Tag Archives: Relationships

Longing for Belonging Article Image

Longing for Belonging

The desire to belong is something we all experience. Beyond the use of the word belonging connected to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the desire for a greater sense of belonging is widespread and is a driver of our thoughts and actions. Are you longing for belonging?

In a recently published article, I focused on belonging with: belonging with ourselves, belonging with others, and belonging with our environments, rather than belonging to something. I identified five ways to satisfy our longing for belonging.

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No Fear Retirement

Although I believe that we are all still Too Young to Retire® I also know that there are many fears about the transitions from full time careers into new and uncertain phases of our lives. One of our 2Young2Retire® certified facilitators, Pamela Houghton, has published a new book, No Fear Retirement, written for anyone who is thinking about, or has already embarked upon, retirement.

No Fear Retirement addresses ten of the most common concerns of those who are thinking about retirement. Whether your fears are around finances, your relationships, where you will live, your identity, or something else, this book is a valuable resource. Taking time to reflect on the Pause for Thought questions along the twelve phases of retirement or associated with the ten most common fears, will make this read well worthwhile and may help you enjoy a more fun-filled and fulfilling life if or when you retire. For more information visit Pamela Houghton’s website: http://www.retirementsunlimited.co.uk/

Paul G. Ward

Online Dating For The Over 60’s

If you are 60 or over, then stepping back into the dating world can be quite overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you meet people? Well, you might just be surprised at how easy it is to find your perfect match, because today we have the internet.

Don’t worry if you have no idea about computers, because there are usually ample free courses at your local college. So if you are of a mind, you can easily pick up the right computer skills and check out online dating.

The joys of online dating

Ten or twenty years ago, online dating didn’t have a very good name, but today just about everyone who is single has an online dating profile. Online dating is nothing to be afraid of, so long as you are sensible and take precautions. As a mature and single individual, it goes without saying that you understand the importance of not giving out your personal details to someone that you haven’t met in person. So just be sensible and you will be amazed at how quickly you can meet lots of like-minded people online.

Online dating for the over 60’s is popular because there are so many mature and single people like yourself, who already have a great life, but are missing that one special person with whom they can share their lives.

It is as if online dating was invented for the older and more mature singles, because it really opens up your world and your dating opportunities. You might be quite surprised at how quickly you meet so many compatible people who also want a loving relationship and are waiting to meet someone exactly like you.

So if you are not ready to hang your hat up just yet and you know that you have lots of love left to give to the right person, it is certainly worth your while checking out a dating site for over 60’s singles. Your perfect match is waiting for you online, you just have to let them know you are available!

(Sponsored Post)

Yo, Elder Bloggers! Here Comes Blogstream

If you haven’t already discovered it, check out Dr. Bill Thomas’s new idea: http://changingaging.org/ A way to get your blog out to the public as part of a ‘blogstream,’  and improve the chance of going viral with a post or idea that you feel strongly about.  That’s the only reason you would blog anyway.  Most of us, Pioneer Woman — Martha Stewart on the range — notwithstanding, don’t make a living from a blog.  Even if you’re passionate about your subject, getting started as a blogger is the easy part.  Sustaining the effort at the same high caliber may not be.  Even Seth Godin who sends stuff out every day, isn’t brilliant 100 per cent of the time (but 95 per cent ain’t bad).

If you have an idea for blogging to the mature age group, I encourage you to sign up for the Changing Aging blogstream and see what other savvy older adults have to say about a wide range of subjects.  And just for good measure, here are a few of my favorite blogs in no particular order.  Why they make the cut will be self-evident: idiosyncratic (good) and with content is both informative and fun to read (even better).  Most posts are short, or if not, at least the germ of the piece is in the lead, so you know right away if it’s your cup of chai.  Enough said:

  • SquawFox Frugal fun from a young, savvy Canadian
  • Green Skeptic My friend, Scott Edward Anderson’s enlightening (pun intended) blog
  • Zen Habits Beautiful design and thoughtful prose on slowing down.
  • Six Word Memoirs Not strictly speaking a blog, but inspiring the way a blog can be.  Try writing your own Six Word biography.
  • Slow Food USA How to slow down and savor the flavor.
  • Poetry Blogs A doorway to all things poetry

AD(H)D World

As grandparents and elders, we should be troubled by the startling rise in developmental disorders among children today.  Autism and ADHD have become commonplace — one in every 110 children for autism; nearly one in 10 children in the United States aged 4 to 17 years for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — and so are kids on meds and in special education.  Some experts point to better diagnostics for learning disorders (LD) in general, but I’ve wondered what role our speedy, information-saturated culture plays.  What might be the effect of  food additives, dyes, artificial sweeteners, or just too much sugar in everything we eat?

Yesterday, I had two experiences — a film called Bag It! and an NPR program (Our Toxic Love Hate Relationship with Plastics) — that make a strong case that the epidemic of learning disorders we are seeing in our young is due to exposure to chemicals, in utero and in infancy.  The chemicals in plastics, that is, specifically phthalates or plasticizers, ubiquitous in toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray and shampoo, baby care products and, until recently, baby bottles.

