Tag Archives: boomers

Dem Bones, Dem Bones…

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13653755-yoga-position-funny-cartoon-and-vector-isolated-illustrationDo brittle bones drive you insane?
Does bending put your back in pain?
How are your hips, your neck, your knees?
Do you need help? Keep reading please…

(originally posted November 2012)

What now? Last year, I noticed that everything in my body was tightening up like the sticky lid on a honey jar.  The doggerel lyrics of that old song about how the toe bone’s connected to the foot bone and the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, etc., blasted away in my brain. A cruel reminder that I was coming of age.

All pain, no gain: Every morning, my stiff joints and rigid spine felt like they would crack wide open if I moved too quickly. Well, I wasn’t happy about this decrepit state of affairs. Yes I was Living with Lupus, but I was swimming and walking regularly, so what more could I possibly do and why wasn’t my exercise routine working?

Out of the blue: Then my doctor recommended yoga classes…which in itself was a refreshing thing for a doctor to do!  Thank goodness for our new younger female doctors who know how to think outside the pill-box. But seriously…could yoga really help me?

Well-kept secret: What is it about the word “yoga” that conjures up images of skinny contortionists in leggings, eating raw carrots and tree nuts…while standing on their heads? Think again! Yoga is becoming a serious contender for seniors – to improve strength, endurance, balance, joints and spine. In my experience, it’s nothing short of amazing.

Scaredy Pat: At first I was reluctant because it had been 25 years since I uttered the Ommmm mantra. I would make a fool of myself without a doubt, and I wasn’t even sure I could get down on the floor – or more importantly – get back up again. But fear notwithstanding, I strapped my new yoga mat over my shoulder and hit the yoga scene with my aching bony knees a knockin.’

A big relief!  Thankfully my yoga instructor was excellent and he modified each pose to the comfort level of the participants. It wasn’t pretty at first. I initially had to do some positions with the help of a chair and some poses were easier if I leaned against the wall, instead of getting down on the floor. But that was only in the beginning. There was a natural process from there to feeling stronger and eventually finding my way down to the mat.

Tempus fugit: Now here I am one year later, still attending yoga classes twice a week and loving every minute of it. And listen up!  The improvements to my knees, back and hips is nothing short of amazing. This is serious stuff! I still have some neck problems, but I’m working on that.  And although I will never perform advanced yoga postures, my progress to date is remarkable. But most remarkable of all is how good I feel and how much I look forward to every class…the postures, the deep breathing and the meditation.

The secret’s out: I simply wanted to tell you and pass it on. And do I recommend yoga to everyone out there who wants to slow down the aging process? Absolutely! And not just for flexing your arthritic joints, or lubricating your dried out vertebrae. Yoga also teaches us relaxation techniques and everyday coping skills for life  in general.

Things I learned: But before you run out and book your class – here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Do your homework: Start by researching the different kinds of yoga in your area…at community centres, YMCA or yoga studios. You may not be up to trying a “hot yoga” class where you sit in a 105 degrees Celsius room and sweat out the garlic from last night’s dinner. Instead, I suggest that you look for a yoga class with the words, ‘gentle’ or ‘beginners’ or ‘therapeutic’ or even ‘chair’ yoga if you have more serious disabilities.

2. Speak to the instructor: Before you book your classes, make sure the instructor is willing to modify the poses as you go along, to accommodate different levels of ability. Ask if you can attend  a trial class to see for yourself how that will work.

3. Choose the right class: While there are many places offering yoga for the 50+ crowd – as long as the instructor is open and accommodating, a beginner’s class for all ages should be fine. You might want to avoid the ersatz yoga classes – where the attendees are all lulu-lemoned-up and the focus is more about image than the practice of yoga principles. Use your good sense to sort out the fakes.

4. Don’t compete: Don’t worry about your abilities to keep up with the class, if others around you are more flexible. It’s not about who can twist themselves into the tightest knot, or do the most impressive downward dog while trying to locate their third eye. Push hard, but pay attention to your body and don’t go beyond the edge of your ability. Go at your own pace and I promise you – the benefits are awesome at any level.

5. Ignore the scale: Yoga classes are all about relaxation, stretching and toning. Your motivation should not be weight loss, but overall good health and healing from the inside out. This is the greatest gift from you to you.

6.  Be committed:  Try to go once or twice a week. But if a live class is not available to you, there are many level-appropriate DVD’s out there you can purchase. And while this is a viable option, nothing can replace the positive energy you get from a class of like-minded people and a qualified instructor.

7. Stick with it: Don’t get your yoga pants in a pretzel if you don’t get instant results. Be patient and committed, even on those days when you’d rather stay in your stretchy sweats and eat a tub of rocky road. And although you should feel results in 6-8 weeks, please give it a good year. I promise you a better, more flexible body, with less pain and a noticeably improved sense of well-being. Have I ever lied to you before?
(Okay maybe i-Lied once about being i-Crazy…but only that once.)

