Saturday, September 28, 2013

Adult pacifiers.....

I left my cell phone in my car today.....on purpose....when I visited my friend at her house and then while we went to lunch in a local restaurant.


And it wasn't an easy decision, which explains why I'm bringing it up.

When did it happen that we all decided, no matter what our age, that we are required to be available to one another every minute of every day? This isn't just a young(er) person's compulsion; it seems to span generations, which makes it an oddity. Gen Y (and X or C or whatever the latest age group is called) does it, but so do people my age, the Boomers who are flooding the Medicare rolls. As well as my own mother, who has me by another 20+ years.....she panics if both her cell phone and her house phone are not in working order all the time. What if someone needed/wanted to get in touch with her, for heaven's sake?  There are few things that all ends of the age spectrum agree on, right? This seems to be one of them, though.

WHEN did this happen?

Or more importantly, WHY did it happen? And what happens to us because of it?

All I know is that if my cell phone gets too far away from me...say, if I forget it at home for some reason....I turn that car around and go get it, even if I was making a quick run to the grocery store for milk. Which would take about 15 minutes, max. WHY do I feel that I must be available during that time, to whomever might call me? What if it's an emergency, after all? We seem to live on the edge all the time because of this, the edge of the "what if?" precipice.

One factor, I think, is that people on the other end of that phone get testy if they can't reach you whenever THEY want to reach out and touch. Hasn't that happened to you? "Where WERE you? Why didn't you answer your phone??! Etc, etc, etc." Like I have offended them in some critical way.

I can remember when (oh, no....I can't believe I just used that phrase) the only way to contact someone was by calling them on the phone that was hooked to the wall in their house. There was no answering machine (yes, I've been around that long!), so if it rang and rang and rang, you finally just hung up and thought, "Well, I'll have to try again later." And you did. If it was an emergency, you called someone else or a cab or rescue (there also wasn't any 911 back in the olden days, either) or stumbled out into the street until someone took pity on you and helped. But it got taken care of, one way or the other. No one expected anyone to be available all the time; it wasn't possible, so the expectation just wasn't there.

I try not to get too technical here in this gathering space, but I wondered what others say about this. I found a study about this constant connectivity, as well as other technology use: Heavy Technology Use Linked to Fatigue, Stress and Depression in Young Adults showed that heavy cell phone use showed an increase in sleep disorders in men and an increase in depressive symptoms in both men and women.

These are two points that support what I believe, and have experienced myself, along with the fact that apparently those who are constantly accessible via cell phones were the most likely to report mental health issues. How many nights lately have I woken up in the wee hours and then can't go back to sleep? Or never go to sleep at all? I have cycles of this, some of which I blame on the normal aging process, but maybe some of it has to do with this obsessive connection to technology. (And yes, some folks who know me will attest to the "mental health issues" thing, I bet.)

So, to go back where I started, I left my cell in my car when I visited my friend today. Actually, it wasn't quite that simple. You figured that out, right?

I opened the door, looked at the phone before I got out, stopped, thought What if someone needs me right away?, gave myself a mental shake: NO! Leave it there! They'll leave a message or call back!", and I finally escaped without it.Victory!

When I got back in the car: no message, no calls. See? All that angst for nothing.

And do you know what? My time with my friend was stress-less, because I didn't have to worry about anything anyone laid at my feet, unasked, while I was there. No drama, no gossip, no impositions on my time.The same while we went to a restaurant to have lunch: I left my cell phone in the car, which led to a wonderful time of sharing face-to-face with my friend, something we don't get to do often enough. Got back in the car: no messages, no calls. Heaven.....

Can we all wean ourselves from these instruments of stress, old and young alike, and get rid of these pacifiers of the modern age? Let's make a deal right here: I won't expect YOU to be available to me 24/7 and you won't expect it of me, either. Now go find someone you love (or would like to love) and spend some quality time.

Leave the cell phone in the car.

 The cell phone has become the adult's transitional object, 
replacing the toddler's teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.
Margaret Heffernan
The cell phone has become the adult's transitional object, replacing the toddler's teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.

The cell phone has become the adult's transitional object, replacing the toddler's teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.

Do YOU think you could go 21 consecutive days without complaining? 
Take the journey with me: It only took me 125 days! 
 Nothing to Complain About: My 125-Day Journey to Become Complaint Free
The cell phone has become the adult's transitional object, replacing the toddler's teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Descending the ladder......

I'm not quite sure when this happens. And maybe it's different for all of us. Most things are.

But a few years ago, I jumped off the career whirley-gig. You know the one where you care about that next move up the ladder that is particular to your profession? The one that keeps you from pointing out to the idiot in your office that he (or she; they come in both genders, but I'm only going to say it once) IS an idiot even though his ego causes him to toss around nonsensical edicts like confetti at a coronation?

When you're younger you roll your eyes, but you comply. You care about that ladder with all those steps you haven't gotten to yet. They can mean more money or prestige, after all. A better life for you and your family......right?

Let me alert you, which is why we convene here anyway. At some point, you'll get your saw out of the garage and chop that ladder right down. 

For some people, it happens gradually. You'll realize that the pull of your living room is stronger than the one that has always sucked you back into the office, even if you had already put in hours of overtime that week. You'll sneak out to attend your child's basketball game, rather than make one more excuse for missing it. You simply would rather be sitting in the sun cheering her on than you would occupying a chair in another endless meeting where egos are slithering all over the room.

