The Way Things Are

A few general thoughts on the way things are:

It’s raining outside so our plans to do something outdoors has to wait for another time. And that’s the way our lives are lived. It’s too wet, too cold, snowing, too hot, or as is the case right now the winds are too stiff to be outside, unless that is, one likes being pushed around by unseen hands?

To be sure, there are lucky ones amongst us that have control over much of what they do. They have the freedom to make choices for themselves. They go to bed when they want and wake up to a day mostly of events of their own making. They have no job so they have no boss or at least obligations to fulfill. But they do have responsibilities. Most important having to take care of one’s self which includes keeping clean, eat, dress, read, keep one’s mind stimulated and most important is to keep and nurture relationships.

What I’m referring to is aging and If lucky we age well and if luckier still we age with an active mind and body. To be older without debilitating illness and limitations is no guarantee. So the cards are dealt and the wise senior plays them as best they can.  If blessed with good health and mind they do what they can to protect and extend these gifts for as long as possible.

In any case, aging is a challenge that all people have to deal with in time whether present or in the not too distant future. Present time could easily refer to people in their late sixties and seventies, or certainly with parents and older in-laws. On top of aging as a natural process and issue we find ourselves having to contend with the corona virus and the life and death challenges facing everyone.

For the younger generations the problem is huge beyond the illness. Consider being unemployed, no income, difficulty putting food on the table, paying the mortgage, rent and trying to meet so many others daily demands. And what of children and the impact this is having on them? It is much too early to know, but is it possible to turn this pandemic into a meaningful learning experience?  

How obvious that we are One World and One People. Yes, we speak different languages, eat different foods, have different belief systems and living environments, but how does anyone deny that we are all related? Somewhere deep in our past we began from the same roots. And as our numbers grew so did the need for other environments where survival seemed more likely. Humanity expanded into unknown territory and still has not stopped searching. For some, they never will whether for food and shelter or pure questioning of the unknown. I believe this drive will save the world. 

By the way, have you checked your ancestry lately?  Sy

Haikus:

My blood has a past——————-My roots somewhere in Africa————–We are family

Coronavirus————————-Avoid being too close now————This too will come/go

Living In Strange Times

We are living in times that we have not lived in before. Like you we know and have always had the freedom to do what we wanted and needed to do. This is different in so many ways. We see friends and do not touch each other where we used to kiss or a simple hug. We get phone calls checking up on our well being as we do to them. We do not shop as often or do so in different ways.. We are concerned, but do not see or feel panic. These days are simply different and we have no idea on how long this will last.

Thought about writing a brief paper and not sure of what will come of it. So where do I go from here?

I volunteered to do a brief workshop for the residents of our senior complex. The subject is Genuine Dialogue. Hopefully the number of participants will be limited so that questions can be asked by any and all and dialogue results. I’m a teacher so my goal is to bring a bit of awareness to my audience. If it works and people feel they have learned something about their significant relationships and how to make them work better we’ll do it again.   They will know and I’ll be informed. People will want more.

A bit of general information about us residents: We are a 55 year old and up living environment. About 125 apartments, one and two bedrooms, workout gym, heated salt water indoor pool, dining room, bar and lounge, meeting and game rooms and lovely to be grounds. Twenty four hour front desk concierge and bus service as needed. A variety of activities are scheduled each day, but people are on their own to join in or not. As an example Lenette and I are learning the game of bridge and play with guidance frequently. Great game!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served and residents pay each month for a set number of points that are deducted based on the meals and food one eats. Lenette and I have breakfast and what lunch we eat in our apartment. We make it a point to have dinner in the dining room so we can and do get to know most of the other residents. Those we’ve met and spend time with are enjoyable and interesting individuals. We are developing into a caring group and the being there for each other is clearly taking place. 

Having built a number of communities Lenette and are intimately aware of the many difficulties common to the building, staffing,  training, organizing and operating a facility and to turn it into a community for the benefit of others. The challenge is clearly make what is built and staffed into the best human environment possible.  