8. Be brave, be bold and be healthy: You may want to google “yoga for seniors” and read more about this important emerging trend. Yoga should be safe for everyone. However, if you have specific health issues, you may want to check with your doctor before beginning.

Final word: This has been my story. I know it’s easy to dismiss all the reasons why you need yoga. But all I can say to that is, blah, blah, blah! We boomers and zoomers need all the help we can get! Our aging bodies are going nowhere but down that long mudslide to perdition. (I’m just thankful wrinkles don’t hurt!) So get off your sorry excuse, stuff your chakras into your sports bra – and give it a try! You won’t ever be sorry you did.

This message brought to you by Pat,
Was dreamed up on her yoga mat,
For this, she doesn’t charge a fee,
‘Cause bloggers do it all for free.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @Pat Skene

Please sign up or Follow for new posts. Thank you.

Why?

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question-mark-face1Ordinarily, I am quite content to seek out the solitude of my own company. But recently, I’ve had a bit too much quality time with myself…and frankly, I found that I am quite lacking in the answers to many of life’s complex questions.

They say when you’re drowning, your life flashes before your eyes. Well, I’m happy to report this did not happen to me. But in my extended state of reflection and solitude, many burning questions flashed relentlessly before said eyes, and I was reminded of how little I knew about the many ordinaries of life.

My Top 20 Burning Questions:

1. Why do grandchildren and grandparents pass each other in opposite vertical directions so quickly?

2. Why does life bitch-slap you awake, just when you doze off snuggled in the comforts of old age?

3. Why is it always the patient’s fault when doctors make a mistake?

4. Why are all nurses not angels of mercy? Have mercy!

5. Why do men put fruit and veggies encased in sweaty plastic bags, directly  into the refrigerator?

6. Why do men put beer or yogurt encased in cardboard boxes, directly into the refrigerator?

7. Why, when I’m not well, do I look out the window and think everyone has a life but me?

8. Why are big honking boobs supposed to be so spectacular?

9. Why does my oldest besty Marjorie never email me from BC?

10. Why do socks in my sandals feel so flippin’ good and look so freakin’ bad?

11. Why does time go like stink when I’m well, then hang around like a bad smell when I’m sick?

12. Why do I insist that my toilet paper roll be placed in the “over” position and not the “under” position?

13. Why, if some words in the English language are considered bad, did we invent them in the first place?

14. Why are simple blue jeans not allowed in some places, but bad-ass-red or trailer-trash-white jeans are?

15. Why can geese poop their brains out in the park and we can’t kick their feathered arses outta there?

16. Why can’t parents get it right by being grandparents first?

17. Why can’t I find out how much wood a woodchuck would chuck, if a woodchuck really could chuck wood?

18. Why did I get cancer?

19. Why do I float effortlessly in the pool, but my daughter and granddaughter sink to the bottom like mafia snitches?

20. Why do so many people hate nature’s beautiful dandelions?

Help!! Does anyone out there know WHY?     

See you between the lines

Pat Skene

 

Relax and Make Friends – As the Condo Turns…

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I’ve heard many aging boomers say they could never live in a condo with a bunch of old people. Well, most of us still have a lot of juice left in the blender, so don’t knock it ’til you try it. There’s comfort in living among others who have been there, done that. And you don’t have to suck in your gut or worry about any low-hanging bit and bobs when you go to the pool.

Tip of the day –   Relax and make friends

Living in a tall building of condo units is like living in a beehive. Most days, we all buzz around like contented little condo-bees. Oh sure, there may be some with more active stingers than others, and a few may have more venom in their ego-sacs. But deep down, we all want the same thing – a safe and happy community.

My granddaughter has a difficult time thinking of me in any way, other than the grandmother she has always known. It’s a difficult concept for her to picture me in my younger days and imagine me as a mother with a career, just like her mother.

In the same way, everyone in a condo building has history and experiences hidden away in their baggage. We have all “bee-n” (pardon the pun) somebody else before becoming who we are today. Just imagine the wealth of knowledge and adventures stacked up in all those units, one on top of the other – like a bee colony!

In my experience, people living in a condo environment are friendly and generous in sharing their backgrounds. It’s easy to meet new people and so interesting to hear the incredible stories of the lives they’ve  lived. And it’s not all past tense, by any means. More and more zoomers continue to work and travel, with no plans to stop.

Living in a detached home can sometimes feel isolated, as we grow older. We may no longer go out to work, and our social calendar may not be as busy due to health or circumstance. But in a condo – you’re never lonely.  

Regardless of the weather, just step outside your door to get the mail, go for a swim, or a run on the treadmill. There is always someone to talk to and chances are, you’ll find common ground to talk about.

