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Lifetimes Columns


– A Dad’s Point-of-View: The best thing about getting older is …
– The Dinner Diva: Plasticware
– In the Scheme of Things: Seeing the world
– Man-to-Man: My history with my woman

A Dad’s Point-of-View: The best thing about getting older is …
Column by Bruce Sallan

I had lunch with a good friend the other day and the subjects we covered really made an impact on me, as I reflected on them. I had just come from a lesson in using social media, where I’m learning the new technologies that are popular in our culture now, such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkenin, Smart Phones, I-everythings, etc.

While I’m not a total novice, I do admit that every time a new “thing” comes out, it fills me with dread. I face having to learn it, figure it out, and even understand it. Frankly, I did not “get” Twitter at all until my lessons finally penetrated my middle-aged, failing hard-drive of a brain. And that was also after reading “Twitter for Dummies”-and I’m not kidding.

My friend shared with me that he’d heard that every generation now has a six-year shelf life, meaning that every six years, you will be out-of-date and behind the current level of technology. So, his 10-year-old was losing to a four-year-old. It’s mind-boggling the speed of these changes in all our lives. And our children are growing up in the midst of it, knowing nothing different.

My boys don’t tweet, and aren’t interested. They text non-stop and do it at speeds I can’t even fathom. Where did they learn this? It’s mostly all thumbs vs. traditional typing, though their phones have typing pads that are laid out in the traditional way, albeit just a bit smaller. They don’t bother with voicemail, saying that they see who called with the “missed call” function and therefore don’t bother. It’s the same when I call them. They just tell me they’ll see that I called, so they don’t listen to my messages, which I’ve stopped leaving, as I’ve had to adapt to their ways.

My biggest fear is that I’ve already become just like my parents, who could never figure out how to program their VCR, no matter how many times I impatiently taught them. I wrote it out, and I even made a video for them with step-by-step instructions. Now, I ask my younger son to program our DVR, as I always seem to forget how to do it. It’s payback time, I suppose.

My friend and I then discussed what I fear will be the most common topic of conversation as we grow older–aging, and all the medical maladies that go with it, starting with our dwindling memories. We each shared stories of what we’d forgotten that day, but then lost our train-of-thought, and hoped the other would remind us.

I stated my belief that our brains are like computer hard-drives and we’ve hit capacity, only unlike a computer hard-drive, there’s no delete button for those unneeded memories that I can’t lose, like the lyrics to “Na Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (by Steam-I had to look that up on Google, naturally).

As we continued our conversation about aging, he took me through his medical mystery tour of trying to figure out how to deal with his genetic cholesterol problem. A master story-teller (he’s a very successful television producer), it was almost like hearing a mystery novel read out loud. He told of his investigation into the various options, all the doctors he visited, and his ultimate discovery that he was among the small percentage of people that had bad side effects from the most commonly prescribed drugs for controlling cholesterol.

Even pursuing a holistic approach was part of my friend’s journey. That included a special blood work-up from a lab in Florida that analyzed and suggested a diet tailored to his blood type and ethnic and genetic make-up. It included the natural ingredient of red yeast rice instead of the prescribed cholesterol drugs. A miracle occurred as his numbers fell to wonderfully healthy low levels.

But, after a couple of months, the same side effects returned of an aching back and soreness. It seems that the red yeast rice had the same side effect as the drugs, so he stopped the yeast but kept up the “special” diet, and shortly thereafter his cholesterol levels were back up, off the charts, and bad.

A final suggestion from one of the doctors was to try taking omega fish oil. And, after eight years of investigation, numerous doctors, and everyone offering a different theory, this worked. And, it seems to have continued to work.

As is often the case with a good friend who you don’t see often enough, the lunch didn’t seem to last near long enough to finish all we wanted to talk about and catch up with each other’s lives. I discussed my wife’s similar medical problems, but in the mysterious world of hormones and menopause. She’s been at it for seven years with no end in sight and has similar negative reactions to the most commonly prescribed medicines and treatments. Maybe she’ll discover, via a psychic or healer, a secret herb that will do the trick?

