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Flower Bear
As Above, So Below



When I moved to the Village of Marathon, New York the first time some 23 years ago, I lived on Front Street, so called because it fronted on to the Tioughnioga River (don’t even try to pronounce it). Shortly after I moved there, I would wake up in the wee hours just as the day was waking up as well to see a blue heron standing in the shallows on the river bank right outside my bedroom window. I would sit for a while and just watch this beautiful creature standing silently, not moving, as the rest of the animal world went about their business of greeting a new day. I knew it was waiting for its breakfast to put in an appearance and didn’t want to scare it off by moving about, but to me its silent presence seemed more mysterious than that.

You see, it only appeared if I was struggling with some kind of decision or problem that I needed to resolve. If I went looking for it on my walks along the river, I was never able to find it. Yet I could be walking along with my mind on some issue or other and look up only to find Mr. Heron standing there like a statue, his feet in the shallows and his majestic body standing tall. Most of the time, I saw it at dawn and dusk, but I also saw it at other odd times of the day. The most magical time was one night around midnight when I was walking home from my daughter’s house after spending the evening babysitting while she worked second shift at a nursing home (yes, Marathon is the kind of place where you can walk around after midnight and no one will bother you). As I was crossing the bridge, thinking about how glad I was of the fresh air to wake me up, something made me look over the railing. There, standing in the shallows in the glow of the lights on the bridge, was my heron. I swear he looked at me.

I was at that time immersed in my Native American studies, so I looked up the meaning of having a heron as an animal totem. I learned that heron medicine is the power of knowing the self by discovering our gifts and facing our challenges. It urges us to dive into the watery world of our feelings to find the truth. Heron reminds us to stay grounded in our beliefs (under the water representing our inner most or spiritual selves) while operating in the outer world.

This teaching has always stayed with me. Over the years that followed, and especially the 15 years I spent away from the village, I always tried to stand firm in my truth when facing whatever challenges life threw at me. Sometimes I would lose my footing and then I would have to dive deep back into that watery world to find the answers.

Now that I am back in Marathon, I am a little more than 2 miles from the river. I sometimes catch a glimpse of a heron majestically flying overhead, its long legs out behind those beautiful wings. Is it my heron? I rather doubt that, but who knows? Only last week 3 different people shared photos or videos about herons on my Facebook page, and only one of them knew the significance of that bird to me. As it happens, I am wrestling with a new writing project, something bigger and more daunting than I have ever undertaken before. Perhaps heron has come back to remind me to go deep, find my truth, and stay grounded in order to face my fears and do what spirit calls me to do.

We all need something that helps us to stay grounded in our truth. It’s what keeps us authentic. It helps us to find our voice, and it shows us how to use our gifts. May we all have herons in our lives to remind us to when to stand tall, and when to fly.

And so it is.

elita clayman
A Nice Old Lady, My Mom And Me And Dad Too
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Right now, the autumn leaves are falling all over my property, yet we have no trees. We cut down all our own trees many years ago to eliminate all this raking and bagging, yet other leaves find their way to our yard.
There should be a law to fine people whose leaves mess up a neighbor’s nice and clean lawn.

Only kidding, but really, it is a good idea that will never make it attached to another law on the records like our congressmen like to do.

I had a professor who was a psychiatric doctor in a medium size mental hospital. The director loved to give the doctors lots of paper work (long before computers) to write on this and that and that and this. The head director never even read them; he was giving them busy work even though they were too busy already. One day the doctor played a joke on him. He handed in a ten page report and he wrote only his thoughts on the first two pages. The last eight pages were blank.
He received a glowing and appreciative report saying that his work was fine and he had established a good opinion. He laughed because only the first two pages were anything pertaining to the opinions sought and the last eight could be used for scrap paper.

Do you think our congressmen really read and know what is in the bills they present and who adds on to what about anything? Nancy Pelosi said they will have to sign the health bill and then we will read it. This they did and now problems are occurring every day.
I laugh when I hear the money being spent everywhere and the billions offered everywhere else. And then they take an innocent old senior like me and send her a letter telling her that her drug coverage premium will be raised two dollars and ten cents a month because she is being punished. Punished for not signing up for it the first year and so she is being penalized two dollars a month for her naughtiness. Ha. So they get me for over 25 dollars a year because I am a bad person. Multiply this by thousands or millions and this will help to pay for some of the money being spent and misused.
Maybe the congressmen need to have a thing like spell check at the end of each bill submitted and this will tell them things have been added on erroneously. I called the drug plan place which was really part of Blue Cross Carefirst and the lady at the other end said “really, this is interesting, I will tell my superior.” I said forget it, because probably another ten page report will be written and the first two will be about my complaint and the last eight will be blank.

Mom many years ago got a letter from Social Security at about 5 pm in the afternoon on a Friday. She called me up frantically worried, because the letter was dated eleven days ago and had just arrived to her. It said she would not get her next SS check, because they had overpaid her 25 dollars and they wanted it back immediately. However, it just arrived. I ran over there to calm her down and on Monday I called SS on her behalf. I told them it had just arrived and that they made an old lady upset threatening her with no SS check next month. The employee said she would mark it down on Mom’s record and to send the 25 in care of her and to tell Mom not to worry. Maybe the letter for the 25 dollars should have been sent via Fed Express or UPS so it would have arrived immediately.

So here is Mom being threatened, an old senior, here is Elita a bad person, because she did not sign up early enough for a program and we sure are bad guys or gals.

The average American is a good soul, prompt in their requirements, hardworking, caring, and kind and we get noticed.
It is nice to be noticed, appreciated and cared about. But not in this way.
Perhaps I will write a report about these notices. The first page will be with the facts and pages 2 through 10 will be blank. I am sure no one will read it, like it or care about. Maybe I will win a writing award for being a caring, competent, careful, considerate and cute old senior. I hope the IRS doesn’t send me a note for sure because I am a complainer and if they do, please send it via Fed Express, UPS or even USA priority mail. I will really appreciate that.

