How Do You Handle Adversity?

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All of us have experienced the wonderful joy that life can bring, but also times of sorrow that is also a part of living.

Read a favorite story below and think about when life offers you heartache and sadness, how do you handle this adversity?

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A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her –  everything seemed to be falling to pieces. The simple act of waking up in the morning had become a near impossible feat. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, “What does all this mean?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

“Life is not the way it is supposed to be, it is the way it is.  The way you cope with it, is what makes the difference.”

May we all be like the COFFEE.

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Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.                                                                       

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Contribution by littlethings.com

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Now Is The Best Time Of Your Life

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This is an article written by Elaine Ambrose and I wanted to share it with you. Life is full of happy times, challenging situations and change is always inevitable. I believe that a positive attitude makes all the difference, no matter what age or circumstance surrounds us. Hope you enjoy and may this be, right now, the best time of your life!                                                                                                                               

During the week, July 20, 1969, I was a counselor at a camp in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. That’s the day American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. We loaded the young campers into buses and drove them to a parking lot in the remote mountain town of Ketchum. A small black-and-white TV was hooked up in the parking lot with the power cord strung inside a grocery store. We huddled around to watch history being made 240,000 miles from earth. Even the most rambunctious pre-teen became speechless while watching the grainy transmission.

“This is the best time of your life,” I told them.

Four years later, I graduated from college, earned my first full-time job, and got married. Then I knew it was the best time of my life.

As the years passed, there were other milestones: a new house, a new baby, a new job. Then more houses, another baby, and more jobs. Then I received a contract to write a book. Could it get any better?

Of course, there were painful times, too. A divorce. The loss of a job. The deaths of my parents. I lost friends. I was badly injured in a car wreck. Those were the days I doubted if there would be good times again. When dark clouds hid the stars and moon, I had nothing to wish upon, and I almost lost hope.

But another day brought adventure and happiness. The kids grew up, were happily married, and had wonderful children. I discovered a wonderful world of new women friends. Surely, then was the best time of my life.

Wrong again.

I recently returned from a trip to New York. I received a writing award and was on stage in front of thousands of conference attendees. The same day of the award, I met with a New York literary agent who offered to represent me with my next book. I know for the next few months I’ll be writing into the wee hours, and I’ll pause to gaze at the moon with the same wonder and amazement that I felt 46 years ago.

Now is the best time of my life. This day.  And, tomorrow could be even better, so I am willing to anticipate that happening. I’m 63-years-old, and I’m not done. There are grandkids to hug, books to write, adventures to take, friends to spend time with and charities that need my time and resources. But right here, right now, it’s the best ever.

Someday, when I’m older and grayer, I’ll rock by moonlight and knit magical sweaters from moonbeams.

Then, for sure, it will be the best time of my life.

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Widowhood: How And When To Start Socializing

sadwomanFor the first year after her husband Mort died of cancer, Mary Childs, now 68, looked mainly to her two sisters and her quilting friends for comfort and a social connection. ”I couldn’t do much more than that,” says the Lakewood, CO, retired nurse. ”On the one occasion that I attended a couples’ function with friends from our past, I was totally uncomfortable.” Indeed, many people who lose a spouse often feel like when it comes to socializing, it’s a couples’ world.

About a year after Mort’s death, Mary felt ready to start taking baby steps to move on and meet new people. “Mort had been a hunter and had promised to teach me how to shoot,“ she says, “but we never got around to it.” When a shooting range, started by two former SEALS, opened near her home, Mary decided to learn what she had missed with husband. “I met so many wonderful people at target practice,“ she says, “and I even started entering competitions around the country with many of the people I met locally.”

Why move on socially?

Lots of people who lose their husband or wife feel like it’s easier to be alone and not deal with the anxiety and other pressures associated with being social. But humans are wired to be social creatures. Our well-being is based largely on interactions with others. (The amount and kind of interaction varies, but the need is inherent.) To avoid connections is to invite depression. Not surprisingly, a study at Michigan State University discovered that people 65 and older who used the Internet to stay in touch with friends had a more than 30 percent reduction rate of depression symptoms. In other words, no matter the age, people need people. In person, on the phone, via the Internet, whatever.

