vibrant old woman

Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

How to Make a Positive Contribution to the World Without Missing Your Nap

“A Real Go-Getter! A BusyBee! She burns the candle at both ends! Give her a job and you KNOW it will get done well!”

Cliches, yes, but labels and comments that have been a real part of the self image of most of us Baby Boomers. We work hard, take on big assignments and live as large as possible.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” was the USA President’s challenging edict that we bought into wholeheartedly…back in the day.

We were part of the Feminist Movement, the Freedom Movement, the Jesus Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, Student Exchange Program or the Peace Corps. We wanted to change the world and still do!

But today, right now, as these lofty thoughts present themselves in my sleepy head, I close my eyes, snuggle in a little deeper into my comfy arm chair and nap.

When Did I Start Needing a Nap Everyday?

I have a vibrant old friend in Oregon who has reminded me at times that much of what we do, we do because we can.

If I have a kitchen drawer filled with chocolate bars, I eat chocolate bars. If I have a car and a valid drivers license, I drive to the shops instead of walk.  If I have free time after lunch everyday and the house is quiet, the comfy chair is empty and the afghan nearby, I nap.

When I took the bold step of leaving my career and the daily routine of my job, I suddenly had free time after lunch, the house was quiet, the comfy chair was empty, the afghan nearby, and I became a daily napper!

And probably so did you. We nap because we can…and it is very delicious…though just a little guilt-producing.

Let it go or Protect it?

Apparently an afternoon nap is healthy for us. Health professionals, like the National Sleep Foundation, recommend a regular afternoon nap to restore energy and aid heart health.

Many successful people, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, who made great contributions to their communities and to the world at large were nappers. Perhaps there’s a relationship between success and rest.

What does it take to have my nap everyday yet still feel useful?

When we were younger and probably not napping everyday, we were led by our passion. We heard the call of our president or our personal hero or shero, and we followed…with all our hearts. Some of us left everything to follow. We defied the wisdom of our mothers. We left school or our home town.  We bought one-way bus tickets. We didn’t ask for a lot of questions to be answered. We expected good results and never counted the cost.

Today, we are older, but we can still be led by our passion…we just have to work around our afternoon nap time.

Physically, age slows us down a bit. We probably can’t DO as much as we once did. Now we must choose more carefully and focus on our strongest passion. Contribute smarter!

Daily commitment to being our real, authentic selves, nap and all, adds  honesty to the world. We acknowledge our limits and honor them. We contribute by being kind to ourselves and this gives others permission to do likewise.

Remember when we thought being busy equaled being important, being significant? Remember how we proved that wrong!?! Eventually busyness breeds contempt, or at least, burnout.

Positive contribution isn’t about how much we DO. Positive contribution is about BEING the unique person you are. You  contribute by being alive, learning and giving.

Each of us has a lifetime of experiences that have gone into making us who we are. As we continue to honor the unique understandings and talents we gained from our own experiences, we find ways to pass them on to those around us, just by being who we are and doing what sparks our passion.

Four Tips for the Napper Who Still Wants to Make a Contribution to the World:

  1. Lean into your passion. Whatever brings you the most joy, give yourself to it, even if its a minimum amount of time compared to earlier years.
  2. Live at your own pace. Changing the beat of each day is one of the perks of this stage of life. No one is measuring your production, or keeping a time-card on you!
  3. Redefine napping as a positive. An afternoon nap is good self-care and helps revitalize our energy level. It helps you BE your best.
  4. Embrace this ‘retirement’ stage of life as the Being-stage and live out these years as the unique You that you are.

Enjoy that nap! It will only make you better!

“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.” ―Deepak Chopra

How do you see your contribution at this stage of life?

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Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

His Name is Philando Castile

I just want to say his name. I want to acknowledge that a family and whole community are hurting. I want the rhythm of my life to be interrupted because of the pain of my community. I want to feel our connection. I want to care.


This past week-end in my hometown a court decision was handed down by a jury that stunned what seemed like the majority of our citizens. A young man was killed over a year ago when he, his girlfriend and her 5 year old daughter was stopped by a patrolman because of a broken tail light. The young man happened to have brown skin, as did his girlfriend and her daughter. This shouldn’t have any consequence on anything, but it seems to be included in the first sentence every time this incidence is spoken of, reviewed or reported.

Philando Castile was killed by the patrolman, shot multiple times through the opened window of his car while still strapped under his seat belt. His 5 year old was in the back seat watching and listening while her mother sat next to him…

The patrolman declared that he “felt his life was being threatened” when Philando told him he was licensed to carry and had a gun in the car, exactly the procedure required of anyone whenever one has a licensed gun and is stopped by law enforcement for any reason. The rules, Philando was playing by the rules.