You will accept that your boss or supervisor or whatever that person is called in your professional life is not a diety after all. That person does not hold the key to your happiness. It occurs to you that you're probably smarter than she is; it's simply a matter of you not being intimidated any longer. Why? Because the ladder is of no concern to you.

For some, it happens overnight. You wake up and the world has shifted on its axis as you slept; your mirror shows a different person as you brush your teeth. The thought of walking through that office and smiling at all those nonentities one more time churns your stomach.

As a writer trying to climb the ladder of acceptance, I did all the right things: I attended writers' conferences. I continued to study the craft. I started a writers' group. I smiled at agents; I even paid agents to talk to me about my work.  I wrote queries according to ridiculously detailed instructions. I submitted my work following even more detailed directives. I was lied to by a publisher. And I wrote and wrote and wrote.

I did all of this for years. I still don't have an agent. I ended up publishing my work myself: one printed book and one eBook.

I love to write. I don't need anyone's acceptance or approval to do it.

My ladder? It was hacked into pieces during this past year, and put out on the curb for garbage pickup. Where it finally belonged.

Any consideration of the life and larger social existence of the modern corporate man ... begins and also largely ends with the effect of one all-embracing force. That is organization.... It is to this, at the expense of family, friends, sex, recreation and sometimes health and effective control of alcoholic intake, that he is expected to devote his energies.John Kenneth Galbraith

Are you a single parent or know a single parent? Broken Strings: Wisdom for Divorced and Single Parents is available at all online bookstores now! Save shipping by contacting the author directly......


Monday, September 9, 2013

A, B, C, and can't be!

There isn't any funny way to say this. And I'm not really laughing too much myself right now.
I applied for Medicare the other day.
Oh, my......
How did this happen? I'm about 25 in my head, complete with fantasies of all kinds as well as a full work load and an active life.
I can remember (yes, I DO remember most things) when any discussion about people over about 45 resulted in an inner shudder, thinking about all those OLD folks, decripit and wizened gnomes who could hardly get from armchair to the potty much less from the gym to a country bar. (Fill in the blanks as to why I chose that comparison, which only extends my point.) To be 65 must be practically dead, for pete's sake!
And now, here I am, a few months shy of that dreaded year myself.
Oh, my......
The application process wasn't bad, once I opened all the envelopes that had been arriving in my mailbox for months now. First, I had to read long enough to get into the zone of bureaucratic lingo, you know the one where they use 25 words to say something that really only requires about 10, and includes enough acronyms to sink an alphabet? But once I was there, and knew the difference between Parts A, B, C, and D, I went onto the official website and registered in about 15 minutes. I do think they need some nursery rhyme-type jingle to aid in retaining it all, though. It works for little kids, and I've heard tell that senior citizens often revert to the behavior of children, so maybe it would help? Just a suggestion......
There isn't any way possible I can be eligible for Medicare, though. There just isn't. This is going to take some getting used to.
I'll let you know how it goes.

  We've put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it. ~ Frank A. Clark


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Suck it up, folks......

My daughter is approaching 30, so I guess it's time to give it up. WAY past time, actually.

You may have even heard me whine this well-worn excuse a time or two: My stomach pooches out due to my (one) pregnancy, the one where I gained 50 pounds. I was 35 at the time, well past the age of a tight, toned body of most 20 year olds who begin child-bearing earlier than I did. Bodies just don't pull themselves back together as quickly as we age. 

Plus, there is the fact that for 9 months, I craved Egg McMuffins and apples. (The apples probably aren't to blame for too much, I admit that; my daughter does love apple juice, though. A lot.) Those yummy egg and cheese muffins, though? They became daily treats, if I'm being honest.

Thirty years is a long time to pull that excuse out whenever I stand in front of a full-length mirror, though, and grouse about that bulge that hovers around my midsection. I work out now--four or five times a week, two of those with a personal trainer--although I always have, sometimes more than others, but I've always paid attention to fitness. I joke that I have great abs under there somewhere, we just can't see them for the layer of "baby" fat I still carry around.

About three weeks ago, I  dragged the weary excuse again out while I was with my trainer and realized how idiotic it sounded. But my irritation with myself didn't answer the question of why all my work has left me with great arms, strong abs, improving legs ....and a fat stomach. Somehow in the midst of a conversation with myself later in the day, I thought "I wonder if I just have let my muscles in that area get lazy and weak, while I rely on my time-worn pregnancy excuse?"

So, what did I have to lose? I sucked in my gut and bam! Much better....except that I couldn't breathe. Well, that's not going to work. I almost gave up (and we know where that would have led......back to talking about baby fat), so I concentrated really hard and pulled my stomach in and practiced some deep breathing until I could do both at the same time. (Coordination has never been one of my strong suits, which my dance instructor can attest to.)

Anyway, it only took about three weeks and the improvement in the appearance (disappearance?) of my mid-bulge is quite amazing! I can pull my gut in AND breathe at the same time. I think I can even see some abs now, unless they are my ribs, but that's good, too, right? (If you are younger than about 50 and are laughing at me right now, STOP it! You'll be here someday and you'll feel bad that you laughed at me.)

Aging and all its consequences are often out of our control. But how many times do we use getting older as an excuse, just because we can?

Suck it up and take back control...whether it's your midsection or whatever consequence of aging taunts you.

A woman has the age she deserves. ~ Coco Chanel