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A1. THOUGHTS RELATED TO SPRING CLEANING by Barbara Krueger
I'm not much for spring cleaning on a schedule set by marketing gurus, and prefer to clean when the spirit moves me like when I needed to find my husband's high school soccer letter (yes, back in the 1950s his high school had a soccer team). I dragged out four storage boxes in the garage before I found what I was looking for (it was a bit moth-nibbled after 57 years). Then I needed to tackle putting the boxes back...OR...I could purge what was in them and only put back selected "stuff." That last burst of practical insight resulted in replacing only one storage box. The content of three boxes was tossed.
This "spring cleaning" didn't focus on cleaning, but on pursuing the past. My mind wandered to memories engendered by the items I found, or to items I thought should be there that weren't. Is there a hidden message in this exercise?
It reminded me of going through my parents' garage treasures after they died. My sister and I, six grandchildren and one college-age great-grandchild searched through the "treasures" for anything we personally might want to keep. It wasn't,, "Should we save this because someday my third son will be interested in owning it," which may be justified by the future; but rather, "By saving this will we better understand who my mom was?," which focused on the past.
I vividly remember at age six seeing a photo of my mother in a middy blouse, and her telling me she was 12 years old in the photo. "No way! She was never 12-she's my mom!" and in my mind that was her only life, then and forever.
My children were in their 30s when they had the same middy blouse photo-moment. It was the weekend of my mother's funeral, and they'd found her diaries from junior high and high school. They couldn't believe she was once so much fun! Had the "stuff" in her storage been shared with them years before, they would have appreciated her at a different level, in a different way; in a way that related to their own growing up. They would have understood what adventures and thoughts contributed to the young girl who had had wild fun as a teen and came back to marry the kid upstairs (their grandpa) who'd loved her since they were both eight years old, when she was good friends with his twin sister. They would have better appreciated the "Grandma with the white hair" (which is how one of her great-grandchildren referred to her) who visited a few times a year to see their ballgames and graduations, weddings and babies' births.
Surely who I was when my children were old enough to really remember me was a composite of who I was at three and six and sixteen. What can I leave them that will give them insight into who I was before they knew me?
Spring cleaning, regardless of the month, should be done with regard to what you are saving and to whom will it mean something in years to come. If the answer is, "no one will care" about the box of matchbook covers, toss them. Then ask yourself, "Is there a missing step here?"
If I save treasures, should I also write down prominent memories of my life related to things in garage boxes? Should I record other memories that have no concrete evidence in saved "stuff" so that someday they will be found by those who cull through remnants of my life gaining greater understanding of who I was? Pull out memories stored in the recesses of our mind, or in boxes and record them, on tape or in written form. Share our memories with those who also lived them and find that the joint exercise brings back related memories we couldn't recall on our own. Maybe this is the more important spring cleaning.
The charms I won from the Newark News weekly children's-coloring art contest are long gone. But if I write how disappointed I was with the five-charms prize and therefore never entered another of their "stupid" contests, my children will understand it wasn't judgment of my coloring as the best they received that impressed me, but how chintzy they were with the prize. I felt I knew how good my coloring was. Or thought I did. What does that tell my kids about their mother? How does it relate to our youngest son's winning the Department of Water and Power contest in fourth grade for his essay on water? He won a two-wheel bicycle, but he was so very tall for his grade that the bicycle was too small for him to ride. We sold it to the kid next door, supplemented the money, and bought our son a larger, full-sized two-wheeler. What would HE write about that event to pass on to his children that would give them insight into who "Daddy" really was? Reading about my disappointment with my prize at age six, would he understand why I had to "fix" his prize and bring it up to the level of his expectations?
Make our memories available to our descendents to experience in contemplation of our life and anticipation of their own. Written words, taped conversations, CDs and DVD, save memories and take many less boxes than "stuff."
So spring-clean this month either because the marketing gurus say that's what you should do now, or because it's time to decide what about you, you will leave for your descendents.
Find aids and equipment for Seniors at http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm#equip
A2. HOME ALONE DOESN'T MEAN LONELY by JK, Wyndmoor, PA.
Are you lonely, or are you alone? Are you even aware of the difference? There is an important distinction; you can be both alone and lonely at the same time, or at different times. But alone, not lonely, is the topic here spending time alone at home. What is the difference?
Lonely is defined as:
Would you agree that "alone" generally is a more tolerable and pleasant state of being? If so, how do you move from feeling lonely to just being alone. An important first step is to accept being alone, rather than to resist it.
What's equally important is to understand that spending time alone at home is a skill that can be learned. And, along with acceptance, mastery of being alone can help to alleviate feelings of loneliness. It also offers freedom you may need to make better life decisions. Many people remain in bad or unsatisfactory relationships because they fear being alone. Conversely, the fear of being alone drives them into relationships that aren’t right for them, only to find that they have arrived right back where they started-- feeling lonely.
