A Force To Be Reckoned With

d336c679136a855c5c448aeb734c566b

When I was growing up, any reference to seniors made me immediately think of my grandparents. They always seemed frail and in need of assistance. They led rather boring lives and rarely left their homes. It appeared to me at my young age that their main purpose in life was to babysit the grandchildren and host large family get-togethers. I must admit I was in no rush to reach my senior years.

As I got older and had children and  my own parents became grandparents, I gained a new respect for the importance of these seniors. However, my parents seemed more active for their age, and their own social life was busier. They went out places together and even traveled a bit. I sometimes envied their freedom as I changed diapers and did endless loads of laundry at home.

Now that I am a member of the Senior Set, my views have changed completely. Seniors are a force to be reckoned with everywhere. I can’t help but feel that the Baby Boomers altered the concept of aging.

For instance, we have a day named after us EVERY WEEK! No self respecting business can compete without a Seniors’ Day on their agenda when they offer discounts of some kind or another. Just try shopping on these designated days to see how popular they are.

shoppers-drug-mart-seniors-day-promotion

Almost every city, town, or village has some kind of Senior Citizens’ Center. These centers offer a wide variety of programming to appeal to every taste and the cost is incredibly reasonable. You can line dance, exercise, learn computer skills or do Chinese cooking to your hearts delight. Seniors line up in great numbers to snag a spot in the popular classes.

Gorgeous models in their senior years are making a big resurgence. Take a look at Maye Musk or Daphne Selfe (age 86) as examples.

d33f0c13a3dd43106763e49e3762f8c1    936c1916a63bfbfa3cba970834fc3591

Even movie theaters offer senior pricing, and we take up the same amount of space as any other adult. And has anyone else noticed the number of movies that focus on seniors’ lifestyle? ” The Book Club” comes to mind immediately.

Statistics show that seniors are the fastest growing group to use and promote cannabis these days. Surprised? Not I. Everyone I know is talking about it and comparing information.

The newest confirmation that seniors are impacting society is this sign that was brought to my attention only yesterday. There are school crossing zones, and 45960158_10160729602020467_7700565530649821184_ndeer crossing zones; there are falling rock zones, and loading zones and now we have senior safety zones. I have to admit I am a little surprised and perhaps even a bit offended. It had to be some young whippersnapper who came up with this idea.

So don’t count us out quite yet. The wrinkle wranglers still have plenty to offer society. And if you don’t agree with me, well, …..

1c65974ad77491bb9b310a9e5818cf76

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Amsterdam….City of Cyclists

20180830_143822.jpg

I have spent most of my adult life trying to get in better physical shape. I now know the solution…. move to Amsterdam. Everyone there, both young and old, is in good shape because the entire city rides bicycles. If you don’t have one, you can rent one everywhere.

And although the city is quite walkable and beautiful, it is most definitely not safe for pedestrians. The main streets are designed like this…. pedestrian sidewalk, bike lane, car lane, tram lane, car lane, bike lane, pedestrian sidewalk. Walkers must juggle five busy lanes of traffic to cross the street. After my first close call with a bike, I became ultra aware and began shouting out, “Bike!”, “Car!”, “Tram”, to the others in the group. Or in some cases, “Run!” was our only option. I must admit it sharpened my attention skills and occasionally provided good exercise for my reflexes.  Smaller side streets are more manageable as bikes and cars share the same lane.

It will forever be a mystery to me why there are not more accidents. I witnessed one mishap that was actually caused by pedestrians.

The Dutch are ingenious with their bikes. They have designed every manner imaginable to carry things on their two-wheeled vehicles. My favorite was the children being delivered to school or daycare in a wheel- barrow styled box attached to the front of their parent’s bike. I saw as many as 4 toddlers crammed into these open boxes, smiling, waving, laughing, and eating with not a helmet in sight. Older kids doubled on handle bars, cross bars, or even on the fender rack.

