What do you give a senior person as a gift.

It seems simple when we, being older people, say we don’t want gifts, we have everything we need. You may have read in a previous blog about my feelings about celebratory days. Therefore you would know I do not rate them as a priority in my life. Having said that I like to be spoiled the same as most people. To feel loved and pampered is so uplifting. It is a motivation to keep living, especially for those who are ill or those whose lives are sad and lonely.

The type of gift is what is important here. In todays world, particularly in our lucky country many of us own our home, have money to buy what we need and as we age we need a lot less. I only speak for myself in this post but I do think that if you give the following it will be appreciated.

Time is what we want, whether it be time spent with those who makes us happy or time spent doing the activities or the hobbies we enjoy. Time to be heard and time to reminisce. What we need is to feel respected and loved. By this I personally mean we like to think we are of value and our experiences and insights gained over the years have not been wasted.

I am sure a lot of us remember back when we were teenagers or young adults and thought of our parents as old, unwise, out of touch and intolerant. I can recall these feelings on some occassions.

I am now old enough to realise how thoughtless and even cruel that was. I did not value the time I had with the people who knew the most about me. I did not respect the experiences and the knowledge they gained through the multitude of changes they went through over there existence. I had not experienced the hardships of war and the depression. I had not lived through several pandemics I had not experienced death and destruction. I often think about the confusion of migration and the introduction of new cultures and traditions. In addition to this I wish I knew more about their lives as children, what toys they had, what they did with their friends. We will never ever really know what the world was like before we entered it, if we rely only on books or google to enlighten us. Talking to an older person will give you so much more colour, depth and yes maybe a little license will be taken with the story but it will be worth it. Life was so different in generations before us. It has only been in recent times that I have taken the time to think about this. What I do know is I now regret by own lack of insight.

Next time you are thinking what can I give grandma or the elderly neighbour or anyone for that matter, buy the chocolates, the flowers or the new appliance they may need but pair that offer with a visit, a phone call or an invite for coffee. The exchange will be more than worth it for you and I assure you the person receiving will value that time above everything else.

What is a successful life

Is there a difference between achievement and success

Ken and I have just had a discussion about the privilege of being able to sit out in our own garden with a bottle of wine warming ourselves in front of a pit fire chatting about anything and everything.The discussion turned to being proud of what we have achieved in life. Nothing like wine for a bit of self praise. Ken is a pretty humble guy so I found myself having to convince him that we have achieved a lot. I sat there listing what I believe are his achievements and he minimising each thing as normal and ordinary. He then proudly points out my achievements and I, maybe less than him, I write them off as ordinary.

What i want to discuss is what I believe is success. Bare with me here as this ramble is a bit self indulgent. Recently in a zoom discussion a group of friends were doing questions and answers. The question – What does success mean to you? Most answered happiness or financial security, a good career. I value those things and I do relate them to success. I had not really thought about the question beforehand and when I answered off the cuff I had to later query myself. My answer was, “Getting to this age and still being alive” Am I answering the same question or am I talking about my achievements? Is there a difference?

The dictionary definition of success is ” the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” an example of this may be,

A person has just walked to the end of the street with the specific purpose of getting to the end — success.

The dictionary definition of achievement is ” a thing done successfully with effort, skill or courage” the same example with a slight difference.

A person with only one leg has just walked to the end of the street with the specific goal of getting to the end—achievement

If we take these words literally we could be quietly destroying our confidence. We all have an aim or a purpose for each day of our life. We wake each day with a to do list and at the end of the day the tasks are not all completed. do we render ourselves as failures or do we consider ourselves successful with what we did finish.A negative person will head toward failure but a positive person will be successful. My belief is we are all successful in the fact that we are still functioning at the end of every single day. Life can be hard with many hurdles to jump. Every time we get to the other side of those obstacles we have achieved.

The reason we think we are not successful or feel we have not achieved comes from the reality that these words are often used to describe status. When we think of status we immediately relate to financial security, financial freedom, power or position, recognition and validity.