How do you know when it’s time to move on?  

There’s no magic answer to this question. For those who maintained a social life based on interests and not just couples’ friends, the journey is a bit easier. Likewise for those whose partner’s death was not unexpected. Four years ago, Barbra Cook, now 62, lost her husband of 36 years after his 10-year-battle with early onset Alzheimer’s. “Several of our couples’ friends drifted away during Morris’ illness,” she says, “but I was determined to both sustain and build a life for myself after he died.” During his illness, she continued folk dancing, a lifelong passion she and Morris never shared. Today, she enjoys both salsa and tango.

For others, the journey may start a year or more after the loss. According to Doreen Horan, LCPC, at the Counseling Center at Stella Maris, an average a man starts socializing within one to two years of a wife’s death. For women, the average wait is two to five years.  What all grief counselors agree on is that at some point, every widow and widower needs to get out there if life is to be meaningful once again.

How do you start?   

Planning your re-entry to a new social life is not done overnight, says Erlene Rokowsky, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. She suggests these steps before you take action:

  1. Take an inventory of who’s already in your circle of friends. Who do you want to keep? Whose presence is more toxic than comforting?
  2. On a frequency continuum from every day to a few times a month, what is your need for human interaction?
  3. On a relationship continuum from intimate to communal, what level of connection do you need? (The introvert may be more comfortable at a book club than one-on-one. The extrovert may need a variety of relationships.)
  4. Assess what need your spouse filled and what you now miss. Was he/she your confidante, your movie partner, your source of laughter? Do you have a friend who can fill that need?
  5. Revisit these steps periodically to figure out what you want to add or take away.

When you’re ready to rebuild your life, says Kim Gordon, the bereavement coordinator at Hospice of Westchester in New York, here are good ideas for meeting new people:

  • Join a health club and take a class. Besides getting in shape, you’ll meet other people who like the same exercise as you.
  • Take your dog to obedience class.  Nothing like other crazy-in-love-with-my-dog people to bring strangers together.
  • Throw a party. We’re not talking intimate get-together, but a Super Bowl or election party that doesn’t rely on twosomes for success.
  • Buy two tickets to an event and invite someone to go with you as your guest.
  • Volunteer –  volunteers are always needed and welcomed at organizations like hospitals, school, fundraisers, etc.
  • Find someone to teach you a new skill. Relationships are built over common interests. Besides, it’s flattering for the one being asked to teach.
  • Join a group or organization that caters to your demographic with people who share your circumstances.

Rebuilding your social life after loss is about personal growth. This does not mean that you are forgetting or ignoring the impact of your loss, but you still are who you were—and you can choose, moving forward, how you want to live in order to be your best and happiest self.

Article Contributor:  Grandparents.com and Sally Stich

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org             

Five Experts On The Positives Of Growing Older

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We so often hear about the drawbacks of growing older.  Instead of thinking of life as a gradual decline, maybe it is time to start thinking of how life gets better as we go along—and that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

You’ll Be Happier-As it turns out, most grumpy older people used to be grumpy young people. Aging doesn’t turn a cheerful person into a grouch.  To the contrary, research shows that, as we age, we become more emotionally stable and content.  In early adulthood, there is alot of what-ifs?  Am I going to find a soul mate?  Have a child?  Build a rewarding career?   Then you spend the next few decades striving to achieve goals.  But when you’re older, the what-ifs have been resolved.  So this means less stress and you can relax.” (Laura Carstensen, 57, is a psychologist and director of the Stanford Center of Longevity, in Stanford, California)

Wise Decisions Will Come More Easy-Scientists used to think that we lose a significant number of our brain cells as we age, but more sophisticated scans have debunked that theory. We now know that we hit our cognitive peak between the ages of 40 and 68. Through the years, our brains build up connections and recognize patterns—meaning we’re better problem-solvers and can more quickly get the gist of an argument. It’s the reason why judges and presidents tend to be middle-aged or older, and why Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was able to land that airplane on the Hudson River. Older brains can swiftly make the right calls.” (Barbara Strauch, 59, is the science editor of the New York Times and the author of The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain)

The Fashion Police Will Be Off Your Back- “Go ahead and wear five-finger running shoes or funky sandals. No longer must you prance around in painful heels. Now you can climb steep steps past young wobblies in magnificent toe-crushers. It is worth it, knowing that one of the greatest contributors to longevity is moving—fast, on flat feet.” (Gail Sheehy, 74, is the author of PassagesSex and the Seasoned Woman and 14 other books.

