Saturday, August 27, 2016

Finding your seniorism

We do not talk about it. In fact, it seems to be a taboo subject. We can look it up online, but it really doe not explain it. We get a notice from AARP, but that is just advertising it. Companies make money off of it. Some even abuse it. Yet we really do not talk about it. What is seniorism all about?

-ism  /ɪzəm/, /ɪzm̩/
Definition: Used to form names of a tendency of behavior, action, state, condition or opinion belonging to a class or group of persons, or the result of a doctrine, ideology or principle or lack thereof.

Seniorism. Of course, it is another of my made up words that seems to fit what I feel. Why not invent words that are non-existent for topics that are of the same? So seniorism comes to mind, because it is something we fail to approach in real terms.

I am tired of commercials that treat seniors as idiots. They try to sell us insurance, prescriptions, anything that might possibly pull in anyone over 60, thinking that we are all ignorant, because we are older. Actors tell us how scared they are of dying and having no insurance. Marketing teams brainstorm on ways to draw in what they consider "the weak-minded" by waving fear and worry in the direction of their focus audience. Pull us in because they feel we are stupid. Well, marketing people, insurance companies, drug manufacturers and all the rest of you, we are not ignorant of your ploys. We are not fooled by your lack of respect for the senior population of this old world. I stand up against you. I am older....and a whole lot smarter.

We do go through changes that no one seems to care about. The memory has a few bumps. The body aches. There are some things we can no long do. For me, I cannot write letters by hand. The arthritis in my hands makes it too painful, so I correspond only by computer. Financially, we might be weaker, a weakness that TV commercials and businesses pray on. The old eyesight is weaker. We lose more friends and family as we age. We think more about our own mortality. So why don't we talk about these things. Why don't we talk about what we have to give and what we really possess inside?

So, I might be older, but truly I am better. I remember those days of wanting to have the perfect family and perfect home. I learned that perfect wasn't really so perfect after all. I remember those days of wanting the perfect hair, the perfect body, the perfect glow of youth. I wasted a lot of my life trying to perfect it. I think seniorism teaches us more than in any other time in our lives. Perhaps it comes when lose our first loved one. Our hearts learn truly about pain and loss and makes us more aware of  passing of time. We learn that we can't go back. We learn that the people in our lives are very precious. Time is precious.

I believe I have found my seniorism and have come to accept it. I can grow, learn. I can adapt with the weaknesses I discover with age. I can embrace what I have with the people in my life in a way I never could have before. I am better then ever, because I know that life does not last forever. So do not put me into a category of uselessness, empty headed, senile, weak category you younger people put those of us into, because I am a strong woman of 69 years who can love, learn, change and embrace a world that needs a lot more understanding care. We are a blessing to those around us, because they benefit from the lessons we have learned and those we are learning. If we fail in that effort to be kind, loving and adapting, then we have truly failed.

There is a responsibility in this seniorism that all will be part of one day. We owe it to our families and friends not to be grumpy and difficult. We owe it to them to see our doctors and to listen to them. We owe it to everyone on the road not to drive if we have been asked to stop driving. We  owe it to our grandchildren to be an examples of kindness, love and peace. We owe it to ourselves to allow our families to care for us and to seek help for us when needed. We must own our seniorism when time finally takes a toll on our health and our ability to care for ourselves. We have had our lives and the freedom to make decisions. If we push and shove our ways into the lives of others because we believe we deserve it, then maybe we are not so deserving. We need to be a plus not a minus.

So today I embrace seniorism. I cheer you all on in your life journey, in making good decisions, in participating in your children's lives, making pleasant memories for everyone in your family. We are blessed to have time to leave a behind a legacy of love.

Monday, August 22, 2016

United in one diversity

United in one diversity we are even stronger. - Thomas Bach, IOC President

Last night I watched the closing of the 2016 Olympic Games. It was one of many days that I sat in front of the TV, watching a cross section of the world population participating together in 'games'. Throughout this Olympics, it seemed to me that the media was catching moments of caring and supporting, of reaching out and embracing.  There was no difference in color. There was no language barrier. There was a unity among the athletes who knew what it is to struggle, to succeed. Who knew what it was to need support. Who knew what it was to win and to fail.

When the refugees came into the stadium that opening night and a universal cry erupted from athlete and the crowd (and those of us at home).  It was cry that said we are in unity. We stand up against hate. We embrace those who are in pain and lost. There was not only a sense of country. There was a sense of world.

There were problems and mistakes in Rio. There was scandal. But that is not the story here. For me, it it a story of the heart. The Today Show took us into the hills and poor community talking about the lives of these people living in extreme poverty. Not a new story. The same is true for many of these places where tourists play and poverty sits on the sidelines looking on. Many of the athletes came from extremely poor areas and many without a home or family. We can celebrate victory but must not forget those who suffer. Everyone needs a nation of support. A nation of people who care.

I thought often of Clayton Murphy coming from the small rural area where I grew up. Immersed in a world he did not know. Standing among seasoned veterans who understood the pull of the excitement of the Games and the lure of this new atmosphere of celebration. I think perhaps that we fail to realize what participating in the games means to those who come from outlying areas. Being caught up in a whirlwind. Being tossed into a sea of humanity....a human sea so different from that they know.

I grew up in a white community. There were no other colors living in our pale community until I was a senior in high school. Part of the reason I left the area where I grew up was to experience the world outside. Having questioned so much in my life, I needed to find my own answers. We moved to Wisconsin where I was an outsider. Not only did you need to be pale, you needed to be a native, born and raised in the frigid state. We moved to Oregon, and I finally found what I had hoped existed. A place where I could truly learn about the world. We came at a time when things were changing here. A state that had been mostly white was changing its colors. I was surrounded by a population of all races, all religious beliefs and a celebration of all people, surrounded by a sea of variety. My granddaughters' friends were black and Hispanic. My son's best college friend was from India. My friends were different shades of lovely. I learned about God from those who knew him differently and by different names. I learned to have a deeper faith and a much clearer understanding of people. I was in that sea of humanity no better, no different.

I thought of Clayton entering that door into that new world. A black hand in white. A language barrier not separating but initiating a new language of kindness. An athlete giving up a chance of a medal not thinking of herself but reaching out to help a fellow runner. A sea of athletes entering an arena not separated by county. They entered in unity. No barriers. No hate. They left with new understanding.The Olympics are over, but new avenues of hope, of acceptance will continue. Hopefully, for us all.

 United in one diversity we are even stronger. - Thomas Bach, IOC President