Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Should I blame or thank Thom Brown of “To Gyle and Gambol” for “inflicting pain” on me – his words not mine – for asking me to select seven of my blog posts, and also nominate four others whom I admire? I see this as more of an honor, or a challenge. In addition, he saved my day since my Hard Drive crashed last night and my ready-to-go blog post was lost, so this is also a relief of sorts.
I already had a pretty good idea of which blog posts would fit the seven categories listed below. However, in one case, I’m including a guest post that is particularly relevant to my message and because of the outstanding person who wrote it.
My most Beautiful Post was the hardest to choose, a toss-up between three, but eventually I decided on, “Farewell, Old Friend!” because of the reactions and comments that it received.
My most Popular Post was a tie but I chose, “Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight.” This post seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people who are making late life new starts.
My most Controversial Post, “I’m Mad as Hell!” occasioned a flurry of e-mails that varied from “Are you O.K.?” to “I recommend you seek help.” Probably the only time I ventured to air my political views, it was based on a journal entry two years earlier. I didn’t dare post the entire entry, which broke every politically correct rule in the book.
My most Helpful Post was one of my earliest, “I Never Thought This Would Happen to Me.” Words uttered across the country and indeed, across the world by many bewildered men and women who have lost jobs, home , status, etc.
Who knows why this post was Surprisingly Successful (not in comments but it has had more views than any other)? A funny little true story, “What A Slip!” about an unfortunate New Year’s incident. The only reason I can think why it’s had so many views – and comments that I haven’t dared approve – is the bright red pantyhose photo that must have appealed to every porn or physical services site in the world.
A post that Didn’t Get the Attention It Deserved was, “Better Late Than Early.” A guest post written by bestselling author, Elle Newmark, about her Cinderella story that led from self-published author to a multi- million dollar book contract two weeks later. Her second book, “The Sandalwood Tree” recently came out just before her death two months ago. At least, she lived long enough to see her dreams fulfilled.
The post I am Most Proud of is, “I Will Not Go Gentle Into the Night.” In this, I ranted, raged, spoke my mind, gave it my all, lifted my – at that time – sagging spirits, and received the kind of responses I needed to hear – both times it was posted.
Now for the four Bloggers whom I would like to nominate to carry on the baton – if they so wish.
Giulietta Nardone at Giulietta, The Muse constantly exhorts her “rebellious” readers to “Take Back Your Life” and not be a follower.
Sonia Marsh at Gutsy Living wites about gutsy people, gutsy accomplishments and gutsy ways with her own special blend of humor and dedication. She led the way when she uprooted her family from American culture and comfort to live a year in a shack on a beach in Belize.
If you want to read about travel and living in Turkey, read Mary Holan’s “The Adventures of Cilgin Kiz.” Her posts always have both beautiful photos, lots of information, and her crazy descriptions and antics make me laugh.
I hope that you will enjoy these four bloggers as much as I do.
Again, thanks to Thom Brown at To Gyre and Gambol for choosing me and to Hajra at Hajra Kvetches who started this challenge.
There are some days, I admit, when I see little except for a gray existence ahead for me. At 67, I wonder if I will ever fulfill my life’s dream to become a published author. I fear that I will never find security in my old age. The aches and creaks of age wear me down. And I fall into “stinking thinking” that I’ll never find my way back up again.
None of this lasts for long. I don’t let it.
I can’t waste time on negative feelings. Rather, I have to use the next years of my life to accomplish as much as I can.
We all have our gray days. As we get older, we may feel age has caught up with us and overtaken our dreams to achieve what we set out to do. Maybe there isn’t enough time left, or we’re just too old, physically unable, mentally unwilling, or tired.
On the other hand, if we’re interested in the world and passionate about certain subjects, then we can still accomplish what we set out to do.
History and the arts are full of men and women who made surprising comebacks, achieved greatness, or who revived/had prominent careers at an age when most would have given up. And there must be a myriad of other less known or unrecorded cases.
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in.”