Many years ago I remember a day when I felt l had not achieved or been successful very much in my life. That day was a negative one and I decided after that to think a little more about what exactly was success. I thought about what was important to me as opposed to what everyone around me thought. I remember back to my mother and her last years. Unfortunately she had a difficult life and was still renting and struggling financially right up until her death. She was also ill and in pain so her last years were not happy. I remember thinking then that I did not want to be reliant on the government and I did not want to have the insecurity of not having a roof over my head so this thought process was my motivation to try to achieve some financial security.I feel an element of success because there was a purpose for getting to that position. It is however something that I have achieved but do not think about it as an achievement. I think about getting my accountants degree under quite difficult circumstances so I do count that as an achievement as it took courage and a whole lot of effort to obtain it. I am valued by my present employer and I count that as an achievement because I have learnt the skills to be good at what I do.

My husband worked for over 25years with a very large company with thousands of employees. When the company finally closed its doors he was the last person left to finalise everything. He was not the CEO or the financial guru, he was the warehouse manager and he was a dedicated, hard working, loyal employee who they trusted. Ken has been an amateur astronomer since he was a boy. He is well respected by his peers. He has co-authored two books on astronomy and co-authored and published other astronomy magazines. One annual publication has been produced 31 years running and is highly regarded in the industry.

Together we ran a successful small business for 18 years with loyal staff who are still our friends. Our customers openly praised our business and again some are still our friends. We did not become outrageously rich from this but certainly helped to gain some financial security in our old age.

Ken and I have been married for 52 years and we are happy with our lives. He has been my whole life since I was 16yrs old. He is my mentor, my security and my only love. We own our own home and we have travelled both local and overseas. Our achievement here is that we are still together we are still respectful of each other and we are still happy. We have 2 daughters who are still talking to us and hopefully will be active in our lives until the end. We are enjoying our retirement. We are not rich in money or famous, neither are we distinguished or decorated.

We are however very rich in life. I call this an ongoing successful existence with many achievements.

Have you thought about this question and what do you think is important?

Questioning how we Celebrate.

I want to pre-empt this ramble by saying that I, like most people enjoy the fact that traditional special days allow me the excuse to do something fun with people. I am sure my boss would not understand if I simply asked for a day off because I felt the need to celebrate. Public holidays give me a day off from work or house duties and other allocated days of celebration give me an excuse to eat more cake or to drink more wine. Often with the added pleasure of seeing my friends and families on these days. None of these are bad things and I am not about to advocate for the removal of any of these special occasions. Having said that I have never pushed heavily to celebrate these days because the reasons behind the allocation of these special days simply do not comply with my personal beliefs. Furthermore many of these events are so commercially driven that it makes me angry and disillusioned.

Birthdays

This should be the easiest to understand. We are born, we have no say in the matter, we have no control over how, when or why this occurs.The mother, in fact, is the hero on this day. She is the one is deserving, having spent many months carrying an extra load and doing all the preparatory work for us to enter the world. We then just pop out into the world after many months of complete loving protection. For for this hard work we get to celebrate one day a year for the next how ever many years we stay on this earth. Consider for roughly the next 20 years we still have no control over our lives, in fact it is our parents once again doing the hard yards in keeping us alive during this time. At this point in the discussion I think Mum and Dad should be having “The Birthday” celebration.

I will admit the next 20 years we may, and I emphasis may, earn the right to be recognised and the right to feel appreciated. These are the years some of the human race finally figure out that we have reached adulthood and maybe it is time to stand on our own two feet. We have to start making decisions for our futures. We have to work to cover our own finances, we get to choose how, when and what path we will go down. So the question here is, for this and the next 20 years should we be rewarded and congratulated every single year simply for living.

