DOES LOVE MEAN NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY?

What’s your favourite love story? There are so many of course, both in history and literature. Anthony and Cleopatra. Heloise and Abelard. Napoleon and Josephine. And of course the fictional Romeo and Juliet. My favourite is the story of Catherine and Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights. Richard and I visited the Bronte home in Haworth, Yorkshire, when we were in England a few years ago and got to see where the story was penned.

If you are a Boomer, you will of course recall another memorable couple: Jennifer and Oliver, played by Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal in the 1970 film version of Erich Segal’s novel, Love Story. If nothing else, you will remember its haunting tune and the famous line spoken first by Jennifer to Oliver and, later by Oliver to his father following Jennifer’s funeral: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

I was too young at the time to know what this line might mean, but when I did fall in love, I came to the conclusion that it is both true and false. It’s false because we know that, due to the frailty of  human nature, we often make mistakes that sometimes wound those we love most. In these instances it is important that we apologize. On the other hand, as many of us have joyfully discovered, there are times when we have been lovingly embraced fully and completely and unconditionally, without saying a word, even when we did not deserve that love. The love of a parent or dear friend come readily to mind. Think of the story of the Prodigal Son. I have also known spouses to share this special kind of love.

What do you think?

Does love mean “never having to say you’re sorry?”

I would be interested to hear what you think about this famous catchline from Love Story. I would also enjoy hearing what your favourite love story is.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A PRAYER FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Today is the first Sunday in Black History Month in Canada. Those of us who are Boomers well remember the Civil Rights Movement and the powerful witness and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His powerful “I Have a Dream Speech” made a deep impression on our generation, but sadly today we must acknowledge that there are still too many places where systemic racism persists and too many instances of racial discrimination.

This is the lament of black Canadian Andrew Johnson, whose powerful prayer poem I share below, with permission from the United Church of Canada. Can we learn from our horrific past? How can you and I begin to build reconciliation in our own communities?

Prayer in Poetry for Black People in Canada

By Andrew Johnson

Here I am in a mosaic of cultures, not a melting pot,
Yet, my Blackness is not seen or given too much thought,

While it is true I have other identifiers that can have me talking for days,
Now is not the time or place as peoples continue their racist ways,

The course of time continues to play back echoes from long ago,
Gaps, secrets, lies, coverups, and parts of our history we’ll never know,

An ongoing narrative of trauma, ongoing stress, prejudice, and discrimination,
But, folks who never have to think about it won’t fully understand my fatigue and agitation,

In the Northern Hemisphere of the Americas, we call Canada our home and native land,
Black history and experience is shoved under the rug with some of it left untold, unspoken, and banned,

People say you can look it up on the Internet in an age of information,
We should be advanced now and know so much more,
But, that is only the tip of the iceberg and leaves us standing at the door,

When you open the door to lived realities you will see there are higher truths, and find the capacity to feel for other living, breathing people,
It shakes the status quo including those who pray underneath the churches’ steeple,

Empower us! Allow us to feel Joy! Let us share our lives and wholehearted “isness”!
Hold that thought for the swarms of devil’s advocates, and personal identifiers being part of everyone else’s business,

We’re caught in learning cycles, and aware of the world’s problems without good policy or sensible action,
There is no vocal power here for persons with Blackness, since the good cause doesn’t have enough bells, whistles, or dignified media traction,

Say my name, say my name! But, you don’t know me well,
We’ve only just begun to name real lived experiences after recognizing how humanity has been so mentally unwell,

Why did the man uproot, enslave, dominate, violate my ancestors, and turn around to make a mockery and think it’s funny?
It seems to boil down to a massive transfer of wealth, power, resources, and money,

The trauma of this atrocity is left stored in my DNA memory,
I await for issues of apologies and statements written carefully and cleverly,

It would be wise if we could learn from our past in all its horror, twists, grit, and grime,

To your average citizen, the events of these racialized heightened days are like an impossible puzzle or mountain we cannot climb,

As though there isn’t any thread to follow for each sickening act of violence, hatred, and crime,

If you know your history well, there are no surprises under the sun here in our place in space and time,

I regret to think that maybe, if I play “the game” well, I can possibly see the day of reconciliation and reparations,

But then, I am but a person with Blackness in Canada with a hope for seemingly healthy, feel-good race relations.

