Time Flies to…Feel Good, Try These Experiments (Or Not): A Column by Lu

I used to enjoy listening to the 10:00 p.m. news, reading the morning paper; but now, not so much.  I hate to get depressed at the start of my day, so I rapidly scan the paper, check the weather, the ads, and the word Jumble. Sometimes, I even check my computer.
You have to live in a cave with a bag over your head not to realize we live in a scary world.  We do, and we are overexposed to that bad stuff all the time.  I hope I never reach a state where I become desensitized to bloodshed and body parts.  However, we sometimes need to set our own dials and push “happy.”

Now that my little rant is over, I want you to consider these ideas…  I blame Mother Teresa of Calcutta for these thoughts.  She advised everyone to gift the people you meet with a sincere smile.  You know the kind of smile where you make eye contact and are aware of another human.  Kindly smiles beget kindliness…sometimes.

With that thought in mind I tried two bitty experiments.

EXPERIMENT ONE:  This morning I just smiled at myself.  Alone, in my living room, there I was smiling, and I immediately felt silly.  So to the smile I added some happy thoughts, and guess what?  I smiled again.  For some crazy reason, I felt in charge of my day.

EXPERIMENT TWO:  My daughter called.  (This gets weird.)

Me:  Julie, I want you to smile and say, “Hello, Mom.”

JULIE:  Do you feel okay.  Should I call 911?

ME:  No, humor me.  This is an experiment.  Just smile and say, “Hello mom,” but smile like you mean it, okay.

JULIE:  Hello, MOM. I’m smiling.

ME:  I’m smiling back.  How do you feel?

JULIE:  (Laughing.)  Mom, I’m fine, but I’m a little worried about you.

And that was that, but, I have another unscientific theory.  When you smile or laugh, all the muscles in your face relax thereby releasing the tension that causes wrinkles. For a fact, happy faces look younger longer.

Be proactive, smile at a stranger.

Lu

Time Flies to…Good Lord, It’s June! (A Column by Lu)

Who is Ubbie Wobballo?

I will not keep you in suspense. Ubbie is a caterpillar. I wanted to call him Cappy, but my seven-year-old grandson nixed that name. He likes Ubbie, and I like it too.

In late spring, youngest grandson, Jonathan, and I found Ubbie near a tiny clump of trees about a block from his (J.’s) home. Ubbie looked like a bright green stack of life savers with two black horns popping out of his head.

Little boys like caterpillers. Me? Not so much. But in the interests of science, J. and I decided to follow Ubbie. Our adventure began. Ubbie walked one long city block and then decided to cross the street.

“Crossing the street? Ubbie might get squashed,” said Jonathan. By now, fifteen minutes into the journey, we both were protective of Ubbie. So we carefully watched Ubbie cross the street.

We watched him climb the curb and then shift into the grass, which was also good camouflage for Ubbie, and we had to be careful not to step on him. Then, in the blink of an eye, we lost him. He disappeared.

Jonathan smiled, “I guess he went home.”

“Yep. To build his chrysalis,” said I.

And that’s how you bond with a grandson.

Bonding with your thirteen-year-old granddaughter is another story.

Lu

Time Flies to…Hitting the “Refresh My Life Button” as You Age (A Column by Lu)

During the last few months, I’ve been conducting an informal study to find absorbing ways to enjoy myself.  I’ve been nosing around parks, checking out clubs, programs, charitable organizations (not so much on volunteering, I already do a bit of that),  library offerings, church functions, etc.

Most parks offer a variety of activities, but also many charge. Six weeks of Pilates could cost you $36, which I think is expensive.  However, at another park, you can pay as you go.  I pay $2 a week at Bolingbrook Senior Center for a two hour class in line dancing.  The “Hello Dolly” number takes me to mellow moments…good memories there.

IPPL’s Current Events Discussion Group keeps growing.  Why?  Because we now have the opportunity to explore crucial world problems and develop our own opinions and talk about them.  At the last meeting, I counted about 35 people or more–very interactive.

Also I recently attended a documentary about Cesar Chavez.  My friend and I could not believe that during our lifetime this fine labor leader never crossed our line of vision.  His story should be part of our general knowledge.  Even though I wasn’t an activist back then, I believe we need to hear about more heroes today whose reality isn’t on  a T.V. show.

Lisle Senior Center also offers some fun stuff.   Their trips to “all over the place” take you to events where you might not want to drive.  In all parks, the good stuff goes fast, and you do not have to be a resident to go.

I know these ramblings are not scientific, and I still haven’t made a dent in the many offerings out there.  If you have a favorite place or program, please share.
Find yourself a new frontier. Now it’s all about seeking out the good stuff.

Lu

Time Flies to…Mah-Jongg

“So how are you surviving the polar vortex?” I asked my friend, Mable.

“I hate that miserable term.  I’m sick to death of all this snow and cold, black ice and white ice, and everything in between.  Does that answer your question? “

“Sorry I asked, Mable.”  She looked pretty grim.