If you’re like me, you’ll thank your lucky condo-stars that you made the decision to downsize that big-ass house, and BEE happy in a wonderful community of like-minded people.

Until tomorrow – these are the days of our lives.

Beware of Condo Envy – As The Condo Turns…

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I’m back! I’ve been busy doing all sorts of exciting work – full explanation will come with a big announcement in June! In the meantime – here’s the dealio.  

Condo patter: Further to my previous posts on condo living, I thought it was time to step it up a notch – especially for those of you considering  the spring market leap into condo-land.

Tune in daily: There may be many of you out there having sleepless nights, thinking about making the life-changing, mind-numbing, downsizing move to your first condo as a more mature citizen. Well, listen up! I have a lot to tell you about life in the condo lane – and I’ll do it all in the next 10 days. Compare it to a daily soap opera of sorts…a mini-series if you will.  Except the cast of characters won’t be naked (thankfully) or wearing the latest New York fashions (sadly), but there could be a few naughty bits of scandal along the way, (can you keep a secret?)

Here’s the scoop! While I’m still a newbie condoarian, I do have highly prejudiced experiences and unabashed opinionated observations to share with you, based on my life over the past nearly 3 years. And in no particular order, I’ll tell you about the good, the bad, the not-so-young, and the restless. So stay tuned.

Tip of the day: Beware of Condo Envy
All condos are not created equal. There are usually a variety of floor plans available in every condo building. And while you may choose one suitable for your needs, make sure you can stand the test of condo envy. There will always be another condo on a higher floor, a better view, more square footage etc., and you will be compared to those units.

In my experience, the first thing condo owners ask when they meet you, is  – what unit are you in and what floor are you on?  This is too often done in an effort to establish pecking order via square footage, view and market values. And that’s usually even before they ask your name! It becomes an obsession of comparison among the cotton-head community. And they do it very nicely, but it bugs the condo-crap out of me!

Now you know the inside scoop. It’s nothing to worry about, just be aware that it goes on. And no one will tell you about this or, least of all, admit to it.  So choose carefully, be happy with your investment and ignore the rest. 

Until tomorrow…these are the days of our lives.

Don’t Buggy Me!

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To working moms who ride the bus,
Your strollers cause some folks to cuss,
They clog the aisles and take up space,
We don’t want babies in our face!

Generation war:  An article in the news today got me ranting. A woman in her early sixties complained to the transit authority that there were too many buggies and strollers in the aisles on buses. She said they should impose a limit on the number of baby vehicles allowed on board, and mothers should be denied access if that limit is reached. What a wonderful idea!!! And thought up by an aging boomer who may need a walker on the bus someday. 

Lest we forget: Everyone knows that working mothers of young babies have it too easy. Refusing to let them on and making them wait at a bus stop a little longer to catch the next bus (if that bus has not yet reached its quota of strollers) is not too much to ask,  if you have a baby in tow, is it?  And as we Canadians know, our winters are very refreshing and we are fortunate to have the luxury of hats, mitts and coats to keep us toasty warm on those -25 degree days.  

Morning bliss: We all know that mothers with babies ride buses – not because they don’t have cars – but because they want to relax and enjoy the view on their way to work.  And anyone who has gotten a child ready for daycare before themselves in the morning, knows what a joy this experience can be. So who do these mothers with strollers think they are? And why should they expect to be welcomed by bus drivers and other passengers? Shame on them!

Easy rider: Young mothers are known to be quite relaxed when dropping children off at daycare, especially if that child is screaming or clinging to said mother’s leg. And the reward to the parent for this experience, is often boarding yet another bus to get themselves to work on time. Obviously these irresponsible mummies are taking advantage of the bus system, designed to help real everyday more important folks get about the city.

Teach them a lesson:  So it’s only fair to say that the self-serving behaviour of these young mothers (and babies) should be punished by any civilized society with a conscience. And certainly, banning them from getting on buses with buggies and strollers is a good start. Let them stay home and eat cake!

Money-maker: Perhaps imposing a hefty fee per stroller would work to discourage this selfish behaviour.  That would teach young parents to be prudent in their frivolous decisions to take baby vehicles on a bus, and inconvenience other more deserving passengers.

Radical thoughts: Alternatively, it has been suggested that a couple of rows of seats be removed from buses to allow for parking baby vehicles on board. In my view, this is far too simple a solution and should be discouraged at all cost. Our children deserve a much more complicated solution.   

Leave it at home: The more enterprising of young mothers could be encouraged to save money and leave the strollers at home. They could bulk-up their muscles, get in better shape and take juggling lessons. That way, they could more readily carry said crying-baby-in-snowsuit, complete with blankets, toys, diaper bag, purse and lunch bag onto the bus…without too much difficulty. And over time, many of these items could be strapped to the back of the toddler, as soon as they begin walking. No baby vehicles required. Problem solved.