Maybe the autumn leaves will spare me this autumn and blow somewhere else or I may have to write a scathing letter about them too. Who knows this may be a great theme for an award winning story. If I win some money for the article, I will surely submit the taxes right away, so I do not get another letter reminding me to do so.
Fifty-seven years ago, I won 2000 dollars in a raffle ticket I bought. The accountant at the firm where I worked told me to file a paper and to send them 500 dollars immediately for the taxes on the 2000 and so I did. I wonder if all these folks who jump up and down when they win 50 thousand dollars on The Price Is Right know they have to file and pay the taxes immediately on their winnings. The reason being is that they “worked for it” submitting their bids and answering questions and winning the item they bid on at that moment. I hear they must give their SS number upon claiming their prizes after the show is over. If they did not, they could wander off into prize winning land and never be found to pay their share at once. This is what I was told 57 years ago when I won 2000 dollars, so I had 1500 left. I bought Mom and Dad a 1500 dollar new dining room set and I guess Dad did not claim that on his taxes because he had earned it, him and Mom for all the love they had given me all those 24 years. They are gone now a long time and I had better not get a letter from IRS or anyone else for overdue taxes from two old people. Mom, Dad and now me, senior citizens. elita sohmer clayman

elita clayman
Happiness Planted In Our Mind

“Say nice things or say none at all.” Mom always preached that to us.We had an aunt who was the opposite. She always had only snippy things to say about people. She seemed to find pleasure doing this.
I saw somewhere where balloons were set off outside to go up to the sky. The unusual thing about this is that before they were blown up, flower seeds had been inserted in them. The point was when they popped, they would scatter seeds to be carried by the winds wherever they are meant to go.

We once went to visit Aunt Jean and Uncle Louis at their new and beautiful home way out in the suburbs. I had never seen such a big house where the washer and dryer were in the kitchen, where they had no basement and where they had a family room as large as our whole upstairs. We admired her beautiful bushes outside and she said she had not planted them; the wind must have blown some seeds and they landed on her property and they were the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen.

Now I notice in my own development, most every lawn has these white seeds all over the lawns. It seems the wind must have blown all these seeds in our particular neighborhood and we are all having the same white flowers around. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “a weed is a plant whose virtues have not been discovered yet.”

Many times, we know people who we think are not established yet in their fields and we think as my aunt did, snippy things about them. In my doctor’s office many years ago, he had a female physician working there. One day I was there and he confided in me that he was wary about having a lady doctor there. At that time in about 1984 or so, you did not see a lot of females practicing medicine so much. There were lady lawyers and lady pharmacists, but the female doctors were not so prevalent, at least not where I frequented. He said he wondered in his specialty, would the males coming there be interested in using her services. Well, he was wrong. The moment she came to work there, she had plenty of patients of both sexes. She was very stern looking and everyone liked her for her abilities and her kindness.
One day I was shopping in the supermarket and there she was in her jeans with her young daughter in the cart. I could barely recognize her until she said hi and I thought “where do I know her from?” Then it dawned on me, she was Doctor So and So.

My snippy aunt would have characterized her as “wow she sure looks different, just real ordinary.” I thought how nice to see her in the different environment and especially with her young child.
Now we have a lady dentist, a lady gynecologist, a lady dermatologist, a lady podiatrist and friends of ours have a female pet doctor. Bravo to these ladies who became practitioners of men’s’ occupations. When I worked in 1957 at a printing company, we got our first lady pressman. This was a person who made the printing letters to be printed on a plate out of the metal and then they ran the printing presses. Now it is done on computers. She was a tough looking lady but she was a mom, wife and daughter too. She had learned typesetting as it was called in those days and she did a fine job. At first, the men resented her and then they became pals as workers do. There are lady surgeons, physical therapists and, of course, writers.

Snippy aunt would have said “they go in these professions to get a husband.” We had a neighbor when I was a kid in 1944 who became a pharmacist which then was a man’s field, too. True, she did marry her husband who she met in pharmacy school, but in those days you rarely saw a female one. I was lucky a lady pharmacist student did not latch on to my husband before he met me; as he was in pharmacy school. My mother-in-law had a friend in about 1925 who was the sole female in her medical class. She did not marry a doctor, she married a business man.

Women today become whatever they desire and bravo to them for acquiring the tools and education to be what they want to be. The girls I knew in high school became nurses because that was a female profession. Now you see male nurses, too. Men were usually the accountants, times changed and smart women went into the field if they liked numbers, details and math. Other women became school teachers. Rarely was there a male teacher in the public schools and when my kids were in the sixth grade, they had one male teacher on the staff and he was a fine representative of what a good teacher is.

Females have been entering male jobs now for years. Kudos to them and of course, the early trailblazers, ones like the lady doctor,90 years ago. A friend of a relative of mine, who made news when she was the only female in her graduating dental class way back in about 1932 and all the other brave gals who stormed men’s professions and became great successes.

I ran an office in the 50s which was a high-powered job in the days of no computers. We got a Xerox machine in about 1957 which made us feel real modern. We also obtained a few electric typewriters, a coffee machine and a ‘thing a ma jig’ called a teletype machine. We were amazed at how it worked. It was almost like a precursor to a computer. We could receive from our clients a change to their printing order which was very important and they typed on their machine in New Jersey the change they wanted and it came over to our office on a piece of paper similar to a fax machine. There were no fax machines in those days, we had never even heard of the word yet. Then we made the printing change and sent them off a copy that we did it. We were amazed and excited to get this machine in our office in those olden days. Very few of our clients had the machine on their end, so it was used only for the select clients who had them and their corrections, changes and additions were done instantly to the printed matter.

Oh, how we lived in those ancient times and how thrilled we were when a new addition was added to the office. We could not wait for its installation and we exclaimed with great joy watching it deliver what it was attempting. The first Xerox copy we made, we stood there and applauded us and the machine. Times have advanced and days are easier with all of these expensive accruements and we take them for granted.

So to snippy Aunt, I wonder what you would say, if you would have had these nice instruments of convenience to make your life easier in your business. Maybe, just maybe, you would be more pleasant, happier and feel real modern.
Maybe the balloons with the seeds in them who are carried by the wind will bring even more flowers of great worth this time around and the weeds will be gone and we can send a picture of our new flowers over our fax machine, our cellphone, our computer, out into the world of computer space and someone will have an extra smile that day when they see them. We will say something pleasant about it and we will have flowers of happiness planted in our minds.
elita sohmer clayman

Cara - VN Staff
Friday inspiration
FILE - This April 7, 2011 file photo shows Carrie Fisher at the 2011 NewNowNext Awards in Los Angeles. Fisher says she's coming back as Princess Leia for the new “Star Wars” films. The actress confirmed that she'll return as the iconic character in an interview posted Wednesday, March 6, 2013, with Florida's Palm Beach Illustrated. Casting for the films has yet to be announced, but Fisher answered a simple “yes” when asked if she would be reprising Leia. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, file)

Great quote from an impressive vibrant woman.

