Tag Archives: senior blogs

If I Don’t Say it, I’ll Explode!

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Okay, let’s not sugar coat this – getting old is a bitch! There’s no instruction manual to read or special training we can take along the way. The scary world of aging is filled with shocks and surprises around every wrinkled corner. And you know what shock does to aging boomers? It makes our hair whiter, our poop tighter and our pacemakers pound out the beat to Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire.

Mirror, mirror is that me?

Personally, I thought I would always be thirty-two because that’s how I feel on the inside. And in my dreams, I’m always thirty-two. Then one day…WHAM! Mother time kicked me in my assets and announced my coming of age into the crusty rusty years. I looked into the mirror this morning and found a seventy-three year-old grandmother with an aching hip, a double mastectomy under her belt, a few corporate battle scars in her wake and a closet full of comfortable shoes.

Putting one foot in front of the other

I once read that certain species of sharks have to keep swimming forward to keep oxygen-rich water flowing through their gills. This seems like a good rule to follow as a metaphor in human life as well. Standing still or hanging on to what we once had can be suffocating. When I stagnate and marinate in my own juices for too long, I feel sad, lonely and old; very, very old. So I make like a shark and try to keep moving, regardless of my growing list of limitations.

From fashion to constipation

Now here I am, in the dawn of my twilight years, surrounded by a gaggle of gently used human beings. I live in a condo full of seniors, I sit next to the senior-set at the doctor’s office, my friends are getting more aches and pains everyday and my dentist is as old as I am. Even my much younger sister is fast approaching in my rearview mirror. We used to giggle and talk about boys, designer shoes, stressful careers, bringing up kids and vacations. And while we still giggle over a glass or two of soda water instead of chardonnay (wine gives us heart palpitations), now we talk about which stores have the best scooters, hip and knee replacements, grandkids and constipation.

Large and in charge

It’s way too easy to become marginalized as we age and have our voices drowned out by the ubiquitous chatter in the world around us. It’s important for my happiness and wellbeing to stay relevant and be heard. So a big part of each life-breath I take, is the ranting and raving I do about how I see the world around me in all its glory and carbuncles. I write my boomerrantz blog, I address incompetence at businesses I deal with, and I don’t hesitate to challenge those in charge, by asking questions and advocating for myself at every opportunity.

Flushing it out

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of cranky old senior who always feels perpetually aggrieved. On the contrary, I’m actually an unusually happy septuagenarian and my half of the glass is always the top half. But the act of ranting about things I find unjust or unfair is like a good liver cleanse; it helps to flush out the clogged arteries of my cranky zones and restore a sense of balance to my life. Sometimes the rants in my pants simply need a good airing out, and blogging about my aging boomer opinions seems to do the trick.

Balancing the scales

But it’s not all about the dark side of sixty that has me blogging my bony fingers to the nub today. I love to do my share of raving as well. There are still many joys in this world and I’m at the front of the line to appreciate the good things in life; as simple as a morning smile, or the tip of the brim from a stranger. And I am first in line to compliment anyone who gives me exceptional service in any capacity.

Our point of view matters

But here’s something about many older women. We love to worry about wrinkles and waistlines, instead of celebrating our cellulite and the wisdom of our years.  We worry about that dreadful whisker that popped out on our chin overnight, instead of taking comfort in the freedom that comes with getting older. We worry about our white hair and thinning locks, instead of enjoying that second cup of coffee in the morning, happy that we no longer have to strap ourselves into a pair of pantyhose to go to work.  And we wear far too much beige and black and never enough electric blue, fire-engine red and emerald-green.

One more thing…

For those of you who love to write and have never tried it, blogging is a wonderful way to stay connected with a talented online community and get our voices heard. It’s a way to organize our thoughts and tap into the things that really matter to us. It’s a way to simply have fun and entertain our friends and family with our stories.

The way I see it – blogging is like opening a steam vent on a pressure cooker of unspoken words.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you between the lines.

Pat Skene

 

 

 

Like Bugs in a Bowl

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Finding inspiration 

It’s very hard to think nice thoughts when your hair is getting thinner, your waist is getting thicker and your memory is experiencing intermittent disconnects in reception. Sometimes it seems doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and talking back to the television set is the only social life we have.

Staying motivated is tough

Getting older isn’t always about carefree living, travelling, and exciting new adventures like we see in those bloody advertisements. Sometimes it’s about living day-to-day with health issues, money problems, chronic pain, the death of a loved one and an ever-shrinking world. We try the 10 Senior Secrets to get unplugged, but nothing’s working.

There are days when we need a good kick in the bloomers to get unstuck from feeling that our quality of life is controlled by the compartments in our pill box containers. Or when happiness is measured by the availability of a handicap parking spot at the hospital.

There have been many articles written about the joys and challenges of aging. And most of us try to do what we can to support each other and be the best we can be in our crusty rusty years.

But if our thoughts are not in a good place, we can find it difficult to read about others who seem to be managing so much better than we are, as they travel the world, engage in sports activities or discover a new winter-of-the-soul love interest. For the rest of us, living our lives can become a challenge when we have to compromise or eliminate activities that bring us joy.

Wacky Poetry for the Mind

Some time ago, I found an ancient poem written over one thousand years ago by the Chinese poet, Hanshan. It came on a day I needed it most and it spoke volumes to me in its simplicity. I would like to share it with you:

Bugs in a Bowl

We’re just like bugs in a bowl. All day going around never leaving their bowl.
I say, That’s right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.
Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.
Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.
Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Walk around.
Say, Hey, how you doin’?
Say, Nice Bowl!

 Choosing what we see

When I sent the above poem to a friend of mine, she said, “It makes you want to think ‘nice.’”