Winston Churchill, after an up and down career, and ten years as a political pariah or, as he put it, “Out in the wilderness” during the 1930s, returned at 66 to serve as a wartime Prime Minister in 1940. His leadership and great speeches helped inspire the nation’s morale against the would-be Nazi invaders that were pummeling the cities and coast of England. He told the people of England, “If you are going through Hell, keep going.”
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist in white dominated South Africa, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1962 and served 27 years, 18 as a classification D prisoner – the lowest scale – in the notorious Robben Island Prison. Released in 1990, he returned to lead his party in negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. He was 72 when he became South Africa’s first democratically elected South African president in 1994.
“You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity.”
Golda Meir came to the U.S. from Russia at the age of 8, and was brought up in Milwaukee, WI. In 1921, she emigrated to Palestine where she worked on a kibbutz and as a teacher before moving up in the political ranks. At 71, she became Prime Minister of the State of Israel in March, 1979. The world’s third woman to be head of state (after Shri Lanka and India), she was portrayed as the “strong-willed, straight-talking, gray-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people.”
“I made a resolve that I was going to amount to something if I could.”
Colonel Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken at 65 after his restaurant folded and because his pension was so small; after two years, he went on to wild success. A Kentucky Colonel (in-name military designation only), he gave the chain an image by dressing up in that all-white southern gentleman garb.
“Painting’s not important. The important thing is keeping busy.”
Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses) didn’t begin to paint until the age of 76, when her hands became too crippled by arthritis to hold an embroidery needle and she found herself with nothing to do. She’s usually cited for succeeding for the first time at her art work in her nineties and up to her death at 101.Her paintings were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as well as in museums in Vienna and Paris.
“I never had a great role in a great film.”
Gloria Stuart, a movie actress in the 1930s, returned from obscurity at 86 when she landed the role of 100-year-old Rose in James Cameron’s “Titanic.” She remains the oldest person ever nominated for an Oscar. The above quote must have been before “Titanic.”
“You cannot just waste time. Otherwise you’ll die to regret …”
Harriett Doerr finished her Stanford degree at 67. In 1983, at 73, she became a darling of the literary world with the publication of her first novel, “Stones for Ibarra,” which went on to win a National Book Award.
“If I had not lived until I was 90, I would not have been able to write this book. God knows what other potentials lurk in other people who keep going into old age.”
Harry Bernstein published a short story when he was 24, in 1934, but it was not until he was 96 that his well-received debut novel, “The Invisible Wall” was published. Bernstein turned to fiction only after his wife of 67 years died, as therapy for his loss and loneliness. He published two more books after his debut.
“If I had known at the beginning of my life that this is where I would get to, I would have said, “Not possible.”
Jessica Tandy, a well-respected actress came out of a career slump in the mid 1980s to a career revival in her seventies when she won both a Tony Award and an Emmy Award for her role in “Foxfire.” She became the oldest actress to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989.
There are many other such stories of late life success that I’d have liked to include but then I’d have to write an e-book about them. It’s a fascinating subject – what drove these men and women to not give up despite rejection, imprisonment, lack of education or opportunity, sexism, ageism, defeat … you name it.
Do you know of someone who “made it” late in life, particularly after overcoming problems, losses, rejection, or other setbacks?
If you do, please share their stories with us.
Worse, do your memories hold you back from seeking new opportunities? Or make you see yourself as a has-been rather than an “I could be?”
Maybe there are times when you, like me, yearn for your days in the sun. We remember when we were big shots, or held important positions, or made six figure salaries, or had this or that, etc. This may lead to the next step down the road of “stinking thinking,” to comparisons with our current situations. We can feel victimized or sidelined by events beyond our control.
If we continue on that road, we may conclude that since those days are gone, what’s the use of trying something new? Why bother to pursue unfulfilled dreams or ambitions? Better just sit back and enjoy the rest of our lives.
“I mustn’t give in.”
Most of you, I’m sure, have heard the ballad, Memory from the musical Cats. Some of you may even know the lyrics based in part on poems by T.S. Eliot. The highlight is when the old cat, Grizabella, reminisces about how easy it is to leave her all alone with her memory of her days in the sun. All the same, this determined old cat looks forward to the promise of a new day and a new life.