You’ll Know Who You Are– “A sense of urgency comes with aging. Before I was 75, I was tentative about many things. But now I know my own voice, and most important, I have the confidence to use it. Today I’m blogging and giving speeches and participating in all sorts of activities that, honestly, I would have been incapable of doing when I was younger.” (Betty Reid Soskin, 89, is a full-time park ranger for the Rosie The Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park, in Richmond, California).

You’ll Have Time On Your Hands-If you’ve been driving yourself for years—working, raising a family, or both—it’s an adjustment to have spare time once your job has slowed down and the kids have flown the coop. The good thing about getting older is that you’ve seen it all, lived it all, felt it all—and now you can take a moment to share what you’ve learned. I dedicate many of my hours these days to mentoring people: I’ve helped friends’ children choose careers and advised a friend on how to start the second chapter in her professional life. I can’t think of a way to spend my time that is more gratifying.” (Anne Kreamer, 65, is the author of Going Gray and It’s Always Personal)

Individuals are now living well into their 80’s, 90’s and past 100 and the life span will continue to grow.  Start determining your aging prophecy today by celebrating and embracing each day, each month, each year and the triumphs that they may bring.

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Forming New Friendships After Age 55

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Many people believe that making new friends in mid-life can be difficult.

From my experience with Silver Connections members- this is just a myth. It does take some effort, but is very possible.

There are lots of people out there who need or want friends. Their lives may have been jolted by geographic moves, divorce, or loss of a spouse or partner. Some people simply wake up and realize that some of the friends they have no longer offer the support that makes their friendships worthwhile.

So, how do you begin to form those new friendships after 55?

 

1. Admit That You Might Be Lonely
Self-awareness is the first step. Pay attention to the signs of social disconnection. Are telemarketers the only people who call you in the evenings? Is watching Grey’s Anatomy or Project Runway the highlight of your week? Have you stopped cooking meals because it’s so much trouble for “only one?” Do you find excuses to strike up conversations with strangers in supermarket checkout lines? Whatever your loneliness red flags, recognize that loneliness is not a character flaw—it’s simply a way of telling you to get out, start socializing and have a life!

 

2. Decide What Kind Of Friend You Want To Be
The most important ingredient you bring to a relationship is yourself. What kind of energy and commitment are you willing to put out there in your search for connections? Make a decision that you will show up in the world as someone who is worth having as a friend. That way your energy, honesty, and caring personality will draw people to you when you meet.

 

3. Reflect On The Qualities You Are Looking For In A Friend
Even though you possibly don’t have enough friends right now, this is no time to lower your standards. In fact, the more conscious you are about what kind of friends you want to have, the more likely you’ll find people who meet your needs. Are you looking for someone who:
Enjoys some of the same activities you do?
Shares your political or religious beliefs?
Has something in common that you can both talk about?
Doesn’t complain excessively about physical symptoms or family problems?
Has a similar standard of living?
Likes to listen as much as she talks?

 

4. Become A Joiner
Many people are shy about joining groups. I have a friend who recently relocated to California and thought about joining some organizations, but resisted, saying “I don’t do groups.” Accept your discomfort about groups and join some anyway. It’s really the only efficient way to meet kindred spirits. And, choose only those groups devoted to activities or causes that you enjoy or are passionate about.  I have seen friendships blossom within Silver Connections as members join to attend events and travel with others.  They then find they have many commonalities with one another and numerous members have become close friends.  The Silver Connections group was the vessel that enabled them to meet.