AMEN.

WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU GROOVIN’ TO THESE DAYS?

What kind of music do you like to listen to? If you are part of the Baby Boomer crowd, my guess is that you love the music of the sixties, seventies and eighties. A few of us also enjoy the fifties. But guess what? We are not alone! Many people under the age of forty, and many even under the age of thirty, are listening to the same stuff!

According to Ted Gioia, music and culture writer for The Atlantic,  old songs represent 70% of the music market today. As he writes, “The song catalogs in most demand are by musicians who are in their 70s or 80s (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen) or already dead (David Bowie, James Brown).”

Apparently I am like many Boomers who feel that the older tunes had more melody and more interesting harmonies, not to mention words that we could actually understand. When Gioia asks his Boomer friends why they prefer the old music, they often tell him, “There will never be another Sondheim….Or Joni Mitchell. Or Bob Dylan. Or Cole Porter. Or Brian Wilson. I almost expect these doomsayers to break out in a stirring rendition of “Old Time Rock and Roll,” much like Tom Cruise in his underpants.” What could be wrong with that? “Old Time Rock and Roll.” “Tom Cruise.” “In his underpants, no less!” Sounds good to me.

What do you think? What are your favourite songs? Do you find yourself going back to your old playlists or are there newer songs you’re “groovin’ to” these days? Would love to hear from you!

Happy Birthday to my son Lachlan who turns 32 today! One of his very favourite songs is “Bat Out of Hell” by Meat Loaf, a favourite also of his Boomer Dad.

Now back to that “Old Time Rock and Roll!”

How Gratitude Can Improve Your Health

Have you noticed how COVID is making you grumpy? My Boomer friends who are still working complain that they are tired of staring at a screen all day and the many zoom meetings they must attend every week. Boomer friends who have retired are telling me that this is not the retirement they had hoped for and are upset they have had to ditch all their travel plans. Boomer grandparents miss seeing their grandchildren. Add to this the worry that many of us have about adult children who cannot find steady work or frail, elderly parents who need our care, and you have a recipe for a very stressful life. The only one who is benefitting from this horrible virus is the family dog, who gets to see a lot more of its now working-from-home human family and way more walks.

It is easy to see why many Boomers are feeling dispirited and why our lives are now often given over to worry and complaining. I see this in my work too. People who were normally positive and optimistic, always full of praise for others, now only seem to see the negative in situations. They are worried, understandably, about budgets and ratings and whether we are going to make it or ever be the same again.

Alas, it turns out that all this negative thinking is not good for our health, creating stress both emotionally and physically. According to psychologists Maier and Watkins, the stress caused by negative thinking can actually make us much more susceptible to colds and flu — and perhaps now Covid as well? Stress can also lead to greater inflammation, which may result in cardiovascular disease, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders.

So what to do?

Believe it or not, one of the most effective ways to deal with stress and avoid ill health is by practising the art of gratitude. In fact there is an abundance of scientific research that shows that positive emotions, like reflecting on what you are thankful for, can undo or potentially reverse the harmful impact of negative emotions. (Fredrickson, 2001).

That is why I was delighted to receive this you tube video from a friend the other day. (Thanks, Bruce!) It reminds me of another song — a wonderful, old hymn which I remember my grade 4 teacher singing to our class (in the days when we could still sing hymns in public school): Count Your Blessings. Here is another one that has much to which to commend itself. Counting one’s blessings can produce increases in positive emotions and thereby reduce one’s chances of serious illness.

Why not give this song a listen and sing along!

How to Honour the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Most of us who are Boomers can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when it was announced that, tragically,  Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. While I was just a young child at the time, I do remember how devastated people were by the news. Yet, inspired by MLK’s dream for a better world, people continued to fight for equal rights for blacks and all people of colour. If the horrific events of the last couple of years have anything to teach us, it is that now more than ever we must renew our resolve to work for justice for everyone who suffers from discrimination, whether it be because of the colour of their skin, their race or religion, their gender or sexual orientation, their age or differing abilities, their economic or social class.

As Boomers and older adults we still have a role to play in this fight. We can act as witnesses to the powerful legacy that Martin Luther King Jr. left us. We can share our stories with the young people in our lives. We can read aloud his “I Have a Dream” speech and invite them to consider how together we can carry on the work of this great man.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.”