20180828_150712.jpg20180829_101749.jpg

In Canada we have parking lots and garages for cars, but in Amsterdam there are two and three level garages dedicated to bikes. Everything from railings to trees are utilized to secure your bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another rather interesting thing about this city of waterways is the fact that there are virtual few if any barriers along the canals. People parallel park mere inches from the edge. It was amazing to watch them maneuver into place. Of course, the lack of railings also resulted in this…

20180904_145158.jpg20180904_145209.jpgBarges with a crane on one end, regularly scoured the canals to remove bicycles that have fallen in. A guide on the Hop On Hop Off boat joked that the canals are one meter of water, one meter of mud, and one meter of bicycles. He is probably correct. These guys were working near our boat so it was interesting to watch what came up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This cycling mecca absolutely fascinated me. While sitting at our favorite pub located on the corner of a busy intersection, it was fun to watch what I fondly referred to as a “bicycle ballet”. Riders passed each other in perfectly synchronized harmony without ever stopping, no matter what direction they were going. Car drivers on the other hand were often sitting helplessly waiting for a break in the dance so they could join the fray.

IMG_1714.jpg

Perhaps I should pull my bike out of the shed and pump up the tires. I may have been inspired!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Regrets I’ve Had A Few

https _images.genius.com_0cd08c2200967eb4e7640f61be14a464.400x392x1

Just like the song says, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…..la, la….la, la, la”. We’ve all had at least something that we wish we had done better, or not said, or not done at all. At this point in my life, I am prone to reflect back and wonder “what if” I had made different choices.

So many of the decisions that I made throughout my life were based on other people like my parents, my friends, my husband, and yes, even my children. That’s not to say that they were to blame for my choices because they had no idea what went on inside my head. I, alone, am responsible. In all honesty, my family and friends were very supportive of me. So, why did I always feel I needed to put them first?

After all these years, I have come to the conclusion that it was my self-confidence. I somehow made decisions that were safe because I was afraid to let anyone down. Never mind that I was letting myself down. The signs were all there if I had cared to open my eyes. Every once in a while, I would step outside the accepted proverbial box, but then I would give in to pressure.

When I was in high school, I told myself adamantly that I was not going to get married, and at the first opportunity, I was moving to a large city. Well, I did get married, and I still live in the small city where I was born. I could easily have changed those decisions, but I didn’t. I was pretty much one of the last of family and friends to walk down the aisle. At the time I remember questioning my decision, but went ahead because I felt it was expected of me. How foolish!

Now, before you start to think that I regret everything in my life, I assure you I do not. Many good things came from those decisions, like my two kids. They are my world! But what if, I had decided to become a writer like I had always wanted. Or what if, I had moved to the south of France or Italy like I had always dreamed of doing.

Cinque-Tierre

Would my life have turned out any happier or more fulfilling? I will never know.

I do know you can’t go back, but you can decide to take charge of your future and do it your way. I am glad that with age came self confidence. My hour glass still has enough sand in it to enjoy.

pexels-photo-1095601

So what do you regret? I know there is something.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

Bucket List

bucketre-done

On the small bulletin board in my home office hangs a yellowed and dog-eared sheet of paper. It’s my bucket list.

Not long after my husband died, almost forty years ago now, I sat down and made a list of all the things that I had ever wanted to do or try. Some were very simple, while others required a lot of planning. Some seemed ridiculous when I looked at them written down, but I decided they should remain on the list. Some shocked me. My paper filled up quickly, but I continued to add items as they came to me. It gave me a sense of direction that I needed at that time. It made me feel secure for some strange reason. Bucketlist

I had become a single parent virtually overnight, and I remember feeling almost paralyzed by fear. I knew it was time to put my “big girl” pants on. Three people were depending on me…. my two kids and I.

There is a quote from “Dead Man Walking” that comes to mind, “you had better get busy living, or get busy dying…..”. My bucket list got me busy living again. It gave me goals beyond just the routines of everyday life. I had something to look forward to accomplishing and I really needed that. Besides, my kids needed a role model.

Making the list was fun actually. It made me really think about myself for the first time in many years.

First on my list was “Graduate from university”. I had been taking courses over the years, but it was time to buckle down and get this important item out of the way. And so I did. The fall of that first year of many changes, I graduated from Trent University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. It felt amazing to look into the audience and see my son and daughter clapping for me.

