BLESSED AT THE BEGINNING OF LIFE AND AT THE END

Today is the end of the school year here in Manhattan, and while I was out I met Simone who had just picked up her daughter Corey (9 years old) from school. Corey had a big smile when she said,

“You know I am off for the summer now?”

“That’s great!” and without thinking I added “So am I!”

She looked surprised and I went on to explain,

“You know we have that in common. When you are young, like you, you have free time and when you are old….er, like me, you have free time too.”

I don’t think she understood. I gave her a high-five and walking home it occurred to me that there are other things the young and old..er have in common;

  • we have free time
  • we have people who take care of us
  • we have people who love us
  • we are learning – they go to school – we learn from them
  • we don’t have to work
  • we have little or no responsibilities

So being a kid or old…er, like being a Grandmother, are the best of times.

unnamed[4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Always Remember – A Smile Changes Everything

Brigitte

OLDER BUT NOT DOWN AND OUT

Many people under 50 are putting people over 60 in a different category.

I don’t understand why? Because looking around one sees many vibrant, busy, contributing elders around. Some of them are far beyond retirement age of 65, but are still out there making a difference to the world.

Recently I had a chance to change someone’s mind about who we are. It was at the Bottomless Closet where we help women with proper clothes for an upcoming interview. I was helping Sheila, who is in her  40s and is applying for a retail position.

When we were done, I showed her a pretty, glittering top and asked,

“How do you like this?”

“I love it, but it’s not work appropriated, is it?”

“No! But you won’t only work, you can wear this when you go out.”

“You mean when I hang out with my friends in a bar, or restaurant?” and then looking at me a little closer asked,

“Do you still hang out?”

“Of course I do. What makes you think I don’t?” Hesitantly she answered,

“You are retired, right? I just thought ……. retired people don’t do those things anymore!” (I think she meant older but not wanting to hurt my feelings choose to say retired).

“We do – and many other things that would surprise you.”  IMG_2984

 

 

 

 

 

When she left, hugging me she said, “Thanks for your help and the pretty top  —– maybe I see you when I hang out next time?”

Was she telling me she saw retired people differently now?

                                                                     *******

And never forget – A Smile Changes Everything

Brigitte

 

 

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

It’s something we often hear but don’t always do. And I am the first one to admit that sometimes I forget. Fortunately during those moments there is a little light bulb in my head that blinks to remind me of how lucky I am.

One of those times was a  Sunday afternoon. The sky was grey. It was raining and I was driving to Brooklyn to go to the Unique Thrift Shop – not a place where I wanted to be on a  Sunday afternoon, but it was today that they had their 50% off sale. No, I didn’t need $3 off a pair of shoes, but since I shopped there for clothes to give to the homeless at my church, it allowed me to buy a lot more.

Nothing that happened that afternoon improved . The traffic was slow, due to construction, and the rain had intensified, and to make things worse there was no parking. After driving around for a while I found a parking garage two blogs away. Not only did they charge $22 but it made me schlepp my purchases, 4 bags of clothing, through the rain. When I got back to pick up my car, the wait was 20 minutes and no place to take shelter from the rain. I felt miserable.

But on my way home, with the rain still beating against my windshield and the traffic  at snail pace going back to Manhattan my light bulb suddenly went on, and the message flashing through my mind was ‘stop complaining and be glad that you are the one buying the clothes for the homeless instead of being homeless!

                                                                        ************

I recently found this paperweight

Blessings Egypt (2)

It is a good reminder, not just to feel blessed, but to go a step further and count twice whatever and whoever is making our life better.

 And never forget – A Smile Changes Everything

Brigitte

FEAR – DON’T LET IT SPOIL THE MOMENT

This week I attended a meeting of the TheRadicalAgeMovement held at the Ethical Culture Society of NY.

There were close to 100 men and women, anywhere from 60 to 80+++. and one of the topics was “What do you fear the most about getting old?”

The discussion went on for the next three hours, and here are some of the major concerns,

  • that I outlive my money
  • that I will be incapacitated
  • that I will be alone
  • that nobody will take care of me
  • that I am not part of the world any longer
  • that I can’t travel anymore
  • that my friends have all died
  • that I can’t take care of myself

These fears, all of them, or some of them, I think cross every older person’s mind at one time or another. But we must not allow it to take over our life. One woman said,

“I can hardly sleep when I think of my finances?”