Now we get to 60 and this is when I do believe we should get to celebrate once a year or for that matter all the time. There are several reasons why. Firstly we got here, that is in itself a huge effort on our part so I feel we deserve some recognition at this point. Every year thereafter is a bonus also worthy of reward. Secondly we may have actually achieved something in our lives, good work ethic, great relationships, financial security. For those who have not had an easy ride up to now, they need to be made to feel hopeful that something good is around the corner. The third reason is if we have been lucky, we will now actually have the time and the finances to enjoy those celebrations we have already had 60 times over but have never necessarily appreciated or understood why we were being congratulated.

Public Holidays

In Australia the government allocates, at the very least, 9 public holidays to celebrate each year. All employers are responsible to pay their employees a full days wage if the public holiday falls on a work day. This of course is in addition to the other 30 odd days a year the employer pays for unworked time off. The employer receives no benefit, no compensation and no production on those days. This is a large cost for the business owner whether it be the government or private enterprise. Of course we as employees will all argue we deserve it. Well that is certainly an argument for another time. There are several reasons for these allocated days and one wonders the significance of these days in the modern world. Let us take a closer look.

  • 4 days are based on religion whether you are religious or not.Therefore many of us are allocated time off to celebrate something that means absolutely nothing to us and in fact it may be something we totally frown upon.
  • 1 day is based on the introduction in Australia of the 8 hour working day back in 1856. Not sure we need to continue to recognise this day 165 years later. I understand it was a major achievement back then but currently the push is for a 4 day working week so the 8 hour day will then be redundant or will we then change the reason for the day off.
  • 1 day is given for the Queens birthday. There are many historical reasons given for why we all are given a day off to celebrate this milestone many years ago. In reality how many people actually reflect on this event on the day allocated and how many people in this country actually support the monarchy.
  • 1 day is given on 1st of January each year was introduced by Caesar partly to honour Janus the Roman god of beginnings. I do find that hard to relate to in todays society. Actually I think we keep this day as it is required as a recovery day from the New Years Eve parties the night before. This makes much more sense to me.
  • 1 day is given to celebrate Australia. For many people, Australia Day is about celebrating the values, freedoms and pastimes of our country. It’s a time for BBQs in the backyard, having a beer with mates and proudly flying the flag. On the surface, Australia Day seems to be about unifying all Australians, and yet ironically, it’s a divisive day for a growing number of people.The controversy of this day is increasing year by year and I wonder how beneficial it is in this modern society.
  • 1 day is given to commemorate the landing at Anzac Cove and is a mark of respect for those who served and sacrificed their lives in the Great War. This is the only one which I feel is warranted as the act of war changes our lives permanently. Many people who live in todays modern world have not experienced or witnessed the atrocities of war. Remembering is what helps us avoid further wars or at the very least reminds us to be prepared for possible controversy which will likely result in war.

The basic fundamental aim of celebration of public holidays is to unite people and to create peace in the world. I question if that is what we are achieving when we celebrate those listed above.

Mothers Day/Fathers Day

Always something I have disagreed with. These and the many other days of recognition are ridiculous in my mind.

Society pressures us to recognise, congratulate and glorify the roles which we ourselves choose to take. I am a mother because I chose to be. I do not agree that the world should celebrate that decision. I believe it is much more meaningful to receive a bunch of flowers or a thank you out of the blue, not when society tells my children that is what they should. How much actual love and thought is put into these days. How much sadness is caused to those who have lost that special person in their life, how much anger when someone is told to honour someone who is not worth honouring. How many memories, some good and some horribly bad are resurrected on these days. I know some people will argue with me on this note and thats fine too but I do not like the abundant commercialism that comes with these declared celebrations or special days.

The dictionary word celebrate means “acknowledge with a social gathering or enjoyable activity” We could do this any day or any time without prompting if we just thought about others before ourselves a little more often than we currently do. I apologise if this post is a little cynical, something that is creeping in as I get older and less tolerant.

Reflections

We would certainly feel lonely and isolated without having planned celebrations and I suppose that is the good side of these accepted traditional days. Special occasions are a reason to connect with others and to feel a part of society. It is often all we need to restore some happiness in a life that is full of sadness or lacks motivation. My preference though is for a little more spontaneity. I have to say I always find the most fun times to be those that are are unexpected. I welcome your comments.

