Happiness is being a carefree Old Fart

As I was catching up on emails today, I came across this prompt from yesterday.  In the bad old days, when I was working on my last job, being this far behind on emails would have caused a great deal of stress, both internal and probably also coming from Twit and Princess Fairy Dust.  I am so fortunate to be out of that situation and to not feel like I’m required to stay consistently current with friends and family,  because they are all generally healthy, happy and content as possible given the possibility of a Republican takeover of the federal government.  I can say this knowing that most of them are Democrats like me, and if they’re not we’ve already forgiven each other for mutual political lapses, and the RNC ended just last night.

Spouse and I live under the same roof and are generally carefree, content and happy in our retirement home.  One reason for this current state of bliss is that, although we keep different schedules and pursue different activities as individuals, we both seem to feel that it’s part of our “marriage contract” to monitor each others’ well being on a daily basis, and to act accordingly.   Our daily interactions start when he joins me in my “woman cave”, usually bringing his morning wake-up beverage with him.  He’ll come through the door and ask, every day, “Whatcha doin’ dear?” knowing full well that I will be either sitting in front of my computer or reading in my grandma’s pink upholstered rocking chair.  He’ll then sit down on the my other grandma’s pink flower covered couch and we’ll begin our mutual morning status checks on sleep pattern and quality of the previous night and the expected aches and pains of old age.

The pattern this morning, however, was very different.  I got up and initiated my usual morning routine but, after plowing through the second fifty pages of The Big Sleep, I started to feel a little sleepy myself, and realized that I had hauled my buns out of bed an hour or so earlier than usual.  So, I decided to mix things up a bit and go back to bed where, if I was able to catch a few more Z’s, I would probably be a little more energized for all the additional reading and computing I expected to do today.  I did fall back to sleep, and when I woke up I simply restarted my morning routine where I had left off, back in the woman cave.

In the interim, unbeknownst to me, my poor caring Spouse had come up to join me and became a bit concerned to find me not upright in a chair but quietly prone back in my bed.  When he returned to restart his usual morning routine he made a point to tell me that he really to make sure that I was OK since it was so unlike me to sleep during the day, unlike him and most other husbands I know who, for some reason, as a group, feel that a midday nap is a right and requirement to keep their grizzly bear grumpiness in check, especially if if they have been cooped up in the house with their wives all day i.e. every weekend while they were working.

Daily Prompt – Carefree

 

Five Things This Old Fart Doesn’t Worry About Anymore

http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/Galleries/5-Things-I-Cant-Worry-about-Anymore.

Restating, and commenting where necessary, on Beliefnet.com’s “5 Things I Can’t Worry about Anymore.”  Go to link above for entire presentation.

I’m putting the final slide first, because to me it’s the most important and powerful statement anyone, but especially a young baby boomer and recent retiree like me, can make, and is the first step to happiness at any point in a MATURE life.

“LET IT GO!!… (M)ake sure not to allow certain things in or give credence to toxic behaviors. Letting go of worry should start now not when you’re so hurt and bitter. Let life be enjoyed now.”

Slide 1 says “I was told when you become older that…. (s)ituations like heartbreak, obnoxious people, haters, jealousies, and insecurities will lose (their) grip… (B)y the time we’ve grown up (parts of us may be” emotionally calloused’ (their words, I just think – or at least hope, in our old age – we’ve gotten past all that wasted and unproductive emotion, each in our own ways and to our own extents), so it makes sense that we don’t need to offer an audience to thoughts, or typical assaults (though occasionally we might still have to fight them off, or at least I do.)”

“LIBERATION IS BECKONING!! Mak(e) the decision to shake it off, along with  (beginning the) practice of what will (AND WILL NOT) be tolerated.”

I skipped Slide 2 – “Don’t Let People Control You” because I haven’t allowed that for a long time.