Last word: Mothers of small children have had it easy long enough. I say we unite and take a stand…even if it has to be on a bus with a bunch of buggies and strollers!

So that’s my ranting, tongue-in-cheek,
I hope you know of which I speak,
Let’s think it through, for heaven’s sake!
And give moms everywhere a break.

Pat Skene 

Hello Blog? It’s Me, Pat

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I may have left you in the lurch,
I hope I didn’t make you search,
There’s so much back-blog on my plate, 
But first I’ll bring you up to date.

I’m Back: Hello again blogger world – mea culpa! I’ve been AWOL for a few months, but my cyber-batteries are now fully recharged.  A change in routine is always invigorating. It tends to breathe new life into my ever-deteriorating-but-still-breathing  60 something body parts, and puts a sexy shine on my 50 shades of grey hair.

What’s Up? Okay, let’s get down to business. Before I give you something new, I want to give you something old and update just a few of my past post shenanigans. Just click on the post if you need a refresher on what started the rantz in my pantz in the first place.

SCARY WORLD of AGING:
Since I wrote this post, I discovered black spots and cobwebs floating around in my left eye. I keep swatting at the invisible bugs as they land on my book or in my food.  It’s all part of this wonderful world of  aging, I’m being told. And, between Hubsey and me, we have collected a plethora of frequent ambulance-ride-points to the local hospital over the past year. We plan to redeem the points at Christmas for a swanky new fly swatter.

BACK in the SADDLE:
Hubsey got his driver’s license back! Hooray! It took 18 months of wrestling with the motor vehicle department, the medical system, the eye-doctors, the bureaucracy and all the mistakes and delays along the way. And what a test! It was 3 hours long, part written, part cognitive, and part actual driving a car with an occupational therapist and a driving instructor. All this because he lost a minor bit of peripheral vision in his right eye. He’s only been driving for over 50 years. Anyway, he’s back driving with a bad case of wheel-envy because I’ve grown into such an awesome chauffeur during his reluctant absence.

WILD GOOSE CHASE
Well, this is still a big pile of political poop. I did meet with the Director of Parks and Outdoor Spaces, and with my local town councillor. That was in June. Promises were made to address the outdated Bird Treaty Act at the federal level – and to try a pilot project to control the geese, using one of the simple recommendations I made. Nothing has been done to date and the Director of Parks is not returning my follow-up attempts. I’m now in escalation mode and will keep honking until this crappy issue gets some action. TBC…

AS THE CONDO TURNS…
Where do I start on this one? I still spend way too much time and head space – hopelessly trying to change the way things are done here. But I remain relentless in my efforts to lift the plastic covers off the furniture and replace old girdles and corsets with a comfy pair of roomy bloomers. Maybe it’s the latex restriction or pants hiked up to the armpits – that makes these old codgers, dowagers and all things ancient –  pucker their mouths into that soul-sucking-sour-lemon look when I try to make changes. And despite my two-year effort, I’m sorry to report that I haven’t made a pinch of progress with the condo board. But I’m not giving up…so stay tuned.  

FARRELL’S FIRE:
On a happier and more successful note, I am always trying to be the best grandmother I can be and follow the principles I wrote about in this post. I am so incredibly proud of this little girl, now 10 years old. Please indulge an old woman and her pride for a moment, while I go on… 

She’s Kicking Butt: Farrell has been studying tae kwon do for 4 years and achieved her black belt status in June of this year! What a kid! If only she was there to help me, when in self-defense, I whacked a guy in the head with a bag of beans at the Farmer’s Market in Toronto many years ago – or when I punched my boss in the stomach! But I digress – those are stories for another post.

She’s making Waves:  Anyway, I have something to show you. I went through an Emily Carr stage a few years back and couldn’t read enough about this fascinating woman. I bought my daughter a coffee table book of Emily Carr paintings and Farrell was looking at them last month. Without saying anything, she went up to her room and started to paint this picture to give Hubsey for his birthday. 

She’s One of a Kind: It took her 5 days to layer the paint and complete the picture. Emily Carr influence and all – this is an original painting from the delightful imagination of a 10 year old. So I’m very happy to report that the flame in Farrell’s Fire continues to burn brightly for all those around her.

So there you have it for today,
That’s it, that’s all I have to say.
My blogger fingers have been flexed,
Just wait and see what’s coming next!

Pat Skene    

 

 

More Fortunate…Indeed!

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 Too much good fortune can make you smug and unaware…
                                                                                                       
Rachel Lyman Field 

What’s up with me? I’m in a serious blogger mood for a change, so bear with me through my rant du jour.  Although my post is new, the subject matter is an old irritant and recent events have stirred up the rantz in my pantz. So I have to flap them around in the cyber-breezes for a good airing out. Here goes…

What’s bugging me? I’m very happy to live in a country that participates in so many fundraising events. But a few days ago, Toronto’s dumb-ass anti-media mayor made a rare public appearance at a downtown event – a World Partnership Walk to end global poverty. When asked by the shocked media why he chose to attend, he said that he wanted to help those less fortunate.  And in a later interview, he said he wanted to help  those who aren’t as well off as we are. Ugh! This has always been an offensive expression to me and it is used all the time.

