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VN Editors
This grandmother is 104, and she’s never had to use grey hair dye
Fashion & Beauty
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Without the benefits of grey hair dye or any other treatment to her hair, a woman who recently turned 104 has luscious brunette locks. She hasn’t got a single grey hair in her head. What every woman on the planet wants to know, of course, is how did she do it?

The secrets of how to stop grey hair?

Freda Taylor is a resident of Coventry, England who has never had to worry about grey hair color. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t got any of it? Scientists say that stress pays a role in grey hair coloring.

If that’s the case, Freda isn’t affected by stress. Born in 1911, she lived through both World Wars. She was a young child when she overheard her father talking about WWI in one of her earliest memories. She was a young bride when she married just before WWII.

She had a child, and worked during the war while her husband served in the Middle East. Coventry was bombed in 1940, which is pretty much enough stress for any lifetime. Her son was just four at the time. Both were unscathed in the attack.

So to what does Freda owe her still-colorful locks after all these years? She says the best grey hair treatment is staying healthy.

Health as a grey hair treatment

“No cigarettes or big nights in the pub for me,” she told reporters, who came to question her about her amazing head of hair.

She never smoked, and says she never was “much of a drinker.” She advises people to “look after yourselves” in order to avoid getting grey hair coloring, like most of the rest of the world does.

Her remarkable longevity and her amazing head of hair certainly make Freda a fascinating anomaly, but grey hair coloring is determined by genetics as well. Scientists are still studying the effects of aging on hair and why hair goes grey to begin with. They often liken the process to the same chemical changes that occur in trees when leaves turn brown. At a certain point, the cells in your hair stop producing pigment. This results in grey hair coloring that takes the place of the color you’re more used to seeing.

Women like Freda provide some insight into the science of grey hair coloring, and hopefully she’ll help bring the scientific community that much closer to understanding this common process. Perhaps one day soon, all women will live past 100 years of age without ever using grey hair dye to color their tresses.

Honoring Vets With Gratitude
Other Topics
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Tuesday, November 11th is Veteran’s Day. For most people it is a quasi holiday, a chance to sleep in and take advantage of the Pre-Thanksgiving sales.  For others it is just another day of normal activities. I didn’t think twice about scheduling some car maintenance and I might even try to get the cat her rabies shot since the vet is open. In fact even though there will be promotions, a political speech or two, and some things inconveniently closed, the day will pass just like any other. That’s sad, but true.

Most of us have not been touched by war or experienced the loss of a loved one due to a wartime conflict. My dad and father in law are WWII vets. My father in law lived to a ripe old age and my father is still going strong. My brother was a vet but died of natural causes and my nephew who has PTSD from the Iraqi Conflict is living in another country and thus off my immediate radar. There are homeless people who wander around downtown and some of them could be vets. I don’t know.

So how do we honor a group that may or may not touch our personal lives? By showing gratitude in our own lives.

Being grateful and showing gratitude is not easy, especially as our society is continually focused on the next “big thing”, the newest, shiniest, most expensive toy or gadget, the best opportunities in education, career, or financial gain. But continually looking out over the horizon causes us to miss what is in front of our faces until sadly we only miss it when it’s gone.

Try to start off your day with at least two things you are grateful for.  Before you even get out of bed, inhale, as you say to yourself, “I am grateful” and exhale as you add your choice. Connecting your gratitude intention to your breath is very powerful.  As you move through your day reinforce your gratitude intention and end your day doing the same. Taking just these few seconds of your time makes all the difference in how you perceive the events and people around you. Perhaps you’ll even share some of that gratitude by giving back to someone else.

Make Tuesday, November 11 the first day of your life of expressing and living in gratitude, acknowledging and sharing your blessings. Not only will you be honoring veterans everywhere for their service but perhaps start cultivating some service projects of your own.


Charmaine Coimbra
A Moment in Time with a WW2 Hero
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Bob Watson

–Photos by C. Coimbra

Bob Watson keeps history alive. The word “beachmaster” sets his place in history. Truthfully, when I met him last Saturday and saw the word embroidered in white threads beneath U.S. Navy on the octogenarian’s blue camos, I had to look the word up.

You see, in my line of volunteerism as a marine wildlife docent that chats up northern elephant seals, the word“beachmaster” has an entirely different connotation.

But for Bob Watson, a World War II veteran who was part of the first wave of the young men that stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy seventy years ago, his job as a beachmaster brings him celebrity today. No! He’s more than a celebrity. How about “…a national treasure,” according to Cmdr. Chris Nelson, BMU-1’s commanding officer?

For the short time I spent with Watson on Saturday, I’d call him a good person who draws crowds like a magnet—and that’s before they hear his incredible story of his willful determination as an 18-year-old on June 6, 1944.

Here’s a quick retelling of what happened on that day:

On the 6th of June in 1944, D-Day, the weather was drizzly, cold and rainy, complicating a horrific scene of chaos.  About 1,000 yards from the beach, Bob’s landing craft – an LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized) holding 71 Big Red One (1st Infantry Division) troops and four Navy Beach Battalion crew – hit aTeller mine and exploded.  55 men were killed instantly, body parts flying, and Bob was thrown out…After submerging for some time due to the heavy kit all soldiers and sailors hitting the beach were wearing, his flotation device brought him back to the surface gasping and in shock.  Quickly he was picked up by a Zodiac ferrying floaters to the beach.

Responsible for 1/18 of Omaha Beach, which is a little over five miles in length, the 6th Beach Battalion lost 25% of its personnel on the way to or on the beach.