We are from birth to death, literally saturated in plastics: see Five Gyres, if you still believe that when our plastic bagged garbage is picked up from our curb or dumpster, it goes ‘away.’ As one interviewee in the film said, There is no away.

As grandparents, we need to be concerned, very concerned, and we need to decide what we personally are going to do about it.  You might start by watching Bag It! , now part of the Whole Food Film Festival, Do Something Reel, showing this month in celebration of Earth Day, April 22, nationwide.

In another lifetime, I helped promote plastics professionally. You could say this is by way of a small mea culpa.

Busier Than Ever

What is it about modern life that makes us take such pride in being busy?  The question occurred to me recently when I had a brief encounter on the street with a former colleague who told me she had been busier than ever since we parted company about a year ago.   I politely listened to her catalog of comings and goings, but I could not bring myself to get into the game of dueling packed schedules.  In fact, I didn’t get a chance and that’s just as well because a. it’s not a game worth winning, and b. what I do in any given day isn’t necessarily the most important thing to me.

On many days, I cannot give an accounting of where the time went, nor do I wish to.  This may seem an odd admission for a longtime journal keeper, but a good day for me is when I have paused to appreciate some aspect of my life, or noticed or learned something new, however minuscule.  (For example, I just a second ago realized that I have been misspelling the word ‘minuscule’ forever, and that I am so not alone in this that one online dictionary gives ‘miniscule’ as a ‘variant.’  Nice of them. )  At the end of my day, I feel I’ve lived it well if I exercised a skill or talent; connected with another human being in a meaningful way; laughed; moved my body; performed some small act that may possibly improve the world.  I live in the “smile at the neighbor even when you don’t want to” and  “pick up litter when you see it” scale of  things.  Minuscule, but meaningful…at least, to me.

I suppose it is no surprise that a workaholic culture would make a virtue of busyness.  But, we might well ask, as Thoreau did:  “It is not enough to be busy.  The question is: What are we busy about?”  In truth there is a dark, addictive side to busyness,  according to Sally Kempton, a teacher of meditation and yogic philosophy.   Click here for some ideas on the subject and antidotes worth trying.

I say, if you find yourself obsessed with schedules and constantly crunched for time, don’t compound the problem by bragging about it.  Try something radical: sit down and catch your breath, pick up a musical instrument or a sketchpad,  open a book, call a friend you have been meaning to talk to.  And if you are lucky enough to connect on that first try, let them know you have all the time in the world to talk.  It will be a gift to you both.

Check out:

The Slow Movement

Zen Habits

Grandparents and the Generativity Revolution

As an involved grandparent blessed with good health,  I’m frequently asked to provide childcare.  Beside the fact that I love being with my grandchildren, this allows me to see the daily lives of young families up close.  And what I observe gives me cause for concern.  Children seem to have far more on their plates today than they did a generation ago.  They bring home much more homework and projects.  There are music lessons, competitive sports, dance classes, scouting, church activities.  All good.  Just not all the time.  When they are home, children need to ‘chill’ with video or computer games, or to watch TV.   Clearly, so much time spent interacting with electronic devices means less time for human relationships.  And they are deteriorating.  What you notice in many children in a ‘good’ neighborhood, e.g. the increase of verbal bullying and physical aggression, is a microcosm of what is happening in society.

Of course, children are just mimicking the ‘wired’ adults in their own family.  Mom and Dad are ultra-busy, too, heads constantly bent to the screens of iPhones or Blackberries for work updates or their own extracurricular activities.  I know from my own experience that checking email constantly is an easy habit to get into and hard to break.  In a world of 24/7 communication, we might miss something!  My question is: what could be more important than what and who is right here, under their noses.

I’ve been wondering lately whether we grandparents are not enabling this kind of packed, too-many-balls-in-the-air lifestyle by being so available.   I’m not suggesting we cut back on helping our children and theirs, but perhaps we might insert a quid pro quo into the deal.  Let’s not be afraid of ‘interfering’ and express our values.  When we are the available grownup in the home, let’s take opportunity to teach our young how to not only play well with others, but how to really see them, respect them, and communicate well with them.   We can draw children into old-fashioned games like battleships or checkers or Scrabble; we can teach skills like cooking and baking; we can encourage the making of art or get them outdoors for a hike or sport.  We teach, and by our students we may be taught.

We grandparents who are engaged with our young can and must raise the bar on respectful relationships and civility in our society.  And that, like so many things, begins in the home.  So if you are providing childcare, show respect, but speak your truth.  Take part in what New York Times columnist, David Brooks calls a “generativity revolution.”  If we don’t, who will?

But Not for Lunch …

Divorce rates for the general public are at their lowest since the swinging 70s, but U.S. census figures show the divorce rate among those over 65 has doubled since 1980; it grew to eight per cent in 2004 from 6.7 per cent in 2000. In Japan, a popular television drama Jukunen Rikon (mature divorce) featured a woman who dumps her husband after he retires. Not to make light of this, but does the joke ‘for better and for worse but not for lunch’ ring a bell?