A matter of need:  Good fortune might be about luck at winning the lottery. But if we think ourselves more fortunate than others because we are materially well off or prosperous, do we also consider ourselves supremely favoured and separate from the great unwashed?  Does it elevate us to the heights of being better than those poor unfortunates who need our help? Being in need is not a matter of being ‘fortunate’ or ‘unfortunate’, but a matter of circumstance. 

Us and them syndrome: Even when I visit schools I hear the same term being used by our children – “We are doing this to help children less fortunate than we are,” they say with pride. And with all good intentions in mind, this separation of thought is not a healthy path to global thinking. Perhaps our division from “those people” provides a first line of defense against our ever having to share that destiny.   

Giving thanks: As Canadians, we all have a lot to be thankful for and no one likes to think of themselves in a needful situation. But circumstances can change quickly in life and events both controllable and uncontrollable can catapult us into a place of need. The thing to remember is that we are all in this big lifeboat together. And our joint mission (should we choose to accept it) is to help each other find our way.

Helping hands: In the end, we are none of us more “fortunate” than the other. Our situations may vary and some of us may need more help than others. But in the overall scheme of life’s purpose – our fortunes, our net worth and our affluence, have nothing to do with who we truly are as human beings. But how we share our lives and help those in need has everything to do with it.

Final word: So could we please stop using the expression “helping those less fortunate” and simply say we are:
– helping someone in need? Yes!
– helping the homeless? Absolutely!
– helping the poor? You got it!
– helping to feed the hungry? Without a doubt!
– helping to eradicate world poverty? Right on!

But don’t be as arrogant as that buffoon we call the mayor of Toronto and consider yourself more fortunate because of it.

Now’s here a poem I wrote many years ago to bring it home:

The Fugitive  

The faceless man trudges on
In clothes of tattered rags,
His bloodshot eyes reflect his way of life,
He walks the beaten path each day
Not knowing why he died,
Dark memories of living and of strife.

Once upon a time
He was a man of many dreams,
The hours in a day went far too fast,
But fruitless were his efforts
And soundless were his words,
For much too soon his future had all passed.

Don’t scoff or scorn or ridicule
Unless your life is pure,
Of selfishness and vanity and sin,
For who’s to say the road you walk
But for a touch in time,
Is not the path of where this man has been?

Pat Skene  

 

Stupid Rules

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I may be just a blogger punk,
But there are rules I must debunk,
Those dumb-ass things we learn from birth,
So here’s my rant, for what it’s worth…

What’s bugging me? Did you ever think about some of the idiotic things we do as a civilized well-meaning society? We go through life following the leader without doing a sanity check on our actions. Most of these are small spuds in the grand potato field of life – but they never fail to get my blogging bloomers in a royal twist!  

12 Rules (Not) to Live By:

1. No white shoes after Labor Day.  Are you kidding me? People who wear white shoes on any day of the year need serious help; especially when worn with black pantyhose! Other than running shoes, the only white shoes allowed on the planet at anytime should be for 1950’s reunions and hideous Halloween costumes.

2. Bring flowers to your hostess. Yes, this is a lovely idea…just don’t bring ‘cut’ flowers please. Your hosts are trying to get dinner ready, provide drinks and keep up with the conversation. And now your hostess must locate a suitable vase, arrange your flowers and find a place to put them on display. Bring a potted plant or cut flowers already arranged in a vase with water instead. Better yet, have the flowers delivered the day before the dinner.

3. No jeans allowed. I could never understand the concept that jeans are not allowed at some venues. Denim is simply a material, just like cotton, polyester, linen and silk. It’s ‘material’! Fabric! Why should one type of material be disallowed over another. I can understand the bias against the ripped and torn variety, but so should that apply to other fabric as well.  Who thought this one up? Some anti-cowpoke-ascot-wearing snob no doubt.

4. Visit a sick friend in hospital. This one’s a doozy and my personal favourite. Other than special circumstances and close family – why would normal functioning homo sapiens feel the need to drop in on you in a hospital room? There you are with unwashed hair, no make-up, tubes coming out of your various orifices – while the pungent aromas of infectious waste  and bedpan juices waft through the air.  For all that’s holy – please stay home and send a card!

5. Clean your plate. Many of us grew up hearing this maxim and we were not allowed to leave the table until the order had been carried out. And while it may have helped to control wasted food, it also contributed to over-eating. Reducing portion sizes and stopping when we’re full is the best rule for all of us. Stuffing a few more brussel sprouts down our children’s gullet isn’t going to give them a love for eating vegetables.