I must wait for the sunrise,
I must think of a new life,
And I mustn’t give in.”
Let your memories lead you.
Memories are such a powerful tool that they can uplift us or devastate us, inspire us or cripple us emotionally, gladden our hearts or enrage us. They can exalt us or hold us back.
Instead of letting our memories of our days in the sun drag us down, why not use them to motivate us to carry on and fulfill our unfulfilled dreams, passions, ambitions?
True, we’re not as young, attractive, energetic as before but we have qualities we didn’t have then. The former high flying business executive or aging actor/musician/sportsman, etc. may not fly high anymore, but that doesn’t mean they have to stop flying.
Instead of our memories pulling us back, why not use them to pull us into the future?
Smile at your old days in the sun.
Mine began when I was just 18 and hit New York City with $50 (roughly the equivalent of $500 today), one year’s college credits from a university in the Midwest, and all the bravado of one of the heroines in the bestseller and movie, The Best of Everything.
I stayed in a small hotel on the Upper East Side ($50 a night) and on my first day, went to an employment agency I found in the phone book.
In a new suit, I was a personable, bilingual (English/Spanish), with typing and writing skills, 22 year old (why not? In those days, they seldom checked age or credentials), with two years at a Liberal Arts college.
I was sent for an interview in the international section of an advertising agency. (Think of the TV show, Mad Men, which for me is a nostalgic reenactment of that time.) They needed someone who could type out, proofread and even edit, in both English and Spanish, medical newsletters destined for South America. I aced the typing, spelling and grammar tests, but what clinched the interview and got me the job was a missing accent mark in Spanish.
That is how I began my 30 year career in advertising – because of a missing accent mark.
My advertising career ended in mid life with so-called early retirement. Then I had years of ups and downs before starting a new career that lasted a decade until the current economic environment slowed things down.
Make your today another memory worth looking back on.
If I could make it then, why can’t I make it again? And so can all of you in your late fifties and sixties who may think that you’ve come to the end of the road. Agreed that today’s demands are very different from then, and technology rules the world, and it’s tough keeping up.
But… it was tough for a woman trying to get ahead in the early sixties. Perhaps as tough as for a woman in her sixties trying to get ahead in today’s world.
I have to remember that plucky young girl in New York. Something of her must still be lying inside me waiting to come out again. I don’t have her looks or her energy or her age anymore. But I do have the wisdom of years of experience – and many memories that I can draw on to take me into my new day.
For that new day awaits us all, whatever our age, if we can just look at it as a new opportunity.
Instead of saying, “I used to,” we should be saying, “I can still” make it.
As Grisabella sings in the theatrical version:
“Let your memory lead you
Open up, enter in
If you find there the meaning of what happiness is
Then a new life will begin.”
Scenic photograph courtesy of Veronica Valades
In the 1976 movie “Network,” anchorman Howard Beale shouted, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
All over the country, people opened their windows and shouted out this statement at the top of their lungs. Much of what he said is still relevant today. (Watch Network-I’m mad as hell on U-tube.com)
Are you mad as hell? If you aren’t, you should be.
Well, I am, and I’m not going to take this anymore. I have my own soapbox, this blog, and so I can do something about it – if only shouting to the world from this corner of mine.
Here’s a New Year’s essay that I wrote two years ago:
January 1st, 2009
“Thus ends a year, and one, so small a thing, they never knew their hopes for 2009 were all a dream.” I paraphrase partly from a poem by W.H.Davies.
I hate to see another year end mainly because it’s like losing an old friend. A loss of 365 days that I’ll never see again. One year less in my life, but one year’s gain in wisdom and experience. I see all those eager, cheering young faces braving the cold in Times Square with their hopes, God bless them, of the promise of a new year. What are they celebrating? That suddenly, miraculously, there will be a rebound to former glory days with Barack Obama leading the parade, and that the God of Peace will intervene and stop the slaughter and wars and brewing hatreds in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Georgia, Ukraine, etc.