Sometimes it’s hard for us to think ‘nice’ all the time, when we’re in pain and have to limit our activities. But Hanshan reminds us to practice mindfulness and stay connected to our world…and to our fellow bugs. His simple words suggest that moping and feeling sorry for ourselves can lead to isolation and despair.

Studies have shown that social interaction is critical for our well-being and ongoing mental development as we age. Regardless of our limitations, we need to remember to interact with others and continue doing things we love, regardless of our situation. And that usually means being in a constant state of renewal, as we adjust and regroup into our newly morphed selves on any given day.

12 Tips for a Happy Bowl

As a senior Living with Lupus and attending to a husband with many health challenges, my limitations seem to grow daily. But I am determined to enjoy life regardless of the ever-changing view. Here are some things I do that work for me

  1. Attend a monthly book club meeting with eleven other amazing women.
  2. Reach out to an online community on fabulous websites like Sixty and Me.
  3. Use my texting and Facebook skills to stay in touch with friends and family.
  4. Relax my mind and body through meditation and visualization exercises.
  5. Practice gentle yoga and deep breathing exercises every single day.
  6. Water-dance in the pool as I listen to music with my waterproof iPod.
  7. Share all the little joys and quiet times with my husband.
  8. Enjoy every minute I can with my daughter and granddaughter.
  9. Read good books to inspire and broaden my outlook.
  10. Play online scrabble and connect with people from around the world.
  11. Join a small group of wonderful friends every month for a pub night out.
  12. Write blog posts for people like you, on things that matter to me.

 

So to all my fellow bugs out there – Hey! How you doin’?
What things do you do to stay happy and connected in your bowl?
Please leave a comment and join the conversation.

See you between the lines,

Pat Skene 

Are Restaurants Too Loud?

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9781612360010_p0_v1_s260x420WHAT? 
Remember when you went to a restaurant and you didn’t come home with a raging headache and hoarse from a night out? Remember when you could talk to your dinner partners and have a meaningful conversation – and not have to shout above the music playing at inhuman sound levels? Can anyone remember those good old days?

Pounding baselines: It’s not just the music in some restaurants that beats your ear into submission. It’s the noise bouncing off the naked surfaces. Somewhere along the line, carpets, tablecloths and finished ceilings disappeared and were replaced with stone floors, wooden tabletops, gleaming chrome fixtures and open ceilings with plumbing and heating pipes on display. So there’s absolutely nothing to absorb the sound as it ricochets from one hard surface to another in booming echoes around the room.

Is it just me? What’s happening out there with this new dining trend? It used to be that I would research a menu carefully before making a reservation to eat out. Now, the menu is secondary, as my first question is always, “Do you have live entertainment?” A live band is the worst, but playlists can be piped-in at absurd volume levels too.

Up close and personal: Did you know that many restaurants play a certain type of music on purpose? First of all, research has shown that a noisy restaurant draws people in because it sounds like a fun place…and we all like fun! Second, studies have also shown that when they speed up the beat, the sound waves energize us, so we eat faster and drink more. That means they make more money on food and drink that we may not have otherwise consumed.  Plus, if we eat at turbo speed, they get to turn the tables faster with more butts in the seats. Certainly a win win for them, but not for our waistlines or our wallets.

I  can’t hear you! The basic principles of going to a restaurant is to enjoy a shared meal and have a conversation – not to sit mute while we listen to music or scream at our partners to be heard. In my view, the guest experience is ruined, when the restaurant is cluttered with room noise. Now I’m not talking about the normal buzz of conversation, the clattering of dishes or the lovely jazz trio in the corner playing soft background music. I’m talking about the musicians who crank up their amps like they’re playing a rock concert for a bunch of teeny boppers. The same goes for music blasting through speaker systems. And even if you ask the wait staff or management to turn it down, my experience is that it won’t happen.

Tweets not talk: Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned about this whole thing and people today like to speak in “tweets” mirroring their online interactions. Maybe people prefer to live more on the surface these days, without the added burden of actually being interested in connecting with another human being. And again…the less you talk, the more you eat…the more you eat, the more you drink…and so it goes around and around. Are you seeing a pattern here? But if the younger generations are becoming accustomed to communicating in this way, are we losing the art of conversation in the process? This is another whole issue for another day.

What can we do?
If we, as paying guests are dissatisfied with any of the above, we should speak up:
1.  Be vocal and tell the restaurant management that we are dissatisfied.
2. Encourage more food critics to add a new category for sound levels in their reviews.
3. Boycott the establishment and tell them why.
4. Post our complaints on restaurant review sites, to draw attention to the issues.
5. Choose a table farthest from music amps and speakers, and near soft surfaces if they have any.

Final word: What do you think people? Have I just passed my best before date or do I have a point here?

See you between the lines,

Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene

From Foxtrot to Technobot

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1396493416Calling me names: Someone recently called me a technobot. In my crusty rusty years, I’ve been called worse. I certainly do love to embrace (or downright cuddle and spoon) new technology innovations with the anticipation and thrill of a teenage kiss. You may have read about these developing passions of mine in my 50 Shades of Mac  post. But back to the business at hand.

What’s up? A couple of years ago I learned how to email money to and from my bank account. The thought of my hard-earned dollars whizzing through cyberspace at warp speed, sent me reeling with the sheer magic of it all. Oh the wonders and conveniences of this brave new world. To think that in my early childhood years I actually lived without electricity or telephones. Hell, my first school bus consisted of two horses pulling a boxy cabin on wheels, while we sat on the benches that lined the interior of the windowless walls. But I digress.

old-telephone-clipartvintagefeedsacks-free-vintage-clip-art-vintage-telephone-old-zjobn5vtA school holiday was declared when electricity finally found its way into our town. Life was simple…and then it all changed. The gaslights were turned off one by one, as the telephones started to ring and television sets introduced us to I Love Lucy.