 

5. Invite People To Dinner
Many of us are intimidated by the prospect of having people to our homes, especially people we don’t know all that well. So challenge yourself to dust off that old recipe book, and host a dinner party for a few people you hardly know. It will give you a night off from eating Lean Cuisine, and there is nothing like home-cooked food to help people feel welcome and connected. By inviting a small number of new acquaintances, you won’t have to worry about keeping the conversation going all by yourself—your other guests can help you. If the thought of food preparation makes you want to jump off a bridge, plan a pot luck dinner and make it a casual, but fun gathering.

 

The important thing is to break out of your social shell and take those first steps to forming new friendships.

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

 

Author/Blog Contribution- Dr. Kathy Jordane

Growing Up In The 1950s

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Many members of the Silver Connections group were born or grew up in the 1950s and if they were born in 1946 or after, are part of  the ‘Baby Boom’ generation.

Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, “the cry of the baby was heard across the land,” as historian Landon Jones later described the trend.  Many of the soldiers that came home from WWII settled down and had families. After the depression and years of war, life seemed peaceful and secure. More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called ‘baby boom.’ In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952.

The United States in the 1950s was also the world’s strongest military power. The GI Bill enabled many men to obtain a college education. The US economy was booming, and the fruits of this prosperity–new cars, suburban houses and other consumer goods–were available to more people than ever before.

 

If you were raised in the 1950’s, these may apply to you:

Home was a safe haven—no need for a security system. Many families never locked their doors.

You could walk or ride your bike alone to school, and your mom would be at home when you got there after school.

Homework aside, you could play until just before 6, when the family would sit down together for a planned supper.

You knew your parents loved you, even though at times it might have felt (literally) like a tough love—ever get spanked with a wooden spoon? Your parents were consistent, always wanting something better for you than what they had for themselves growing up.

There was no Nintendo, PlayStation, x-boxes, video games or iPods in the 1950’s. No cell phones, computers or TV’s in bedrooms. No idea what the internet, chat rooms or Facebook would be!

You had friends your own age, who most likely lived in your neighborhood.  You knew their families and they knew yours.

You had record players for your 45 RPMs.

There were trees to climb and fall out of, without suing anyone when you did.

You may have had packets of baseball cards, with a slab of gum the same size. How about hula hoops, the Mickey Mouse Club and Howdy Doody Time on TV or your lunchbox with milk in a carton.

You may have drunk out of a garden hose and no one thought it was dirty.

You may have had a one-foot deep plastic swimming pool that took forever o fill.

Your telephone number may have had a lettered prefix you had to memorize, like Sunset 2- 4848.

You used big cardboard boxes to build forts in the back yard in a tree.

Do you remember fireflies, milk in glass bottles delivered to your house each day, board games like Candyland and Monopoly, chalk for the sidewalk and a game of hopscotch or jacks?

Bazooka bubble gum with a comic inside and your own wrist watch, with maybe Davy Crockett, Mickey or Minnie Mouse on the dial?

How about family vacations and road trips each summer, waiting an hour after eating before you could go swimming, playing outside after supper each night in summer until your Mom called you in?

Did you always run so hard you were out of breath or laugh so hard that your sides hurt?

How about S&H green stamps from the grocery store and gas stations, licking the backs and pasting them in a book?

Watching a drive-in movie on a Friday night, 15 cent burgers from McDonald’s or roller skates.

 

Beginning in 1935, Polling Company AIPO spent decades ringing strangers up and asking them how happy they were—a move that actually yielded usable data. The fifties saw a surge of people claiming they were very happy, peaking between 1955 and 1960 at around forty percent. That’s the highest it’s ever been.  This isn’t just ‘happy’ but ‘very happy’. A different study measuring average happiness across the decades also placed the fifties as peak smiling time.

For all these positive attributes about this decade, and there were many, what were the negatives?  Racial discrimination and segregation existed. Women were expected to stay at home, be a wife and raise the children. There were puritanical attitudes toward sex. Families were still hurting from the loss of brothers, fathers and sons from the war. There was the McCarthy era, where thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers.

If you were born and/or raised in the 1950’s – was it a happier, simpler decade?

Was being a child in the 1950’s ideal?