6. Save new things ‘for good’. This one I’ll never understand. We all know people who save clothes, linens and a myriad of possessions for that special day. What special day? When? What if you die before you get to use it? All these carefully packed possessions rotting away at the seams, stuffed in cedar chests and storage trunks. Beautifully cherished things never to see the light of dawn. Hear ye, hear ye – I say unto you out there in blogger land – use it now! Take it out today and celebrate this moment, this hour, this life!

7. Match your socks. Why do we do this? I have taught my granddaughter from birth to always mismatch her socks. I believe it demonstrates a sense of creativity and imagination. Wearing colorfully mismatched socks expresses the ying and yang if you will, the complexities of the right and left brain and the playfulness of the human spirit. But they’re just socks, you might say. Au contraire my blogger friend. Your socks say a lot about you – and no one wants to be remembered as a boring person with matching socks, now do they? 

8. Never wear socks in sandals. This is one of the biggest faux pas fashion statements of the 21st century! So bad, it could start a bar fight! But have you ever tried wearing socks in your sandals? It’s pure bliss! I challenge you to find anything more comfortable. Who would make such a rule? It was probably devised by some frustrated fashionista with a Jesus complex. I think it’s time we unite in our mismatched socks and sandals and tell the fashion police to go to hell. You go first – I promise I’ll be right behind you. 

9. No swearing allowed. Have you ever thought about swear words? I mean, really thought about them? All they are, are letters from our alphabet that we have strung together to make a word that we then deem unacceptable for use in polite society. We created the words and then decided they’re not allowed to be be uttered. How stupid is that? They’re only words! Sticks and stones and all that…

10. Eat dessert after dinner. In the ancient days, I believe people ate something sweet after their meals in order to cleanse their palette (and their breath) after a stinky dinner of mutton chops. Not so today. But we have maintained the tradition of getting the so-called ‘good stuff” in first and keeping dessert for the end of the meal. As long as we get it all in – why should we care what order they follow? It’s all going south and to the same place. Life is short – eat dessert first!  

11. No singing at the table. It’s rude they say. This is a rather sad old rule, isn’t it? It fits right in there with ,”Children should be seen and not heard.” Why shouldn’t we rejoice and sing at the table, with family and friends? Why don’t we all sing grace instead of saying it so solemnly with eyes closed and hands clasped. As long as you’re not singing, “99 bottles of beer on the wall”, while the main course goes cold – I say let ‘er rip and sing your heart out!

12.  Separating couples at dinner parties. What are we – antisocial adolescents? Many couples are more comfortable when seated together and in fact, complement each other in conversation. This act of separation by a hostess can be insulting for some and awkward for others. Social situations are most successful when guests are relaxed and a controlling host will only add stress. I’m just saying…             

So that’s my list of stupid rules,
It’s nothing that I learned in schools,
I’ve said it all and took my chance,
To get these rantz out of my pantz!

Do you have some stupid rules in your life? I’d love to hear from you. I’m collecting them to have a huge bonfire of the insanities. I’ll be roasting marshmallows and white shoes and you’re all invited!

Pat Skene

Head Games

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I rant therefore I amBloggers Anonymous

Silver & Gold Spring Issue

  
           BOOMERRANTZ in Print


“Pat’s Boomerrantz” is now appearing in Silver and Gold magazine. My first column Arriving Naked is in the new spring issue. It can be viewed online by clicking on the magazine cover to the left…page 38. It’s all about, “Is there freedom after 55?” You’ll need to zoom in to read the text.

 

So with that news out of the way,
I have a few more things to say,
About this ‘Freedom 55’,
And all that mumbo-jumbo jive…

Hard-wired: Moving out of our fifties into the Scary World of Aging is about dealing with change and shifting gears with as much grace as we can muster. And nothing’s easy, because that’s life. In today’s troubled world, these worn out freedom 55 ideas about retirement have had their day. But like a manchurian candidate, we’re well programmed and continue to recite the marketing mantra.

All sizzle: So what’s it all about – our obsession with this freedom by 55 thing? This thing that we measure ourselves by? This thing we use to determine our success and failure? It’s simply a clever marketing slogan dreamed up in a corporate boardroom to make lots of money! Marketing is all about head games. It’s about re-wiring our brains, so our hearts and wallets will follow…like lemmings to the investment pool.

Clean sweep: So let’s keep it real people. Life isn’t a TV commercial. It’s time to stop the race toward this artificially inseminated perception of middle age. It’s time to pop the freedom 55 myth like a nasty zit. It’s time to sweep all these worn out notions into the dusty archives – along with moldy marketing slogans and other antiquated words like foolscap, hearken and slacks.

Enough said: Freedom is where it’s always been; right here, right now, everyday for those of us fortunate enough to live in a free world. So that being said…let’s get on with it.