The year was 1952 in small town Ontario.

So what’s the big deal? Well…now I can actually deposit a cheque to my bank account from my home, using my iPhone! I simply take a picture of the front and back of the cheque, and voila! It’s deposited to my account, while I sit at my kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee! I always feel quite light-headed from the dizzying experience. 1368299830917888001apple-iphone-icon-hi

Don’t judge me yet: Okay, I can hear you thinking…this poor woman has no life, to get so excited about such a silly unimportant thing. Whoa…hold on there Nellie! Yes I admit, new technology turns my crank, juices my engines and puts newfound energy into my yoga pants. And at my age, that’s got to be worth something! But it’s much more than that to me.

The meaning of life: This experience means that as I progress into the scary world of aging, I am learning how to embrace change and enjoy it. It means I can stay current and talk about these innovations with my family, and be connected to their world. In a more tangible sense, it means I can stay home to do my banking, instead of venturing out in the cold and snow. And in some small way, it helps me feel relevant in this rapidly changing world.

Stay tuned: So many seniors I meet are computer savvy. But just as many are not, and resist any suggestion of getting on board. As we age, our worlds often become smaller and smaller, due to illness, physical limitations, financial situations or family circumstance. Just think of the endless possibilities of entertainment, education and communication, if we stay tuned-in instead of tuned-out. The wonders of the Internet connects us with the universe, right from the comfort of our recliners.

Luv U2: I’m sure there are thousands of children and grandchildren out there, dying to give their grandparents a tablet (computer not medical) so they can stay in touch through Facebook, email and texting. And it’s never too late to learn. On the contrary, it’s exactly the right time. How can I put a value on the simple texts I get from my granddaughter to say goodnight, or to tell me she loves me? Phone calls are out with these kids…texting is in.

True colours: I’ve come a long way from living with gas-powered washing machines, wood stoves and hand-cranked record players for learning the foxtrot. In my sepia drenched memories, those days seem like they were a part of a kinder, gentler life. But as a child with those memories, I didn’t have to haul the water, chop the wood, or wrestle the frozen sheets off the clothesline. And I also didn’t have to trudge through the snow, all the way to the only telephone in town, when the doctor called my mother from the city about my Dad’s serious condition in hospital. Just imagine the number of changes in my very short lifetime. From sepia to living colour.

She who laughs: So scoff at me if you will, as I languish in my senior moments of pure cyber-bliss. But you might think of me the next time you stand in line at the bank, or walk across an icy parking lot to deposit your cheques at an ATM. I’ll be at home sipping coffee in my jammies doing the same thing…using my I-Phone. Try it…it’s nothing short of amazing! And we cottonheads need to be amazed now and then. Smoothes out the wrinkly bits.

See you between the lines,

Pat Skene

 

I Beaned Him!

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Here’s my story:

Gather round and hear my tale,      smileyEmbarsassed
My secret past, I must unveil,
The day I faced my deepest fear,
And beaned a groper in the ear.

Now please don’t judge my actions then,
I’ve never done that deed again,
But I can really be a witch,
When I’m provoked to be a bitch!

Looking back: I consider myself a peaceful woman who abhors violence or physical aggression of any sort. In my growing up years circa 1950, our household was always that of a quiet loving family. And other than whacking my older brother across the back with a broom when I was 8 years old, and knocking the wind out of him – violence was never part of my life.

Fast forward: Now let’s move ahead to a summer day, circa 1990 at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto on a Saturday afternoon. The place is quiet, as most downtown market shoppers are early morning people. I have my 15 year-old niece with me. Hubsey is upstairs on a bench holding all the bags filled with cheeses, fresh fruit and fish, chowing down on a market-famous bacon-on-a-bun.

What a deal! Downstairs I find an end-of-day sale on fresh garden vegetables. My niece stands off to the side while I stuff a large plastic grocery bag full of green beans, for the price of $2. I’m delighted with my purchase and reach over the counter to hand my money to the vendor.

Horrors! Just then, I’m jarred, as two hands come from behind and grab both my breasts. I see the filthy fingernails and realize it’s not Hubsey in a moment of unbridled passion. I whip around and look straight into the face of the filthiest looking derelict; his leering grin 2 inches from my face; his rotten teeth the colour of a dirty urinal; his breath like a distillery sewer.

Besmirched: I stand there in shock. He removes his hands from my body and with a disgusting grin on his face, he simply walks away. His clothes hang like rags, and his hair is matted and covers half his face. I glance at my niece a few feet away; her hands are clamped over her mouth; her eyes the size of dinner plates.

No escape! I watch as this disgusting piece of filth approaches the doors to leave the market and I am suddenly enveloped in a sea of black rage – and I snap! th

Kapow! I take off after him, swinging my bag o’ beans in wide circles like a Spanish bola, gaining momentum as I run. His back is to me so he doesn’t see me coming. He’s about to push the doors open to leave, when I make contact with his head. I bean him smack on his right ear and he howls like a banshee.

Big trouble: He whips around and screams in my face, “Hey! What the hell did you do that for!” (Is he kidding me?) It was then I notice he has a buddy with him. I back up as the two of them clench their fists and start walking toward me, their eyes locked on mine.

Solo act: Now don’t forget, Hubsey is upstairs enjoying his bacon-on-a-bun, oblivious to the rumble in the jungle downstairs, so he’s no help. My niece is still in teenage shock with her feet super-glued to the floor. Thankfully she’s turned to stone and stays put! It’s late afternoon in the market with not many people around. Truthfully, it all happened so fast, I can’t remember to this day if there was anyone who witnessed the assault, except my niece and me. But I digress.

