When We Say “We Can’t” as We Age, Is it Common Sense or Psychological?


Senior Citizens Unload Here
Senior Citizens:  Unload Here


I have a friend in her 70s who is a very reluctant driver, and she has been like that since at  least  her 50s.  For over twenty years, her longtime boyfriend drove her almost everywhere.  Since he’s moved out, she mostly drives to work, the doctor, and to neighborhood businesses.  She does not like to travel alone and has curtailed many things that she has enjoyed doing for years like taking the train to New York to attend the opera. (She does not like to drive from the close in Virginia suburbs to Union Station in DC for starters.)


I have another frend, also in her 70s, who has bought a new car with all of the safety features like accident avoidance cameras.  She’s a widow and is used to travelling by herself or with family or friends.  She wans to keep driving but wants to do it safely since an accident involving older driver is often perceived to be that driver’s fault.

I have another friend, in her late 70s, who will drive her minivan almost anywhere (with or without her husband.)  She is very active with many friends, hobbies, and interests.

So is an unwillingness to drive as we age, psychological or common sense? (Each of these ladies is in good health and to the best of my knowledge has no reason why she should not drive.)

I used to love to climb on rocks and explore tidepools.  I am now afraid to do that.  I can’t decide if that is commonsense or a self-imposed pyschological barrier.  Yet I see dozens of volunteers in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who climb up and down from the tidepools with no outward signs of trepidation.

There are many things that we can no longer safely do as we age.  So not doing some of those things make sense, especially if we have a medical condition that precludes doing them safely.  For other things, why do we allow ourselves to do things we could easily accomplish if we gave ourselves permission?

What have you given up as you age and why have you given it up?  Is it fear or reason that keeps you from continuing a previously beloved activity?


What Are the Boons in Your Life?

Youth is a silly, vapid state, Old age with fears and ills is rife; This simple boon I beg of Fate – A thousand years of Middle Life.–Carolyn Wells

A boon is a thing that is helpful or beneficial. Its archaic definition is a favor or request.

For me, boons are those simple,  unexpected gifts that life hands us occasionally.

It can be the earliest Christmas lights in the neighborhood or the unexpected ones that shine through the night after January 1 or January 6.  Or people who once a year do not draw their curtains so you can enjoy their Christmas tree as you walk or drive past .

It’s the earliest fall colored leaves or the last ones that cling to the trees after the rest have flown, fluttered or swirled off to other destinations.

The grass greening in the spring, new leaves sprouting on tree limbs, the progression of Spring flowers from crocus through daffodils, tulips, and iris.

Cold fronts in summer and warm fronts in winter, when the temperature and humidity give us a break from the norm.

Someone who pauses briefly to acknolwedge me (or any of us)  as a person, not background noise or an impediment to someone they really want to see or talk to.

The person who gives up his/her seat to someone in need on a bus, holds the door open, offers to help carry a heavy burden,  or smiles along with a salutation and how are you.

Flags and bunting on houses on patriotic holidays.

Pumpkins, scarecrows, and  chrysanthemums in the fall.

Small military convoys driven by troops in uniforms as I travel down the road.

Blogs or stories that touch my heart and make me think.

Friends both old and new that make the effort to stay in touch–in person, by mail, by voice, or electronically.

Family (for the most part.)

Oceans, mountains, green spaces and the opportuity to visit  and enjoy all of them.

National Park system.

Unexpected glimpses of wild animals–bears in a National Park, squirrels in the back yard, birds on the wing or on a limb.

Memory–the chance to enjoy these boons again and again.

Beautiful sunrises/sunsets.

The freedom to worship or not (as one’s conscience dictates)

Volunteers that keep so many activities rolling along.

What  are your boons?


Recovery’s a slog,
Not a sprint or a race.
Each day progressing
At it’s own pace.

Pain is a skirmisher
Delaying tactics on hand
Like winter reluctant
When Spring tries to land.

Physical gains
Are more easily tracked
Today a new goal
That yesterday lacked.

Progress is slower
From walker to cane
Seldom achieved
Without accompanying pain.

It’s been a struggle,
Can’t say it’s been fun
I hope I’ll be happy
With what has been done.