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”  ~ Carrie Fisher

10-23-2015 3-28-22 PM

elita clayman
Mike, A Ballroom Dancer And A Photographer Who Was Our Rainbow

There is a saying “your attitude affects your choices and your life”. Sometimes we have a good attitude and sometimes we feel we have a bad attitude. The way you get up in the morning, either on the wrong side of the bed or the right side of the bed can affect your mood upon wakening. However, if you stop to ‘talk’ to yourself when you are feeling this way; perhaps you can change your emotions and passions for that day.

Some people are what I call smiley people. They always have a pleasant smile on their face and you think they are what we call happy folks. Others rarely smile because they are considered serious people. I know a couple that carry those two characteristics. She is serious and he is very comical. At first glance, you wonder how they even live together because of their diverse personalities. Somehow, they have been married fifty-two years and courted for almost three years before the wedding. Somehow, their different attitudes blend and they do get along most of the time. Sometimes he irritates her with his joking all the time and she wishes she could have a real serious conversation with him without a joke being said.

When they courted, she did not see his always joking moments, they saw each other on the weekends because he was going to college and she was working long hours. When they did see each other on Saturday and Sunday, they were so enamored of each other and so sexually attracted; their moments and hours together did not show these two different personalities. They say that opposites attract and so this is true in their situation. I wonder if they had realized their differences, would they have married and stayed married for such a long time.

Sometimes, things are not what they seem. Uncle Julius was quiet; Aunt Adele was more loud mouthed. When they had a disagreement, he would walk out of their tiny house, not say a word and come back from a long walk in about one hour. She meanwhile was seething with anger and wanted to shout at him, she could not because he was not there. When he did arrive back, she was quite glad he had returned, because her nightmare was that he never would. That is how they got along and stayed married for dozens of years. I saw this many times when Mom and I visited (he was her older brother) and I as a young teen would wonder how they ever married. They seemed not to enjoy the same things other than their two daughters. However, they did remain together until his death.

She really missed him a lot; she had no one to argue with. She did love him in her own way, and he her in his particular manner. Opposites do attract.

We see that in our ballroom dancing very often. The man is dragged into dancing not wanting to attempt this but goes along because he wants to please his wife. Soon he is enjoying the challenge of it and being able to brag to his working buddies that he is a ballroom dancer. He does not really let his wife know that he does enjoy it most of the time. I have seen couples stay together in a marriage because they had the common goal to become fabulous dancers as a couple.

I have seen men and women get together as dance partners and then marry each other whereas they actually met on the dance floor. They seem to be happy to have found each other in this hobby they took up and therefore, they appear happy and content. There was a lady named Margie who came to dance classes and dance parties with her friend Margo. One was Margie and the other one was Margo. They yearned to get married and if he did dance, that would be an additional perk because both loved to dance.

Margo found someone first and Margie seemed a bit miffed or jealous. She tried not to show it, but I could see it. One day, I told her she should go to another studio to dance and to look for a husband because somehow Margo and Lionel seemed to be inhibiting her scouting possibilities because they were always with her. They did not want to somehow dump her as a friend and fellow dancer since Margo and Margie had gone together to all this husband looking for dancing places was where they frequented every weekend of the year. Since Margo had discovered Lionel and he her, that left out Margie.

She took my advice and we did not see her for about eight weeks and one night lo and behold, there was Margie up with us all at the dance party and she brought along David. She introduced him to all of us and especially to Margo and Lionel. They were delighted she now had a dance partner and the four of them sat together from then on every Saturday night.

After about six months, David asked the owner could he make an announcement when the owner was giving out the coming events of the studio to the dance audience on that Saturday night. He got up and in his beautiful deep voice said “I always loved to dance and one day a few months ago, I met the love of my life when she asked me to dance a Rhumba with her at one of these dances at another studio. So Margie my love, will you marry me?” She almost fainted and so did the other twelve or so ladies who were looking for a man at a dance. I guess they were a bit envious, but Margo got up and gave the first toast to the new bride and groom to be. I forgot to mention that David gave his bride to be a lovely diamond ring in a heart shape. He said she had taken his heart and loved ballroom dancing for bringing them together somehow, some place, this someday.

It was what is called beshert (meant to be) and it surely was a beshert evening.Two people loving the same sport/hobby and finding each other at a dance studio. He traveled there forty-five miles to dance and she traveled only six miles and the rest was history (dance history).

The married six months later and used the dance hall as their ceremony sight and their reception hall.

They invited about fifty guests from the studio that they saw every Sunday when they ballroom danced.

The owner of the studio played and their first dance after the ceremony was choreographed by one of the dance coaches that taught there. The wedding cake was made in the shape of a dance shoe and atop it the bride and groom statue had the bride in a competition dance dress and the groom with a number on his back symbolizing when a couple do competition ballroom dancing.

The music featured the song ‘I could Have Danced All Night’ and you never in your life saw so many good dancers dancing to the music which was entirely dance music geared to fine ballroom dancers. Usually the first dance now days has been taught to the bride and groom by a teacher for about six lessons so they can show their wedding guests they ‘know’ how to dance. In this case, both bride and groom were competent dancers having danced for years before meeting one another.

Ballroom dancers seem to gravitate to each other. In 2002, a tribute dance was given to Robert Jacob Meyer who retired from being the editor for twenty-four years of a magazine called Amateur Dancers.

I was there to present Bob with a plaque citing his complete devotion to ballroom dance and the editing of the magazine for so long.At that time, I was the senior page editor of a senior section in that magazine.I was not a senior yet then, but I did cater to senior activities and encouragement for seniors to dance even at their maybe advanced ages. A man I met through the internet who read my articles had emailed me if I was going to be there, because he loved my dance articles in the magazine and he was an accomplished photographer. His name was Mike Wong and he passed away a few months ago. He told me he was going to photograph me to honor me for my writings for at that time twelve years. He told me to bring a few different jackets or blouses to change to, so the photos would be varied.

