Change of Pace

Sorry but I cannot take it anymore – try as I might, I have been unable to come up with a topic that is both informative and worth writing about this morning.

Lately I have been so put out with myself as it relates to my writing. I think about this and that and as is more often the situation, these thoughts come to me when I am not in a place where I can write them down or I am drifting off to sleep and hesitate to get up and jot those thoughts down. The down side of it is that by the time I get to pencil and paper or morning comes around, the muse has left me and all I am dealing with is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and nothing makes much sense.

So, I decided instead to fall back on a topic that always (or at least almost always) brings a smile to my face and gets me in a good mood. That of comedy!

Lately when I do get to read various newsletters, the topics tend to discuss old-timers. Sometimes it is good – other times it is bad – but one thing tends to stand out and that is – it has been recognized that we (notice I have put myself in the grouping of “old-timers”) are not going away.

And why should we? Think about it – there are quite a few advantages to this aging process:

While not there yet, as an old-timer – who knows I may finally get even with my kids for when I had to change their diapers.

Not being in school anymore – we no longer need to get a bunch of shots – although some wise person did have to come up with the idea that it is best if seniors get their flu shots annually and don’t even get me started about the pneumonia vaccine. But it is only once a year.

Remember that old person’s disease (although it has recently been proven that you no longer have to be old to get it) called Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Well now we can insult those people we don’t like any time we want to and they will just write it off as Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Or quite possibly – they will say – don’t think anything of what he just said – that guy is just plain old cranky!

At our age and living in the south, we no longer have to worry about fashion. Fact is that most of us living in the south live in flip flops and shorts. No longer do we have to worry about putting on a suit. And should that day ever come back, it will probably be because we have to attend the funeral of one of our old-timer friends.

And then there is personal hygiene – we soak our teeth in a jar; use deodorant in lieu of showers, and in our attempt to look like some of the well-known actors on TV today, fail to stand close to our razors thus giving us that scruffy look.

We can stay out late if we want to but to us – late is probably making sure we get home after the early bird special at our favorite restaurant and early bird specials are over by 6 PM .

No longer do we worry about sleeping in – the only thing that will happen is that if they don’t see us for two or three days, someone might just come by to see if we are still alive.

We are now at an age that we tend to sit back and enjoy watching our children deal with their teenage kids and wondering how soon they may ask the question: “Were we that bad when we were growing up and if so – “How did you manage to not have a nervous breakdown?”

Of course, there could be a down-side to being old:

On a different note, now that we are old – on days that we do slip away to go fishing, deep down in our hearts we are probably hoping that we don’t catch anything.

Now that we are old, we don’t enjoy food as much anymore because it is probably salt-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and taste-free.

We know that it is possible that on the next pain-free day we have, we may be wearing that suit mentioned above and someone will be saying a eulogy.

And finally, especially after that last down-side about being old, as we age and become older, we come to the realization that, like youth and many other things we have experienced in this life of ours, we will also outgrow old age.

But!!!! Yup – you know me, there is always a but!  In the words of:

Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Until next time!

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What Is Happiness

WHAT IS HAPPINESS?

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” – Kurt Vonnegut

What makes a person happy? Is it when they first wake to a brand new day and after brewing that first cup of coffee, they retire to the front room and just sit there waiting patiently for the sun to rise and become enthralled with yet the beginning of another day?

Or is it the clock striking five PM on a Friday afternoon and the anticipation of spending the entire weekend on a beach sipping margaritas while wiggling one’s toes in the sand on a beach as they sit there listening to the waves beat gently upon the shore.

Truth be told, I would venture to say that most people do not think of such moments near as often as they think of moments that make them sad. Ever wonder why that is? Think about it for a moment. When a person is happy, what are they doing – they are engaged in doing something and as a result do not even know they are happy.

For the most part, I would have to say that looking back over my days/weeks I have quite a few happy moments. Moments such as now while sitting at my computer trying to compose an article to post; or first thing in the morning when I am walking alone with my thoughts; or during our daily line dance practice.

I must admit that I tend to notice the not-so-happy moments far more than I do the happy ones. This is probably because when I am not happy, I tend to become frustrated with myself or with whatever is bothering me and as such, the very thing that is making me unhappy or frustrated comes to the forefront of my mind and does not allow me to think of anything else.

Think about that for a moment! When we are happy, chances are that we are usually lost in whatever it is we are doing (like when I am dancing – one cannot concentrate on anything else because if you do, you lose count of the steps and mess up). And if you are the one doing the teaching, last thing you want to be doing is messing up. When I’m happy, I’m usually lost in doing whatever it is that made me happy and dancing makes me happy. As does walking (because I know it is healthy for me) and writing (putting words on pages is so therapeutic to me).

Back to the quote mentioned in the beginning of this article – it would appear that what Vonnegut is trying to say to us is that we should take work at noticing when we are happy and make note of the times during the day when we feel good about things. In doing so, only then can we commit those particular times to memory so that we get in the habit of performing those things daily thus assisting with the goal of determining what makes us happy.