So all these rantz inside my pantz,
Are music for my freedom dance,
Sometimes I need to shake it out,
That’s what this blog is all about!

Pat Skene

A Blemish in My Garments

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The first year after I retired,
I felt renewed and so inspired,
Then housework soaked my spongy brain,
And made me go a bit insane…

The year I left my busy working life to run free in the pastures of retirement, I was overwhelmed with an anxious energy to do everything I had missed out on in my life. I had no bucket list back then, just a longing to fill a whole bunch of empty spaces.

But that kind of desperate enthusiasm scrambled my brain and caused a few synapses to misfire. As it was happening, I wrote an article about my experience, which was published in several newspapers. The letters to the editor led me to believe I was not alone in my irrational behaviour.

It’s been nearly 14 years since I wrote that article. Keep in mind that I was in a quixotic state of divine domesticity. I have since reestablished my raison d’être and properly restored my sanity. Here’s my story…
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At Last, I’ve Found the Kitchen by Pat Skene

Toronto Star – 1998

“Success in housekeeping adds credit to the woman of intellect, and lustre to a woman’s accomplishments. No matter how talented a woman may be, or how useful in the church or society, if she is an indifferent housekeeper it is fatal to her influence, a foil to her brilliance and a blemish in her garments.”
THE HOME COOK BOOK, Toronto Rose Publishing Company, 1877

“Give her a wide berth,” I heard my husband whisper to my daughter, as I breezed through the kitchen to check on the contents of my new slow cooker.

“Mom bought a crock-pot?” she said, as she lurched backwards to get out of my way and slammed into my new rack of stainless steel cookware. “Where did those come from?” she complained, holding the side of her head.

Breathless, my husband continued as though I were not in the room. “And that’s not all. She has two boxes of mason jars in the basement. She wants to ‘do
down’ dill pickles and tomato relish. She’s been out everyday driving around the country roads, scouring the farms for fresh produce.”

“Geez, she’s even wearing an apron,” was all my daughter could say, as they stood in silence watching me with their eyes locked on my every move.

Poor things, this was all so sudden. It started very innocently really, when I bought a new dust mop and ironing board cover. I felt so harmoniously domestic after ironing my tea towels, that it spurred me on to clean behind the refrigerator and try out that new miracle floor cleaner I ordered from a home shopping catalogue.

This uncharacteristic burst of domesticity appeared suddenly in the first year of my retirement from corporate life. After many decades of being an exhausted working mother to my daughter and often-distracted partner to my husband, I left the rat race to preserve my energy, my health and to pursue my passion for
writing.

Like many working mothers, I still sported all the guilty baggage that busy parents usually bear well into their golden years. I worried about the scars my daughter had carved into her childhood, from deprivation of home cooked meals and the long-term effects of latchkey after-shock.

Instead, she managed to survive with professional parents who adored her and she became independent and self-sufficient at a very early age. In other
words, my baby grew up while I wasn’t looking and in spite of my lack of domesticity.

My husband banned me from the kitchen a long time ago, when he witnessed me teaching my daughter how to make a Christmas Meat Pie. He threatened to get a court order to stop me from teaching her how to cook.

So there I was, with my adult daughter and retired husband – ready to do the wife and mother thing – and all they could do was stare at me all goggle-eyed like kitchen road kill caught in the scent of my boneless rump roast.

As my family continued to tread softly around me with suspicions that it was just more Menopause Madness, I continued on my domestic journey. I washed the linens in logical color combinations, organized our kitchen shelves, cleaned out closets and dusted every piece of bric a brac I could find. All this, while my stuffed green peppers bubbled deliciously in my new state-of-the-art crock-pot.

I approached my household responsibilities with the same appetite as I did my career. I savored the goodness of field-ripened tomatoes and the emotional harmony that flowed from a clean, organized home. Simplicity in a world of complications seemed to take on a rhythm of its own.

Unfortunately, while I harvested these revelations along with my bounty of summer vegetables, my family suffered future shock from my sudden coming in and out of the broom closet.

Was I morphing through a type of corporate decompression chamber? Maybe. I’d come to accept that I couldn’t rewind all the days I wasted away, the days I took for granted, the working weekends, the conferences, the cold dinners and the baby-sitters. But I needed to believe that it wasn’t too late to start paying attention to the things that mattered most and to some things that never seemed to matter at all.

I busied myself with long neglected writing projects and I enjoyed being a friend to my daughter, not to mention a new and improved partner to my husband. And in between the exciting chapters on my word processor and the scary experiments in my food processor, I might even try my hand at making Christmas gifts this year, if it doesn’t push my family over the edge. (September 1998)
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So read the quote above in blue,
And tell me, what’s a gal to do?
That ‘blemish in her garments’ threat,
Is something I cannot forget…

Pat Skene

Scary World of Aging

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As I flap around in my post-retirement years, I’m not happy about getting older. But when I consider the deathly alternative, I tend to buckle up and dig in. 