All I know is that the discussion made me laugh. I also felt old, and grateful my genetics don’t include similar problems, especially menopause. I can’t help but wonder how the future will affect our children as both technology and medicine evolves?

As for offering the best thing about getting older, I have to admit it has nothing to do with what I’ve discussed in this column. I believe, as we get older, we have the opportunity, if we’ve learned from our mistakes, to handle all our personal relationships better.

The Dinner Diva: Plasticware
Column by Leanne Ely

One of the most frustrating things in the kitchen is dealing with the plastic stuff. You know what I’m talking about—Tupperware, Rubbermaid containers, whatever brand or style you use, we all have it.

And boy, do we have it! We have it to overflowing. It is as if the giant plasticware beast threw up in our kitchens. If we never ate a bite of our Thanksgiving dinners, sealed it all up in our abundant plasticware, we would still have enough leftover plastic to bundle up the entire neighborhoods’ Thanksgiving dinners also! WHY is this so?

I will tell you why: we have TOO much! Yes, there is such thing as too many plastic containers. We don’t need as much as we think. As a matter of fact, I am of the opinion that having an ENTIRE cupboard dedicated to leftover-keeping is way too much plastic!

We really only need a drawer-full and even that might be too much. The fact is, leftovers need to be used up within a couple of days of becoming a leftover. So really, you should be using up what’s leftover FIRST before you start over again with a new meal. Last night’s dinner is today’s wonderful lunch. Lots of leftovers from the night before mean you can recycle your dinner by adding an out of the ordinary flavor and calling it something different. For example, last night’s recycled roast chicken is now peeking through a tortilla with some beans and salsa to become a Chicken Bean Burrito. See how this works?

But back to my point—too much plastic. I have an assignment for you: pull out your plastic, make sure you have the lids, recycle the stuff that no longer has a lid, bless someone with your excess (that’s all in good working order and complete) and make it your goal to have a plastic DRAWER and give that cupboard space over to something else! If you have never had a pantry, here’s your opportunity!

Plasticware is helpful when it is a controlled substance. When it is out of control, it is a monster that must be contained. Don’t let the plastic containers take over your kitchen! Set your timer for 15 minutes and slay that plastic beast! Go ahead, I double dog dare you!

In the Scheme of Things: Seeing the world
Column by Nan Russell

Connecting with our two granddaughters via web cam makes a pleasant Sunday afternoon event. So it was last week, hearing about the excursion to the zoo and an upcoming playmate’s birthday party from the just-turned-three-year-old. Noticing her sister in the background I asked, “So how’s your sister doing?” “Okay Nana. But she’s still not walking!”

Her comment made me laugh since her sister is only five months old. But her orientation to the world stuck with me, just as it did a few months earlier on the day her sister was born. Driving her to the hospital to visit her parents and meet her sibling, she lost interest in a grandparent sing-a-long, getting fidgety and impatient to get there. I’d forgotten to bring any toys, so I offered her binoculars. Engaged for two or three minutes as she repeatedly took them out and put them back in the case, she said, “Turn them on, Nana”

No matter how many times I explained how to use them, restating again and again that they didn’t turn on, she persisted. And each time we got in the car that week, she wanted me to show her how to turn them on. Obviously in her world, everything turns on.

In my world, everything doesn’t. Yet, it’s taken me a few decades to realize my world isn’t the only world, nor the right world. There are many worlds out there. How different the world is for a 3-year-old, a thirteen-year-old, a thirty-three-year-old, and a eighty-three-year-old. We think the world we see is the same, but it isn’t.

It’s certainly not the same world for a single mom of three as it is for a multigenerational family living together and pooling resources. It’s not the same world for a young tech-professional father supporting his family as it is for a same-aged laid-off trucker seeking work to support his. And when we go beyond our local orientations and niches, it’s definitely not the same world for a nomadic tribeswoman trekking on the sand dunes of Namibia as it is for a cosmopolitan, Wall Street executive living on the twentieth floor overlooking Central Park.

