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Archive for the ‘aging’ Category

Reminders to Live Fully

And always remember to take time to smiell the flowers. — Art by Pat Bean

Life is too short.

Play with your dog. Eat that extra piece of chocolate pie without guilt. Don’t hold grudges. Walk in the rain. Don’t put off exploring your own backyard. Take that day trip to Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge that has been on your things-to-do list for months.

Stop procrastinating about writing your memoir. Laugh at yourself often. Accept that you’re old and that the mirror tells the truth – you’re not looking for a lover so who else would care?

Speak your mind more, but remember to be kind. Don’t take your friends, or your family, for granted. Write more snail-mail letters. Stay awake until 4 a.m. listening to that great book you’re enjoying. Simply sit for a while and watch hummingbirds flit around a nectar feeder.

Buy a new pair of shoes and throw the old ones away. Stop censoring your own journal. Paint a picture of a rainbow, or a bluebird, or the flower that’s blooming outside your window. Cook a special meal. Sit under a tree and read a book. Learn something new.

And always remember to be thankful for being the CEO of your own wonderful life.

Just a few reminders when one’s years ahead are shorter than the years behind.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Is being a chameleon a strength or weakness, I was asked.

How is your greatest strength also your greatest weakness?

This question is the October writing prompt from my Story Circle Network writing circle, which I’ve been a member of now for over ten years. Every writer should belong to just such a supportive group, and I feel blessed to have found mine.

As to the prompt, I immediately thought of one of my traits that for most of my life I thought of as a weakness, but in recent years have concluded is actually a strength.

I consider myself to be a chameleon because I have no problems fitting in with many types of people and groups. I, almost instinctively, can adjust my actions and speech so that I fit in. It’s as if I’m many persons. While I don’t verbally agree with things I don’t believe in, I work at not making statements that will give offense.      

That’s not to say it always works. While it does keep disagreements and controversies to a minimum, I’ve become known as the dolt who suffers from foot-in-the-mouth disease. Sometimes it leads to hard feelings toward me from someone I dearly love. And then my attempted explanations usually make things even worse.

The truth is, especially in the earlier days of my life, being a chameleon was all I was. I envied people who knew who they were and stood up for things they believed in. My problem, or so I thought, was that I never seemed to have those same strong feelings about one issue or another.

I could see the point of view of those who took a hard stance on an issue, but just as easily I could also see the point of view of those who took an opposite hard stance. No issue ever seemed to be black and white. I thought this made me a weak person.

At some point, as a working journalist, I came to understand this chameleon attitude served me well. I always kept both sides of a polarized issue talking to me because I didn’t slant my newspaper stories one way or the other. I stuck to the facts only and fairly represented both sides equally – because I usually could see both sides, especially involving the issues I wrote about as an environmental reporter.

It took me much longer to see my chameleon qualities with friends and family as a strength — and not until I accepted myself and actually found a few issues on which I couldn’t back away from, even if they offended someone. It took me a long time but I finally came to know who I am, and that includes being a person with chameleon traits.

And those traits are an asset because they give me easy access to many different kinds of people and situations that broaden my horizons.  Being a chameleon means I’m not stuck in only one mind set.

So, what are your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses?

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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Old Age is Not for Sissies

A page from my sketchbook

When I young, too many years ago, I would occasionally hear one well-matured person or another comment “old age is not for sissies.” I heard it more often as my own mother struggled to retain her independence.

          These days I find myself muttering the same words, and also those of Dylan Thomas who wrote: Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage at the dying of the light.

          I’ve worked hard at keeping my brain sharp and up-to-date with what’s going on in the world today. And I joke that my third-floor apartment. with no elevator, and a dog to walk five times a day, are my fool-proof exercise plans.

          That’s all good, but my recent inability to take a small step down on uneven ground, because I was afraid I would lose my balance and fall, had nothing to do with stairs or walking.

          “Try Tai Chi,” my former journalism colleague Charlie Trentelman, told me.

          So, I ordered a digital video copy of Tai Chi lessons that focuses on balance for older people. I participated in the first class this morning.

          In it, we beginners got to hold on to a chair, or even sit in it for some exercises. Piece of cake, I thought, as the demonstrations began. Ha! I had to sit out a couple of the exercises because I pooped out. I was straining muscles I didn’t even know I had.

And when it came to the point in the video where the instructor said we could end our first lesson here if we were tired, or continue on, I opted to halt the video.

          I’ll try again tomorrow. I’m not a sissy.

           Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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