Oh no! As the two thugs get closer, I can’t drop my beans and run, leaving my petrified niece there, so I have to think fast. All I know, is that I’m on my own to defend myself. I’m a small woman with no real physical strength or black belt credentials, so all I can hope for is insanity.

Release the hounds! So I stand my ground and face them dead on, legs apartth  in an aggressive stance while I scream obscenities and wave my fists in the air. (Like the way you do to make yourself bigger to scare away wild animals in the woods.) I go totally berserk and don’t budge an inch from my spot. My face is red-hot and I’m spitting saliva as I spew forth my venom, calling them all the vile words I can muster.

Eureka! Well, I’m happy to say it worked and the two thugsters look at each other, turn on their heels and leave the building…muttering something about a crazy bitch.

My violent past: I am not a violent person and I have never in my life hit another human being…other than my brother-of-the-broom incident of course…and oh yes, the time I punched my boss in the stomach. But that’s a story for another day.

A black place: The experience at the market rattled me for weeks. It wasn’t just the physical assault on me that kept me awake nights, although that was bad enough. It was my blind-rage reaction that scared the green beans out of me; a sheer black rage that brought forth that scary witch who came screaming out of my body to seek vengeance for what he had done to me. No woman should ever tolerate sexual assault in any form. And more women should bring forth their inner scary witch, or their own personal bag o’ beans weapon when it happens.

Buried deep: I don’t know from whither she came and thankfully, I’ve had no need of her services since then. Something tells me she would resurface if my daughter or granddaughter were in jeopardy. But she’s one scary broad and it’s no wonder that those two losers thought better of taking her on. Although in retrospect, I think they were supremely hung over and just wanted the screaming to stop and the drinking to begin.

Pressure cookers: I guess we all have a bit of that black rage simmering quietly below the surface. Some control it better than others. Some don’t control it all. And some get sick from holding it all in, in an effort to keep the lid from slipping off. There’s a fine line here as individual as each one of us.

Final word: My green bean story has gone viral in my family over the years and as I recently started writing my memoirs, it was time to write it down. We all have pieces of ourselves we will never get to know. Sometimes, those pieces are better left alone. As for me, I was frightened by my aggressive actions, but sometimes it takes a bag o’ beans in the ear to show them you mean business.

So that’s my tale, it’s sad but true,
He groped my boobs, what could I do?
I whacked that deadbeat in the head!
He should have grabbed my beans instead.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

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Arriving Naked

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RetirementTelling Lies: During the 1980’s when conspicuous consumption was the flavour of the decade, an insidious marketing slogan saturated our spongy boomer-brains like a pop-culture virus. It promised us freedom from life’s miseries when we arrived at the magic age of fifty-five. We aspired to live like the advertisements and longed to become the beautiful retirees lounging in oceanfront hot-tubs and roaming the golfing green pastures of everlasting fun in the sun. But life is full of Mrs. Cleaver’s sweater-sets and pearls until one day reality comes of age and bites you on your assets.

Reality Check: Now we find ourselves in an ongoing economic downturn where many people are ‘fretting 55’ instead of planning their escape route into nirvana. Like programmed humanoids, we continue to think that if we aren’t rich and free by middle-age, we have failed in our life’s mission to hurry up and do nothing. Get real folks!

Easy Money: In the 1970’s, financial institutions came out of their cash-closets and made it easy for people to borrow money. Since then, credit has been increasingly used to supplement income so we could all buy now and pay later. Years later! And even today, boomers still hold the biggest bag of debt.

Time to Pay: So what are we going to do about it? Stop whining for starters. Stop spending and start living a life we can afford…especially as we age. Debt makes the lenders rich, not the customers. So it’s up to boomers to cut the crap and the plastic.

Empty promises: Exacerbating the whole credit issue is the repository of bare bones left buried in so many savings portfolios. With the downturn in the economy and interest rates, much of our anticipated nest eggs have been cracked open and left to rot in dried up investment pools. If I hear, “You have to think long term,” one more time, I‘ll barf up my worthless stock certificates. It’s the standard line used by investment hounds to keep your hard earned pennies from escaping into the nearest woolen sock.

Taking Charge: So how do we know when it’s time to relax a bit and switch gears? Sometimes we make a conscious choice and sometimes it whacks us up the side of the head. In today’s climate, most people need or want to work after 55. And with the future of our government pension plans up for grabs, and more companies opting out of cushy pension perks, there should be honour in working at whatever we want to for as long as we can.

Arriving Naked: But starting over and exploring new options after decades in the workforce – whether by choice or not – is a scary thing to do. Who are we without our retired job titles, our network of contacts and our social grids? It’s like being reborn at mid-life and arriving naked without a business card. I left the raw-bone stresses of my corporate job for health reasons when I was in my fifties. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I plunged into my post-corporate life and reinvented myself to become a writer. I let go and never looked back.

Digging Deep: Finding new ways to live and work can be a daunting experience as we age. But every one of us is standing on a mountain of life experiences. Whether it’s setting out to find a passion we want to follow, or doing an about-face into a new career or volunteer position – it’s all good. We just have to go deep and be fearless.

Anything Goes: Many seniors are taking on jobs in retail and service industries, after years in a professional workforce. Some need the money and some simply need a place to go each day. Either way, if that means slinging java at a coffee shop, becoming a neighborhood crossing guard or doing the meet-and-greet thing at a department store, why the hell not? There’s less stress, simple hours, and at some places – a cool uniform.

Freedom to Choose: Each one of us should have the courage to choose when the time is right to arrive at our various destinations in life – naked or not. Freedom is about living life to the fullest; the good and the bad of it and on our own terms. It’s about choosing our lifestyles wisely and having the courage to simplify when we have to. And it’s about not thinking too hard if we have to back-up to go forward.

Bottom Line: So is there freedom after fifty-five you ask? Damn right there is! It’s all in our head!

