9 Guerrilla Tactics Boomers Need to Age Gracefully

You wake up with the Rocky Horror Time Warp music playing in your head. What the @!#%? Where did that come from? What year did that movie come out? Oh yeah, 1975.

Memories flood your mind. Fun times. Sad occasions. Blush-worthy moments. It seems like it was just a couple of years ago you wore the crazy get-up every Friday night at the local movie house.

As you begin to roll out of bed, reality strikes. Cranky joints remind you that it was decades ago. Getting old does suck.

But does it have to? You still have choices, so you can give up and get old…or you can fight the good fight.

It might feel like you’re doing battle most days, but isn’t quality of life the better choice? You can choose to be a guerilla in the war on aging and outsmart the enemy with winning tactics.

1. Manage Your Mindset to Maintain Your Sanity

What’s your focus when you realize you’re getting older? Feeling regrets? Or are you looking forward to what comes next?

Looking backward is a slippery slope that can lead to negativity and depression. Instead, commit to yourself to be present today with hope for tomorrow.

Take a walk in nature and tap into your senses. Share your day with a friend and know you aren’t alone. Remind yourself that you are still you and always will be.

You’ve reached a point where you have more freedom than ever. Leverage that hard-earned status to your advantage.

2. Check-in with Yourself on a Regular Basis to Maintain Your Confidence

Does it seem like you’re living in slow motion at times? Younger people buzzing past like you’re standing still? Are celebrities unrecognizable?

Stop doubting yourself. Remind yourself of what you do know. It’s a lot. Take inventory. Record your value in a journal, so you can read it from time to time.

Stand proud and walk at your own pace. Those young whippersnappers can’t hold a candle to your life experiences and wisdom.

3. Keep Learning to Challenge Your Brainpower

Do you ever feel like you’re the dumbest person in the room? That your education is from the dark ages? It’s never too late to learn something new.

It’s good for your self-esteem, not to mention your brain cells. Take a class on a completely frivolous subject. Learn a new skill. Pick up a new or abandoned hobby.

Learning something new keeps your mind running like a well-oiled machine. Show off what you know about archeology. Brag about the native plants in your garden. You’ve got the right stuff!

4. Make Your Own Art to Fill the Joy Space

Do you think that creativity is for kids and artists? That art is only about drawing and painting? If so, you would be among the majority of people who are wrong.

Everyone is creative. Art wears many faces. Are you passionate about cooking? Create a new recipe. Do you sing in the shower? You don’t have to be Celine Dion to belt it out.

Tapping into whatever medium attracts you is a salve for the soul at any age. Try something new or resurrect a long-lost talent. Then let the joy unfold.

5. Know Your Limits and Adapt Without Shame

Do you sometimes struggle for words? Walk a little slower? Does the speed limit feel too fast? These experiences are normal.

The secret is to notice, accept, and adapt. It doesn’t mean it’s time to retire to the recliner. Take your time and let the synapses fire, walk at your pace, and drive when the crazies are fewer.

This is when a healthy mindset and practiced confidence are important.  Stand tall. Reframe your thoughts. Keep going. You’ve got this.

6. Tend to Friends for a Sense of Camaraderie

Are conversations with your dog the most meaningful? Do you know too many names in the obituaries? Is contact with family infrequent? You still have social options.

Reach out to existing friends. Meet for lunch. Organize an outing. Or make new friends. Join a senior center. Volunteer. Become a regular at the local coffee shop.

Choosing to be with people you relate to is much healthier than isolation. Things in common are bonding, and discovering someone else’s history is enriching. Party like it’s 1999!

7. Find and Ask for Help When You Need It

Do you let things go because you don’t want to ask for help? Think it’s an inconvenience to others? Do you perform risky tasks by yourself? Turn down offers of help?

Let others give you a hand. Don’t let your pride rob someone of the satisfaction in giving service. Tap into agencies and organizations who exist for that purpose.