Slide 3 is titled “Insecurities” and starts off by saying “I don’t have time for insecurities, or rejection.” Well, whoever wrote this may not have time for them but, in my own head and in the world in general, they are just a fact of life, so I allow only small increments of time for them. It goes on to say “If there is something that will slow one down fast, and keep you in mediocrity–these two enemies will.” Mediocrity, or at least good enough, is OK with me.

The last and most important point of this slide is one that I heartily endorse. “ If there needs to be healing, take the control and get your house in order, like the mind, heart, and emotions, (acceptance of physical limitations and exercising control over relationships).”

Slide 4 is entitled “Making People Happy” but in my book should be entitled “Make Yourself Happy First. It will make those who love you, care about you, or just happen to be hanging around you happy, too. And If it doesn’t, why should you care?”
I know my substitute title is a long one but it more clearly describes how I feel about my loved ones and the other people who might be around me when I feel like leaving my house. “I don’t have to worry about making people happy all the time. This can be is about relationships, work, or just people in general. I learned (at the same time I decided to embrace my calling as a happy old fart) I don’t need to justify a given situation, life is too short. ‘A lot of people are crazy, cruel and negative. They got a little too much time on their hands to discuss everybody else. I have a limited amount of energy to blow in a day. I’d rather read something that I like or watch a program I enjoy or ride my damn motorcycle or throw back a couple of shots of tequila with my friends,’ Queen Latifah (a mature woman) said.”

Slide 6 is titled “Take on Fear” and includes the same type of clap-trap advice and pablum that appears in just about anything that is written in the self-help vein. Fortunately, at least in my view, I have never, or at least not knowingly except for maybe during the time I was in therapy, seen anything in the way of a fear, named or otherwise, that kept me from doing anything. Of course, I am clearly not someone who can evaluate myself, which is why I’ve always had to hire professionals to do it, or sometimes taken the word of a friend who has not been around me in a long time so is in a similarly objective position to render judgment about all the stuff I may have dumped on him/her all at once.

The best part of this slide says “Don’t squander energy on fear, and procrastination. Use this to an advantage by replacing these with productive thoughts, affirmations, and action.” I may have unconsciously employed these messages to get past my unidentified, unanalyzed and unnamed fears but have still not succeeded in getting past my procrastination. Even though, as an old fart, I logically know that my time is limited, now that my time is really my own, I know that whatever I don’t get done today will still usually still be there to do tomorrow. If it’s not, it wasn’t that important to me in the first place, and my priorities are the only ones that count.

Slide 7 is titled “Put it Behind You” and goes on to say “(i)t’s alright that you’re not perfect, no one is. Embrace the flaws, and start some self-loving. Mistakes happen, shake it off and move on to forgive yourself, and others. This will help you enjoy tremendous freedoms.” That, my friend, is true wisdom. I didn’t know or accept this until my kids were in their teens and I was in my 50’s, but taking this advice has allowed me to be happier with my life and with myself as I am than I’d ever thought possible.

Dreams of an Old Fart

I thought I had stopped having dreams, at least the kind we had when we were kids. You know, the ones about how you’ll grow up and save the world, or be rich and famous, or maybe all that and then some? Maybe they would be better called fantasies instead of the dreams of youth.

It’s funny, but one thing I remembered clearly from those days is that I loved writing poetry. I guess it’s one of the few artistic endeavors I thought I had any talent for. Recently, upon entering my retirement, I signed up for a class called “Cultural Divide: Can We Close It Through Science-Flavored Poetry?” The curriculum included the opportunity to review works of about a dozen scientist-poets. As an Old Fart, I had no idea such a creature even existed, let alone in multiples! I remembered vaguely, though, that I had, once upon a time in 5th or 6th grade I think, written what I had thought was a great (and long!) poem about all the places I would go and visit, and what I would/could see and do there, if I ever had the chance.

Clearly, this poem encapsulated a range of my own youthful fantasies. Those youthful fantasies have been largely supplanted by my current and very different dreams. IDK – maybe I should call them Fantasies of an Old Fart instead?

