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Archive for June, 2009

Rebel Rousing Retirement Reaction

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I just read in today’s news that by 2050, 1 of every 6 people in the WORLD will be 65 or older, “leaving the US and other nations struggling to support the elderly.” It’s time to stop this nonsense and get real about “the aging crisis.”

The vast majority of “elders” could do a helluva lot more for themselves–and would willingly–if we weren’t painted as inept, worn out and unable by society. The notion that anyone over 40 is less capable  of doing “the work” started in the 1820’s when “the work” was mostly farming and heavy manufacturing and things like tractors didn’t exist. Now we sit at desks and use telephones and computers to get the work done. You can be 99 and get it done just fine.

But ask anyone who’s over 60 and looking for a job, and they’ll give you more than you ever want to know about how easy it is in this country–and most others–to not hire someone because of age.

Of course it’s not called that, because ageism is illegal. It comes out as “overqualified” or “want fresh creative ideas” or some other blather.

We need to face one strong hard fact: The best way to avoid the horrendous cash outlay for people as they age is for every country, but particularly the US, to begin to acknowledge what older workers are still quite capable of doing and to give them a fair chance to do it. The amount of talent, skill and knowledge we waste in the name of an outmoded version of retirement is obscene.  The lack of engagement and mental challenge breeds illness and decline.  And the need for a better approach is urgent.

Everyone wins if companies and communities find ways to harness older talent by giving workers old enough to retire innovative programs in which they can continue to contribute for a good long time.  This is not that hard, folks.  Mostly it’s a matter of letting them in.

Who Are the Actors in YOUR Everyday Dramas?

Monday, June 15th, 2009

 

The dramas of daily life can be painful. The snub. The really mean person. Someone else’s problem that you drop everything to solve. We think these dramas are caused by other people. But the truth is we create them ourselves–when we are too wound up in what’s going on to pay attention to what we’re really trying to do.

I got wise to this recently while trying to figure out that most difficult of challenges—how to be happy with someone of the opposite sex. I was raised in a very traditional family. By the time I was ten, I was very good at figuring out what other people needed and making sure I did what I could for them to get it. By age twelve, I was also good at constructing stories in my head about why I didn’t get what I wanted…needed…deserved….in the same way. By the time I got to dating, both those behaviors were entrenched.

I’ve made great progress in getting rid of these dumb ideas, but with a guy, I regress to “terminal unidirectional giving mode” after the first date. It’s an unworkable approach, so I end up feeling blue–about something I said, something he said, something I wanted to happen that didn’t, etc. The “couple drama.”

My current goal is to be really good at living in the Now. All the baloney I’ve been feeding myself about how men and women are supposed to relate is built on old, stale information that’s completely out of sync with what I need to do to relate well now to a man—to anyone for that matter.

But knowing that mentally isn’t enough. You need to consciously feel the dissonance you’re creating with your negative drama on an emotional level to be able to let it go. When you catch yourself feeling blue—or angry or anxious—you can learn what you were telling yourself that triggered the feeling instantly.

After I learned to do that, an interesting thing happened. I realized the man who made me blue was not the man I was dating. The guy who left me dissatisfied was a made-up character I created myself—out of all that old, stale information that I thought was gone.

So I named him. Robert Funk. Whenever Robert’s around, I end up in a funk because of the negative ideas I hear from him. I like my man friend—he’s a pleasant, happy guy. I don’t like Robert Funk. He makes me feel bad. Now that I know I created him, I can just tell him to go away. Robert Funk doesn’t belong in my life. So long, big guy.

Have you created a Robert Funk for yourself? If you have expectations that your relationship is supposed to proceed a certain way– that he (or she) should call at a certain time or provide a certain level of financial comfort or share deepest secrets—then you’ve got your own little “couple drama” going. You don’t need it.

Once I met Robert Funk, I noticed the other characters I write scripts for. Jenny Gotta gets the lead a lot. She’s boring–all she does is work. I need to banish her, but she has such great reasons for doing it her way. “Good girls get the work done.” “Nice people do what they said they would.” “You have to do the work if you want to succeed.” Sorry, Jenny. You’re outta here.

Then there’s John Sturdy. He makes me do more work than I should be doing. John convinces me to take on massive physical projects meant for someone bigger and stronger—or that I could hire done. He talks me into finishing work at 2:00AM. John doesn’t understand the word “relax.” An excessive workload makes me feel strong and independent—but also worn out and alone. And by doing it that way, I miss one of the richest interactions available to a human—the give and take of helping. Bye, John.

There are others, but these three seem to be in the middle of most of the unhappy scenes in my life. Every one of them is fiction. Creative writing I do in useless support of emotional delusion. They aren’t real, and they diminish my life with what they tell me. It’s time to send them all packing. Finally.

How about you? Any drama in your life? If you’re doing this kind of stuff, find a better use of your creative talent. The emotional drama thing serves no good purpose. And it’s not fun. Just familiar.