Educated, professional or not people must be respected as the individuals they each are. This means that everyone involved contributes to what is best for everyone. And when I say individual I mean every resident and every employee. Sy

I live here and now————Tomorrow is its own day———–Promises wasted.

Let yesterday go————-The River of life takes it———-Not to be again. 

Settling in (January, 2020)

We are in the adjustment period. Still opening boxes and doing our best to turn 816 Sq.ft. into a comfortable living space. We fixed the 2ndbedroom into the best office we’ve had in years considering we operated in a closed room (our cellar) for 20 years. 

Our apt is on the fourth floor (top) south/west corner and has a magnificent unobstructed view of Mt. Rose and the Sierras. Our 2ndbedroom has been turned into the best office and view. Big picture window lights the room and delights us with Mountains and weather.. So that’s a very good thing. Having lived on the Truckee River across from a park is tough to replace, but our office setting and view makes a big contribution to our feeling at home. 

 One of our friends set us up with computer and related stuff. He’s a miracle worker when it comes to technology. Other friends gave us physical and emotional support. We have experienced remarkable love and a willingness to be there for us. As I wrote previously, we had to turn many away from helping us. This was an experience we had to mostly face ourselves. It’s not a happy one, but necessary for every human at some point in our lives; as Kurt Vonnegut wrote at the end of chapters in Slaughter House Five. “And so it goes.” Nuff said?

So we are moved, most boxes open and contents used, given away or thrown away. Our memories we have kept. They are established in our mind and heart. “Things,” as indicated, are mostly gone. Memories remain strong and will stay with us. 

Now it’s time for us to make ourselves as much at home as possible. It’s important to let the past reside and make the present the essential part of our lives. We can do that because we have done this numerous times. Working with people, creating and building, moving into the future once established in the present has been our way.

Change will occur and we will meet its challenges as we have in the past. Life’s experiences have made us what we became and who we are. This will not change.  Of course this is true for the lucky ones who do understand that it is experiences, and most we do not have control of and that influence who and what we become and are. 

This is a new experience for us in so many ways. It will push and shove us to adapt and if it is to our liking we will and if not we will make changes. We always have and we always will.

Haiku: 

Today, a new day————Who knows what it brings? No one!————–We play the hand dealt.

Sy

Our Move

The move is over, but not the unpacking of boxes.

This whole experience has tested us in ways that we will do just about anything to never have to do this again. Our advice is to begin the down-size process as soon as possible with no time limit and taking on one room and everything in it. We gave much away and threw lots away. Our history is now filled solely in our memory and the rest—-pictures, slides, movies, letters, etc., have been thrown away. A few albums (remember them) were wanted by others and we were thrilled to pass them on.  

We have been a bonanza to charities. Name it and we gave boxes filled with household-goods, clothes and things that they see as value and likely to sell. What amazes us is the number of people that shop in those stores. They were always crowded when I showed up with my SUV full of stuff for them. Hope that our “things” turned into money for their cause. Our favorite proved to be our local Animal Charity. 

At first it was traumatic parting with our years of history, letters, articles, books and things accumulated from around the world. Just the letters from staff and clients reached beyond 12 inches in file folders. Interesting that we began to realize we made a dent in the lives of many others and not because we wanted to make a dent, or be acknowledged for what we did, but simply through doing our job. We know that we always tried to do the best we could in any situation. 

We always believed we had remarkable people working with us. What creative and giving people they all were. Of course there were different degrees of talent, creativity and attributes. We tried to nurture them all not simply because they represented us, but much more importantly because of the relationships they would have with those they watched over, educated and cared for. 

So this has been a most unusual experience for us. It has been sad and testing for the most part, but also some very good feelings and lots of shared memories. It’s also probably impossible to avoid reviewing our history and we did. It helps to talk this stuff out and we did.

Also need to thank the many that wanted to help us. We turned the vast majority down because we felt it essential that we go through this experience as much by ourselves as possible. The few that we did let in to help did a magnificent job for us. In fact, we could not have gotten through this doing it all alone.   Being our age made it evident that regardless of our desires help was and is necessary. We got it in spades. 