Philando Castile was a young man and a participating member of our community. He had worked at the local school, in the lunchroom, for  years. The children loved Philando. Their parents loved Philando. He was a giver and an asset.

Our community has been waiting, one year, for the verdict: was this killing justified? Did this man deserve to be shot multiple times for driving with a broken tail light?

Finally a verdict. The jury acquitted…”reasonable doubt”. The patrolman was justified. Philando Castile was so threatening sitting behind that wheel, strapped in his seat belt, beside his long-time girlfriend with her 5 year old daughter in the back seat, that he deserved 7 life- taking bullets.

Family, friends, community leaders knew that the only threatening thing about Philando was the color of his skin. “Brown skinned men are scary”.

So What? Why blog about this on a site for Vibrant Old Women? What does it have to do with us at this stage of our lives? 

My “so what?” is this:

  • Because I care about myself. I have lived more than 70 years and I am still alive today. I want to be vibrantly alive. Vibrancy depends on the condition of my Spirit (see ebook chapter on “Be a Giver”*) and my Spirit thrives when my heart is openly giving to those around me and caring about the lives of others in my world. Seclusion or isolation is self protective and selfish, and will cause me to lose vibrancy and  “rot from within”**. I have to care when others hurt…or choose not to and dry up myself.
  • Because I care about my grandchildren and their grandchildren. I have lived more than 70 years and know what makes a good community. I know we need good laws that give everyone a fair chance and give everyone protection from harm.  I want the future to be good for all our children. When our system fails one citizen it fails to be good. I owe it to the next generation to help expose the failure and help correct the system.
  • Because there are a LOT of us Vibrant Old Women and we can leverage change. If we give what we have, i.e. our wisdom, experience, and insights to broker understanding, our prayers, our time to write letters, make calls and show up at marches and demonstrations, our vote and community engagement, and our dollars, we could change some laws and procedures that serve our community unjustly.

I don’t want to keep the rhythm of my small life when one of my neighbors  is suffering injustice and sorrow and when we all have to live in fear for the lives of our sons because of the color of their skin.

So! that’s why I’m remembering Philandro Castile today and saying his name. I don’t want to forget.



**Line from poem, Pumpkin, by Connie Wanek



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Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

4 Ways to Choose a Pair of Shoes (or make other important decisions)

Remember Imelda Marcos from the Philippines and the international commotion she stirred up because of the thousands of pairs of shoes she owned? At the time,I was much younger (!), it was more than a little interesting to me as I contemplated the choice of that many shoes and a closet big enough to hold them. But at this stage of my life, I find I react to the abundance aspect of this incidence with aversion rather than envy or even curiosity. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate a cute pair of shoes, in fact I always notice the shoes people are wearing. And I certainly don’t begrudge anyone having a choice.

For instance, recently enjoying a wonderful Mozart concert at Symphony Hall in row 10, I found myself scanning all the feet of the orchestra members. All black shoes, of course, but there was a multitude of different styles from comfy walking-shoes to 6-inch stiletto, pointed-toed patent leather with red undersoles! My mind wandered to why the specific styles might have been chosen and musing over the possibility of connection between shoe choice and personality style…all to the rhythm of Mozart!

My recent purchase of a summer sandal has been the surprise contact point of several conversations lately. I knew I was in need of replacing my favorite sandals this season so began noticing other women’s sandals and planning for my new pair. I ended up choosing a Wolky® shoe …VERY comfy and good for walking, but cute and red! Everyone needs a red pair of shoes, right!?

Well, more than a few times lately these shoes have solicited comments, “Oh, I like your shoes? Where did you get them?” “Nice shoes! What brand are they?” And then a short conversation follows about how important comfortable shoes are, especially for Vibrant Old Women.

One of these conversations ended by my inquiring friend saying, “I used to choose my shoes by style and color, but now they have to be comfortable. My values have changed I guess…it’s all about comfort and all I need is one really good pair!”

One pair? Hmmm…maybe two, or three…I”ve been thinking about this: I have so many choices today, in almost every aspect of my life. What are the values that drive my decisions at this stage of life?

  1. Comfort and Health (Will this enhance my well being or hinder it?)
  2. Cost and Fitting my Budget (Will this cause financial stress?)
  3. Necessity rather than pure desire (Do I need it? Do I have room for it? Am I just filling up space?)
  4. Delight or Pleasure (to me or someone else)

Less seems to be my new abundance…”less is more” sort of thing. My beloved deceased mother-in-law saw it differently though. In her final stage of life, she saw her choices as her last chance to have and went “all out” in a rather delightful way. On her 80th birthday, she asked for a diamond and sapphire bracelet even though she had many beautiful pieces of fine jewelry. She knew what she liked and wanted more of it! (Shoes were about comfort for her, btw.)