Brave new world: Last year Hubsey and I sold our home and moved into our first condo. Why we’re still married after going through the grueling experience of downsizing hell, is something of a mystery. We had so much stuff – all his old junk and my priceless collectables.  Well, we lived to tell the tale and now enjoy the comforts of our beautiful condo – despite being surrounded by a gaggle of cotton heads, dictatorial condo boards and antiquated rules. After decades in the corporate jungle, I’ve seen enough office politics to strangle a condor. So I plan to ruffle some of those dusty old condo-condor feathers. Old farts in corporate boardrooms and old farts on condo boards are all the same to me. To be continued so stay tuned…   

Scary stuff! This mysterious aging process can be almost as frightening as buying a new bathing suit. And besides the whole emotional gridlock of downsizing – how do I handle my husband losing his driver’s license due to a stroke? How do I cope with chronic illness, old bones and the shocking reality of my white hair? And what do I do when I discover Blackbeard’s whiskers popping out on my chin – or other unsuspecting body parts? And do I accept or reject the irresistible lure and blissful come-hither comfort of wearing granny panties and orthopedic shoes? Read the rest of this entry

It’s Time to Sell

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Okay, so we made the decision to downsize and sell our home over a cup of tea one morning. The time was right. The house was too big, the kids were too far, the drive was too long and life was too short. So a condo near the kids was the answer. We toasted our good judgment with an extra spoon of brown sugar on our oatmeal. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Pushy kids: Our daughter had pushed for this decision for a while, but we dug our heels in until we were stuck in the muck. And now it was time to muck it out; all 4200 square feet of house, 2 garages, Hubsey’s workshop and furnace room – every inch chock full of dusty memories. We had lots of de-mucking to do to squeeze into a condo.

But I digress – first step – SELL OUR BIG-ASS HOUSE.  I’m happy to report that we hired an excellent real estate agent that we trusted, and our home sold in one week! Here’s my take on selling tips that matter. 

The 6 things NO real estate agent will tell you:

1…Use your head. While you need to de-clutter and make your rooms appear spacious and appealing, don’t remove all your family photos and personal mementos. Who thought up that asinine trend anyway? Any prospective buyers who can’t picture themselves in your home because your family photos are on the mantle, are too stupid to buy the house in the first place. Don’t get pushed around by the so-called professionals in the field.

2…Forget expensive staging.This home is yours to sell and you don’t need someone else’s stuff to do that. Another real estate ruse. You know what needs to be done. Do minor repairs and spruce up the place with a touch of paint. For a few hundred dollars, you can add lots of light coloured accents to give the rooms a clean fresh feel; like crisp white bedding, fresh flowers, soft cream sofa pillows, comfy throws – and breezy white sheer curtains on an open window. And don’t forget to spa-up your bathroom with stacks of fluffy white towels, scented candles and fancy soaps.

3…Air it out. Agents find it hard to tell you that your house smells. Open windows long before a showing and burn a Lampe Berger if you have one. They work wonders. Buyers shouldn’t have to wonder if the lingering aromas are from the corned beef and cabbage you had for dinner or a dead body between the walls. But don’t overdo the air-fresheners.  People may think you’re trying to hide something.

4…Write a personal letter. Word-paint a picture for your buyers by writing a list of things you love about your home. Be creative and appeal to the emotions. This personal touch had a HUGE impact on creating multiple buyer interest in our home – and the resulting quick sale. Place a stack of these letters beside the real estate feature sheets. See my Post – Make it Personal  for an example of what I did.

5…Get help from St. Joseph. Now for something totally nuts! But I did it anyway. This is how it works; you purchase a small statue of St. Joseph and you bury him upside down in the yard, just below the surface. (Stay with me on this.) Place him near the For Sale sign and watch the buyers flock to your home. P.S…in my case, nothing happened after a few days, so I poured a pitcher of icy water on the burial spot to shake & wake him up. My house sold 3 days later…so you decide.        

6…No Open House showings. In my opinion, if someone wants to see your house, they should damn well make an appointment. Why should you allow every Tom, Dick and burglar to walk around and case the joint? Don’t fall for it! They’re a waste of time and a security threat. Agents like to use your home as an advertising platform for new business, and to make you feel like they’re earning their commission – which is another issue altogether. You deserve respect in your own home and as such, scheduled appointments with appropriate lead time is only fair – and the safe thing to do.       

Last word: Now top it all off with some classical music and a plate of bite-sized store-bought cookies on the counter and you’re good to go. (Bite-sized because you don’t want crumbs all over your house.) You should leave during the showings to give your prospective buyers privacy to look around – without you breathing down their cheque books. And make sure you get a minimum of 3 months for your closing date. You’re going to need it for the next step…mucking out the memories.

Happy Sales from Pat Skene