So now a new chapter begins for us. We will do our best to live it as well as we lived our prior chapters. We know, as we have always known, that each day is precious and that living in the present is what we must do. One day at a time with the desire to live out many of them. 

We make this wish for each of you to live well and with love.        Sy & Lenette

Haiku: Time is our present———–It opens to us each day————-We are so grateful 

As usual, Sy is the eloquent one of the family.  I am so fortunate to have him in my corner.  This is a time of reflection and joy for the New Year and new experience.  Fond wishes to all!!!!

Changes

Tough paper to write because this is not about what I usually write about: 

 We’re moving to a Senior Living environment not too far from where we are, but we are leaving the river and that’s real difficult. We love where we have been for almost twenty years. Its beauty is so special. We’ve traveled the world and this place is at the very top of a living site. Right on the beautiful Truckee River, across from a park and when the trees drop all their leaves (after magnificent colors) the background becomes the Sierra Mountains. We’re so grateful to have lived here. 

Cleaning up, boxing, throwing stuff away, giving stuff away and just downsizing is a difficult task. It has to be done because we are moving to one/third the space. Not to forget that eventually we take nothing with us anyway. What we know is that memories are what we have and we consider ourselves so lucky to have lived both the good and bad of them all. We also know that “things” are just that and have to be gotten rid of. Not easy, but necessary and being done.

The changes we face are huge. Instead of our being on our own, just living our life and fulfilling our responsibilities we will have housekeepers clean our apartment weekly, three restaurants that serve us three meals a day and every possible amenity provided as part of living in this four story complex; also an indoor swimming pool, exercise area, movie theatre, gardens, transportation and more, much more. I guess we might compare this all to “resort living” where everything is provided? We will certainly be finding out.

The difficult decision had to be when to make this move. We certainly feel like we can continue living in our three story condo, but who knows what each day brings and so much better for us to make these decisions as we choose rather than wait for others and events to make them for us. In any case, the die is cast. This will all take place this coming December.

Apart from this move most things will remain as they are.  My writing papers is important to me and this will continue as long I believe I have something to say about Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Power and the absolute necessity for Dialogue. Our problems with each of these issues continue to grow. 

Technology, although becoming a necessity in our daily lives, does not appear to have made our relationships better; easier to be sure, but not necessarily better. Events and people tell me that communication remains “the problem to the answer.” Also, there is so much to learn if we are to control what we invent so that technology does not control us. We must control it. Only time will tell.

I’m clear about my intentions and that is to try to make relationships work between people. Dialogue and understanding is my goal and has been for all these many years. Our differences and contributions actually do make our world a better place. How do we not do our best to make it happen?     Sy

We are moving on———-We know where, but not its contents——–the book not yet read.Time is limited———–And the river keeps flowing———-Time waits for no one. 

On Aging—A Personal Journey

A friend asks that I write a paper about aging and in the request I felt concern facing this chapter of his life. So I’ll do my best, but with the understanding that I write only about what I am experiencing. What others my age and older feel I will not guess. I know me and that’s what the paper will be about.

To begin I start with Lenette because she is more why I am here and now than any other cause. So I believe that relationship with someone special is of immense importance. I want to be with her as long as possible, but with the understanding that I not be a burden to her. If and when I am I’ll b ready to let life go.

With Lenette being absolutely essential to my life and the desire to remain around as a partner what do I do to assist my continued stay? I exercise five days a week. I read a great deal of history mixed with current events and enjoy the companionship of friends. 

As for food: Lenette feeds us lots of fish, vegetables and fruit. Breakfast is big for me; Protein drink and nuts for lunch and a dinner prepared by Lenette that is always delicious including a generous salad.  My contribution is doing the dishes. 

My exercise routine is the same Mon, Weds and Fri and takes about two hours to complete. Tues and Thurs are different and take a bit less to do. All five days include aerobics and muscle groups and surprisingly am slowly improving my strength and aerobics. If decline is taking place it is hardly noticeable. Living in the present is my reality. I take each moment as a gift.  