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

Check out my children’s books at www.pressheretostartpublishing.com

 

The Red Angel

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I need to tell you a story:   

Prologue: The other day, I sat in the lobby of my condo building waiting for Hubsey to pick me up at the front door. As I sat on the bench, I admired the beautiful Christmas decorations all around me. A team of dedicated volunteers take time out of their lives every year to do this, and it truly is spectacular…inviting and festive to all residents and visitors who come through the lobby.

Main character: An elderly woman I didn’t know was sitting beside me, and I commented on how beautiful everything looked. She harumphed and said, “I hate that red angel on the top of the tree.”

The lines in the woman’s face deepened as she glared at the angel and added, “They should have put a white one, or a gold one, but not that cheap looking thing! It ruins everything!”

Point of view: Now the tree had to be 15 feet high, so from where I was sitting I had to really squint to see the details of this monstrosity she was talking about. But what I saw was a beautiful angel in a red velvet dress trimmed with white fur, sporting a set of magical feathery white wings. She was beautiful and angelic as angels should be, and simply perfect for the treetop.

Motivation: I thought about this woman for the rest of the day…I’m still thinking about her. Why was she so unhappy with this red angel and how could it possibly “ruin everything” as she said. And while I know deep down it wasn’t about the angel at all, I can’t help but wonder  what made her see the little red angel in that particular way?

Perhaps her children don’t call at Christmas?
Perhaps she deals with pain every waking moment?
Perhaps her shoes were too tight?
Perhaps Santa has forgotten her too many times?
Perhaps she is lonely?
Perhaps her father was a nasty drunk every Christmas?
Perhaps all her old friends have died?
Perhaps she has outlived her money?
Perhaps the colour red makes her see red?
Perhaps she was simply constipated?

Epilogue: Whatever the reason, the fact remains that we see the world from where we sit…together with all our glory and carbuncles. And our view is distorted by the amount of baggage we choose to drag along behind us.  Life’s a bitch, there’s no doubt about that! It’s how we deal with the successes, failures and challenges that defines how we see life’s ever changing landscape.

Serendipity: Coincidentally, someone tweeted this picture recently, which I would like to share with you. I don’t know the tweeter, so I apologize if I am using the picture without permission, whoever you are. But it’s a great message and if I knew who the woman was that I met in the lobby, I would stick it under her door. It’s never too late to see the beautiful red angels in our lives.

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See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

 

 

 

 

 

A Trumped-Up Tale

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yellow-snkaeAs a storyteller, I love a good allegory. And when I recently heard a poem called “The Snake,” well you can just guess who came to mind. I wondered how many American voters were reading this story to their children and grandchildren.

It’s a tale based on Aesop’s Fables and has been told in various forms for over 2500 years. These lyrics were written in 1963 by singer/songwriter and social activist, Oscar Brown Jr.

This is an excerpt from Brown’s version:

 

The Snake

On her way to work one morning,
Down the path along side the lake,
A tenderhearted woman saw a poor half frozen snake.
His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew.
“Poor thing,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you.”

“Take me in tender woman.
Take me in, for heaven’s sake.
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake.

She wrapped him up all cozy in a comforter of silk,
And laid him by her fireside with some honey and some milk.
She hurried home from work that night and soon as she arrived,
She found that pretty snake she’d taken to had been revived.

She clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful, ” she cried.
“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died.
“She stroked his pretty skin again and kissed and held him tight.
Instead of saying thanks, the snake gave her a vicious bite.

“I saved you, ” cried the woman.
“And you’ve bitten me, but why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die.”
“Oh shut up, silly woman, ” said the reptile with a grin.
“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

Juxtapositions: So of course when I read this poignant poem, I thought of the poisonous orange snake with a comb-over conning Americans to take him into the White House. But when I did a bit of research on the poem, I was shocked to see that The Donald himself had been using the poem earlier this year at his rallies! He would recite the poem and then grin and ask the audience, “Right? Does everyone sort of get it?”

OMG! While I immediately envisioned Trump as the venomous snake, I was horrified to learn he was using the allegory to represent terrorism and refugees were the snake! Oscar Brown passed away in 2005, but his family demanded that Trump cease and desist using these lyrics in his rallies. The family said that if Brown were still alive, he would be on the “polar opposite side” of Trump.

Snake oil salesman: So there most certainly IS a deadly viper in this election, conning voters to trust him and saying what they want to hear…which changes with his audience du jour. While many Trump voters are politically and selfishly motivated, there are millions of others who are voting for him out of a blind rage over their diminished lives and see this as a chance to get back at those they see as responsible. These poor misguided Trumpsters and Trumpettes see this damaged man as their savior-in-chief. Some actually compare him to Jesus! What’s up with that? I think there must be a toxic Kool-Aid substance being filtered into the US water supply! The other day, I read that voting for Trump is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders!

Caveat Emptor: Among a litany of other things, Trump thinks Hillary doesn’t have the stamina (aka penis) to be president. But if I were living in the US, I would be running as fast as I can toward the only sane candidate in this race. By the way, you know Mr. Deplorable doesn’t really WANT to be president. He just wants to be able to SAY he is president.

So, my American friends, if by some horrifying twist of fate, President Donald gets to slither into the oval office and bites you in your pathetic regrets – remember, you knew damn well he was a snake, before you took him in.

Right? Does everyone sort of get it? Donald Trump sure doesn’t!

 

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

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10 Senior Secrets Unplugged

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baby boomerAll hail my aging flower children!  Oh get a grip…you know you are, even if Miss Clairol is still your best friend. I have some inside secrets to share with you today;  real living-large secrets to help us through the crusty/rusty years. And I don’t mean the obvious stuff like eating right, getting regular exercise and seeing your doctor. I’m talking about the hard core, inside scoop on making everyday count and being the best we can be.