Now in the second half of life, many of us are in a unique position to give back to our churches and our communities. If MLK were among us he would be the first to remind us that there is something more important than bread and cars and air-conditioned rooms and that the world needs us. It is never too late to think about what our legacy will be to the generations that follow us. Not sure where you can best serve? Check out Volunteer Canada.   In London, Ontario, you can also check out Volunteer London. But wherever you live, you can find information from your local municipality about the various organisations that desperately need your help. Don’t forget that churches and faith communities need good volunteers as well, as does your local school.

Remember: You can make a difference. Why not honour the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and start today!

Let’s Try to ELIMINATE THE ‘AFTER’S’ FROM OUR LIFE!

A friend sent this to me the other day. The author is unknown but the words are so powerful I have decided to share them with you in today’s blog post.  Hope you find them as helpful as I have!

 “Barely the day started and

it’s already six in the evening.

Barely arrived on Monday

and it’s already Friday.

.. and the month is already over.

.. and the year is almost over.

.. and already 40, 50 or 60 years

of our lives have passed.

.. and we realize that we lost

our parents, friends.

.. and we realize it’s too late

to go back.

So.. Let’s try, despite

everything, to enjoy

the remaining time.

Let’s keep looking for

activities that we like.

Let’s put some color in

our grey.

Let’s smile at the little

things in life that put

balm in our hearts.

And despite everything,

we must continue to enjoy

with serenity this time we

have left.

Let’s try to eliminate the

afters..

I’m doing it after.

I’ll say after.

I’ll think about it after.

We leave everything for

later like ′′ after ′′ is ours.

Because what we don’t

understand is that:

Afterwards, the coffee

gets cold.

afterwards, priorities change.

Afterwards, the charm is

broken.

Afterwards, health passes.

Afterwards, the kids grow up.

Afterwards parents get old.

Afterwards, promises are

forgotten.

Afterwards, the day becomes

the night.

Afterwards, life ends.

And then it’s often too late.

So.. Let’s leave nothing for

later.

Because still waiting to see

later, we can lose the

best moments, the best

experiences, best friends,

the best family.

The day is today. The

moment is now.

We are no longer at the

age where we can afford

to postpone what needs

to be done right away.”

It Looks Like An Eternity,

But It’s A Short Trip,

Enjoy Life And Always

Be Kind. 

  • Author Unknown

A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR

I pray that your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations were happy and meaningful, even though it was necessary, again this year, to keep the festivities quieter and more intimate.

Recently I have been reading a wonderful book by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal, Wise Aging. Living with Joy, Resilience, & Spirit. While the authors draw mostly from their background in Jewish wisdom, they also reflect on Christian and Buddhist traditions, making their book ideal reading for Boomers and older adults of many different backgrounds.

One ritual they recommend is one that I have decided to make my New Year’s practice this year. It’s based on the Jewish bedtime Sh’ma or prayer, which invites us to examine our conscience at the end of the day and reflect on our frustrations, or the hurts that we have experienced (or inflicted) and how these have impacted our relationships.  By fully forgiving those who have hurt us, either intentionally or unintentionally, and by acknowledging our own failings and weaknesses, we are ready for our evening rest and able to look forward to a new day and a new beginning.

Why not give it a try before you close your eyes tonight?

I now forgive
all who have hurt me,
all who have done me wrong;
whether deliberately or by accident,
whether by word or by deed, or by thought.
whether against my pride, my person, or my property
in this incarnation or in any other. May no one,
be punished on my account.

May it be Your will, Eternal One, My God and the God of my parents, that I be no more bound by the wrongs which I have committed, that I be free from patterns which cause pain to me and to others, That I no longer do that which is evil in Your sight.   May past failings be wiped away in Your great compassion, Eternal One, And may they no longer manifest through pain and suffering.

Let my words, my thoughts, my meditations, and my acts flow from the fullness of Your Being, Eternal One, Source of my being and my Redeemer. AMEN.    

I’ve Got It! I Have Christmas Tree Syndrome!

This Christmas most of my Boomer friends have been more excited about what they did NOT get than what they did. Never mind a bunch of shiny new gadgets or sparkly new sweaters  – they are just glad they did not get COVID!