So my husband and I went and he kidded me on the way there that Mike might run off with me and he would lose me and then he would never have to dance again. He would not admit that he really loved it.

So there was Mike, a very tall man about six feet five tall and I felt like a really tiny person when he asked me to dance. He was from Tibet he said and very nice looking. He made me pose for a few shots and sent them to me on the internet and through the regular mail. He touched them up and made me look about ten year younger which was very nice. I enjoyed meeting him and he posted all the photos from the tribute dance on his website. We corresponded via email for several years and then it stopped.

I emailed him once a few years ago because I had not heard from him and he said he no longer could dance and was not feeling that great and did not use the computer or camera much. He said he enjoyed my articles and taking my photos and that was probably about the last time I heard from him. About six months ago, I was notified that he had passed away and I wrote a nice note on the funeral home’s memory page, how we had met that one time after emailing for years.

You can make many friends in lots of places. It seems that your ballroom dance friends are very special and very dear even though you barely know them in actual face to face. However, for the common love you both and all enjoy, you are brought together in a room of happiness that is not actually a room that you are physically in together. Mike and I saw each other once for about two hours at a tribute dance to Robert Jacob Meyer way back in September 2002. I shall never forget his love of the photography of dancers and his love of ballroom dancing and his love of my dance articles. He was tall in stature and very soaring in his love of the sport.

Dancing gives us great friends, friends in person, friends on the internet and email and friends in our hearts. Some we never meet unless it is over the internet and the email and they can be just as dear as our in person people.

In a poem I just read, it said “Some rainbow coming from the fair.” That is what dancing is to all of us ballroom dancers, a rainbow seen by us even when it is dark outside. We meet strangers through the internet and we all have in common the love of dance and that makes us buddies, friends, pals and comrades. Your attitude does affect your choices in life and your life affects your attitude.



elita clayman
Grow In Your Life As Your Garden Prospers Too

The Talmud which is a central text of mainstream Judaism is a collection of oral traditions and it has many sayings attributed to it. One such saying is: Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers “Grow, Grow.” This is what we all have to do regardless of our age. Especially as seniors, we must keep active with our minds and our bodies. We have to do activities that allow our mind to continue on in a good manner and also exercise for our bodies.

Reading books whether on real books or Kindles, using computers, walking, using a stationary bike, going to concerts, shows and an exceptional activity is to learn to ballroom dance regardless of your ‘now’ age.

My dear late mom use to volunteer at Sinai Hospital in their gift shop and also in their well-baby clinic helping doctors and nurses to take care of the babies that were brought in there for health reasons. She loved to put on her yellow and white volunteer dress uniform and she felt so proud that she was accomplishing a good deed in being a volunteer. I use to tell her she looked so cute in her Nancy/Nurse outfit. That is what kept her young and vital even though she was an advanced senior.

My activity is to write articles encouraging everyone to learn to ballroom dance whether they are senior or not yet seniors. There are available inexpensive group class beginner lessons at many studios where one can learn the basics of Waltz, Tango, Salsa, Foxtrot,Cha Cha and Jive/Jitterbug. After you learn, you can go on Saturday nights or Sunday afternoons and dance at a studio I frequent called The Promenade on Lord Baltimore Drive in Woodlawn and for a mere fifteen dollars for three hours of delightful disc jockey music in a beautiful studio, you can practice what you have learned in class. Besides the music, making new friends and eating delightful snacks, you will be in a new world of ballroom dance.

Any problems or sadness you may have in your life will be forgotten for the three hours of complete enjoyment. People dress up, are friendly and your mind is so active with your dancing and remembering what you have learned; you will be amazed at the happiness and peace that will surround you there.

You will be Ginger Rogers and your partner will be Fred Astaire and you will be encircled by what I call a ‘dance rainbow.’

I write articles encouraging and inspiring everyone to ballroom dance that are featured on dance websites, blogs and in dance printed magazines. A California senior of 79.5 (her words) years named Jeannie was so inspired by my articles that she started at that age to take dance lessons and she had been in a depression for years because her husband was in a nursing home for 20 years. Her life opened up to things she had not envisioned and she danced in shows with her young teacher before studio members and she even went on to compete in competitions with him. Her depression was gone and she was a happy senior and now over 12 years later, she is still dancing and is so happy with her new life.

When we had our pharmacy many years ago, an old man Mr. Garland came in every day to chat with the customers, the employees and sometimes to shop. When I worked there, he would call out when he

saw me and say “Where is my Angel?” My husband, the owner and pharmacist there would call out and say “Mr. Garland are you flirting again with my wife?” Everyone would smile and this little act from Mr. Garland helped pass his sad day and it gave him some socialization. It also made me feel sweet that he called me Angel. I went out and I bought a key chain and a refrigerator magnet that said Angel after he passed away so I would always remember him and his tender remarks.

So as the old saying from the Talmud said about the blade of grass and Angels, we should keep on growing and growing and we will feel elated about our life. As one of the sites I use to write for was called Patch. It is a blade of grass growing into a patch and we see all kinds of news about activities we can participate in which will enable us to grow and to be strong in our minds and bodies even as seniors.

Seniors mean we are at this age and we have become the important elders and we are encompassing a new time in our life with adventure and hope. We continue to Grow, Grow and we are happier for doing activities that are satisfying, using our mind and most of all having fun and growing mentally and physically. You will grow in your life as your garden grows too.
elita sohmer clayman