Important to me are my essays. Receiving comments and suggestions generates more reason for me to write. What people have to say is important to me. Whether in agreement or not each response is looked forward to and stimulates thought. Making comments and suggestions for papers is welcome. As long as my experiences are accessible to me they are what I’ll write about.

I also recognize that I’m more thoughtful about things today than ever before. I know that when past events, whether people or issues, took place I did not give much thought to the action I should or should not take I just took action. I was open to the demands made upon me and reacted as best I could. Maybe aging is that time for reflection on things past? This is true for me.

I appreciate being here and feeling as I feel. I certainly feel lucky in that I remember things, am still somewhat creative, able to write brief papers (and Haikus), read lots, exercise, get hungry for a good meal and mostly love just being with Lenette.   

Aging is real. Don’t fear it and don’t run from it. Take each day as it comes and do your best to be grateful and give love.                                                       

I am what I am———I do not need or want more———-All is what it is.

Life a special gift——–I know this and am grateful———Events dictated.             Sy

Our journey and Self Actualizing

From birth, being self is not easy and the road we each travel in order to attain degrees of self are challenging, often dangerous and what road exists may disappear along the way. What then when there is no path to follow? 

So much depends on those that give us life and the environment we are born into. The cards we are dealt are full of unknowns until, that is, we are able to make a few of our own choices. In the process how often do we dare to challenge the unknown? Too many remain fixed in place where they age and eventually die.

If experience is our best teacher being fortunate enough to have parents that can afford to provide us with mentors, good education and a variety of experiences gives us the resources to become more than what we are and the potential to also give to others.. Compare this to the many more that are limited to basic and survival needs? Growing up with few resources and limited experiences hardly provides people with the tools and desire to do for others. Caring for one’s own basic needs is usually all those with limited resources can do. In this case, one’s potential “to be” is limited and not only are they likely losers, but so is society.

If not from experience where does growth come from? Aging is unavoidable, but growth demands our willing participation. Do books and teachers provide us with the same power to influence us when compared to personal experience? Without question, experience has the greater power to induce growth, but with the condition that we pay our dues. This “dues” has to do with the degree of presentness and openness to what we are experiencing. Learning is not automatic and only the courageous amongst us draw lessons from experiences. This is why we continue to have many of our experiences (wars, deteriorating environment, disease, etc) repeated endlessly. Humans either learn and grow from experience, or remain stuck and-the journey to actualize is denied. The potential loss of any human “to be” must be considered a loss to everyone.

Unless held hostages by certain illnesses, people know where they have been; know where they are and where they are going. Life is generally events expected, but the unexpected happens frequently and those with limited experience are rarely able to deal well with the unexpected. Worse, nothing is learned. Those blessed with self actualizing opportunities are better prepared. Sh–  happens and they deal with it. They know to be immediately present and open to the unexpected and take in the lessons that appear.  Societies need to facilitate self-actualization for one and all. Benefits are without limit.  

Haikus:

 Self is that unique———nothing is duplicated———-each of us special.

I continue growth———-what stops  me is you or me——–but I choose which one  Events do happen————-Is value found within them——-Lessons are in most things 

On Aging – A Personal View Pt.2

The friends that requested my thoughts on aging opened a can of worms. As long as I stick with expressing my own feelings and thoughts I’ll continue to do so. Have no intention of speaking for others. I can’t and won’t.

Since creative writing is one of the essentials to my well being I’ll continue this brief essay approach. It’s my style anyway. To begin: Based on the comments I receive this feeds me to write more on a given topic or work on other paths.. A good thing to be sure because it stimulates ideas to write on and I so enjoy hearing from those I send my essays. Whether in agreement or not it’s all food for thought and I look forward to whatever is written. On the other hand, no obligation to respond to anything I write. Expectation is not my thing.   

What I find interesting is that my recent papers on aging have produced a significant response. In fact it is why this paper continues with aging. Having always given effort to being there for those I worked with and served it’s obvious that this is a hot subject and calls out to say more. I try.