If the consensus of the 1950’s being a stable, harmonious decade is true for many, it appeared to be one that did not last long.  It seemed to crumble for good during the tumultuous 1960’s and the “me” decade of the 1970’s.

 

A look at a family dinner in 1950-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8kJzBJrOkU

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

 

Blog Contributors:  Baby Boomers  R We, History Channel and Listverse

 

It’s Never Too Late To Reinvent Yourself

 

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Silver Connections members are reinventing themselves all the time.

Often, after many years of marriage, they are reinventing themselves to life as a single person. They are meeting new people and making all new friends. They are becoming involved in new activities and experiences. They are doing all of this over the age of 55.

It is not always easy and can be hard work.  Staying home alone and accepting what is, is the uncomplicated route.  Taking action and chances is much more difficult.

I thought the article below, by James Clear, provides a perfect example of reinvention and pursuing a dream.  Letting go of what is comfortable and reaching out for a life full of possibilities.

 

In 1965, a young man named Tom graduated from college with a degree in English.

Soon after, Tom took a job with an insurance company in Connecticut. After working there for seven years, he transitioned to a new role in the industry and started working for an insurance agency. He worked at that insurance agency for the next eight years.

In 1980, he decided to buy a small insurance agency. At this point Tom had been working in the insurance industry for 15 years, but he was beginning to feel an internal pull to do work that really excited him. He had always wanted to write a novel.

He started by writing in his spare time. Then, he started cutting his work day short so that he would have more time to write. Eventually, he was working on the novel whenever he could find time.

His wife, Wanda, recalled Tom’s early writing years by saying, “He was writing at home every weekend. I told him he should go back to selling insurance.”

In 1984, after working for almost 20 years in the insurance industry, Tom finally published his first book, The Hunt for Red October.

He was hoping to sell 5,000 copies. By the end of the decade it had sold more than 2 million.

Tom Clancy was one of the most successful authors of his generation. Focusing primarily on military story lines, Clancy wrote 17 novels that became #1 New York Times best-sellers. In total, his books sold more than 100 million copies. Many of them, including The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and The Sum of All Fears were turned into major motion pictures. For millions of readers, Tom Clancy is a household name. But even with all of those amazing achievements, what I found most amazing about Clancy was his willingness to reinvent himself.

We all have goals that we say are important to us — getting in shape, building a business, writing a book, and so on — but for most of us, the inertia of life holds us back. This is especially true when we’re living a relatively comfortable life. Most people in Tom Clancy’s situation would probably continue their insurance career rather than chase the dream of becoming a novelist.

It’s easy to look at someone with the success of Tom Clancy and claim that he was destined for success. 100 million copies sold? He must have been born to be a writer. But if you were to look at him at any point during the first 20 years of his career, you wouldn’t have seen a writer at all.

And that raises an interesting question…

What made the biggest difference in Clancy’s life? Was it his level of talent? Or was it his willingness to make choices and take action?

There are plenty of talented people who never make a choice to do something different, to reinvent themselves, and to pursue their dreams. It’s hard to work up the guts to try something new. Nobody wants to feel stupid and start from the beginning all over again.

But talent isn’t worth a thing without the willingness to take action. It’s great to have a dream, but it’s better to pursue it.

How many Tom Clancys are out there right now, holding their dreams inside and letting the inertia of life pull them in the same direction they’ve always gone?

There’s nothing special that happens to the people who choose to reinvent themselves and chase their dreams. It’s not any easier for them than it is for you. It’s just that at some point, they choose to do the work. They choose to take action. And they choose themselves.

Reinventing yourself and developing a new skill is hard work. Going from out of shape to the best shape of your life is hard work. Transitioning from corporate desk jockey to proud entrepreneur is hard work. Moving from life-long insurance salesman to best-selling novelist is hard work.  And so is pretty much every other goal worth fighting for.

As Clancy said, there’s nothing “mystical” about it. You won’t feel “divinely inspired.” The first steps toward any dream are slow, unsexy, and inconvenient — sort of like writing a novel on the weekends while you’re still running a small insurance agency.

And to further complicate things, reinventing yourself is particularly hard because nobody is going to praise you for it — especially in the beginning. Tom Clancy’s wife told him to “go back to selling insurance.”

