The older I get, the more convinced I am that two of the most powerful words in our vocabulary are “thank you”. I’m chagrined to say that they’re not really spoken enough. I’ve also heard this from friends.
It’s just so simple to say it, or to write it in a note, which is much more powerful than in an email or text. Yes, it’s quaint to write a note and put it in the mail, but a handwritten note of thanks is probably one of the nicest communications any of us can receive.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also gotten to know quite a few of my Baby Boomer peers. I think, on the whole, they can be divided into 2 groups: those who accept aging as a natural part of the life cycle and those who don’t. In that latter category are my friends who visit a hair salon every month to color their hair. They don’t like to reveal their age, to anyone. They get insulted if offered a seat on the subway or, for that matter, get referred to as “elderly”, “old” or “senior”.
Even though I fall into the first category (probably the only thing Meryl Streep and I have in common), and am comfortable with my burgeoning wrinkles and graying hair, I am enormously sympathetic to those denying friends because of the rampant ageism that marginalizes older people, gives them short shrift, assumes they’re senile and doesn’t give to senior citizens the same respect and attention given, say, to younger people.
This post won’t right those societal wrongs but I think it’s important to call it out for what it is: another form of discrimination.
It’s interesting to note that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, this country will reach a new milestone in 2035. It’s predicted that year that older adults, age 65 and over, will outnumber children under 18 for the first time in U.S. history. Fewer babies and a longer life expectancy means that as a country, we’re graying faster!
Given those trends, it seems to make sense to fight back against the stereotypes and adopt a broader acceptance of the inevitable part of our life cycle as humans. There certainly will be more of us around.
Whenever possible, avoid rush hours on the subways in New York City if you’re a senior citizen!
One of the luxuries of retirement is that your schedule is much more flexible. At the end of your day, you no longer need to stream out of a work place with hordes of other humans. You no longer need to feel the press of humanity pouring into the bowels of the NYC subway system. You can avoid the frenzy of the turnstiles and the packed platforms. Most significantly, you can pass on the experience of being squeezed together like a sardine with sometimes smelly and occasionally rude people on a train that lurches or stalls. Except when you can’t.
As luck would have it, I’m taking a terrific class in midtown this spring that regrettably meets from 2 until 5 pm. So, once a week, I’m living all of the above subway experiences in the Times Square subway station and on the #2 Express or #1 Local trains uptown.
If there is ever a reason to stay as physically fit as possible after retirement, it’s for when you can’t avoid using the NYC subway system during rush hour.
It’s pretty remarkable these days how many people are tuned in and zoned out and listening to, or looking at, their phones. I was on the subway recently and counted 6 out of the 8 people on the seats opposite who were looking at, or listening to, their phones. Of the remaining two, one was asleep. The other was reading the print edition of The New York Times. Quaint.
It’s especially interesting on the city’s streets to see how many people are plugged into their phones, seemingly oblivious to the city around them. I’m actually amazed when they seem to magically get out of the way just in the nick of time to avoid walking into someone or something. It’s an instinct that smart phone users seem to share with the city’s pigeons. Fortunately, nobody I know has ever stepped on a pigeon yet.
So it’s February now in NYC. And the thermometer recently was in the teens with a wind chill in the minus single digits. You go into a restaurant for a cup of coffee to warm up and visit the bathroom first. You’re still pretty frozen when you get to the sink to wash your hands. You turn on both the hot and cold water faucets but only ice cold water comes out.
The restaurant isn’t a dive but like many owners of commercial properties in the city, I guess economies in operating their space comes with cutbacks to hot water in the taps. I don’t mind it in the summer months, but in the dead of winter, that cold water to wash your ice cold hands is pretty nasty.
I encountered the very same situation this morning in a ladies room on the third floor of Bloomingdales on 59th and Lex. Today, the temperatures are in the 20’s and my hands had already warmed up from taking 2 escalators up from the entrance, so the situation was a bit more tolerable, albeit still mighty unpleasant.