elita clayman
A Gentle Push, A Triumphant Accomplishment
The Bible says ” the words of the reckless pierce like the sword and a harsh word stirs up anger, but a gentle word answer turns away wrath.” Proverbs 12:18.
How true. This from my email friend, ballroom dancer, husband, father, grandfather, wellness educator and my mentor in getting me back to walking, walking steps and thinking I may dance one day in the future.His words are to me below in an email:
“OK, you are well on your way to making everyday an unbelievable one. Now, your stories have credibilitybecause you are doing what you were recommending to all of us. I am proud of you partner and maybe,just maybe, Hawaii is in our future !! Steven Behr, Sr. Washington   State.
Keep up the great work and keep smiling !!
Aloha.”  He is referring to my dream is to go with him to Hawaii where he has gone with two dance partners for the last thirty-two years. We kid around that someday, I will be his dance partner and dance with him in Hawaii in 2017.
These words surely inspire, encourage and delight me and he is talking about my walking up stairs in my house this past Sunday. This coming Saturday will be another milestone. I am going to walk outside my foyer door into a big landing type cement platform or a big step. Then I will walk sideways about 5 feet to the new railing we had installed a few weeks ago and with my dear friend Andy by my side, I will attempt to walk down 3 cement steps to the bottom one and step down and I will be outside for the first time walking with him to my awaiting walker and my wheelchair to sit down after this ‘exhausting’ trip. Then we will go to the Giant pharmacy where my husband and I will get our annual flu shot. Wow, I feel like one of the explorers  who discovered a new place centuries ago. Possibly like when the first man walked on the moon many years ago. He called it “one step for mankind.”
His name was Neil Armstrong and his partner  Buzz  Aldrin walked too. It is not clear from the history of it that Neil landed and Buzz the next day walked on it. My walking for me after almost two years of not walking steps at all until last Sunday when I walked up and down steps inside my home and now I will descend steps outside and I will call it three steps for womankind.
Of course, his walk on the moon was unbelievable and then, was a momentous and beautiful activity.
If I was a ice skater, this would be part of my routine, walking, skating, moving and excelling. I  am an ordinary senior who fell in the house 21 months ago and here I am an accomplished walking 900 feet per day senior walking up and down a few steps and the best of all, I will be able to go outside via the front steps and to go somewhere with the help of my best friend Andy who will help me get over the initial hurdle and his wife Carmen, my other best friend who will record all of this on the camera phone.
If Steven Spielberg hears of this, maybe he will call and make a documentary of seniors who come back and are successful and are so happy about it. A gentle answer turns away wrath; a gentle little going down a few steps outside turns away being a bit handicapped and this is three steps almost as great as the moon walking. Just kidding, it is pretty great for me and anyone who reads this story may be inspired to accomplish something like this  too.Who knows?
We all need a little shove sometimes whether it is physical or mental, as long as it is gentle.     elita sohmer clayman
elita clayman
Genesis In The Beginning
Genesis means the first book of Old Testament and the first words are ” In the beginning.” Genesis also means origin, mode of, formation of something, root, start. I called a cosmetic store named Ulta here and the young lady said she would put something aside for me to pickup in 24 hours. I always ask the name of the person and I thought she said Jen. I called back an hour later and asked for Jen and they said they have no Jen there. I said that I talked to a Jen 60 minutes ago. She said “oh you mean Genesis.” So it was her.I thought what a nice Bible name. I am always interested in people with unusual names. Since I have one, we have an easy bonding of two souls with different sounding names. Sometimes, they say their name is Ashley or Courtney. I say does your mom watch Young and Restless? They say yes, I say  mom probably got it from there, Ashley and Courtney are from there. Tonight I called in a dinner order at Outback and she said her name is Crystal. I said did your mom watch  Dynasty many years ago? She said I will ask her. They are interested when I name these soap opera names. Many years ago, I watched The Edge of Night and her name was Solita, so that was the closest to my name I ever got. When my first niece was born 61years ago, they named her Barbara. My brother said  he wanted to name her Beth but did not, because a Jewish girl named Beth in this case Beth Sohmer, it sounded like a synagogue, because most of them are Beth Israel, Beth Tfiloh, Beth Isaac, Beth El because Beth means house of God.So names are important and house of God is a lovely meaning. Genesis has a lot to live up to. I know a girl named Ravyn  and she loves it because of our Baltimore Ravens football team. Especially when they are winning and of course they are not right now. If they start to win, Ravyn will be extra happy.

My own Mom did not like her name of Leah, so she dropped the h and called herself Lea pronounced Lee.This was probably interesting because this was back in about  1925, when women did not do things like this.

My blind uncle Joseph was named Joseph and he did not like it.  He changed it to George and his blind sister Rose changed her’s to  Ruth. This is Ok, we should kind of like our names and if we want to be called something else, so be it.Bill Clinton, former president has the name of

William Clinton and he was born with the name of William Jefferson Blythe III. His father died before he was born in an automobile accident and his stepfather gave him his name of Clinton. My Mom’s friend Sadie’s granddaughter was pregnant and her husband, a soldier died before their baby was born and she remarried and gave him the middle name, the last name of his late dad.
So when you meet a new friend or relative, perhaps, if they have an unusual name, maybe there is a story behind it that is very interesting and they will enjoy telling you about it. My name Elita is after Mom’s mom and her name was Eta and Mom Americanized it.
Gertrude Stein, the poet said ” a rose is a rose is a rose.” A name is a name is a name is a name.
elita sohmer clayman
Flower Bear
A Touch of Frost

This is what greeted me one morning last week:

The first touch of frost dusted the grass and reminded me that, even though we would probably still have some warm days yet, the year was winding down towards winter. There were more months behind us for this year on the calendar than there were left ahead of us.

The year I turned 60 was a lot like that as well. For some reason, as long as I was still in my 50’s, I never gave it a thought, but after my birthday I suddenly realized that I had more years behind me than I was likely to have in front of me. That was a sobering thought for sure. It’s not as if I thought my days were numbered, but when I looked back at those previous decades, I realized that I could not say with any certainty that my best days were behind me as well. There was nothing outstanding about them except for the birth of my two beautiful daughters which I consider my crowning achievement, but I didn’t feel as if I had achieved any of the goals I had set up for myself or made more than one of my dreams come true – leaving the city behind and moving to the country. For a while I wondered if there was still time for me to go for the gold and make the rest of my dreams come true. Was I now “too old” to give birth to them?

Then I discovered my hero, Louise Hay, who affirmed: “Each age has its own special joys and experiences. I am always the perfect age for where I am in life.” Maybe that was the key to it all. When I was having and raising my children, I was the perfect age to do that. Now that I am older, and my children are off living their own lives, I am the perfect age to experience the special joys and accomplishments that come with the wisdom of having lived 60+ years. As I sat down at my desk and picked up my pen again, I discovered that my writing had taken on a different hue, a warmer, deeper voice, and I knew that it wouldn’t have been possible to write like that in my younger days. I needed a touch of frost, a touch of life experience, to add the color that my writing needed. I have since published two ebooks, have been writing this blog for three years, and am working on a new book that is longer and deeper than anything I have done before. I could not have even begun that project until I had lived it first.