Knee Replacement Recovery, 1 Week in–5 Lessons Learned

With surgery a week ago tomorrow,  I have no complaints about my surgeon or the surgery.  The recovery has had it’s plusses and minuses.

  1. Pain management – I’ve found this to affect almost every other part of my recovery to date.  When the pain is less, I am better–not as irritable, apthetic, bitchy–you name it.  Right now this is the part of my recovery that I am most dissatisfied with.
    Given the possible addictive nature of opioids, I am relieved to say that Oxycodone did the least that I could discern and has been the easiest to give up.
  2. Value of Friends and Family- From my family, through my  real life friends and my virtual friends in Second Life and those of you in the blogosphere, I can not over emphasize how much your cards, texts, messages, comments, and visits have  meant to me.  They really do help–especially for those that have the patience to sympathize with the  days I am bitching because I am frustrated or in pain.   Yesterday, the Bionic Blonde (2 knee replacements, 2 hip replacements, 2 Achilles Tendon repairs) drove an extra 2 hours out of her way to stop by for a visit.  I had my first outing in her car since coming back from the hospital last Friday.  We made a stop at Dairy Queen since we both love their Caramel Burst Blizzards.   Since she has gimped the walk as well as talked the talk, I rely on her insight and experience that this too shall pass.
  3. PT uber alles.  I am fortunate to have 3 weeks of at home PT followed by a period of out patient PT.  I was a semi-regular gym rat (love my reclining bicycle) before my surgery so I have not found the exercises too arduous yet.  I have also, gratefully found, that each day I get stronger and more agile.
  4. Listen to your body carefully.  There is a fine line between pushing  yourself enough to get stronger and hurting yourself.  As a long time Weight Watcher, I can only use the analogy of appetitite and hunger.  Do I want to eat because….or am I really hungry?  If I’m hungry  or in real discomfort, then I take the feeling seriously.  If I just want to  eat (or in this case  sit in my chair), then it’s past time to get off my ass and onto my walker.
  5. You are your Attitude.  We all prefer to be around cheerful, optimistic people.  I also face the daily/hourly challenge of realizing that only I can determine which type of person I will be.  I think I’m an optimsist by nature (not to mention a staunch introvert) so I’m not struggling as much as I might-but there are those moments.

Knee Replacement Surgery– Five Observations


Therapy tools
Therapy tools

For most of my life, I have been healthy and am still healthier than not–so no chronic illnesses, hospital stays, or  unusual restrictions (other than apathy and the don’t wannas.) When I developed osteoarthritis a few years ago, it was a minor inconvenience that gradually became an increasing instrusion into my life.

      1.  Attitude determines a lot of what we think we can/can not do.  –  Stairs were something to avoid, if possible.  (I still found that most of these impediments were psychological.  If the weather was nice and I was chatting with friends or listening to good tunes on my iPod, the activity was no problem to accomplish.)
      2.  The nursing staff makes medicine nicer/kinder/approachable. – I  had right knee replacement surgery on Friday and had to stay in the hospital for a single night. (It was my first hopital experience as a patient.)  From my first referral by my primary care physician, through the intermediate steps of PT, accupuncture, and orthopedic referral) to the actual surgery, the nurses were the ones who had the time to answer my questions, listen to my fears, help me to the bathroom, brought my medications and meals, made me feel like a person and not   some speciment on which to practice medicine.  (Don’t get me wrong, the doctors were nice and all were skilled practicioners, but the nurses took the time to see the person behind the patient.)
      3. The second night and the third day are the worst.  –  As my friends (who have already had joint replacement) tell me, they give you really good drugs in the hospital so  pain management is a piece of cake.  (One of those wonderful nurses had also told me that this period would be the worse and that each day would get better after that.)  When I came home, life took about 3 hours to  sledgehammer me into reality.  Between 3 pm on Saturday, and about 4 pm on Sunday, my medications were not touching the pain.  (In retrospect, I should have accepted the nurse’s offer for some oxycodone before I left the hospital, but I was not in pain and did not want to use oxycodone anymore than I had to because of it’s addictive qualities.)  Last night was better, but I was still needed remedial training on bringing my overnight medications into the bedroom next to me rather than leaving them in the room where I had spent my waking hours.
      4. Use it or lose it–PT will set you free. –  It’s too easy to sit in your chair with your meds and ice machine.  It’s a hassle to haul your carcass and your attendant walker to the bathroom.  You are stiff, cranky, and just  want life to be ‘normal’.  It is more likely to get back to ‘normal’ if you do your PT and make an effort to move each hour.
      5. Your friends, family,  and support system are as an important part of your recovery process as your medical team.  My husband, Bob, has been a wonderful help, bringing my meals upstairs, going to the store to fetch the medications or my favorite grande skinny iced vanilla chai.  My friends have been supportive with texts, phone calls, flowers, cards, and offers to visit.  Both of my sisters have offered to come stay with me for a few days, if I need them too. (As much as I truly cherish the offer, I think we are all relieved that Bob will make their offer unnecessary.)

