Thursday, October 31, 2019

Aging and Death

Recently I decided to pop onto Facebook to see if I had missed any birthdays of friends and to see if there was anything I wanted to comment on.  Mind you, I'm not there much---maybe once a week--- so I never really see who and what comes through my timeline consistently.  But on this particular day, the very FIRST post I saw was from a former media colleague.  He shared a recent procedure he had and how grateful he was to still be alive considering how bad off he said he was not long ago.  It immediately caught my attention because it is somewhat similar to a procedure that has been recommended for me by my cardiologist---and one that I am reluctant to want to undergo.

Although Bill and I haven't spoken in nearly least 20 years, I sent him a private message and asked him to call me.  He did (which was a little surprising considering our history).  He told me about his health scare and feeling like he was on the brink of death until he had an angiogram that led to a heart procedure.  I was surprised when he said his recovery time was about 48 hours and he was back to his usual self in a week's time.  I thanked him for the information and was prepared to end the call when, out of the blue, he said, "I've had some time to reflect back on my life and I just want   to apologize to you for being a dick when we worked together."  I was thinking "Oh, wow!"  He then went on to say he could've been a nicer person and then I was thinking, "Yes, you could have!"

I accepted his apology and after we hung up the phone I started thinking about my own mortality and what that conversation taught me:

God's Timing is Always Right on Time:  Bill told me he was very rarely on Facebook and his post just happened to be the very first post I saw when I went there. That's no coincidence to me. Whether he knows it or not, he was used as "Divine Intervention" because even when I do show upon FB, he's never in my timeline.  That's how God works. He has His own timetable and puts us in positions to help others when needed.  While some of us may feel He's LATE, the truth is He's never late or too early.

Near Death Experiences Give us Moments of Clarity:  Every time we go through some life-threatening situation, especially if it's health-related, we tend to have "wake up calls" and "a-ha moments."  Bill obviously had his, which compelled him to reflect back on his life---the good, the bad, and the ugly and to attempt to make amends with people he felt he had mistreated or wasn't particularly kind to.  How many times have you said, "Lord, if you just get me through this, I'll go to church more---or read the Bible more---or be more kind to others?"

It's OK to Jump into the Pity Pool but don't drown:  Several years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing author/poet Nikki Giovanni for my podcast.  Among other things, we discussed her bout with breast cancer.  She shared with me the fact that every morning when she got up she would jump into her pity pool of sorrow over her diagnosis.  It was a "Woe is me mentality, " but, as time went on, she said she spent less and less time lamenting over her illness and decided to take charge of her life and the time she had left.  She credits her change in attitude for her remission.

Yes, it's natural for us to experience some depression when we are facing a life altering illness and to want to isolate ourselves from the world while we try to come to grips with what's happened but wallowing in your own self-pity can have a detrimental effect on your overall health and outlook on life.

Thoughts and Prayers are Nice But-----I think the whole idea of saying "My thoughts and prayers are with you" have become trivialized--because that's what people believe they are expected to say when you tell them what you're going through.

Leave your Legacy:  Studies have shown that most people feel better in the face of death if they are a part of something that will live on after them.  Having a positive impact on future generations can help fulfill that need. Examples of Legacy activities include:

  • Compiling a binder of favorite recipes
  • Compiling a collection of favorite songs
  • Compiling a family tree
  • Compiling a jewelry box for family or friends of pieces with sentimental meaning to you
  • Compiling a video montage – sharing advice, hopes, memories and wishes
  • Creating a scrapbook with keepsakes and photos
  • Establishing a community gift – a park bench, a scholarship in your family’s name or other financial legacies
  • Writing a letter to loved ones
  • Writing a poem or song
  • Voice recordings – love notes, stories, memories, family history, etc.
In my case, I blog (I have 4 of them), a website, and a podcast so my voice will forever remain in some form or fashion.  Also, as a Professional Writing Consultant I have the opportunity to help students daily so, hopefully in their future, they will reflect back on the woman who helped them find their unique voices through written and verbal communication.