I was never one of those parents who hocked their kids about having children. Quite the opposite, in fact. I just assumed my very talented daughter and daughter-in-law would continue to pursue full-time careers and not try to balance them with motherhood. In fact, at my 45th college reunion, one classmate asked, “So, Amy, any grandchildren yet?” My response, “No, but I’ve got 2 adorable grand dogs!”
So, in the fullness of time, and a mere 7 years later, I now have 5 very wonderful, adorable, bright, and (mostly) kind and considerate grandchildren, I truly do count my blessings and am enormously grateful to have them, and my wonderful children and children-in-law, in New York City.
I’m heartbroken that my husband of 41 years, who died 9 years ago, can’t be here to enjoy spending time with them, too, and I hope they each come to know about him even more as they get older.
I recently read an article aimed at the “wrinkles” demographic, about the importance of having “meaning” in life, for its health, social, psychological and emotional benefits. Having a close family certainly helps provide that meaning and grandchildren, well, they’re right up there.
Yesterday, I went to a terrific show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Jewelry: The Body Transformed.” The exhibit has a stunning collection from Ancient times to the present of all sorts of headdresses, earrings and ear “ornaments,” pins, necklaces, rings and belts. It’s pretty amazing to explore how jewelry has been used to adorn the body, convey power, signal the divine, appease the gods, create surprise or even shock others.
It does get you wondering whether jewelry can be designed to reduce the aging process. Or maybe it has already been designed with some of those jewel-encrusted masks on display.
The show is on until February 24, if you want to check it out.
I happen to shop for most of my drugstore items at Duane Reade in New York City. To show their appreciation for my loyalty, Duane Reade issues a little plastic card with a bar code. The bar code tracks my purchases and I accrue points. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, most of us are familiar with this sales technique.
Every so often, I’m asked by the cashier whether I want to “use my points” and have them applied to the dollar amount on my bill. That usually amounts to a dollar or 2 being subtracted from the final amount.
I always say, “Sure!” What I’m always left wondering about are those people who wouldn’t want to use their points right then and there and risk them disappearing if, say, they got hit by a bus right afterwards. What a waste that would be.
They say it’s important to be mindful and ‘in the moment’. What more can I say to prove I am.
This is an interesting time of year when everyone is suppose to be really happy–even if the sidewalks and subways are unbelievably crowded and its been raining practically every day and everyone seems a little grouchy for one reason or another.
Well, I have a solution to this theoretical seasonal joy. Give some money to a worthy charity, even if it’s a small amount. If you can afford to give to a few, even better. It will make you feel so good.
This year, one of my favorite non-profits is called OATS, or Older Adults Technology Services. Their storefront locations, called Senior Planet, offer free classes to senior citizens to teach them everything from how to use computers to how to navigate social media. You can check out where they have locations and what classes they offer at https://seniorplanet.org.
If you’re reading this blog on a computer or smartphone, and you’re a senior citizen, you obviously are digitally savvy but there’s always new stuff to learn. Also, consider the many senior citizens who can’t afford to own their computers and are left out of this way to interact with the world. They can use the free computers at Senior Planet.
So check out their website and think about signing up for their email. Even better, consider a donation: oats.org.
The above isn’t a self-portrait (fortunately). However, it has happened when someone looking at her phone tumbled down an open sidewalk grating.
I’ve had a few close calls and think it’s useful to reflect on the importance of being in the moment and not distracted by the many gadgets (by that I mean mostly our smart phones) that seduce us away from the reality we’re in.
Keep yours in your purse or pocket as you walk down the street and notice the number of people who are looking at their own.
This is a request for concentrating on what you’re doing when you’re doing it –particularly if it’s walking or driving, when forward motion and not concentrating don’t mix well together. I think there have been studies that also show that reading or watching TV when you’re eating keeps you shoveling food down, and potentially overeating, instead of savoring what you have on your plate.
So, friends, stay in the moment and keep all your senses open to your surroundings. You might even smell the roses and hear the birds again. And save yourself from breaking your neck.