Yesterday morning I woke up to yet another surprise:

Our first snow of the season (no, the bear isn’t real. He has been standing guard over my gardens for the last 20 years). It’s all gone now, melted away by the Autumn sun and temperatures reaching back for the 50’s. Change happens. Seasons change. There are special joys and experiences in each of them and I know I am the perfect age to experience each and every one of them as only I can from where I am in my life.

And so it is.

elita clayman
I Am Alive I Am Proud Of Me, I Walked Steps

This saying, aphorism, motto, proverb, whatever you want to name it, says it all. “If you are awake, you are blessed. Life is a priceless gift. Appreciate every minute of it.” William Alger said that sayings are “portable wisdom.” How nice to have wisdom that is movable and transferable. This means, I presume that any wisdom we have can be moved in any direction we want to ‘direct’ it to. “Wisdom is the soul’s natural food.” That is another saying that is a fine one.

The person I know who had the if you are awake wisdom on her Facebook is a Cancer survivor and  she just went through chemotherapy and radiation. Yet, she is a happy, dear and wonderful person and she is always posting the above sayings to her daily Facebook additions.
How nice to be so pleasant, kind and happy a person, when she has gone through quite a lot in her fifty years. She is happy to awake and doing well and hopefully she will be fortunate that from now on, she will be fine and healthy. Another young woman I met today, told me she is a five year Cancer survivor and she too is an extremely, delighted to be an alive person.
All of us and especially seniors now called by me, its new name in my columns, active adults, should be feeling lucky we are awake and alive.
Alive and awake can be a new saying or aphorism that we can live by. Some folks die before their time and it could be from an automobile accident that was not their fault. They were hit by someone who was going the wrong way, speeding or possibly drunk. That person always survives and the other person or persons lose their lives. We feel that very unfair, unjust and sad. I knew of a doctor who retired and he was trying to find some things to occupy his time; he took to doing repair jobs around his home. One day, he was clearing leaves from the gutters and he fell off the ladder and hit his head and was gone. In a split second, his life was ended doing something for the home and just think, if he had paid a professional to do it, he would still be alive and awake.

If we get an illness, because we smoked or did other non-healthful things, then one can say we deserved it.If we go about our business and do everything right and proper, we should believe that we will be alive and awake every morning for a long period of time. Sometimes, that does not happen and we begin to wonder why, when we hear friends or family who are decent people have bad things happen to them. Someone wrote a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People. In it, he tried to explain this to the reader. I do not think he was successful with his opinions on that subject

I always thought when I was a child of ten or eleven, that if you were good, kind, honest and nice, you would be granted a long time on this earth. I have known of some really mean spirited people who lived on past ninety-five. On the other hand, I know really fine and decent folks who surely died before their time due to an illness or a car accident. I had a good friend who passed on this year before his fifty-second birthday. We saw him on the Monday before the Thursday he passed on, which was exactly about seventy-two hours later.
I told my husband a few days ago this silly thought. “If I had known this would happen, maybe I could have warned him on that Monday night to be extra careful on Thursday and perhaps it would have saved his life.” This is a truly weird thing, but when you are sad about something like that, it seems plausible. When Mom was sick in Johns Hopkins Hospital thirty-one years ago, we were told the end was near, so we were prepared in a way for its happening. We stayed by her side every day of that week and on Friday evening, five minutes after we left to go home for a few hours, she passed on.

Actually, it was sad, we were not there that minute, but almost grateful, we did not see the last moment.
So while we are waking up each morning, instead of saying we wish we could be off of work today, or wish we could sleep in a few more hours or wish we did not have a doctor’s appointment or wish that we were on our vacation week; let us be grateful we are awake, know it and remember that every day is a priceless gift. Even if some days are boring, are too busy, are too rainy, are too much heat or snow out there or we find it difficult to pay our bills or anything we do not like too much; always remember that we are spending the gift we have and teach our self to splurge and have good thoughts on a happy day, because we are alive, awake and here.
Think about all you have, count your blessings and remember that each day is a blessing. I said in a former article, list your blessings and happiness on a pad of paper and then you will be counting up to a high number of them. Your first one on the list will be: I am alive, I am awake. Remember that wisdom is the soul’s natural food (another saying) and you are quite a wise individual Today I walked up  and down several steps in my home. I had not walked steps for almost two years. Today was an important milestone for me. A simple thing like step  walking became a rainbow in my existence. elita sohmer clayman..

Bravo Elita, my son said he was proud of me and I was proud of  me too.

Cara - VN Staff
Friday inspiration
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A good friend of mine just shared this thought on a different social network, and it feels perfect right now. Sometimes we need a reminder to keep the fire lit. Happy Friday, ladies!

Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire.

St. Catherine of Sienna


elita clayman
Love Like You Will Never Be Hurt, Dance Like Nobody Is Watching

There is a saying that says “You gotta dance like nobody is watching you, love life like you will never be hurt, sing like there is nobody listening and live life like its heaven on earth.”

Very interesting thoughts. When we first danced out on the dance floor on a Saturday night social dance, we tried not to think everyone was watching us. Nobody really cared, they were worrying about their own dancing. Living like it is heaven on earth is tough to abide by. We all try to be happy and happy I think has to be worked on.

When I was single, we young women would sometimes go to these social dances held in religious building social halls. There was a dance held once a month at Bainbridge Naval Center where they trained the sailors. We had a bus takes us girls eager to meet a young man and there was a chaperone to watch over us. They had a social type get together, they had a small buffet of food and soft drinks and you mingled. Actually, the chaperone named Sylvia did meet a young sailor there herself and they eventually married and she went off to Chicago to start her new life Another girl met a fellow there and they married and I saw recently that they celebrated their 60th anniversary. I did meet a nice young fellow and his name was Maurice and he came to take me out a few times after the first meeting. He had no car, he came with another fellow who was dating a girl who lived near me and he came and picked up Maurice at a certain time in front of my house. So on our dates, we stayed in the neighborhood I lived in where there was a movie house, a delly restaurant and a Howard Johnsons restaurant and those places consisted of our dates and we walked the few blocks to these places.