To begin I certainly believe each of us approaches aging in our own unique way. Some fear it and do what they and money can do to allay those fears. They may try, but to what avail? Time is limited for all. I say and live each day as best I can. Now is good enough; be grateful and loving to yourself and others. 

My primary anchor to life and living is Lenette followed behind by an exercise routine and proper diet. Also very important are my friends. How blessed Lenette and I are to have many and so varied.  Added to this list is reading and creative writing which forces me to think. Also the ancient adage and my mantra “live in the present and be as fully here/now as possible.” Something I had trouble with when younger. It was always one foot in the present and one foot in the future. Today it’s all: Live and love now.

In any case, writing and speaking about aging as I am is fair game and I am able to do that. I can and will share with you my thoughts on the subject. Speaking for others is out of the question. We cannot know the other. Trust me when I say or write “It is difficult or maybe impossible to know the other.” 

So this is about me and if it offers a bit of a road map for you, maybe that’s a good thing?  Finally, (a proper word here) I do not waste my time with longevity. The future is not mine to know so I let it be. Today is my gift and I do my best to love my way through it.   Sy

Haiku:

Life’s the gift to live——Waste not what is so precious——–It is here and now.

One is the teacher———One is the student to teach———They need each other.

The journey is short———-Smell each rose and see the sky——-Feel the path you walk.

On Aging-A Personal View Pt.1

A dear friend asked if I’d write about aging. I’ll give it a try.

Since I’m not too far from entering the 90s (three plus months) one would think I ought to be able to write/say something about my own growing old(er)? I do not speak for others (don’t believe I ever have) always trying to do my best to share what I know to be true or believe to be true. So what follows are my present experiences. One thing for sure is that I’m coming to recognize that aging is a complex subject and that I am going through phases or periods of being what I was and being what I am and even thinking about what I might be? Clearly, it is not easy to “broad brush” aging other than to acknowledge it is something I’m working hard to understand. I just as soon not think about it, but I find this to be impossible.

First and relative to my past, I continue to feel I am still capable of teaching about power and its off shoots (relationships, communication and leadership). In fact, I often find myself thinking about the subjects and its importance in all of our lives. I also have a sense (perhaps because I am more contemplative than I remember being?) that I actually understand the issues with greater clarity than previously and getting to the meat and potatoes of what is significant and needs to be understood. Why and how come? I have more time to think about my many experiences. Previously, everything was about preparation and execution. Digging for significant insights and understanding had to be my first task and this followed by sharing in the most enlightened way I was able. My intentions were to be pragmatic as against philosophical and now I feel I am a bit more philosophical. That is, I feel philosophy is the earth that gives life to what is pragmatic.   

The second part of what I am experiencing is my being present and in the moment. Most everything, each day, is something very special and enjoyable for me. Sharing time with Lenette has always been my first choice. Today it is even more so. Also, looking at trees, flowers, birds, the river, sky, colors each minute gives me pleasure as do the people I am blessed to share time and dialogue with. Even composing this brief one pager is a joy and a challenge to me. I don’t anticipate completion and, in fact, do not set a time to complete anything, but to be in the middle of what-ever I am doing and allow it to unfold in its own particular way. A brief pleasantry to share: On the way to the gym I belong to (work out five days a week) is an eagle’s nest. Each year for the last six or seven two eagles arrive, settle in on their large nest high up in the tree, lay eggs and soon are caring for three to four eaglets. Almost daily Lenette and I drive by the tree and nest to view the eagles. We both feel blessed to be witness to their family life until they all depart before summer. And yes, we look forward to next spring and the eagles return. 

The third part to my triad is the future. What the future holds is a mystery that unfolds each moment as we move into it and we are aware of its unpredictability. Looking backward we are aware of how the past-present and the past-future occupied our full time and energies.  If we did not control events of that time we thought we could, and even if not possible we tried. Finally, in the midst of all that we created and were responsible for we found time and ways to explore the physical world and its people. Someway, somehow, we feel and hope it all worked out well.        Sy