2009 will be, I fear, another year of diminishing hopes. Hamas and Israel are at each other’s throats again – have they ever stopped? – sending rockets into each other’s backyards. After the attack on Mumbai, India and Pakistan are massing forces on their borders – or haven’t they been at war for years using the once peaceful paradise of Kashmir as their battleground? A million dead in the Republic of Congo – but who seems to care? Child soldiers and genocide in Sierra Leone and Darfur, and the Lord only knows where else. Iraq supposedly has quieted down, but Afghanistan has heated up and beware intruders in that country. Once blooming Rhodesia is now a crumbling Zimbabwe. Conflicts in Latin America such as the increasingly deadly struggle with the narcos in Mexico. China is all over the place – as in your local Wal-Mart, set on world dominance through economic trade. Everyone owes them. How many trillions? Water shortages versus floods. Hundred of thousands dead due to malnutrition, diseases, natural disasters. Overpopulation.
And who are the true masters of this world who pull our strings? The ones who have either screwed up terribly – or deliberately – in order to establish and continue world chaos. Arms dealers. Oil tycoons. Bankers, those money lenders, launderers, and usurers who are impoverishing many who dare stick their heads up from below the middle-class belt.
What about religions and their influence? The Vatican has lost its grip to disbelief and scandal. Fundamentalist Christians influence political decisions in this country. Extremist Muslim fundamentalists breed terrorist groups to undermine political stability in predominantly Muslim countries and in major cities in the West (New York, Madrid, London). 9/11 was just the beginning.
Who cares about the man on the street when the problems are so overwhelming? He’s just an excuse to win votes. No soup kitchen in the world can feed everyone. Instead, this country has been fed on a sense of entitlement, fast food, over-the-top dreams, neurosis, drugs, paranoia, invisible power – whether from God or the White House, oil dependency, mysterious ailments for which big pharmaceutical companies offer relief – but watch out for multiple side effects – and addiction, shadowy enemies stronger than real ones, and the hangover effect of 9/11 – that blow to our national ego.
Nothing is as it seems and nothing is the truth.
It took money – and lots of it – for the powers-to-be to place the most unexpected, unlikely candidate at the helm. Like many others, I hope Obama will rise to the occasion. Symbolically speaking, he offers a sorely needed hope, but will those hidden forces that manage the world stand behind him or let him be ravaged when current woes don’t disappear? Can he save this ship from foundering on the rocks of disaster? Only if they say so.
What about people like me trying to make a new start in middle age?
We continue to exist in this bubble constructed by others, our very subsistence at the mercy of those “in power.” Should we sit back and take it as banks foreclose our homes and big companies lay us off, and we get told we’re too old/overqualified/outdated or whatever other excuses they dream up, to hire? While our lives may not exactly be in our hands to dispose of the way we’d like to or plan, there may be something we can do to make them more our own.
Ours is the generation that took on the Establishment in the 60s. We can’t all be sinking into old age and allowing ourselves to be lulled into submission.
What’s happened to the generation that shouted, sang, wrote, pleaded, protested, and got mad as hell when we saw injustices happening? We still have voices to be heard plus years of accumulated experience and knowhow.
So let’s be Mad as Hell and do Something about it.
Dear Friends and Readers,
Who would guess that my life would take yet another dramatic swing?
Not only have I just gone through a move – and they say that moving is high on the stress scale though I’ve had much worse – but I’m busier than I ever expected to be.
You never know when things will take a drastic turn and make that old saying, “Beware of what you wish for” fact but this is the case for me. I am inundated with work (research report writing) and since I have to make a living, this has become my priority and will continue to be so until the end of the year.
Hence my silence and infrequent posts.
This does not mean that I will stop blogging – only take a break for a while.
People ask me why don’t I have a bunch of blog posts for times like this. I do, just they are not polished or about subjects that I’m not ready to send out.
As this year swings to an end – is 2010 really over that fast? – I will prepare to go another round on the blogging trail.
So, as promised above, I will be back, and soon.
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