Lies Walk the Streets and Honesty Is Not Always Brutal

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Handle With Care.”

This is a direct quote from my mother who doesn’t take her own advice.

Explanation of this quote  When you tell a lie the truth will catch up with you, some way, some how, sooner or later.

Explanation of Mom’s approach:  She thinks it’s OK to tell a “little white lie” if necessary to avoid hurting the recipient’s feelings but more importantly to prevent the recipient from having a bad opinion of her or her family.

Example of Mom’s approach:  Lie to her friend who has invited me to a (surprise) birthday party/open house for her friend’s Chabadnik second son-in-law who I have never met in my life.  Now I love my mom’s friend and appreciate her invitation in this instance and all the prior ones and all the recognition my family and I have received from her over the years.  So Mom lied in advance and told her I had other plans that day, which turned out to be true after the fact.

My preferred approach would have been to tell the truth in the first place, trusting that Mom’s friend knew me well enough to appreciate that I would rather spend the time with people I know and love than with somebody I’ve never met, have little in common with, and would probably never see again as we were both visiting in the area at the time.

I hardly handle anything with kid gloves.  I prefer an honest direct approach.

Some good things about AARP

As a retired Old Fart, I now have the time to do a lot of reading, including AARP The Magazine, from cover to cover.  I found an article in the December 2014/January 2015 issue that I thought would do for Old Fart Friday.  It was written by Anne LaMott, whose writing is summarized in Wikipedia as self-deprecating humor and openness and covering such subjects as alcoholism, single-motherhood, depression, and Christianity.

I am not an alcoholic, single mother or Christian, but enjoyed parts of her article inaptly titled “Have a Little Faith” but aptly subtitled “How getting older deepened my belief in goodness … and in myself” which I have excerpted below. Although I do believe in goodness, I’m not sure that getting older has deepened my belief in it.  I agree with Ms Lamott, however, that getting older has deepened my belief in myself.

I was hanging out at the library with two old friends (who know that) sometimes the safety-deposit drawers at the memory bank get jammed. Our backs ache, and nothing has become higher, or firmer, in the past few decades (and) we laughed until the cranky young librarian glared at us.  Getting older has given me more comfort in not knowing the answers. I throw up my hands more often now; I shake my head in wonder at how inscrutable life is. I have finally figured out that “Figure it out” is not a great slogan. My new slogan is “Who knows?”— which leads quite easily to “Who cares?

My vision has blessedly blurred. This is a great advantage when you’re trying to live more spiritually, more expansively, more like Zorba the Greek and less like the Church Lady. For instance, when I sit on my bed now writing on my iPad, the top roll of tummy sometimes creeps over onto the screen and starts typing away. In the old days, upon noticing this unsought collaboration, I would have decided to start a new diet, or to end it all. Now I think, “Who knows? Maybe it’s got something interesting to add.”

I thought when I was younger that faith was about the confidence to say the great Yes to my own deepest desires, and that is true, as far as it goes. But a deepening faith has also shown me that it’s OK to say No. Plus, it has shown me that the word “No” is a complete sentence. This realization led to the single most important life lesson of all: No one over age 55 ever needs to help anyone move again if they don’t want to. Our job now is to help younger movers, with their strong backs and SUVs, by bringing over sandwiches and Cokes. Period.

I have grown better at recognizing when I’m the one in need of forgiveness. Most surprisingly, though, I have finally learned to forgive myself for most of my disappointing character traits and iffier decisions.

Laughter leads to more loving feelings. And as we age, we laugh at ourselves more sweetly. Yesterday, for instance, my left eye suddenly began to hurt for no reason. I instantly assumed I had inherited my mother’s glaucoma, or ocular shingles, and that it most certainly would lead to a glass eye and a guide dog. And this was all in the 40 seconds before my eye just as suddenly stopped hurting. I sighed. Then I patted myself gently, as I would a friend, and said, “There, there,” and went to make myself a cup of tea.