I mentioned my daily walks and also my line dancing and writing. Even though at times I find it difficult to actually begin some of these activities, fact is that I am usually happy after my daily walk, both during and after our line dance class and definitely after I have sat down and composed any piece of writing that I hope to share with others. In each of these activities, while I may feel somewhat exhausted or exerted, in neither case do I feel overwhelmed or that I won’t be doing that again. I feel the same way when engrossed in a book that I am reading or in playing a game of cards with my wife, or even when we spend two hours on a Wednesday evening playing a domino game called Mexican Train.

It is at times such as these that one truly gets to realize how rich our lives are. The happiness that surrounds us and envelops our mind when doing something that we truly enjoy doing makes one realize just how miniscule those few times that sadness creeps into our lives really is. Those few times of sadness are truly minor in the overall scheme of the big picture. And looking at life in this manner tends to make one feel much better about a lot of things in our life.

When I was an online instructor (in a prior life) I used to mention to students that – in life – nothing is as consistent as change which is true. However, happiness is derived from two particular things: (1) How satisfied you are with your life and (2) How good you feel on a day-to-day basis.

It is the combination of these two things that define how happy an individual is with his or her life. At one time, I would have considered myself to be a true pessimist but over the last decade I have decided to look on the more optimistic side of life. In doing so, I found that being optimistic also tends to help me be happier. And to be quite frank with you, being happier is a lot more fun than being sad.

What about you? Which way do you lean – happy or sad?

My View of the Week

What is your favorite quote of the week? What makes it stand out to you?

Looking back over some of the quotes I reviewed since the first of September, I came up with one of at least nine that seems worthy of repeating if only that it appears to be apropos to our age group. The quote goes as follows:

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one can enjoy the same good things for the first time several times.” – Frederick Nietzsche

It would appear that as we age, in addition to the loss of our hearing, some sight, physical endurance and whatever, our memory tends to play tricks on us every now and then. Hopefully for most of us it will just be the usual old age memory slipping at times only to be there when we actually need it as opposed to early onset Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

What good news, if any, happened in our locale recently?

Believe it or not, looking at various news stories reported in Polk County, FL since the first of September, the only one warranting attention, in this writer’s humble opinion, is the story mentioning the free service recently started to help Polk property owners detect fraud. While this program does not actually prevent fraud, when you register for it, the service will send an email to the registrant any time the owners’ records have been altered. Let’s face it, how many of us think to check on our deeds and so forth to see if anyone has placed a lien or some other encumbrance upon our property. This service will at least forewarn property owners that something has been changed when a change is made to the record on file. Before you say it, I know, many might just say this is but another way for “Big Brother” to get involved in our business. While that may be true, I myself would prefer to be forewarned of such a change early on as opposed to when I am sitting at the closing table expecting to make a clean break of the property being sold only to find there is a lien upon the property that has to be resolved first. Of course, seeing that the county does not view our homes as “real estate” per se, I doubt seriously that this new service will be of any benefit to us.

How many of us are ready for some of our favorite shows to return to television?

I know we are ready for some of our favorites to return. Favorites such as Castle (10 PM – Sept 21 on ABC); NCIS LA (10 PM – Sept 22 – CBS); NCIS (8 PM – Sept 22 – CBS); The Mysteries of Laura (8 PM – Sept 23 – NBC); Hawaii 50 (9 PM – Sept 25 – CBS); Blue Bloods (10 PM – Sept 25 – CBS); CSI (9 PM – Sept 27 – CBS); Bones (8 PM – Oct 1 – Fox); Madame Secretary (8 PM – Oct 4 – CBS); The Good Wife (9 PM – Oct 4 – CBS); CSI Cyber (10 PM – Oct 4 – CBS). True, many of these are mysteries and police/detective shows but believe it or not there are several comedies coming out this fall that we hope to begin watching as well.

What are your feelings about pending Health care consolidations?

I refer to pending mergers, namely Anthem Inc.’s $54 billion bid for Cigna Corp., and Aetna Inc.’s $37 billion proposed acquisition of Humana Inc. Concern is that if approved, Aetna and Anthem would each have about $115 billion in annual revenue and, along with UnitedHealth Group Inc., and thus create a Big Three in control of a large swath of the government and commercial health plan market. As one can imagine there are many parties interested in how this all shakes out and we can be sure that going into 2016, things should be rather interesting in the health insurance field. Only time will tell what the future has in store for us!

Thinking about a better tomorrow – what action plan can be put into action by the end of 2015 that will assist with goals being hoped for in 2016?

Several things come to mind:

(1) Beginning in late October or early November, we should begin gathering income tax data so that taxes might be done early in 2016 (I like to get it over with by the middle of February so that I can move on to other things early in the year).

(2) Put down on paper in early November both short and long-term goals for 2016 and beyond (we may be getting old, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have visions of what we want our future to be like).

(3) Beginning October 15, review all data pertaining to Medicare to make sure if making a switch in 2016, all the facts and figures necessary to make the correct change have been made available for viewing (not my favorite thing to do but at our age – health insurance does become a priority at this time of the year).

(4) Continue to eat healthier and exercise regularly so as to keep in shape thus avoiding any long-term illness or major health problems (we are never too old to change our eating and exercise habits).

(5) Make plans to travel more visiting children and grandchildren at least once but preferably twice in 2016. (The older we get, the more family comes to the forefront of many of the things we do and when they are scattered across the country, planning is a necessity).

Simple plans for a simple life-style!

Until next time!