The Pandemic 2020

From My Diary

31st March 2020 I wrote the following words in my diary.

I woke early this morning, just a little worried as things are so uncertain but trying to stay positive. We will get past this with a little patience. The virus is spreading rapidly throughout the world. The government is trying financially to help the many people now out of work, the small business’ that have now closed. The associated mental health problems of isolation and the vulnerability of those in dangerous or difficult situations.Its a tall ask. We have to pull our weight and do what is asked of us. Unfortunately many people are being reckless and putting us all at risk.

Today I visited with our eldest daughter. She suffers from ill health so we are trying to keep her locked down as much as possible as her immunity is quite low. This results in extreme loneliness and fear of the future. My youngest helped out by getting her groceries and dropping them at the door. We all enjoyed  a nice chat even though we were all separated by a screen door. We all need each other at the moment. We are not in total lockdown yet but I feel it is very close. 

Changing to something more positive we have been trying to get back into our walking daily and have managed a couple of days of neighbourhood walks and then one afternoon went for a stroll around Wentworth Falls Lake. Certainly a substantial walk if you do the whole round trip. The weather being mild helped us cover the distance. Some is bush track and other parts are on local roads. The whole walk was long but easy. It cleared the head and strengthened the heart so that’s a good thing for all. It has been raining on and off quite frequently in the last week.  so we have been restricted to the house. Of course the garden needs the rain and we have the pleasure of wondering through the yard so we should not complain but it is a little restricting when activity is at a minimum at the moment. Let us hope we are back to normal living soon.  

Reflection

One thing I have relied on heavily during this time is social media. More me it was Facebook which i personally thought was a good thing prior to the pandemic. In this environment I think it has helped in many ways.There are those who, in the past, have scoffed and said it was a trivial pastime. I will agree it can be trivial and it can be negative, however in this time of social isolation it is interesting to note some of those people who ridiculed previously, are now joining the many many people reaching out for something to pass the time. What I enjoy is the tiny snippets of peoples day to day living, the vast amount of jokes or silly games. The sharing of photo’s, poems, conversations and stories that come from many different walks of life. It is vital at this stage to stay in touch with the world and it is also vital to not let the negativities push you down. 

Around the lake at Wentworth Falls

4th September 2021 – 17 months later the following words were written.

Another of our monthly weekend visits to Wiruna (Ilford) passing without attendance. Cases are averaging 1400 a day now and daily deaths have increased. A small number of people  constantly flouting the rules and keeping us in this situation.The rush is on to get NSW vaccination uptake to 70% double dose. This is when some restrictions will be lifted. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to take up the vaccination. In a democratic society  it  is each  individual persons rite to say yes or no. I can understand that and readily accept that. What I cannot accept is those people who are freely moving around not wearing masks, not keeping distances, travelling where they should not be. The majority of the people dying each day are  not fully vaccinated. The number of people who are sick with Covid is high but the majority are now are managing the virus and this tells us that the vaccine is working. I am not naive and realise that some will die even if fully vaccinated. The idea is to help as many as possible. Thats the best we can do.

We all understand the vaccine will not eliminate Covid but it will help minimise the effects of it. We all know that even when the vaccine rates are high it will not solve the problem but if it eases the problem then it is worth the effort.The world is tired of isolation. People need to interact with others, We all need to work and we all need to feel we are worth something.There is so much  blame being thrown around but we all need to understand it is no one person at fault. This is particular virus is new to all of us, mistakes will be made and we will all learn from them. Everyone, whether it be World Health Organisation, an individual  governments or the  Doctors, and specialists are trying to solve this situation the best they can. Having to deal with disrespectful individuals, hounding reporters and changing scenarios just makes it that much harder.  I wish people were more considerate.