Get to Know Your Customer Day–July 18, 2019

According to National Day Calendar,

Get to Know Your Customers Day reminds businesses to reach out to patrons and get to know them better. The day is observed annually on the third Thursday of each quarter (January, April, July, October).

So for this quarter, that is today!

I invite you  to let other readers of this blog and me  get to know  you better.  Here are two different options.

  1.  Tell us something about yourself and your blog (if you have one) in the comments section of today’s blog.
  2.   Submit a proposal for a guest blog.   The topic can be one of your chosing, but I do ask that it remain respectful and respectable (to at least the PG level)   If you decide you would like to do a guest blog, please send me an email with the proposed topic, pat.alderman@gmail.com.

Are Adverbs Really Bad?

While reviewing several blogs recently, I found  a few articles badmouthing adverbs.

stephen king on adverbs

“An adverb is a word that changes the meaning of the verb, adjective or another adverb. Using the previous tip, your verb will annul the need for an adverb.”  From “My Golden Rules to ‘Show don’t Tell” by Leona Brigs in Medium.

“3. The road to hell is paved with good intentions… and adverbs.”  From “Five Super Easy Ways to Improve Your Blogs” by Christian Mihai in the Art of Blogging.

Are words ending in “ly” really ugly and totally worthless?

Barbara Baig offered a counter argument in an August 18, 2015 guest post for Writer’s Digest.

Not too long ago, on Facebook, aspiring MFAs were proudly announcing that they had spent entire revision sessions excising from their manuscripts every word ending in “-ly.” Quoting Stephen King (who was perhaps quoting Nathaniel Hawthorne), they assured each other that The Road to Hell is Paved with Adverbs. Well, with all due respect to Mr. King and Mr. Hawthorne, it just ain’t so.

To begin with, an adverb is not merely a word that happens to end in -ly. An adverb is one of the four content parts of speech (the others are nouns, verbs, and adjectives) which enable us to construct sentences. Every part of speech does something in a sentence: nouns name things, verbs provide action, adjectives and adverbs add to or limit or clarify the nouns and verbs. A writer determined to eliminate adverbs will be a seriously handicapped writer, for adverbs can make more specific, add information to, not only verbs, but also adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbs, like the other content parts of speech, are an essential for every writer’s toolkit; they can do things that the other parts of speech cannot.

Adverbs in dialog seem to be one of the favorite places for adverb haters.
From Brainpickings “Stephen King on Writing, Fear and the Atrocity of Adverbs

‘Put it down!’ she shouted.
‘Give it back,’ he pleaded, ‘it’s mine.’
‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said.

In these sentences, shouted, pleaded, and said are verbs of dialogue attribution. Now look at these dubious revisions:

‘Put it down! she shouted menacingly.
‘Give it back,’ he pleaded abjectly, ‘it’s mine.’
‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said contemptuously.

Oviously, adverbs are redundant to the strong verb.

How about as  the topic sentence for a paragraph?

When I saw the teenager and the young child approaching the pool, I mistakingly thought that the young child would be the problem.  The teenager splashed the younger child when ever the child lifted his head for air as he methodically swam back and forth and in the lane.  The child ignored the droplets that hit his face whenever he lifted it above the water.  Later at the hot tub’s edge, the younger child dangled his feet as the he sat quietly next to his father.  The teenager sat on the top step between the handles of the hot tub until his father told him to move.  He sidled under the handles to the oppostite side of the ladder before edging back to the middle of the steps.  As I exited the hot tub, his father grunted at him to move.  The teen ager did so reluctantly and sat back down almost immediately,  his back brushing  my calf before I could climb over the the top step.