The good news is that the path to have a life you love might not look the way you expected, but it can still get you to where you want to go — if you make the choice to try something new.

Some reinvent themselves to follow a dream and others reinvent themselves out of necessity to build a new life of happiness.

It’s never too late.

 

“I have years of life lessons that provide foundation for every decision.  At this age, I say to myself, if not now, when? Go for what you want, or life will pass you by.”  – Kathy Davis

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous, unique socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service,  quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

Silver Connections Website:      www.silverconnections.org

 

Grief and Loss

grief7654I have been thinking about grief a lot lately. Even though I have spent years working in bereavement, it never seems to get easier when it hits close to home. Several long time family friends passed away this year, my neighbor died last month, one of my college sorority sisters passed away recently and as Father’s Day approaches, I think a lot about my sweet Dad who died in 2007 and who I miss everyday.

As the owner of Silver Connections, I am also privileged to meet many individuals who contact me and are struggling with their grief and loss, but who are reaching out to find socializing opportunities and ways to connect to others.  My respect for them is immense; in spite of their grief, they realize they have to try and make their way and engage in life.

Grief is universal, but most people don’t learn about grief until it thrusts them onto the roller coaster of major loss.  And though each person has their own journey, still they share many common experiences.

Yet, there is so much misinformation and confusion around grief. Principally, this comes from the widely-held myths that grief should be short, that grief has closure, that people should get on with their lives unchanged and that ongoing connection with the deceased is somehow pathological.

Below are six principles, cited by Ashley Bush, to help understand the grieving process and to support those who have suffered a loss.

1. Grief is a normal reaction — Grief is the natural emotional and physical response to the death of a loved one. Although our society desperately wants to avoid the messiness of deep sorrow, there is no way out except through the pain. Typical numbing techniques such as medications, alcohol and food are only temporary distractions to dull the pain.

Letting oneself grieve by going directly into the pain — in manageable doses over a long period of time — is healing. Avoiding the pain simply forces it to go deep into the heart where it subtly affects emotional and physical health.

 

2. Grief is hard work — Grief isn’t easy and it isn’t pretty. It involves tears, sleepless nights, pain, sorrow and a heartache that knocks you to your knees. It can be hard to concentrate, hard to think clearly, hard to read and easy to forget all the details of life that everyone else seems to remember. Grievers frequently feel that they’re going crazy and they sometimes wish to die. This doesn’t mean that they’re actively suicidal, it just means that they’re grieving.

 

3. Grief doesn’t offer closure — Closure is an idea that we like because we want to tie up our emotional messes with a bow and put them in the back of a closet. But grief refuses to play this game. Grief tends towards healing not closure. The funeral can be healing, visiting a gravesite can be healing, performing rituals, writing in journals and making pilgrimages can be personally meaningful and healing. But they will not bring closure. Closure is relevant to business deals but not to the human heart.

 

4. Grief is lifelong — Although we all want quick fixes and short-term solutions, grief won’t accommodate us. Many people want grief to be over in a few weeks or a few months and certainly within a year. And yet, many grievers know that the second year is actually harder than the first.  The shock has worn off and the reality of the pain has truly sunk in.

No matter how many years go by, there will be occasional days when grief bursts through with a certain rawness. There will be days, even decades later, when sadness crosses over like a storm cloud. And likely, every day going forward will involve some memory, some connection to missing the beloved.

 

5. Grievers need to stay connected to the deceased — While some might find it odd or uncomfortable to keep talking about a loved one after they have passed, or find it disconcerting to see photographs of those who have died, it is healthy to keep the connection alive. My heart goes out to a generation or more of grievers who were told to cut their ties to their deceased loved ones, to move on, almost as if they had never existed.  It is important to honor the birthdays and departure days of deceased loved ones. Their physical presence may be gone, but they remain in relationship to the griever in a new way beyond form, a way based in spirit and love.