Well, that was the first of a long list of items and at my first opportunity, I marked it off as completed in yellow highlighter. 20180726_134828As I accomplished each thing, I marked them off as well. As you can clearly see, there are entries that are as yet unmarked, but I’m working on them, and it is very gratifying to see how far I have come. I continue to add to the bottom when a thought strikes me.

So, then, do you have a bucket list? If not, take the time to sit down with paper and pencil and make your own list. It might surprise you the things that turn up on it. They do not have to be grand and complicated, just significant to you. TheBucketList

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo 

Seniors in the Limelight

a4e2df6c95ef04ccfdd7dcb7b5274e2a

David hit the proverbial “nail on the head”. Oh, you don’t need to remind me that there are plenty of negative aspects to getting older; I have addressed many of them already in my previous posts. I have often heard younger age groups espouse the sentiment that your youth is the best time of your life, or getting married is the best time, or having children are the best years of your life. The fact is, as I see it, all these are true because at the time you have no idea what the future will bring. However, once you reach your senior years, you can look back and make the comparison with clearer insight.

Speaking for myself, I know I lived most of those early years trying to be the best wife, and mom, and person I could be. Admirable qualities for sure, but if I am to be honest, I often did and said things that I thought were expected of me, not always how I really felt. I’m not much of a gambler, but I would bet most of you went through the motions, just like I did. I think Helen Mirren echoed my thoughts when she said,

0de51a3b6ce58435419dddff7074dfc7

As we move further into the twenty-first century, I think people look at seniors differently. We are not a group to be ignored  as though we have used up our usefulness. With better health care and lifestyle, many individuals are living well into their eighties and beyond. Many are fortunate enough to have livable pensions which obviously improves our lifestyle. However, I now know for certain that money cannot buy us happiness and contentment in our “golden years”. It is truly the people around us, both friends and family, who enhance our lifestyle and sense of well-being.

Just recently, I read a wonderful book by Frances Mayes called “Women in Sunshine”.

20180512_124242.jpg The story is about three women heading into their senior years. They meet when each decides to have a look at a retirement home. The unlikely friendship that evolves with these three very different strangers is amazing. Although they are moving into their retirement years, they are nowhere near ready to stop living their life to it’s fullest and enjoying new adventures. I really hated for the book to end and wished I didn’t have to return it to the library. It was so easy to imagine myself and my friends doing the same thing.

In past years, the “Golden Girls” were a comedy hit on tv. Four senior women living under the same roof and all with very diverse personalities. I know at the time the subject matter raised some eyebrows, but today it would seem completely normal. Some of the comments they made shocked the audience, but in all honesty, they were saying what many seniors at the time were thinking, but afraid to say.

Well, all that has changed. More and more seniors are living the life they want.

Who has not enjoyed the antics of “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix?

MV5BMjA5NDU2MTk4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDkzMDI4NDM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_

Check out the trailer…. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3609352/videoplayer/vi4150769177?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_1

These characters are my fantasy idols; however, I do not plan to live vicariously through them. I fully intend to live my own dreams as much as my circumstances will allow me.  My remaining years will not be spent doing arts and crafts or playing Bingo in a retirement home. I want to try new things and see new places. I do not plan to sit back and watch others live their life while mine ticks away a day at a time. Remember the saying, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings”.

So try something fun or something you enjoy. Or join my friends and I for the weekend. Tomorrow we are getting together at 5 am to eat scones, drink tea, and watch the Royal Wedding; at 6pm we will be off to karaoke and dancing at our favorite pub. Sunday we have plans to see “The Book Club” at the movies.

Book-Club-movie-poster-200x300

What are you doing this weekend?

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Hell On Wheels

9b222ba10a799f2d7b4436fa973cd0e2
As one of the girls turns eighty this year, it got me thinking about the rules for renewing a driver’s license. Here in Ontario, Canada, the law requires an individual who drives to take a test when they turn eighty if they intend to continue driving. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would be lost without my car and the freedom it affords me. That being said, it is a scary thought to know that there are even younger seniors on the road who clearly should not be behind the wheel.