Asking for help is a skill. When cultivated, you can solve problems, achieve goals, and deepen relationships. Practice asking for help. The rewards are great.

8. Stay Grounded in a Hopeful Reality

Do you think all these ideas are pie in the sky for an older person? What if you have physical limitations? It’s possible.

The reality is that our bodies eventually fail us. Each new physical betrayal hits hard. Prepare yourself for those times.

Hope springs eternal is both cliche and truth. Everyone needs hope. Without it, humans can’t survive. Know that clouds will rain on your parade and then look for the silver lining.

9. Be True to Yourself Above All Else

You are the expert on YOU. You know your own experiences, joys, heartbreaks, dreams, and accomplishments better than anyone.

Likely, people will question your thoughts, behaviors, or capabilities based on your age. It might push doubt buttons in you. But remember, you are still the same person.

Summon your courage and calmly express who you are. Help them see their misconceptions about you. Stand firm in your convictions.

The Fork in the Road: Which Way Will You Go?

It all comes down to your choice. Getting older is inevitable and how we each approach it is that choice.

Imagine filling your time with fun and interesting new endeavors.

Imagine your social life is more than enough time spent with friends and family. Going places and making new memories.

Imagine knowing that you are capable, confident, and motivated. You can accept challenges and manage difficulties on your own terms.

The moment of truth is here.

Procrastination won’t change that fact. The time warp is not reality.

You can take charge of this season of your life now.

Your choice.

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Driving myself crazy

As you get to know me, you’ll quickly discover one of my pet peeves to be the other drivers on the roads. Yes, I suppose I am one of those Type A drivers who has little or no patience for people who can’t decide which way to turn, who won’t accept responsibility for the eventual decision by following through and correcting later, and who expect me to adjust my position so they can drift onto the highway in front of me.

This morning’s commute to the office was an especially aggravating series of incompetent drivers. I gifted myself with 30 minutes of additional sleep this morning after turning on the news and hearing our local weatherman talk about low temps on an April morning. Suddenly my mattress became the most comfortable it’s ever been, the covers were just the right weight, and my body was the perfect temperature. If it hadn’t been for Lulu, the resident feline to whom I belong, I might still be snoozing peacefully. On the rare occasions that I consciously – or unconsciously as in a state of slumber – choose to go later, I know that my journey will be more like that of the salmon swimming upstream. But sometimes it’s worth the risk – at least it is when I’m snug in bed. At 6:29 AM I noticed Lulu was sitting on my shoulder (I’m a side sleeper), touching my face with her soft little paw….that had probably just been covering her latest deposit in the litter box. It works every time, and she knows it.

I cranked my body to a sitting position on the edge of the bed, and the routine began. I knew that it would be at least 45 minutes before I’d be ready to back the car out of the garage. Fifty-five minutes later I was doing just that. One of my techniques for diffusing my travel temperament is to listen to books on CD while I drive. I find that listening doesn’t distract me too much, and if the story is engaging enough, I am much more tolerant of the travelers around me. So today I made sure the latest crime novel I’m listening to was playing before I ever left the driveway.

As I pulled up to the exit of my condo community, 2 high school students walking away from the school sauntered in front of me. As I pulled out on the neighborhood street, a woman in a minivan (someday I’ll share my thoughts on this driver type all by itself) slowly pulled out in front of me…of course, no one was behind me. Despite the recurring fantasy of ramming the rear end of this type of driver, I braked to spare myself the time and effort involved for a fender bender. Meanwhile, I missed the chopper crash details in my book because I was ranting and shaking my fist.

As we both proceeded west on the main drag, Ms. Minivan dawdled just enough to make it through the light, leaving me with no alternative but to crash the red or stop. Again….I stopped. The problem with this particular thoroughfare is that once you get stopped at one light, you get them all. I don’t understand the logic for this type of traffic management and suspect the term I just used to be an oxymoron at best. Wait! Did the author resolve the relationship with the dead man’s wife? Crap, I missed it….probably when I was swerving around the indecisive jerk. And so it continued.