Sometimes, being alone is a gift, opening up a deep well of time you didn't have before. Perhaps you have retired, lost a spouse or partner through death or divorce, or are by yourself because of a disability or the loss of the independence you once treasured. So, now what do you do? Some people approach being alone just as they did in their pre-alone life. People who were highly structured and once super-busy with work, family and outside interests even to the point of frenzy tend to feel that they must be productive or doing something all the time. These folks are now often prone to feeling guilty, which is not at all productive.
People accustomed to more laid-back living find that their lives are piled high with "musts" and "shoulds," fueled by regrets. In other words, now is the time to get busy and do the things they never did. They may feel a compulsion to fill up their days with the old, buried "shoulds": I "should" clean out all the closets, the garage and the basement. Or, I "should" catch up on reading all those books I intended to read, but never did. Or, they may feel that they should give up the guilty pleasures of watching television, or of simply doing "nothing" at all staring out the window or even into space. These "nothings" may actually be worthwhile. Contemplation and reflection, time well spent, can be good for emotional and mental health. In other words, being alone can be a time to learn something new about yourself, a space for introspection about what makes you who you are. A time to ask yourself what do you believe in, and why. Are there any things that don't seem right to you? What do you believe at face value (or accept as a matter of faith)?
Do these descriptions hit the nails on your head?
One way to begin to learn the skill of being alone is to explore new ways of thinking and behaving. More specifically, the highly structured person could adopt the behaviors associated with the laid-back approach to living. And vice versa.
Then there is the issue of boredom. As silly as it seems, some people have made a specialty of boredom. You probably are not familiar with the "Boring Institute," (why would you be?) in South Orange, N.J., which was started as a spoof. Its website says it now plays a more serious role describing "the dangers that are associated with too much boredom and offers advice on how to avoid it."
You can find out more about the Boredom Institute (http://theboringinstitute.blogspot.com/)in this Wall Street Journal article about last December's "conference of boredom enthusiasts," which was held in London. Ironically, reading about boredom may actually prove to be interesting (or at least amusing)! The headline gives you an idea of what it's about:
"Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation
Envoy of Ennui Calls a Meeting; An Energy Bar for Everybody"
Many tried-and-true activities contribute to the state of being happily alone: Caring for a pet, listening to music, cooking, and other indoor hobbies such as art and writing are some of them. The Internet opens entirely new worlds for people who spend time alone. And many websites are devoted to just that. Let’s explore these would-be elixirs one by one:
One excellent website is the Experience Project, where there is a support group dedicated to people who spend time alone. Its introduction is right on target:
I Spend a Lot of Time by Myself
Read true personal stories, chat and get advice, support and help from a group of 2223 people who all say "I Spend a Lot of Time by Myself." The site includes not only the forum, but also has referrals to several guides' sites that offer advice to how-to tips.
The site also includes links related to other similar "being alone" groups:
Anonymously connect with people who share your experiences like those who say "I Spend a Lot of Time by Myself." Read hundreds of true stories, share your own story anonymously, get feedback and comments, chat in the discussion forum, help others, meet new friends, and so much more--all free. Signup takes just seconds. You can join here: join us today!
If you don't like to go online, you can read about spending time alone. Amazon lists more than a dozen titles devoted to this topic, Search for "being alone" on our Amazon search page here: http://www.seniorresource.com/amazonshopping.htm
The upshot is becoming an expert in the field of enjoying your own company. As a result, you could be reveling in time alone as much as you revel in time spent with others.
For more information on Understanding Aging and ways to stay engaged with the world, see http://www.seniorresource.com/ageproc.htm
B. DID YOU KNOW...?
1. Healthy People 2020
Learn more at http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx
2. Scams Never End - Jury Duty Scam
The phone rings, you pick it up, and the caller identifies himself as an officer of the court. He says you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. You say you never received a notice. To clear it up, the caller says, he'll need some information for "verification purposes" your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number.
This is when you should hang up the phone. It's a scam, and you could lose a lot, and not just money.
Read more about this scam here:
C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
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D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
1. Wise Use of Wi-Fi Networks
Use these tips for a safer Wi-Fi experience:
2. Sir Henry Thornhill, the Ultimate Grandparent
As Teddy grew older, Thornhill wrote to his other grandchildren. All the letters were kept by the four grandchildren and lay in the family attics for 60 years before being rediscovered. Now they have been posted on a website for all to enjoy. You may find it at: http://www.ultimategrandparent.com/
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E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE1. Military Guidance from Military Manuals
2. Why I Like Retirement-The questions are easy to answer!
"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at: http://www.seniorresource.com/jokes.htm
SPONSOR AN ISSUE
This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).
Aging in Place