“Oh, please, stop with the sorry.  What about you Ms. Smug face?”

I didn’t like the sound of that remark.  “My name is Lu.”  Her nose twitched. “Well, back around Christmas, I liked it; I’m a winter person.  I like snow beauty, downy comforters, hot soup, and cozy. But when we kept getting pounded and pounded, I grew weary, I grew bored, I decided I needed something more than  weather watching to pass the time.”

Mable smiled, “Of course.”  She can be so patronizing.

“So I talked to some friends, and before you know it, I was learning to play Mah-Jongg, and I was line dancing at a park in Bolingbrook.  In fact, I played today.”

“At your age?  Well, of course you do tend to try to act youthful.”  She so graciously retorted.

I felt an urge to comment on her false eyelashes and the two red gashes on her cheeks.  Taking one of those healthy deep breaths, I thought, Mable is Mable and sometimes quite dear, so I pointed out that I was not brain dead or suffering from restricted movement syndrome.  I merely said,  “THE WEATHER MADE ME DO IT!  And I’m glad it did.”

THANKS, LIBRARY, FOR GIVING US A ROOM TO MEET.
THANKS, FU SING, FOR MAKING IT WORK
THANKS, BARB, FOR BEING A FINE TEACHER.

Lu

Time Flies…Emily Post, Come Back! (A Column by Lu)

In this digital world, we have websites for everything—parenting skills, medical problems, removing mold.  Check your computer.  Yep, as long as you can read, your godlike computer will help you fix everything.

How do I express what’s bothering me?  I have no wish to imply that  the world is going to hell, but I see out  there in cyberspace a problem that needs fixing. Simply put, we need a newer, hipper version of Emily Post, someone to customize civilized behavior.  Whipping out your iPhone at the dinner table is not cool.  Texting your boyfriend in the midst of a conversation is flat out ignorant, and every time I see someone talking, texting, whatever, in their car, I want to lay on my horn and see If they even react.

In the day, we often satirized Emily and her book of etiquette, but hindsight is wonderful.  Now I believe we need some of those rules.  Do you remember this little adage? “When you are walking on a crowded street, always stay to the right.”  I don’t know if Emily said this or not, but it makes sense.  We need someone to set guidelines of considerate and sensible behavior.  I am not talking propriety. I don’t care if you wear white after Labor Day (again, I’m not sure of the origin of some of the picky stuff). I do care about stuff like saying, “thank you,”  “please,” “pardon me,” and “sorry.”  Decent rules respect others and, sad to say, reflect your persona.  Think about it.

Whoever said, “Ignorance is bliss,” was dead wrong.

I hope someone will produce The New Book of Civilized Behavior for the 21st Century, and I hope that this book will go viral, and I also hope it will become a reference on every database in the world.

Lu

Literacy DuPage Is Training Tutors

Help change someone’s future. Become an adult literacy tutor today. Literacy DuPage is a nonprofit, community-based organization that provides accessible and customized tutoring for adults. These tutor training sessions will prepare you to tutor other adults so that they can read, write, speak, and understand English. Please plan to attend all 6 sessions: February 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, and March 3 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Indian Prairie Library. There is a $25 fee to help cover the cost of materials. For more information, refer to Literacy DuPage’s website http://www.literacyvolunteersdupage.org or call 630.416.6699.

Time Flies to…Holiday Stress Syndrome (A Column by Lu)

If you are a not-so-happy holiday person, and the endless advertising gives you nervous ticks, then it’s definitely time to give you a break.  You have holiday stress syndrome.  Let me explain, I hope.

Recently, I was standing in line at the grocery store when the woman in front me (I will call her Ellie) said to the cashier, “Oh, I got that.” She wished to pay the bill for the woman in front of her.  The transaction happened so quickly, everyone was stunned.  First, I think the cashier must have thought they were related.   Secondly, the lady with the free groceries looked so happy.  Thirdly, I just looked blank.

Ellie merely smiled at me and said, “I like to surprise people, and I can afford it.  It makes me FEEL GOOD.”   She casually paid for her groceries and left.

I remember this occasion vividly, and I thought about it many times. I concluded that Ellie knew what she was doing.  I think she was getting more bang for her buck.  Ellie greatly enjoyed herself.  I admired her.

What I am saying is give yourself a break, go whistle at the moon, if you want.  Don’t expect to be a jolly Molly. It’s not natural to be aglow, 24/7.

I guess in the middle of the shopping blitz, it takes guts to stop and review the situation.   Ellie had a good thing going for her.  She did it her way.  It is important for you to feel good.
When you need a break, find your outlet.  Make snow angels or something.  Use all the warm water in the shower, maybe.  Wink at a stranger…um, maybe not.

Lu

P.S. One more thought, please.   I just finished reading Bill Bryson’s book, One Summer: America, 1927.  That period of history points out a significant fact:  modern man has not changed, rather, modern man cannot escape the daily bread of bad news.  That’s one of the downsides of our 21st century, but to be fair, there are innumerable upsides.  I just wish I could do better with my smarter than me phone.