The test itself seems to focus on vision. In all honesty, it should probably be a little more intensive. I am the first to admit that most of us develop bad driving habits throughout our life, and it is a given fact that traffic has increased exponentially since any of us got our driving permit at sixteen. Add to that the fact that our reflexes are not what they used to be, and you have accidents just looking for a place to happen.

I remember many years ago driving with my aunt who at the time was in her late seventies. We were on our way to her house, and she kept making only right turns and driving around several blocks until she was going the right direction. I hesitated to question her, but finally asked her why. Well, apparently she didn’t like making left turns because the traffic was too busy, so she drove twice as far to reach her destination. I have since discovered that I have friends who do the same.

Our memories are also a problem as we get older. A friend of mine took the bus home from work one day. When she arrived home, her husband asked where the car was. She forgot that she had driven to work. Oops!

My neighbor who is 84 has recently had her license taken away by her family. She is none too pleased! It seems that for several months previously, she would leave home to do errands, but could never remember how to get back without asking for help. Then there were the days she simply drove around the block 10-15 times and parked in the driveway again. The final straw was the day she came home in a police car having no idea where she left her vehicle or where she lived. The thought of these seniors behind the wheel is scary. 3f40a99b304560ee1bdc409fea525d7a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, if the time comes that we don’t pass the required test, how do we get around? The idea of depending on someone to take me where I want or need to go does not appeal to me at all. Many resort to these heavy duty three-wheel scooters.

RacingGrannies2
These gals are certainly doing it in style. However, our winters would at some point be an issue.

I, myself, have always wanted to own an electric bike. The way I see it, it is economical, easy to park, and requires no license to drive it. The drawbacks , of course, are the weather, and where would the dog sit. 6b8a05b9c2178413662a94d7bd5933a0

However, I would probably be better off sticking to this version. 086fef432b80d5f8a9fd3a280c7b00f3  Luckily, I still have several years before I am faced with this decision, and hopefully my faculties will not fail me when the time to try my senior’s license rolls around. I do know my days of maybe trying this are well past.

6b00572b2862bb6c5bf57fd62ec79c43

In fact, my future may look more like this….3ac2c7a4542bd3422c289e19fdd27bf4

Oh, well, happy driving everyone, and stay safe out there!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Girlfriends

e3c7c6b8f574c00c3b93e5de215df926

Growing up, I had always had lots of friends. Most of these friends were people that I met in school or was introduced to by others. When you are young, you just assume you will grow up, start a job, get married, and keep those friendships, but as is often the case we become consumed by work and family life, and we lose touch with many of those people. Friendship takes work.

Friendships to me are like plants; each one is entirely individual and unique in personality and like plants they need to be fed and cared for or they will wilt and eventually the friendship will die. We all have those individuals who have wandered in and out of our lives; at one time we were close, but as time passed, they drifted away and we lost touch.

Youth take so much for granted. They don’t seem to maintain friendships. I can’t count the number of times that younger people have asked how long my friends and I have known each other. They are shocked to learn that many of us have been close friends for 50+ years. This fact amazes them. Most have not even been alive near that long. My daughter, who is now 40, often remarks how she has not stayed friends with any of the kids from school. She has developed new friendships through her work, but they do not share a history.

There is something to be said about growing older together. We know the good, the bad, and the ugly about each other.We have been there through marriages, babies, divorces, health problems, and yes, even death. We do not always agree, and that’s just fine.

My own amazing circle of girlfriends are an unusual mix of characters. We come in all shapes and sizes and preferences, but we share a common trait. We love to laugh…at life, at each other, and yes, even at ourselves. About 7 years ago several of us started to get together for dinner every few weeks. Well, for the last 5 years we have met for dinner EVERY Wednesday at the Tartan Tavern (yes, it is old like we are) no matter the weather and even when the power was out. Sometimes there are 9 or 10 of us squeezed around our table and sometimes only 3, but we never miss. We have become somewhat of a fixture at this pub and the waitresses and other regulars know to expect our rowdy gang without fail. We chat and gossip and laugh so much that my sides often ache when I leave. On occasion, we break into random song and that creates quite a stir.

My family mean the world to me, but I am not sure I could have made it this far in my life without my girlfriends. They lift my spirit and support my goals. They have never let me down when I needed them.

Girlfriends are powerful.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny  xo