This lasted for a few times and when I realized he was not of my religious faith, I stopped seeing him because in those days, we all married within our religion. Things are different now.

Maybe I will look him up on the internet. He had an unusual last name and he was a nice guy.

Now days, people of different religion marry and raise their children both ways and many seem to be doing it right. The children turn out perfectly happy and some even are proud to be half and half children as far as their religion goes. I had a cousin who married a Christian fellow one Friday afternoon after work and by a judge in D.C. She called her mom and dad that night and told them and they were happy she had found someone to love her and who she loved. She came home that weekend and her parents had ready a lovely at home reception of good food and also a Jewish clergyman to marry her in the Jewish faith.

Everyone was delighted for her. She has since passed on, but she had over 40 years of a good marriage, three kids and several grandchildren. At the time of her Friday marriage, her old grandmother was upset at her non religious marriage and especially to a Christian fellow. If you look back, this girl had lots of happiness and he also was extra good looking and she was a nice girl, but a bit heavy.

So bravo to her for being brave in those days when we dared not marry out of our religion for fear of offending our parents. She did what was right for her and this is what mattered and it turned out quite splendid for her and for her parents. They adored him and they had nice grandchildren and life was pretty darn good for them. The old grandmother was practicing what she was taught and her opinion could not stop this couple.

Dr. Seuss said “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” In my cousin’s life, she could smile because it was not over, it happened and it was a great milestone of love and joy in her life which had been quite lonely until she met him at work in D.C.

I know of a young woman who went out of town to live with the boyfriend in Boston. She gave up her job, her family being nearby and she lived with him for 9 months without a commitment of a ring or setting of a marriage date. Finally, after meeting her to be mother-in-law and seeing the animosity this lady was already showing towards her; she came home, got a new job and lo and behold, she met a fine fellow at work in D.C. They got engaged and were married a few months ago and they are very happy and guess what? The new mother-in-law adores her. She did not cry when it was over and she is smiling because it happened now.

A friend of mine from the old days was 39 when she got married and he did only because she was pregnant. So he did the right thing, had a son and now they are married for about 42 years and they are about to become grandparents for the first time from their son. In life, we never know what the day will bring, but we are ready for it,
when it does happen.
As my dad always said and he believed, tomorrow will be good and the day after will be extra good. Hopefully, the day after comes real soon and we should all be waiting for it to be one that makes us smile.
So love like you will not be hurt and then dance like the whole world is watching your happiness.
elita sohmer clayman

elita clayman
Half full or half empty, tears and the necklace

When My grandson age three years and one and half months, went to preschool, which used to be called nursery school, when his father went there and he had been there for the third time that week, and on the first day he had a tear or two when Mommy left. The teacher told my daughter-in-law to go in the hallway and they would see what would happen. She did and she saw he was fine and she left and when she picked him up three hours later, he was happy to see her and he had a good time. The next day, his daddy dropped him off and he saw a classmate with tears and his nose was running. So darling sweet child got a Kleenex and wiped the running nose to comfort his friend. The teacher told my son that was the sweetest thing she had ever seen in a young child of that age. She had been teaching 20 years. This shows already at his young age the compassion and kindness that I taught my children and that his parents are teaching him. Of course, all grandparents think their grandchildren are smart, articulate, beautiful and kind. I know for a fact that my three grandsons are all of that and more and this one who is the youngest grandson, exhibited it yesterday.

Grandparenting is different than parenting because we are so much older and we can stand aside and absorb the wonderful light that shines upon us because of who we are now in this later senior life and be proud of the excellent mission we have accomplished.

Grandparenting almost in a way can be analogous to ballroom dancing. How in the world can that be? Here is how. Having a new grandchild or first grandchild is new, exciting, fresh and bewildering. So can starting to dance at a later age, as is grandparenting. It is exciting, fresh and quite full of bewilderment. We look at it as a challenge and we realize that as we progress (as the baby gets older) we have this wonderful thing in our hands and we can be ecstatic in learning all about it.
We are proud and one day when we watch the baby without his parents there, we are cognizant of what has just happened. We did it and we had fun and so it is with dancing. We did it, we had fun, and we are proud of our self. So having a grandchild is certainly more important than ballroom dancing, but the two of them are delightful moments, hours, and days in our life. Life is full of learning experiences, some great, others not so special.

We can take good moments and secure those in our minds to ease the bad times when they happen. It will simply outweigh the difficult times and our tears will be tears of joy, not tears of sadness. We have grown from this experience, whether sad or happy. We have flourished, strived, and matured.
We can wipe a tear from a fellow dancer (so to speak) by trying to establish in their minds that they can learn to dance at any age whether advanced or young. Some people, when starting out, feel that it is too late to learn ballroom dancing. A reader of my columns by the name of Steven Behr living in Washington State wrote me of the spreading of dancing he and his partner do. He is a member of the Steilacoom Dance Company, a group of seniors directed by Mary Peterson who is the teacher and choreographer. The dance company goes to hospitals and nursing/retirement homes to celebrate their dancing modes. They perform tap, ballroom, and Polynesian dances at these establishments.

25 years, Mary and Steven have been going to Hawaii, sharing the love of dance they have at hospitals, nursing homes and senior and community centers. When Steven and Mary went on their last trip to Hawaii a few years ago, she is deceased now, he asked a petite lady named Matsuko, who had been sitting for the entire session, to dance with him. She told him she had not danced for 50 years. He got her to dance by coaxing her a bit, and he moved around with her in place. He said she had good balance, and they started with a basic Foxtrot step. Very soon thereafter she told him she was 104 years old. The people stopped dancing and started to clap. Steven thought they were clapping for him but it was for Matsuko. Of course, Steven is modest; they were applauding both of them. She became the queen of the ball. He asked her about her longevity and she said it was “attitude.” I guess her attitude was one of good health, good feelings, and being blessed with excellent genes.

Mary and Steven believed that “the glass is half full and that each day brings many opportunities for growth, sharing and fun.” They felt that they were role models wherever they had gone to spread their love of dancing. In Hawaii, they were considered ohna which means family; the Hawaiians share the aloha spirit with them. Steven and Mary were both semi-retired seniors.