Our world is different from anyone else’s. Like the new reality series, Undercover Boss highlights, how firmly we orient to our own world often blinds us to seeing someone else’s. There’s a great line in the film, Whip It. The mother of a teenage Roller Derby phenomenon, not understanding how her daughter, Bliss, can enjoy such a sport remarks, “This is just a moment.” Her daughter quips back, “Well, how great is that!”

In the scheme of things, we do live in different worlds. My three-year-old granddaughter offered me a glimpse of hers. But here’s the thing: when we share what we experience and see in our own world, instead of connecting only with those who share a similar orientation, we create a path for greater insight and understanding. As we glimpse other worlds, looking beyond self to the bigger universe we share, we evolve our humanity. I echo, “How great is that!”

Man-to-Man: My history with my woman
Column by Wayne Levine

Although I usually respond to men’s questions in this column, I decided to do something a little different. Since March is Women’s History Month, I thought I would honor my woman and the history we’ve shared together.

Ria and I met in 1980, when I was 19, with long hair and torn jeans. I transferred into her class on the second week of school. She watched as I spoke with the professor. Having learned to appreciate the pleasures of having a “project” from her creative and adventurous mother, Ria thought to herself, ” I can do something with that.”

Besides cute and petite, I could tell she was smart. That’s why I would glance over, from time to time, to see what she had written…on her tests. You see, I was pretty smart, too. We began to talk a bit, the two of us, and a few others in class. We became friendly classmates. Naturally, I thought she’d like to go out with me. So I asked. She said “no.”

What Ria didn’t know at the time was that I had learned to never take “no” for an answer. Having been somewhat unsupervised for most of my childhood, I learned “on the streets” that there was always an angle, always a way to “yes.”

I tried again. She said I was “too young for her, not worldly enough.” She must have really enjoyed playing with me, like a cat with a trapped mouse. I was younger, that was true. But “unworldly?” Ha! Eventually, I wore her down.

I had two tickets to Benny Goodman and His Classical Trio. She had a car. She came to pick me up at my apartment. She was early. I was half-dressed, ironing my shirt. She liked that, a lot. I’m referring to the ironing. Turns out, she was quite the domestic. You never know what excites a woman. That’s why we men have to pay attention. They’re not all alike!

Her car was a ‘62 Fiat 1100 with suicide doors. Awesome. We laughed. I mean we laughed all evening. What a night. She drove me home. After I kissed her goodnight, she patted my shoulder as I exited the car. (Now, she claims she was actually pushing me out of the car. Revisionist history, as far as I’m concerned.) That pat sealed the deal. I knew I would marry this girl. I wrote a letter to myself that night stating just that. Three years later, to the day, we opened that letter on our wedding night.

I was a boy when we met. She stood by my side as I clumsily made my way toward adulthood. Despite the curve balls I’ve thrown at her (though at the time they always felt like the curve balls life was throwing at me), she never wavered. I mean NEVER.

Through raising two kids, changing careers, starting businesses, caring for aging parents, having money, not having money, growing up, getting older, foolish schemes, hospital visits, old pain, doubt and fear, and a lot of rescued animals, my wife has taught me the meaning of unconditional love.

She’s always cared about me, always wanted me to be happy, always believed in me (though I often doubted myself), always made me feel like I was better than I knew I really was. She taught me what a strong, loving marriage looks like. She had the patience and faith that I would become the husband and father she had imagined I could be, as I walked into that classroom and became…her biggest “project.”

Twenty-nine years later, my history with Ria has taught me much of what I know and teach about long-term committed relationships. Now, as I guide men through their relationships, help them to understand themselves and their women, and inspire them to believe that there’re better than they think they are, it’s my history with my woman that guides me.

Ladies, I hope you do for your man what mine has done for me. And men, I recommend you make an effort to honor your history with your woman this month…and every month.



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