10 Top Senior Secrets

1. Crush it!  Chalky-type pills and vitamins can be difficult to swallow.  Cutting them in half doesn’t work because the sharp edges can slice your throat with surgical precision on the way down. Try using a mortar and pestle to crush the pills and put the powdery residue in your tea. So easy peasy!  (Check with pharmacist before doing this with prescriptions.)

2. Extend it! If you’re having trouble bending over to get your shoes on, there are extendable shoehorns on the market. Most extend to 24 – 30 inches and retract 12 – 18 inches. But there is one product called, Ease Squeeze that extends to 32 inches and retracts to 6 inches, so you can put the shoehorn in your pocket for visiting and medical checkups etc. Have shoehorn, will travel!

3. Pump it!  As we age, we lose circulation in our extremities while we sleep. Before getting out of bed, pump your fists open and closed for a few minutes and circle your ankles around in various positions to get the blood flowing before you get up. Works wonders for low blood pressure too. Play it safe!

4. Poop it! As you learned in The Scary World of Aging, when we get older, our hair gets whiter and our poop gets tighter. Ground flaxseed in your daily diet guarantees that you will hear the voice of angels on a regular basis. Try it in oatmeal, salads and in your baking.  Hallelujah!

5. Surf it! Learn  to use the Internet for more than sending jokes. Surfing around the world can do wonders for your outlook and feelings of connectivity with the universe. Research shows that more seniors than ever are using the Internet and Facebook to stay connected with friends and family. So get your surfboards out and let your fingers do the talking. Kowabunga!

6. Pluck it! Listen up codgers. You simply have to own a good magnifying mirror to check for rogue follicles. Women – check your chin, upper lip, neck and (dare I say it) your boobs for stray whiskers. Men – for all that’s holy, check your nose and ears for overgrown tufts and mini-bushes. All together now…pluck, shave, tweeze, clip, wax and do what it takes to search and destroy. Zap the nasty beggars.

7.  Say it! It’s easy for the voice of seniors to get lost in the loud noises made by the many masters of the universe. What we have to say matters and we need to make ourselves heard. Don’t just complain to your spouse and family. Tell your MP’s and town councillors, write a letter to the editor,  call the people at the top and don’t give up until you make contact. Don’t tread softly and always carry a big stick!

8. Use it! Do you have  “good things” sheltered away in a dusty old cedar chest waiting for special occasions? Newsflash! Every day is a special occasion as we enter the dawn of the golden era.  So don’t save it…use it or give it away. You can’t create memories with something that isn’t active in your life. Our “things” are only as precious as the memories they create. Share the joy so you can see the joy!

9. Stretch it! Okay, so I’m a big supporter of yoga for seniors as per my Dem Bones Dem Bones post. But seriously, if you only try one item on my list, make it this one. Choose a class that teaches  “therapeutic yoga” and get the best physiotherapy ever. This type of yoga will teach you how to scan your body for stress, how to safely exercise and stretch your back, muscles and joints – and how to  breathe energizing life back into your body . Ommmmm…

10. Hear it! It’s easy to become disconnected in group conversations as we age. It can be challenging to keep up with how fast everyone seems to speak, as our ear-intake valves slow down. But if we compound that factor with hearing loss, it’s a downhill slide into isolation, as our ability to interact with others deteriorates. We shouldn’t let our vanities and intolerance for change, keep us from getting hearing aids. Listen up and stay involved!

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See you between the lines,
Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene 

My Dirty Little Secret

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Cover16I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this!

I’ve chosen today to blab about my secret because I need some serious frivolity in my life. I’m going a little batty in this heat, trapped inside my condo with the AC cranked up. Plus I’m exhausted from listening to recent world events and disgusted by what I’m seeing in U.S politics. So bear with me as I create a diversion and tell you something I never talk about. Something I thought would go to the grave with me. Something I hide in my biggest sock under the bed.

Just say it!
Okay here goes…I love watching The Young and the Restless. There, I’ve said it and now my secret is in your hands.

I’ve been a fan of this soap opera for over 35 years. Obviously when I was working, I wasn’t a regular viewer as we didn’t have PVR’s back then and thankfully I had no idea how to work our VCR. But occasionally I would catch up and see an episode or two during holidays or on a sick day. There was always a degree of shock and awe, as I gobbled up the outlandish story lines where life was even more manipulating and bizarre than the corporate jungle where I spent my days.

Oh the drama!
But now that I’m retired and at home, I admit to taping and watching every episode. And after each daily plot shocker, I go to bed pondering the real meaning of life. I think about big questions, like how many times has Victor divorced and remarried his beloved Nikki, and will she take him back yet again? When will poor trusting Jack realize his scuzzy wife is having an affair with his younger brother Billy? And will Phyllis ever forgive Victor for replacing her husband with a doppleganger on her honeymoon? All this and more – dishing daily on The Young and the Restless.

Blowing soap bubbles
I’m happy to say, watching the lives of the Newmans and Abbots on this show has most certainly not been a waste of my time. A wide array of valuable life lessons have bubbled up over the years from the brilliant writing on this show, and  I’d like to share some of my learnings with you:

  • Contrary to medical reports, complete face transplants are performed all the time.
  • It’s quite normal to marry your stepmother, your sister’s brother and your father-in-law.
  • Amnesia is far more commonplace than we realize and happens routinely every day.
  • An evil twin has many lives and is much harder to kill than a good twin.
  • A coma is a medical state that occurs when someone is about to reveal a big juicy secret.
  • It’s normal for kids to skip from toddler to teenager in 15 months.
  • Breaking into a lab to change DNA/paternity test results is a piece of cake.
  • It’s fashionable to wear winter boots in the house and put your feet up on the sofa.
  • It’s glamorous to sleep in full make-up and a lacy under-wire bra. 
  • A non-pregnant woman can be drugged into believing she just gave birth to a baby.
  • Just because people watch you die and attend your funeral, doesn’t mean you’re dead!
  • And my personal favourite – it’s okay to lock someone up in a cage in your living room or abandoned warehouse for months on end. (Don’t these people ever poop?)