It matters not how a man dies but how he lives.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Socializing with Younger Generations Isn't So Bad After All

This past weekend I did something that totally goes against what I wrote in my latest book, The Baby Boomer Millennial Divide/Making it Work at Work. In the book, I talk about the do's and don'ts for Baby Boomers in the workplace. Here's what I said:

Don't hang out with them: It's one thing to sit with them at lunch and engage in harmless chit-chat or even go out after work every now and then for a drink, but it's an entirely different ballgame if you are choosing to socialize with them at their favorite hang-out on the weekends and challenging them to beer chugging contests.  You may be considered the "cool boomer" but not much respect will be attached to it especially if they happen to capture a video of you passed out in a drunken stupor and post it on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook.

I did not follow my own advice (LOL!) when I decided to take a road trip to Atlanta with three younger, former co-workers to celebrate the wedding of someone we all worked with. Surprisingly, I never hesitated when I knew who would be going because I always enjoyed being around them at work and, to be honest, I probably would not have gone on my own. Although we have stayed connected via social media, we hadn't seen each other in about two years so it was exciting to have a reunion of sorts.

When I tell you I had a great time, that would be an understatement.  I had even MORE fun than I thought I would from start to finish!  Here's what I learned about socializing with younger people:

You share more in common than you think:  We all have a "back in the day" or "when I was growing up" story.  Some of the experiences they shared were also my own as far as how our parents and guardians raised us.  Even though I was 20-30 years older than them I could still relate to many of the things we talked about.  Children---boyfriends---husbands---losing weight---jobs and people we don't like, etc.  Life happens no matter how old you are.  We all still have bills to pay and challenges to overcome.

I think one of the problems with older adults is they tend to frown upon the behavior and lifestyle of young folks while forgetting that they were also young once and sometimes had reckless behavior and did foolish things that they now secretly regret. 

Respect is a two-way street:  Some older adults automatically assume that just because they're "older" they should command respect.  That's where they get it twisted.  While I believe older adults shouldn't be disrespected, I do believe respect is earned based on your character.  If you're over the age of 50 and every other word out of your mouth is a curse word or you show little regard for others around you, it is inconceivable to me that you would be deserving of anyone's adoration.  "It's the way you carry yourself" is what the grown-ups used to say when I was a kid and the same holds true for young adults.  They, too, must demonstrate their worthiness for respect.   To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't have gone on the trip had I not had a level of respect for ALL of them.

You can still act your age and share your wisdom:  The beauty of aging is young people get a chance to see and hear what their lives may be like as they grow older.  My life is nowhere near perfect but I have been blessed to have a career, a home, a wonderful husband, daughter and grandchild. I've also known what it's like to have been fired from more than one job, be unemployed for a period of time and to struggle spiritually and mentally from time to time.  These are stories to share because they make us real and transparent.  Two of the best conversations we had during the trip was about our walk with Christ and what it means when little boys see adults around them show genuine affection for each other.

On the other hand....I did catch myself acting my age just a little too much this past weekend!  I was constantly complaining about my hip and back pain and how far I had to walk to use the bathroom at the rest stop.  In that regard, aging is no joke. LOL!  I fizzled out after the wedding reception so going to the after party AFTER the reception was out of the question.

Music makes the world go round:  Thanks to SiriusXM radio, we all got a good sampling of music dating back to the 70's during the trip.    Although I've never been a fan of hip-hop, I actually forgot many of the songs I actually did like when my daughter was a teenager so we all took a trip down memory lane listening to Dance with Me, Gangsta's Paradise"Return of the Mack", and "Walk it Out"

You can learn new things: I was so excited to learn that my former co-worker (like a daughter to me) was getting married but I had never been to a Gay wedding before so I didn't know what to expect.  Keeping it real, I believe I would've been a lot more uncomfortable had I not gone with my millennial and GenX travel mates or I probably wouldn't have gone at all.  They helped me overcome any inhibitions I may have felt.  That's another difference between the younger and older generations.  Some of us get "stuck" in our ways and are less receptive to the differences in others while young people are more likely to accept you at face value.  I'm still a work in progress.

The other new thing I learned was:  FIREBALL!

A study conducted by Harvard University some years ago indicated that older people who had active social lives were happier, healthier and more likely to live longer.  I'm not saying you need to hang out with young people every weekend but socializing with them on occasion can be a win-win for everyone.