 

6. Grievers are changed forever — Those who expect grievers to eventually get back to their old selves, will be quite disappointed. Grief, like all major life experiences, changes a person irrevocably. People don’t remain unchanged after getting an education, getting married, having a baby, getting divorced or changing careers. Grief, too, adds to the compost mixture of life, creating rich and fertile soil. It teaches about living and dying, about pain and love and about impermanence. While some people are changed by grief in a way that makes them bitter and shut down, it is also possible to use grief as a springboard for compassion, wisdom, and open-heartedness.

 

Finding acceptance in the loss may be just having more good days than bad ones. In beginning to enjoy life, some feel that they are betraying their loved one. They can never replace what has been lost, but can make new connections and new meaningful relationships.

 

“You are near, even if I don’t see you.  You are with me, even if you are far away.  You are in my heart, in my thoughts, in my life, Always.” – M.Holland

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

 

Changing Friendships

Friends123

An accepted pillar of healthy aging involves fostering nurturing affiliations with others. Former Beatle John Lennon sang “Count your age by friends, not years.”

One of the ruthless risks of aging is social isolation. Career contacts disappear. Older family members pass away. Nearby friends retire elsewhere. Children relocate to pursue blossoming careers.

A “third age” without rewarding friendships can make us sicker faster and even contribute to an early demise. A recent article in Nature reported  “limited contact with family, friends and community groups predicts illness and earlier death, regardless of whether it is accompanied by feelings of loneliness.” Feeling lonely may be an existential truth of living that we can survive; being socially isolated, however, may be a death sentence. It follows that one key to a robust old age comes from real friends.

Yet, some friendships gathered over a lifetime, we learn, are not real. They become frustrating and exhausting.  Some friends want it to be all about them or others may lack the depth and loyalty that is needed for the relationship to survive.  Other times, you may feel you are doing all the work to keep the friendship a priority.

Convenience Friendships

Many friendships germinate because of circumstances. Research from the field of social psychology validates that the most significant factor contributing to relationships of substance is physical proximity. The proximity principle suggests that we form close relationships with those who are geographically near us. People who encounter each other develop stronger bonds.

Thus, we pick up convenient friendships as we travel through life: school classmates, neighbors, people we work with in our careers, and associates we meet through professional and civic organizations. Some of these friendships become enduring and lifelong. One durable relationship may earn the championship title of “Best Friend.”

And while convenience friendships can be miracles in our lives, knitting together decades of shared experiences, sometimes these relationships survive as tired habits. Friendship based on convenience can fall out of balance, even growth restricting.

One of my family members is disturbed by a convenient friendship that began when they were young, having met through a professional organization. This friend is emotionally needy, calls every day, and rambles about her problems with a difficult child, career troubles, dating issues, and so on.  This friend is simply too neurotic or narcissistic to focus beyond herself. She’s too busy receiving to give.

While my relative loves to support others — and helping friends in need can be health-promoting — she gives away doses of psychological energy, shouldering her friend’s persistent crises and ongoing burdens.

Cosmetic Friendships

These are the fun friends- the one you meet  for cocktails after work or the one who goes with you on a ski trip.  They love to be around you when all is good and fun and sometimes these friends also are there because you provide something.  It could be access to a network of contacts or good season tickets to a football game or even financial help.  These may be friends who loved you when you were part of  a couple, but may not come around after a break-up, a spouse’s death or a divorce. When what you have to offer changes, the friendship changes also.  This friend may soon become scarce and unavailable. This friendship does not exist because of positive feelings for the relationship, but because of a benefit.

Interdependent Friendships

Interdependent relationships are the healthiest. Both parties contribute and receive. Both are available to share the joys of closeness and help shoulder the burdens that come with aging. They give and take. They are committed to mutual growth and positive adaptation along the uncharted journey through life.

Sometimes the contact can be be infrequent because of geographical distance, but these friends periodically reach out to each other and be available for support as needed.  They stand the test of time.

Not all friendships are created equal. Convenience friendships may benefit from proximity, but sometimes these attachments were never truly appropriate in the first place. Cosmetic friendships are often fleeting: when our value to the other person diminishes, they depart without even saying goodbye.

Interdependent friendships can be one gift of maturity. They include the extraordinary friends we can count on when we become distraught or disillusioned. They are people who lift our spirits and in return welcome our nurturing care during their tough times.