Final word:
So there you have it…a few important lessons I would never had known, had I not invested the time and energy to watch this important program over more than three decades. And judge me as you will, but you have to agree – I would never have acquired this type of sophisticated knowledge on the PBS or History channels. I’m just saying…

Now I know there are many more of you out there hiding in your soap cupboards. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

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Pat Skene

What Trump Can Teach Our Children

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video.yahoofinance.com@9c23c68e-8d3a-3e99-9f67-2dee284c5d71_FULL“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”

“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”

“Women, you have to treat them like shit.”

Yes, The Donald really said those things.

I am probably the least political person I know. But even as a Canadian, I can’t help but get caught up in the Trump madness of the US elections. If this was a movie, we would all be unable to suspend our disbelief that such batshit crazy things could be said and done, by a person running for the highest office in the land.

Trumpkins take notes! However, as in most things, there are learnings to be had –  if you examine the stinking piles of turds left behind by the biggest and loudest raging bull out there in the field of dreams. So gather your little trumpkins  around, and let’s talk about what Mr. Trump can teach our children. Forget your family values and pay attention.

Teachers listen up! You may want to incorporate these behaviours into your school policies. Perhaps the education system has been wrong all along. Could it be that your entire code of ethics has been nothing more than an attempt to teach our children mutual respect and common decency?

Top 10 Tips From The Trump School for Kids

  1. Give other students nasty nicknames and belittle them at every opportunity, to make you feel important.
  2. Disrespect the girls in your class by calling them fat pigs, dogs and disgusting animals.
  3. If someone doesn’t agree with you, ask one of your friends to punch them in the face.
  4. Tell your teachers to build walls in the school yard, to separate the undesirable kids who are different from you.
  5. Report anyone who disagrees with you to the principal, and have the loudmouth expelled, while you scream, “Get’em outta here!”
  6. When you lose at something, never take responsibility. Always blame the other guy for cheating you out of your win.
  7. When you’re at a school sports competition, get some fist fights going between the teams to stir things up.
  8. Accuse others of lying as often as you can, but tell the biggest whoppers of the bunch and never back down or tell the truth.
  9. When you’re writing an essay for school, don’t bother checking your facts. Just write whatever comes into your head.
  10. Be vindictive toward any student or teacher who speaks out against you, and pledge to make their lives a living hell.

Final word: So there you have it – a roadmap for your little Trumpkins on how to become a successful loud-mouthed, egotistical bully just like Donald Trump. They may even end up on national television one day…bragging about the size of their manhood during a political debate. But then again…does anyone really care?

I do..I really, really do!

God bless us every one, and may God forgive America!

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

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Leaf Blower Blowback!

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It’s that time of year again when we shake, rattle and roll to the sounds of spring. 

My rant du jour is all about those insidious leaf-blowing contraptions engaged in the ritual of combat gardening. And most days it does sound like a war zone out there, as men prepare to battle mother nature with leaf-blowing devices strapped to their bodies like missile launchers.

Few inventions in history have been as useless and annoying as the leaf-blower…in my not-so-humble boomer opinion.

It’s bad enough when spring is sprung, that we endure the onslaught of noise from gas mowers, whipper snippers, hedge trimmers, lawn tractors, and all things garden beautiful. But when we add the incessant roar of leaf-blowers to the mix, it’s enough to make a person escape to the bottom of the pool for quiet relief…like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate!

Now besides the ear-shattering, brain twisting noise, what’s so bad about leaf-blowers you ask?

1. Pollution: A 2 cylinder gas engine leaf-blower is a major contributor to pollution. It creates 299 times more hydrocarbon emissions than a pickup truck and 93 times more than an average sedan. Seriously!

2. Allergies and illness: In addition to pollution, wind blows from the nozzle of an average gas leaf-blower at approximate speeds of 180 MPH. It pulverizes everything it comes in contact with, releasing air clouds of dust, dirt and contaminants into the air we breathe:  contaminants like mould, bird and rodent feces, fungal spores, insect eggs, pollen, and toxic chemicals from lawns and gardens…all right up into our noses!

3. Danger to workers: Not only can the force of wind from the blower throw rocks at cars and people, workers are not always well protected from the hazards of using this equipment. But ironically, workers themselves strongly favour using them. Perhaps a bit of manhood symbolism is at play here…or maybe your garden variety gorillas are just too damn lazy to use those archaic things known as brooms and rakes!!!FHQJfVigUmmAANu-556x313-noPad

4. Poppycock: Leaf blowers have been banned in many communities throughout the United States and Canada. There are ongoing online petitions nationwide to expand the ban of these ridiculously annoying devices. But lawn and garden companies continue to fight back hard, citing efficiencies as the main point of reason…clean-up will take more time with rakes and brooms and therefore, more expensive to the user etc. Can failure to manage leaves with leaf-blowers mean unattractive lawns, falling home prices and perhaps the end of civilization as we know it? Sheep dung! I have watched the leaf-blower operator outside my condo numerous times, as he chases a single leaf back and forth across the parking lot in an effort to blow it into a sewer grate or back into the garden! How can that be more efficient than bending over to pick the blasted thing up or sweeping it into a bag?

5. Big money: The proliferation of leaf-blowers has more to do with marketing than efficiency. They are cheap to produce, priced to sell and aggressively marketed. This device was originally invented in the late 1950’s for use as an agricultural crop duster. From there it evolved into a leaf clean-up tool in the fall, to the current use – the ubiquitous summer weapon attacking our summer peace and quietude. The real function of leaf blowers is to line the pockets of the corporations that make them. For shame on them and all of us who buy them!