Indecision about which way to turn, taking up two lanes in the process. Staring at green lights instead of moving forward. Clueless use of the acceleration lane of the freeway, thereby jamming up right-lane traffic. Conversely, running full speed on the on-ramp and rudely cutting right-lane travelers off to be at the head of the line. More red lights. Bicyclists. More red lights. My extra 30 minutes cost me an additional 30 in commute time, the whole way I was cursing, grumping and groaning. When I pulled in the parking space at the office, I heard, “We hope you enjoyed listening to….”

Another Saturday Night

Whew….I’m a little dizzy. It’s one of those Saturday nights when I can do whatever the heck I want. I like that idea. So on my way home from a monthly sing along that I attend, I decided that I would do something wonderfully self indulgent yet original.

Default thinking took me immediately to watching the NCIS marathon, but that wouldn’t be any different than most Saturday nights. While preparing my Jenny cuisine for dinner – more routine, I pondered the idea of vegging on the couch and playing solitaire on my phone. Nope….I do that every day….almost. Ooh, maybe both those activities simultaneously. Um….not a good idea.

The telephone rang interrupting my contemplation, and against my good judgment, I answered. It was a young woman reading her script for the “short survey” she wanted me to participate in. Normally, I beg off and hang up, but what the heck? I could take a few minutes out of my special night to help her out? The conversation went like this:

Caller:  Thank you, Miss Der-HODES (one of the many mispronunciations). Are you the primary occupant of the home?

Me: Yes but not on alternate Tuesday mornings and once quarterly when they’re here to sweep for bugs

Caller: (hesitating) OK,…can you answer questions regarding major purchasing decisions in the household?

Me: Yes as long as the information isn’t classified in nature.

Caller: Um….is there someone else I can talk to?

Me: Maybe….I’ll see if Leo is available to speak with you.

I held the phone away from my ear for about a minute until I heard….

Caller: Miss Der-HODES? Are you still there?

Me: Yes. I’m waiting for Leo to wake up.

Caller: Oh, that won’t be necessary. Is there a time that I can call again and speak to Leo?

Me: You can try most evenings between 9 and 9:30 although you might not be able to understand his responses.

Caller: Does he not speak English?

Me: Well yes, sort of. It’s feline English. You might want to have an interpreter to help you translate his responses.

(Click…..dead air) Oh well…..I got further with her than I thought I would. That was fun. Now….where was I?

Oh yeah….what to do on Saturday night. Maybe I should be more cerebral about passing the time. I could put on some soft music, light a candle or two, and read. Yes…that seems sophisticated enough. I chose an appropriate self help title from the stack beside my bed and headed for the living room. It took a few extra minutes to find a candle with a wick that would burn, but I got one going. Setting up the mood music also took a few minutes because I can never remember where the music stations are on the cable channel lineup. As I settled into the recliner with the book that I know is going to change my life, the cats started screaming at something outside. I got up to see what was going on.

Still some daylight on this late summer evening, I saw the resident crazy squirrel in the flower bed digging holes in the mulch. I tapped on the sliding door glass and shouted. He hesitated for maybe a second and a half, then resumed the digging. Now this fearless vermin was on my last nerve since this has been his regular activity for the past three months or so. Having reached the end of my patience, my eyes landed on a small balloon on the kitchen counter – the one that was among the freebies in my bag from the party store’s grand opening earlier this week. I swear I saw the lsquirrel-295123__180ight bulb in my mind’s eye flicker on brightly. The sink is right beside where I spotted the balloon, so I carefully filled the  balloon with water and tied it off. Remembering that one of the bedroom windows overlooks the ravaged flower bed, I hoofed it upstairs and quietly opened the window. As luck would have it, the squirrel was still foraging in the mulch – for what is still a mystery. Very carefully I reached through the open window with the water balloon in my hands, aiming for a solid spot near the intruder. I let it go….it fell almost in slow motion…and SPLAT! The balloon popped and water splattered everywhere including a respectable soaking of the nutball squirrel. The startled squirrel stopped digging, ran to the other side of the mulched bed, and star
ted digging there. Sigh….when I returned to the kitchen on the first floor, the cats were gone – no doubt freaked out by the water bomb they saw burst before their eyes.