A family story: A 50-something couple drive their youngest child to college and after the last box is unloaded and the final embrace concluded, they are back in the car about to pull away. The husband turns to his wife of 26 years and says, “Allow me to introduce myself …”

Here are some thoughts on why mature relationships are so vulnerable and a few simple ideas about how not to become a statistic of failure yourself.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that relationships are formed in the daily details and patterns of life together, going to work, raising children, keeping your lawn mowed and your dog curbed. Most of us 50 or better came of age, so to speak, in the era of the two-career family. This means that we were apart from our life partner for long periods of every day, and many of us liked it that way. Even if you would have preferred it otherwise, it was real life, and the longer we did it, the realer and more ingrained our patterns of relating.

Change, like more face time in the case of the Japanese wives whose spouses they have dubbed “wet leaves” for their tendency to cling, or a sudden emptying of the nest — can rock the very foundations. It happens in the best of families. How few family gatherings, including happy occasions like weddings or vacations, are models of harmony. I mean, who are these people? And, more to the point, who am I in the relationship?

Maybe we could all use some relationship training, starting say, in the elementary grades. Don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, here are a few things to try when you find yourself suddenly together again, for the first time.

Pretend you are just getting to know each other, and offer the interest, respect and good humor you’d give to a stranger you hope will become a friend.

Give each other space: OK, it’s a cliche, but we all need time alone, to think, reflect, just be, or be elsewhere. Even the most loving, committed partnerships can feel stifled by togetherness 24/7. If one of you traveled on business frequently or for long periods, the other got used to it, filled the time, and the reunion was all the sweeter, right? Make room for that.

Develop your listening skills. Listening is a good daily habit to cultivate and a true survival skill when things get heated. When we are immersed in careers, we become adept at listening selectively for information relevant to our work or the tasks at hand. This may even be a survival skill in our media-saturated world. But our intimate relationships call for more generous, attentive listening. We are all born communicators but listening has to be learned.

Set time aside to talk regularly about what matters: finances, family obligations, quality of life, how you could make each other happier. Let each takes a turn to speak while the other just listens, without comment. Next, the listener might “mirror” back what s/he heard. This focuses the mind wonderfully and can calm things down during conflicts or when there is a difficult decision ahead. Borrowed from a great tool: Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment, Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, Bantam Books, 1992.

Learn to accept change and go with the flow. At an Indian restaurant on New York’s Upper Westside, there is an ornate box by the entrance containing strips of paper, each printed with a message. Here’s the one: “Accept that which is coming in; let go of that which is going out. Want nothing. Embrace everything.”

Leave precedents for a court of law, especially those that start ‘you always …’ or “I never …” Here’s a practice: switch your domestic responsibilities for a few days, without judgment of the results.

Try something new together: dancing, photography, films. Plan a surprise for you both once a week or month. Become tourists in your own hometown for a day. Critique a movie or restaurant for each other. Create a time capsule of your favorite memories. Create a private joke collection.

All good, all the time: Speak only for yourself. Show your affection. Keep your conflicts private. Keep your word. Resolve your issues – or make a date to do so – before you hit the sheets. Give your relationship equal time. Slow down, savor and celebrate your moments together. Do lunch.

Elegy: Growing Up is Hard to Do

Every so often, we get a film about aging that touches a nerve in those of us of a certain age.  About Schmidt was one such film.  Savages, another.  Now in new release is Elegy, starring Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley, a film that captures what the word elegy means: a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, esp. a funeral song or a lament for the dead.

David Kepesh, 70, successful cultural maven — the film opens with Kepesh (Kingsley) being interviewed by Charlie Rose — is dead inside, or very nearly so.  He teaches, he is interviewed and interviews aspiring new writers, and he struggles to assert the life force, expressed largely through sex or his own ’emancipated manhood,’ as he puts it.  His only friend and fellow writer/academic, George O’Hearn (Dennis Hopper) appears to be similarly stuck: sleeping with available younger students, and in his case, cheating on his wife of many years.  Kepesh is estranged from his own son Kenneth (Peter Sarsgaard), the child he abandoned in a divorce, and unable to give him support in his own marital crisis. He is in a 20 year affair with Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson in a glowing smaller role), enjoying great sex and fending off deeper commitment.

Into one of Kepesh’s classes and his life, steps the luscious Cuban emigre, Consuela Castillo (Penelope Cruz).  At a holiday party for his students, he seduces her with his erudition and worldliness.  They become lovers despite, as he points out, a 30+ year gap in their ages.  But she remains something of a mystery to him.  At one point, they examine Goya’s portrait of the Naked Maja and Consuela blocks out all but the woman’s direct gaze.  Who am I to you, she seems to be asking, a question Consuela will later put to David as they dine in a restaurant. Says George in one of their many man-to-man talks, “Beautiful women are invisible; we’re so dazzled by the outside that we never make it inside.”  The truth is, David and George haven’t truly made it to the inside of anything, and time is running out.

This is a film about growing up, and how it eludes us when we allow ourselves to be captivated by the surfaces of life: youth, beauty, success, sexuality, all of which pass, often before we are ready to let them go and find something deeper to live for.