Reflections once again

It is amazing we are still here after so much time of confusion and restriction. We have managed ok and I think we have learned a few lessons. I have had many conversations with friends about what we have all missed out on but more importantly what we have gained. I feel we have learnt the value and the necessity of staying in touch with family and or friends. We have learned we can do things differently with just a little thought and rearranging. I for one have seen the beauty of my surroundings and have discovered simple ways to pass the time. Lets hope I am not adding another virus related story to my diary in the future.

Is anyone every ready to retire?

I wrote these words on 10th December 2014 and filed them away in my laptop. I was obviously contemplating some major moves we were making toward retirement. They are just one hour of one day in my life. For a moment I was sad when I read the words from 5 years ago. Problems and fears will always be there I think the trick is not to dwell too much. Life is constantly throwing us curve balls and most of which we navigate and continue on.

Today I sit in a cafe.The tears roll down my cheek and I brush them away. It is 2014 and I am 62yrs old. Still young enough to have many fun times and many life events. I have never been one to reflect on life whether it be the past, the present or the future. I have never been one to question where or why. I usually accept and move on but this week I have been sad. Nothing is different in my life right now, but I find myself questioning everything. I am trying to look at the positive things I have. I have a great husband, we have a successful business, we have two daughters whom we love dearly.We have our own business with fantastic staff working for us and we are selling our home and building a brand new one. We’re hoping to retire soon and hope to travel and to enjoy our years in a peaceful and serene setting. Then why am I questioning and why am I not happy?

Too many questions. I have never been afraid of being on my own, always thought I would cope with whatever life throws at me, but I have to say the simple things I wanted are slipping away and I have no control over them. I cannot stop ageing, I cannot guarantee good health. I am worried my husband will get sick. My eldest daughter is quite ill and I cannot see an end to it. I have no real knowledge of how my younger daughter is and I can only assume and hope with all my heart she is happy. I am worried if we die, what will happen to both of my daughters. Will they drift further apart, will they support each other. Of course finances are always of concern. Will our new home be what we want, will we be able to travel. Will we be able to sell our business. Will we live long enough to enjoy this new home. Will we be able to afford to do the things we have worked so hard for. Will we have enough money to fulfil our dream of travel to other countries and to explore Australia. I want to try new things and have adventures.
My visions of my ageing life were not like this. I thought we would have healthy children who would be happily married and would have their own children. I envisioned my husband and I being grandparents with lots of beautiful babies to look after. I dreamed of fun holidays, fun Xmas days filled with happiness, laughter, stupid jokes and lots of memories. There would be leisurely lunches with my husband. Dinner parties with my family and friends. Lots of great activities with my anticipated grandchildren. As the years quickly pass by I realise what I want is not always what one gets. I need to accept this and move forward.

My visions have to change. Some of these things i cannot have. This should be just another hurdle to jump. Why is it so hard this time. Am I running out of time. The tears continue until I realise I am the only one who can change what I am feeling.
I am questioning what was meant for me in this life. I am questioning what I have achieved if anything. I know my friends would say the normal moral boosting statements. You are a lovely person, you have great kids and a successful business. You have travelled and have some great friends. You have a nice home and you are about to retire. Yes I agree with those comments and I am grateful for these things, so why am I feeling useless and out of control. I don’t want to be grateful the bloody sun is shining or I am healthy or I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I want to feel like I have achieved something, I want to feel there is a reason I am here. I want to feel alive. I do not want to just exist waiting for the next hurdle and sighing when it’s done.

The writing finishes here and knowing me I would have proceeded with the day and put the thoughts aside for another time. It is interesting to read this now and know that most of my fears and sadness were momentary and were normal. It all passed and there was no ill affects and more importantly it did not kill me. I lived for another drama and more changes.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

So the question are we ever ready to retire is, No. Are we ever ready for any changes in our life, No. What I have learnt over the years is accepting change is easier than we think. The drama of change comes with our own negativity. Once we process the idea and accept the idea clarity is found and the drama becomes normality.