“May I ask you if you are having financial difficulties now? I asked.

“No, my accountant says I will not outlive my money. But I can’t stop worrying because one never knows what might happen.”

No, one doesn’t. But let’s stop and think! Isn’t this is true for any situation in life, and at any age? – you never know what might happen?  And haven’t we all heard that worrying changes nothing? Realizing this we should not let an unknown future spoil our today!

I know from my experience that whatever happens in life, life goes on and solutions are found. So maybe now it’s time to smell the flowers (sorry for the cliché) instead of worrying about how they will look when they are wilted.IMG_4003 IMG_2007 IMG_3368

*******

And never forget – A Smile Changes Everything

Brigitte

 

 

 

TRAVELING – KEEP IT LIGHT

Egypt3462-2

It’s the time of the year when suitcases are coming out of the closet and we agonize of what to pack for our upcoming trip.

To make that decision the first thing we have to decide is that under no circumstances do we want to become a slave of our luggage, especially now when we are a little older. Our luggage should never be more than what we can easily move, without needing help. This translates into one medium size suitcase with wheels, and a medium size carry-on.

It’s really important that the  carry-on bag is not too big because if it is and it is packed, often with things that didn’t fit into the suitcase anymore, it becomes very heavy. And walking along the corridors from security to the gate a heavy bag, even if slung over the shoulder can be a drag, adding unnecessary stress. A carry-on bag should only hold things you can’t do without if your suitcase arrives after you – medicine, cosmetics, jewelry, personal papers or anything of sentimental value which would break your heart if you suitcase never arrived.

Now let’s look how you can reduce the weight and make your trip more enjoyable:

  •  wear the same garments a few times – after all  you don’t see the same people during your travels, and even if you did, they don’t care
  • use the laundry services available in most hotels
  • choose easy-care fabrics for your travel wardrobe so  you can wash them in your  bathroom sink at night
  • make sure an item is multi-purpose – if you can only wear it once, don’t take it
  • if you doubt you’ll wear it – don’t take it
  • stick to basics which will go from morning to-night
  • build your wardrobe around one basic color
  • use scarves and custom jewelry to change your look
  • and NEVER take new shoes on a trip  — only the tried-and-true

                                                           ********

When it comes to traveling I am quite envious of the back-pack generation. You know the young people with just a canvas bag on their back? who upon arrival don’t have to wait until half an hour later the conveyor belt finally starts churning, but instead are on their way the minute they leave the airplane.

 Of course at my age I need more than a few t-shirts, underwear, and toiletries (I think that’s all that’s  in those back-packs) but making travel gear as light and functional as possible will make for better traveling at any age.

And never forget – A Smile Changes Everything!

Brigitte

P.S. Before I learned to travel light I was lucky to have a friend help me with my bags – but  that’s the past!

 

 

 

Before sharing my experience about an aid who took care of my mother, I want to say that when the day comes I need somebody around the clock to take care of me I won’t rejoice. It won’t be such a good day. But once over the first chock I will be grateful that there are people willing to do what is not always a pleasant task. Unfortunately it was not how my mother saw it when the time came and Anna moved into her apartment to look after her.

Anna was a kind and gentle soul who had recently arrived in the US from Poland and who spoke little English. My mother complained about it, and when I suggested it would be a worthwhile project for her to teach Anna English her response was,

“I am not here to teach her English, she is here to take care of me.”

They struggled along for the next few weeks and when I came for dinner one night my mother said, “Just so you know I let Anna go to church last Sunday.”

“That was nice of you” I replied  wondering who wanted to get rid of whom? I found out soon enough. I met Anna in the lobby when I was leaving and  after asking her how things were I said,

“I heard you went to church last Sunday! Which church did you go to Anna?”

“Church? Me? No Anna not church, Anna sandwich.”

Anna only stayed for a few more weeks, but I have never forgotten the incident. With a kinder attitude on my mother’s part they could have enjoyed a sandwich together!

********

And never forget – A Smile Changes Everything

BrigitteAlice O'Connor Art 144

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Over-Growing-Older-Positive/dp/069262385X/

P.S. If you have a story to share, I would love to hear it. Please leave a comment or email me – bbnnic@gmail.com – so that we can post it here. Thank you.