Final word: The humble rake and the much-forgotten broom offer so much more to the user than the mind-numbing noise of the leaf-blower. Rakes and brooms are quiet, more precise, far more tenacious – and help the operator keep fit by offering an excellent form of exercise while burning at least 50 calories per half hour. And as an effective peacekeeper, rakes and brooms would never think of blowing crap into your neighbour’s’ yard!

Long live rakes and brooms! Long live a peaceful summer!

I’ll see you between the lines.
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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

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For The Love of Clowns!

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closeup_color_clown_vector_154422Okay, listen up! As I sit here propped up by my funny bone, I’m thinking about clowns. Oh get a grip all you wackadoodle clown-hating people out there. I’m talking about the good old-fashioned kind of clowns; the big footed Bo Bo’s that made us laugh before they morphed into twisted freak shows.

Good clowns: Some people feel a cold wetness, like a leaky grave, when they think of clowns. But when I think of clowns, I remember the Ringling Circus clowns in baggy britches doing walkabouts in the hippodrome between acts, and making me giggle until cream soda gushed out of my nose. I think of the endearing pantomimes of Red Skelton’s tramp clown, ‘Freddie the Freeloader,’ who made my whole family laugh and cry with his brilliant TV performances. And I think of rushing home from school to watch Clarabell the Clown cause all kinds of horn-honking mischief on the Howdy Doody Show. Yes, I’m that old and those were the clowns of my generation.

Bad clowns: Okay, so maybe these ‘Joeys’ do have a gruesome past. Centuries ago, clowns were crude and often gruesome entertainment for adults, not meant for children. And we did have a few bad seeds over the ages that gave Chuckles a twisted rep. Unfortunately, we seem to remember those more than the many who made us laugh.

Freaky clowns: Sadly clowns around the world have been victimized by the movie industry, producing clown-hating psychological horrors like Stephen King’s ‘Pennywise Dancing Clown’ in IT and the mind-rotting antics of ‘Twisty the Clown’ in American Horror Story. After seeing these violent graphic images, they become recorded in our brains, and remain in a constant state of replay, replay, replay…making it difficult for many to separate fact from fiction.

Clown sickness: We even have a name for this irrational fear of clowns…coulrophobia! And while clown-fear is spreading at an alarming rate, thankfully it is not recognized as an official disorder. (No, you cannot take sick time from work!)

Send in the clowns: Early in my lifetime, clowns clomped around in exaggerated shoes and made us laugh as masters of slapstick and pure silliness. And even today, bullfighter clowns are the brave souls who risk life and butt to save rodeo riders from being stomped to death, by some angry snot-snorting bovine with his balls in a twist! And really…is there anything funnier than a gazillion clowns tumbling out of a small car? C’mon Coulrophobics…loosen up and admit the humour in that one.

Bravo! In my view you’ve simply got to be a great person to dress up like a clown, hidden behind all that tomfoolery, and simply want to make people laugh…not kill, maim or drop from the bedroom ceiling in the dead of night to slice you into bloody bite-sized chunks…but simply make you laugh.

Final word: Harry S. Truman once said, “Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.”

But I’ll bet if a clown did it, it would crack you up and release you from the dark side.

Now don’t wait for a fresh turd to cross your path – come into the light and let a good old-fashioned clown make you snort cream soda out of your nose.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

 

Is Cursive Writing Obsolete?

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imagesCursive writing is dying and kids can’t sign their names.
This sentence hurts my heart. There is a strong school of thought that believes penmanship is an obsolete skill that kids will never need.

How did we let this happen? For some time now, most schools in North America no longer teach cursive writing as part of the school curriculum. Rather, basic printing and typing skills are favoured instead. Now I realize we live in a digital age and computer passwords have become our identities for accessing personal data. But unlike signatures, which are unique to each individual with their loops, swirls and dots – passwords can be hacked, duplicated and identities stolen.

It’s not enough: I know there is only so much teaching time in a classroom. And students need to learn new skills and become proficient with computers, a much-needed tool in today’s learning environment. But there is a real world outside of the classroom, and there are still many situations where people of all ages need to sign (not print) their names, hopefully not with an X. In my view, the very basic form of writing in any civilized society should still be a core learning for every child.

The nuts and bolts of it: How will this generation sign passports, bank documents, last will and testaments, or personal legal documents? How will they write a cheque or read a letter from their grandparents? How will they write Christmas Cards, or is this obsolete now too? Will they ever need to write a letter of condolences or congratulations to a dear friend? In some of life’s circumstances, a printed note or text message just doesn’t do the trick. Are we relying on computers, retinal scans, fingerprint technology and other digital identifiers to totally replace our individuality as flesh and blood human beings?

Talk to the hand: My mother had beautiful penmanship. And I’m proud to say, I have developed a nice writing style over the years, similar to hers. When I sit down to begin a new book project, I always write my initial thoughts by hand. There is a strong connection between the pen in my hand and the creative process in my brain, and I don’t move to the keyboard until this connection has been fully explored.

It’s important: For children, learning cursive writing not only stimulates the brain and helps to develop fine motor skills – it gives them back that uniqueness that is so easy to lose in the ubiquitous world of computers. So let’s get back to basics here and do what we can to encourage those in the educational system to bring cursive writing back into our children’s classrooms.

Double dog dare: And to all those who say…it’s a waste of time, it’s obsolete, they’ll never use it…I challenge you to try not using your signature (or cursive writing of any kind) at home and at work for at least one full month…and get back to me on that!

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See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

Check out my books at www.pressheretostartpublishing.com