, point out the obvious continuity flaws, pour over the scenes and pick out tiny mistakes on the set, or, in some cases, huge flaws. In this group is the sub groups of Sci/Fi technical fanatics who have read every book in a series, like Lord of the Rings, and love to note what scenes have been left out, combined, or changed beyond all recognition. They are passionate about the story, but also the way in which technology was used to create the movie. They will sit and watch the credits to the bitter end to see who did what in the movie.

There are people who are passionate about the whole movie experience, regardless of the genre or the technology. These are people, of which I am one, who have grown up in the cinema all their lives. Going to the movies is as much a part of who we are as anything else in our lives. Some of us can quote favorite lines from movies, know every word to every song from the musicals of our youth, and have favorite actors, but aren’t fanatic about them. Children of the cinema love the ambiance of a large screen, dark auditorium, and the expectation of the movie bursting on to the screen with sound and color. We are the people who get annoyed at the whisperers, bag rattlers, ice crunchers, and crying kids because it ruins the show for us.

The children of the cinema have certain rituals that must be observed. Buying the ticket, the popcorn, the soda, and sometimes candy are an important part of the process. We can hardly wait for the previews of coming attractions so we can plan for future cinema experiences. We wait with excitement for a new movie to come out so we can find ourselves involved in a new story that will make us laugh, cry, jump in fear, or feel romantic. The cinema is an escape, a place where we can leave our worries of real life behind and live in a fantasy world for a few hours. Knowing, however, that soon we will be back to dealing with life as usual.

Even leaving the theatre is something of a ritual. Waiting for the final credits to roll, the last note of music to fade, we gather our detritus, and depart as the lights come up in the room, are all part of the encounter. Children of the cinema blink in the bright lights of the lobby as we make our way out into the real world, already dissecting the movie, and comparing it to others that we have seen as we plan the next sojourn into the magic that is our passion.