Do you think that adverbs should be vanquished like yesterday’s tunafish left too long in the sun?




Power of Manipulation

Last weekend I was in Cleveland, Ohio for the Special Libraries Association 2019 Conference.  On Sunday, June 16, our opening keynote speaker was Leon Legothetis.  He previously was a London stockbroker, but gave that up. From his website:

 He used to be a broker in the city of London where he felt uninspired and chronically depressed. He gave it all up for a life on the road. This radical life change was inspired by the inspirational movie The Motorcycle Diaries.

Today, Leon is a motivational speaker. His initial presentation was upbeat and positive as he showed us slides and a video from his upcoming Netflix series,  The Kindness Dairies.

In the series he drives a yellow motorbike around the world.  He carries no money and has to get food, lodging, and gas for his bike, Love One, from strangers.  One memorable samaritan who gave him shelter was a homeless man.  The homeless man kept a spare clean bedroll, clean underwear, and clothes in a garbage bag stashed in some bushes.  In return for sharing  what little he had, Leon rewarded the man with an apartment and enrollment in a cooking program because school was where the homeless man felt the most loved.

How does a man without funds for food, gas, or lodging, and who is supposedly travelling around the world by himself, just happen to have a videographer on hand to capture his journey and enough resources to generously thank the people who give him lodging, food, and gas money?

One of the last parts of his talk was to ask anyone in the audience who had ever felt sad to come up on the stage and share their experience.  One lady raised her hand.  She just happened to be able to attend the conference because of a stipend from the local Cleveland SLA Chapter.  That stipend made her feel welcomed.

Leon asked us all to stand and face them, while he put his arm around the lady’s shoulders and asked if she felt loved because all of us stood clapping, per his instructions.  Both of them agreed it felt wonderful to bask in the support of the applauding audience.

Leon then asked us to turn our backs on them and face the rear of the hall.  He then asked the lady if she felt spurned and they both agreed it felt awful when we turned our backs on the two of them (again at Leon’s comand.)

When we were  told to turn around, the sun came back out and the two of them on the stage remarkably felt much better.

I felt manipulated.  Can I have a portion of my conference fee back?





Turning Points that Capture the Imagination

Since the first settlers landed in the 16th and 17th centuries, the United States has participated in dozens of named and unnamed wars.    Even the more familiar wars like the

  • American Revolution
  • War of 1812
  • Mexican War
  • Civil War,
  • Spanish- American War
  • World Wars I and II
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • Persian Gulf War
  • Wars in Afghan and Iraq

have countless known and unknown battles

Many of those wars have battles that stand out in people’s imaginations:  Valley  Forge, Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guadalcanal, and D-Day.  Which battles stand out in your mind?

Why do these battles stand out in our collective consciousness?

The U.S. Army still has staff rides of Gettysburg for new senior officers and students at some of the senior service colleges like the National Defense University in Washington, DC.  My husband was on a staff ride with some NATO officers and recounted that a Norwegian officer pointedly told a German officer that “We re-use our battle fields in Europe.”

I had an opportunity to do a couple of staff rides to Gettysburg.  On one occasion we re-enacted Pickett’s Charge.  By walking the battle field we experienced how the troops appeared and disappeared from sight by the lifts and dips of the terrain as we plodded up the hill.  (And we did not have to contend with the thick smoke of artillery fire.)

Many Americans are planning to visit Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.  Some have already been to Omaha and Utah beaches.  Others will go on or after the actual anniversary date.  What is about these battle grounds that stir our imagination and call us to view them for ourselves?

My friend and shipmate from the USS Midway Carrier (CV-41) Museum library, Phil Eakin (Commander,  USN ret) recently toured France.  One of the highlights of his trip was touring Omaha and Utah beaches.   He was showing the Midway flag by carrying his Midway Magic on the Road sign.

What battlefields have you visited?  Which ones would you like to visit and why?