Values are personal. They define who we are and how we live. What are your values at this stage of life?

How do you choose a pair of shoes?


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Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

One Sure Way to Ruin Retirement

I remember when I would set goals and sub-goals and sub-sub-goals. I had a 5-year plan and a 10-year plan and a 25-year plan. I often thought about  what kind of person I wanted to be, where I wanted to be and what I wanted to have done by the time I was 50 (that seemed like old-age to me then!). I liked to set these long-range goals then work backwards to the present with action steps and timelines. I strived to be the best I could be and tried hard to make each day count. The more I did the better I felt about myself.

I used to read many self-help books, like The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan, 1973, that gave me an exhaustive plan for being the perfect superwoman I wanted to be. Right now, today, I hyperventilate just thinking about it!

This past week I opened more than a few emails telling me there were 10 things (or more) I needed to do in order to be successful.  I took one of them seriously because I thought maybe I could add a little zip to my laid-back-self if I followed a “simple” early morning check list for purposeful living. It started easy enough with just three things you must do to begin your day successfully, but then it went on to add how-to steps under each one and then bullet points under each of those. It didn’t take long before I felt tense and wanted to close my i-pad and run for more coffee!…not at all what I consider “simple”. In fact, I felt like re-naming the article, “An Intense and Complicated Way to Ruin the Beginning of Any Day”.

Instead I smiled to myself. Goal setting is good. Taking advantage of the days that are given to us to live life to the fullest and in the best way we can is good. But this Gran Finale time of life is when we get to say what makes each day successful. We can work our lists at our own pace, or not work them at all. There’s not a manual or a Retirement Police that say a successful retirement must look a certain way.

BUT one sure way to ruin a perfectly glorious retirement day is to should myself with a list of things to do that ‘someone’ says will measure my success or purposeful living index. I should do this, I should do that, I should be this way, or be that way, or go there, or say that, or buy that, or not eat that… I should… I should.

I thought of Winnie-the-Pooh and something I remembered him saying:

“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet

“My favorite day,” said Pooh”

I think he might respond the same way I did to the grandiose 10-ways-to-be-successful lists.

 “What I like doing best is Nothing.” (said Christopher Robin)

“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.

It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

“Oh!” said Pooh.”   -A.A.Milne

No Shoulds!

From what ‘shoulds’ has retirement freed you? How do you feel about giving them up, or not?

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Vibrantly Old

I didn’t just wake up one morning and surprise myself by being 70 years old.

What really happened is that I got to this old age by living, consciously or not, one day one night, at a time, day after day, night after night, 365 of them ever year for 70 years.  What really happened is that I got to this old age by living, consciously or not, one day and one night at a time, day after day, night after night, 365 of them every year for 70 years.

And I suspect the same thing might have happened to you too.

We all know that “old age is a gift” …”better than the alternative”…”not for sissy’s”… “is compulsory”…But for those of us experiencing 70+ years, there’s a lot more to it than a catchy cliche or platitude.

First off, we need to know what to call ourselves. Yesterday I was middle-aged or in the second-chapter of life. It didn’t seem so bad. In fact it was great. I finally felt like I had a few answers to life, I felt accomplished and my body was looking mature yet agile and fit. It was the middle, not too young,  not old, but just right! Nothing was broken yet. Nothing hurt.

And now I’m not sure if I’m a  “senior citizen”, just a “senior”, an “elder”, one of “the older generation”, “the elderly”, a “retiree”, a “silver sneaker”, just plain “aged”…? And who gets to decide anyway?

I seem to catch myself more often these days describing someone with white hair as “an older gentleman” or “an older woman”, when in fact they are probably my age or younger!

So! I came to grips, as best I can at this moment, with my age and where, because of it, I now fit in the world around me. I have decided, because I am 70+, I am an old woman. Thats OK. In fact, its good. Im learning to say it out loud, to tell it like it is. But I also decided that if I am going to really embrace this station in life, I am going to do it wholeheartedly and with vigor. I am NOT going to be merely old. Instead, I am going to be VIBRANTLY OLD.

And I’m going to try to get you to come along with me. Lets be vibrantly old together. We have a lot in common and a lot to share. You tell me how you live vibrantly, with hearing aids, knee replacements and ‘fixed income’, perhaps, and I’ll tell you how I do it!

Lets have some fun…being old, being vibrantly old! image

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