As we age, we benefit by learning to discern real friendships from relationship baggage, to think more critically about quality of friendships, not merely quantity.

“Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen.”

 

Article Contribution- Huffington Post

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

You Are Never Too Old To Follow A Dream

you are never too old2

If you have ever said “I am just too old to do that!”…… think again!

Age insecurity can be a stubborn mental block that prevents many individuals from achieving success.  Are you letting the idea that you’re too old, hold you back?

Take the quiz below and see these late bloomers who followed their dreams and accomplished tasks at an age when many would consider retiring!

(answers at the bottom of blog)

 

1. Who won a first and only Academy Award two months shy of turning 81?

– Henry Fonda

– Jessica Tandy

– Jack Palance

– Ruth Gordon

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2. Which of these authors, at age 65, had a first novel published?

– Joseph Heller

– Mark Twain

– Laura Ingalls Wilder

– Herman Melville

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3. Who is the oldest tennis player to win the U.S Open doing so in mixed doubles at age 49?

– Jimmy Connors

– Chris Everett

– Billie Jean King

– Martina Navaratilova

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4. How old was the oldest person to climb Mt. Everest?

– 61

– 68

– 76

– 84

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

5. How old was Benjamin Franklin when he was named the Ambassador to France?

– 50

– 60

– 70

– 80

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

6. Doris Haddock, who lived to be 100, walked from California to Washington D.C., between the ages of 88 to 90 to raise awareness of what?

– The Iraq War

– Global Warming

– Women’s Rights

– Campaign Finance Reform

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

7. What age did Grandma Moses (who lived to be 101) first begin painting?

– 51

– 64

– 76

– 88

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

8. Who was the oldest active congressman in history, serving to the age of 100?

– Robert Byrd

– Carl Hayden

– Jennings Randolph

– Strom  Thurmund

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

9. Who, at the age 0f 45, became the oldest heavy-weight champion by deafeating a 26 –year-old?

– George Foreman

– Joe Frazier

– Evander Holyfield

– Lennox Lewis

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

10. Which fast food restaurant was originally finaced by the 65-year-old owners social security check?

– Wendys

– McDonald’s

– Burger King

– Kentucky Fried Chicken

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

11. At the age of 47, who is the oldest major leaugue baseball pitcher to throw a complete –game shutout?

– Phil Nickro

– Jamie Moyer

– Gaylord Perry

– Nolan Ryan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12. Of the four Academy Awards won by Katherine Hepburn throughout her career, how many did she win after turning 60?

– None

– 2

– 3

– All of them

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

13. In what decade of his life was Frank Lloyd Wright when the Guggenheim Museum in New York was being finished?

– 60s

– 70s

– 80s

– 90s

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

14. How old was Nelson Mandela when he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa?

– 62

– 69

– 75

– 82

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

15. How old was Victor Hugo when his masterpiece Les Miserables was published?

– 50

– 60

– 70

– 80

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

16. Who is the oldest politician to win a major party nomination for a presidential election, having done so at the age of 73?

– Bob Dole

– Barry Goldwater

– Hubert Humphrey

– John McCain

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

17.  This woman was  97 years old when set a record for the 100 Meter Sprint at the USA Track and Field Eastern Regional Open Championships. She finished the race at 51.85 seconds, beating the previous record of 59.9 seconds for the 90 and over age category. She took up running at age 67 after several personal tragedies in her life, including the death of her husband and two of her sons.

– Doris Jamison

– Ida Keeling

– Ellen Thazan

– Mary Whitaker

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ANSWERS:

# 1   Jessica Tandy

# 2   Laura Ingalls Wilder

# 3   Martina Navratilova

# 4   76

# 5  70

# 6   Campaign Finance Reform

# 7   76

# 8   Strom Thurmond

# 9   George Foreman

# 10  Kentucky Fried Chicken

# 11   Jamie Moyer

# 12   3

# 13     90’s

# 14     75

# 15     60

# 16    Bob Dole

# 17   Ida Keeling

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

http://www.silverconnections.org

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