Half full and half empty is a lovely expression that we all use. There was a famous pianist that lived in Baltimore, Maryland where I am from, who lost the use of his right hand in playing the piano due to an illness. He in turn learned to play with his other hand and gave concerts doing so. Many years later through therapy and operations, he was able to use both hands in the normal manner. He always said that his glass was still half full when he lost the use of that hand. His name is Leon Fleisher.

The pianist and the 104 year young lady, they needed no tear to be wiped from their eyes. Their eyes were and are wide open and they can see the depth of the ethereal time on this earth we all have. Our journey here is exquisite and we all can make the most of what we are given and even if some of it is taken away, we can still be drinking the full glass of crystal-clear times and we can help those who may not be fortunate as we are to accomplish new things and special
moments. That is why I write these columns to inspire people to go dance and to be full of light in their senior and not yet senior lives. People are living longer and healthier lives now and we all must take the time to know the word aloha which means hello and goodbye as does the Hebrew word shalom which also means the same thing. Hello to ballroom dancing and Goodbye to sadness. We are dancers and we are special.

So attitude can be beneficial to our minds and thoughts. A lady here in Baltimore, Maryland named Esperance Sutton said in a newspaper article that “Life gives you a broken necklace, you just restring the beads.” What a good line. When things go wrong, it is like the non-functioning of something important and you go ahead and rehabilitate and rejuvenate the bad happening. From there, you start anew and go forward. You have wiped the tear from your face or mind, and you have courage now to function in a most desirable manner. You have restrung the damaged jewelry and wear it now proudly because it is your jewel of life.

Ballroom dancing is like no other sport. When you are connected to the person you are dancing with now, then you and him or her become almost one. You may be strangers not even knowing one another’s names, but you have one thing in common. You are both out there on the wooden dance floor trying to accomplish something solid for at least three to four minutes. You are doing so to speak a routine of feet and arm and hand movements to music usually coming from a disc jockey and DVDs. You may make some small talk about this and that and then you as the lady proceed to try and figure out this language of dance, which truly is a language of a different sort. He, as the leader, is thinking what he will do next and prays that you, as the stranger, will be able to decipher his movements with his hands. It is truly a language of unusual components. There is a fundamental list of factors in the dance language which must be interpreted by both parties.
Once a person figures what the partner wants (the leader), then she follows and almost is overwhelmed that she understood his movements. When a couple dances almost always together, it is easier to know what the other is meaning and to be confident in what they are doing and you are completely at ease. As one dances again and again with that same person, the dancing becomes exciting and fun and the couple has a fine time that day. Some teachers do not connect with a particular student because they do not have the ease in teaching. Others are so adept at imparting the knowledge that after only one or two lessons, the student is enthralled with this dancing hobby and keeps coming back for more. There will be no tear to wipe from the eye or from the heart because they are already installed in this form of exercise and delight.

To anyone attempting the thought to go out and dance and then hesitates, do not let the thoughts leave you. Shakespeare said “thoughts are dreams till their effects are tried.” Surely, we have to try our dreams out and see the effects become reality. Thoughts are like strands that become a necklace we wear around our heart. Our heart leads us unto this journey down or rather up a road of unbelievable lanes. The lane leads to an avenue of beautiful homes. The home is what dancing becomes to us; a home of bountiful beliefs that we can attain happiness by moving our bodies, no matter how old or young into very desirable rooms of euphoria. We need not restring.

Thomas Jefferson said “Happiness is occupation and tranquility.” When we are occupied with our dancing, we are surely feeling serene and peaceful. Our glass is completely full and any tears we may have are gone.
elita sohmer clayman

Flower Bear
Happy Anniversary To Me
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Happy Anniversary To Me - Moving to the Country

On October 1st I celebrated one year since I moved to the country. I can’t believe that it has already been a whole year. I have watched all the seasons come and go with a new fascination like a small child who experiences them for the first time. I still become overwhelmed with emotion when I watch the magnificent colors of the sunset every night, and am currently being blown away by the explosion of Autumn color all around me. Even the piles and piles of snow outside my window last winter were amazing to me although I admit to wondering if I would every see Spring again. When Spring finally got here, it came with tulips, and daffodils, and the return of morning birdsong, and soft breezes instead of frigid ones.

As the seasons changed, so did I. I have spent the last few days taking an inventory of the things I’ve learned since I downsized my life. I’ve learned that one can happily exist with very little, freeing up time and space for experiences and pursuing hobbies or passions. I’ve learned that a home cooked meal from fresh, local produce and other food items not only feeds the body with better health, but feeds the mind and soul as well because every time we slice a tomato or pick some produce from our own gardens, we are connecting with the Spirit that created it all and us as well. I’ve learned that taking time to just sit and listen to nothing isn’t a waste of time, because there is no “nothing.” There is the sound of birds chirping, geese in flight, the wind in the trees, cows mooing, rain dripping off the roof and so many things that resonate like a beautiful symphony. I no longer have to lock myself in a closet to get away from the cacophony of cars, trucks, fire engines, sirens, buses, and people driving by with their music turned up to ear-bleeding volume, while sucking in exhaust fumes and other toxins.

Some folks have wondered how I survive out here when I sometimes go days without seeing another human being up close (I am surrounded by farms so I wave daily to the guys and girls driving the hay trucks and tractors as they go by). The biggest gift I have received from moving here is that I have learned to like myself and my own company. It has not been an easy process, and I spent many a dark, snowy winter day getting reacquainted with myself. There was a little girl inside that had been yearning to hear someone tell her that she was perfect just as she was, that she was capable, and creative, and strong, and smart, and enough. So I put my arm around her and told her all of those things, and more. When the snows melted and the days grew warmer and longer, we went for walks together and watched the earth rebirth and renew itself. We rediscovered our love of cooking and, having made the decision to go vegan – no small task in the middle of cow country – we discovered how creative we could be. Most of all, we found our voice again and it began to speak once more on the page, and we began to tell the story of our journey.  Hopefully by early next year we will be able to birth it to the world.

So Happy Anniversary to me. May the peace and love I’ve found find its way out into the world to inspire someone else to leap into the life of their dreams. Don’t be scared. It’s so worth the journey.

And so it is.