Thankfully, I did not get COVID either; but I did come down with something else this year: Christmas Tree Syndrome! I didn’t even know that such a thing existed until Richard and I spent a lovely evening with friends Christmas night. Admiring the beautiful balsam tree in their festively decorated home, and taking in the delicious spicy fragrance of balsam, my nose immediately began to snuff up and of course I feared the worst: COVID! But as we drove home from that delightful evening (and it was indeed fun!), my sinuses began to clear and I could breathe easily again. So I immediately grabbed my cell phone and consulted that great source of all wisdom, the great god Google, and guess what I learned?  I learned that I have an allergy to Christmas trees! I just didn’t realise this because, of course, we have had an artificial tree in our home for over 20 years. (Apparently most Boomers buy artificial trees – something else I had not known.) But I will not be smug. Apparently one can get an allergy from artificial Christmas trees too, especially if you store them in a damp basement all year long. Check out this link to learn more and check out this one too. Apparently more than 7% of Canadians suffer from an allergic reaction to coniferous trees.

I am still happy I spent that lovely evening with our friends Christmas night, even if I got the snuffles. And my heart goes out to all those who are suffering from far worse maladies during this holiday season, especially COVID. I pray that they will soon find healing and that you, dear reader, will stay well and safe too. May God bless you during this holy season and grant you hope, peace, health, love and joy in the coming New Year!

SHARING MEMORIES OF SEASONS PAST: THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT YOU CAN SHARE WITH YOUR FAMILY

The other day in our Advent Study Group we talked about the New Testament characters Simeon and Anna, two elderly people who greet the infant Jesus and his parents when eight-day-old Jesus is dedicated at the Temple. Simeon has waited his whole life for the coming of Jesus. Now that his eyes have beheld the child, he can depart in peace. Anna, a widow and a prophet, has spent much of her adult life at the temple, worshipping God, welcoming visitors and sharing her deep faith with others. We can imagine that both Anna and Simeon have lived their lives mentoring others by passing on the sacred traditions of their people.

Our society aches from the lack of people like Anna and Simeon who are willing to share the wisdom of their faith traditions with the younger generations. Reflecting on the important role played by Simeon and Anna in educating the young about the spirituality of the ages, one woman in our study group lamented the fact that this year, once again, her family Christmas party with extended family has had to have been cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. These family reunions, as she noted, are one of the places where we get to share our stories about parents and grandparents and the traditions they handed down to us. I know what she means. One of my favourite times was sitting around the dinner table, hearing my grandmother and great-aunt talk about the “olden days”. I learned so much by listening to their stories.

But perhaps there are other ways we can share our stories this Christmas. After all, we can still phone our loved ones. Many of us have also learned how to Skype with relatives and friends who cannot gather with us. Then there is the lost art of “letter writing”. Our children have beautiful letters from their paternal grandparents in Scotland who, while never having caught on to the new technology, have nevertheless left them wonderful handwritten epistles that they will treasure always. That has to be far superior to Instagram and Facebook!

So if you can’t get together, try writing your loved ones a letter this Christmas. Share a special story about a childhood Christmas of which you have fond memories. And have a safe, beautiful Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year!

QUORA ASKS: What are the top 5 things you would want to advise someone who is between 50 and 60 years of age and why?

The other day my daughter sent me an interesting post from Quora which raised an excellent question: What are the top 5 thing you wish you would have done between the ages of 50 and 60 and, given what you now know, what would you advise those in that age bracket today?

A cursory glance at the answers revealed that most people wished they had focussed more on saving more money for retirement, committing to an exercise program and taking better care of their health, wishing they had started their own business or that they had ended their marriage sooner. With the odd exception, there was nothing about nurturing one’s spiritual life or intellect, building healthy relationships or spending more time with family and friends, making time to serve one’s church or synagogue or mosque, caring for Mother Earth, practising greater generosity of time, talent and resources to help one’s community, or reaching out to those who are hurting or in need. Yet, the wisdom of the ages is that these are the very things that contribute to greater happiness and meaning in life.

What do YOU think? What are the top 5 things you would want to advise someone who is between 50 and 60 years of age and why?

I would love to hear from you!