Enough of that….back to my sophisticated evening of reading and listening to high brow music (I chose the movie sound tracks channel). Finally, I was settled in with my book, nestled in my recliner with my favorite throw keeping me warm. I read a paragraph, then took a moment to look around and observe the ambiance I had created for myself. Lovely….peaceful…..serene. I returned to my book and started reading again, but I had forgotten that reading in the evening tends to make me sleepy. My eyelids were drooping after about 12 minutes of reading. Crap! I could give in to the sleepiness, but I do that all the time. This was supposed to be my special Saturday night, so NO, I’m not going to take one of those blissful naps this time.

I closed my book, lowered the foot rest, and threw the blanket off as I looked around for another something special to occupy my Saturday night. Why not Netflix? It’s paid for, and I can choose one of those films that people are impressed to hear you’ve watched. I pulled out all 3 remotes and finally figured out how to get to Netflix….through the Wii game system. As the menu appeared on the screen, I realized that my Just Dance – Ballet Edition was in the player. How fun would that be? And I know I wouldn’t fall asleep doing that. It’s good exercise and ballet is fairly sophisticated. Right?

Just Dance ballet is quite a workout believe it or not. About 5 minutes in, I decided to take a short rest here at the computer and write this blog entry. There’s still another 20-30 minutes left before it’s time to get ready for bed. I guess I’ll try those pirouettes one more time.

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Finding my voice

I have no doubt that I’m supposed to be writing this blog for a number of reasons. In my head – a curious and often scary place – I intend my written voice to be a cross between the great female satirist, Erma Bombeck, and glib raconteur, David Sedaris, both of whom are wildly hilarious. When the reality of pulling that combo off fully impresses on my consciousness, I think I must be nuts. Who do you think you are, Esther? What makes you think you possess one iota of that kind of talent? Then I remember the nagging “voice” that keeps telling me that THIS is your gift – give it to the world, but most of all, give it to yourself.

I sit in front of my monitor waiting for one of the brilliant flashes of insight to reappear. You know the kind I’m talking about – walking down the grocery aisle, overhearing a conversation between the elderly husband and wife, grasping the absurdity and amusement as they discuss upcoming family birthdays and which $10 gift card to buy for whom, and promising myself that I’ll write an entry about those two. What I haven’t considered is that there’s an aspiring 20-something writer right behind me and my shopping cart, perceiving exactly the same thing – only this time it’s her view of a 60-year old obviously single woman with a 6-pack of Ensure and a Soap Opera Digest amongst the selected treasures, who is eavesdropping on the conversation of the nice old people standing by the gift card display. Now there’s someone to write some satirical observations about!

Funny yet poignant. Is that asking too much? Observant and self-deprecating…yes, that’s getting closer. I’ve been at this post for nearly 20 minutes now – such focus, such professional commitment. I think I have a headache coming on though. At the very least, I need a nap. This work is exhausting. My throat is dry. My voice is scratchy at best. Perhaps I should take a break. I don’t like this font. Why would Microsoft choose Calibri as the default font in Word’s normal template? Whoa…..stop right there, little gal.  Get back to the task at hand.

As I write, I keep asking the great magical power to channel the words that need to be written. Make them flow with eloquence in a flowing cogent thought stream that is engaging and humorous. Then one of the voices in my head (yes, there are several up there) says, “Just keep doing it. The purpose will present itself, the topics will emerge, and your voice will resonate….as you.”

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