Cheers, my dears.  Talk to you in the New Year…

Time Flew Over October, but November Is Here. Thank the Lord! (A Column by Lu)

Here I sit at my kitchen table trying to figure out why my mouse died.  Yuk!  I live in alternate worlds: the real world and the digital world . Every time I face my computer, I wonder who will win.  (Pause.) Just came back from a visit to the Geek Squad at Best Buy.  It was worth the run, saved thirty dollars, the mouse is alive, and I never could have fixed it.

Back to the real world.  One of the worst situations in life is waiting, just waiting, as in w a i t i n g…which pretty much covers my October.  I do not want to bore you with the mundane and very ordinary details of my life, but so many things happened at once that I felt overwhelmed.   You might say I became a multi-tasker in waiting.  Besides that problem, I went into what I call the domino effect, one smallish problem produces a series of related problems until the last domino falls.  I am once more a happy camper. Amen.

In our over fifty-five world, you might also notice that one test begets another as in a Doctor’s visit.  The first visit is the precursor to a lifetime of blood tests, weigh ins, blood pressure readings, etc., etc.   The domino theory is always with us.

Rapidly moving to another subject, I’ve heard a few sayings recently that make me think the human race is in a downward spiral.  “EIGHTY IS THE NEW THIRTY.”  That’s it.  Now I just can’t wait for the big 80 birthday…I’ll jog to the library with my backpack and then pedal over to McDonalds for a Big Mac (Good for the arteries, yes?). Then I think I’ll treat myself to a strapless bra without wires.  Isn’t it nice to have something to look forward to?

Then here’s another gem. “Drinking hot water will increase longevity.”  Just throw away all those nasty pill bottles with those nice easy to open caps and start seriously drinking .  I’ll admit that we may be forgetful, but I don’t think we are mentally impaired.  Oh, excuse me, my water is boiling.

This is my last thought. “SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING.”  You know, you really need to think about it.

The other phenomena of our times is that YOUTHFUL AGING IS IN.  The new trends are smile with your own teeth, newly whitened; park your car as far from your destination as possible (That’s why you drove, so you could walk); buy red hats and purple dresses; attend as many freebies as possible; and always bring a plastic bag.

Lu

P.S. Read Louise Penny.  Her mysteries rock.  Start with the first:  Still Life.     Then get Billy Crystal’s book on CD, Still Foolin’ ‘Em.  It’s fun, funny, and uses bad words.

Time Flies to…Apathy! The Source and the Scourge. (A Column by Lu)

I venture to say that the most debilitating “disease” of aging is apathy.  We fail to respond, to react, or even to care.   Cloaked in our  little warm world, it is easier to sit than it is to get up.  I know I’ve often given into this urge (sometimes this is good), but when we find ourselves shutting too many doors, stop.  Just plain old stop.  Get up and connect, care, join the human race.

Let me give you my example.  I recently joined Charter Fitness (cost is minimal) .  Why?  I want to enjoy a decent lifestyle, and every article I’ve read emphasizes  exercise.  I am by no means a poster child for beauty and fitness, not even close.  I procrastinated, and finally I ran out of excuses and thought, “Really are you just a little crazy or a lot crazy?” I signed up.

My first day in the gym, behold, what do I see?  Many others my age doing their thing. Amazing…and now I feel the benefits.  First, it gets me out of the house; second, I connect with the process; and most importantly, I feel good about myself.

Apathy is a sneaky, selfish “disease.”  More effort is required at almost every level of aging life.  Getting anything done takes longer and consumes more energy.  Well, okay, you are older. Take the time and get the job done.  It’s worth the effort.  Now I will tell you why.
Apathy, like smoking, causes these effects.  Every human being feels depressed sometimes, but apathy causes depression, and depression causes apathy.  Another unpleasant side effect of apathy is loneliness.  Well, if you never call anyone, they won’t call you.  And sometimes, you have to leave your comfort zone and really reach out to people.

Finally, the worst effect of apathy is the unholy isolation that owns your soul.  I like my own company, but that’s not what I mean.  Isolation is a complete disconnect from the human race.

These are harsh words, maybe; but they need saying.  I am not fanatically obsessed with this idea.   My thought is simple.  DON’T THINK ABOUT IT, DO IT…EVEN IF YOU FLOP.

Take care.

Lu

AARP Tax-Aide Needs Volunteer for the 2014 Filling Season

Looking for a rewarding opportunity to make a difference in our community?  The AARP Tax-Aide Program is now seeking volunteers for the 2014  tax season.  You don’t have to be an AARP member or have an accounting or tax background to volunteer.  It is important to be somewhat familiar with income taxes, for example, by having prepared your personal income tax returns, and to be computer literate since all returns are prepared on the computer.

Income tax preparation and assistance is offered free of charge to low and middle income taxpayers with special assistance to those 60 and older.

To volunteer, visit aarp.org/taxaide website or call 1-800-227-7669.