When Bob touched the sand it was about 7:47 a.m.  Terror and chaos reigned.  Saving Private Ryan’s depiction of the scene could do only faint justice to the true horror American servicemen were experiencing on the beach.  Everything was on fire. Landing craft were burning, their ammunition blew up, bodies and parts of bodies littered the beach, and the Germans, who had excellent equipment and training, poured on the machine gun and artillery fire.

As beachmaster, Bob’s job was to “keep the troops, materials, equipment and vehicles moving up the beach.” He forged ahead and helped an Army medic, fired off rounds, and commandeered a bulldozer to clear debris and cut in a road for troops and vehicles. That’s when the bulldozer hit a bouncing Betty anti-personnel mine. Bob survived that explosion too. He stayed on at Omaha Beach for 28 days.

But how did I come to meet this amazing person last Saturday?

If my grandson wasn’t celebrating his 7th birthday in San Diego; if his party wasn’t delayed by an hour; if I wasn’t hopelessly curious and then amazed at the size of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier on public display as a museum; if I did not park my car in this one lot of many, many parking lots for the museum—just to kill some time; and if USN Beachmaster Bob Watson wasn’t unloading his display that he sets up in the museum as we approached the entrance; and if I probably didn’t reek of a volunteer-type, I never would have had the absolute honor of this older gentleman’s question posed to spouse and me: “You look like nice people. Do you want to get into the museum free?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe helped Bob get his gear out of his car while he slid into his blue camo jacket, laden with purple and gold medals. We followed him thru the massive ship’s maze as he told officials, “They’re with me,” and the officials waved the three of us thru.

For the next 45 minutes we helped Bob carry and set up an 8-foot table next to a roped-off vintage airplane; I covered the table with a blue cloth that read “ USS Midway Museum,” and Bob said, “You’re definitely a volunteer. How can I tell? You know how to set up a display.” I laughed as we each broke out a sweat in the warm innards of that massive WWII vessel. A crowd began gathering around the display of priceless photos, and news clips. Like a magnet, young and older folks circled Bob, asked questions and listened as he shared his tales of an American youth’s exceptionalism 70 years back.








Jacquie Mackenzie
Life Transitions – His Health Says We Have to Move
Home & Garden, Love & Sex
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The last six years have been heaven on earth for me. I always wanted to “get back to the ranch;” I grew up in New Mexico. I found another ranch on which to retire in Central Mexico six years ago. All our savings went into making it the best place I could imagine. We brought all our worldly goods here. We both have a car and the ranch has a truck. I have driven my new (used) car just 3 months. We have six dogs, four horses, chickens, rabbits, a pool, hot tub, and an organic greenhouse (I’m vegan). I also have countless friends in a nearby city, and 150 economically marginalized kids that I volunteer teach. I have watched them grow and glow these last six years.


However, I also have a husband (73) of 20 years who I (66) adore. I not only think he is the finest man on the planet for me, but I deeply honor the fact that he is a Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran who has 100% service connected disabilities. My deceased father served in WWII and Korea, my deceased beloved uncle in Vietnam, and my son in the Army. I feel honored to make his life easier.


Unfortunately, my beloved ranch is at 6,700 in a cool, arid, high desert climate with industry not too far away; not the cleanest air, and also very dusty. In August, seven doctors said that my husband’s heart and lung issues have caused him to need warm, moist, oxygen-rich clean sea level air to have any quality of life. He blossomed recently when we visited Ecuador for five weeks at seal level. He seemed 20 years younger, and looked at least 10 years younger. Today, he wears an oxygen “leash” as we are not moving for 50 more days. He is on oxygen about 20 hours a day.


His new healing space is in a 9th story condo, with a view of the ocean. I will have to walk two dogs several times a day, and adapt to a new lifestyle. Many animals, plants, and other “treasures” will be left behind. This is really hard.


Please share any equally hard life transitions with a spouse, but not involving a divorce.

Flower Bear
The Real Question
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I’m not going to go into a long discussion about the behavior of the United States Congress this week, or the government as a whole. I’m not going to rant and rave because there is enough of that going on now to last a lifetime. I’m not going to point fingers or play the blame game because that’s already been done to death. However, this week there was one moment when one man’s question stopped the whole merry-go-round for me.

There was a news story about a group of World War II vets who had traveled a long way to see the WWII Memorial. There aren’t many of these brave men and women left, and to have them travel so very far so they could find some peace and closure only to be turned away because the memorial was closed due to the shutdown was a national disgrace. However, these are folks who have faced much bigger obstacles in their lives than any of us are ever likely to see, and this was no exception. They stood their ground and would not leave until a Congressman managed to get the memorial opened for them. It was the least this country could do for them.

One man in a wheelchair was interviewed about the incident and, with an expression that was clearly looking within rather than out at the reporter or the camera, he asked this question: “What are we fighting for? I used to know what we were fighting for but I don’t know now.” Wow. What a powerful statement. This is a man who put his very life on the line when it counted and did it without complaint or argument. He understood what this country was about, what was important, and what was not.

It’s a shame we can’t get that group together in front of a camera and let them all share their wisdom and experience with the rest of us (and especially our elected representatives who seem to have forgotten why they are there). This is a country that ignores one of the most precious and priceless gifts it has: the wisdom of its elders.The children of indigenous people the world over know from birth that their elders are the wisdom keepers of their people and their greatest teachers. Perhaps if we could shut off all the political rhetoric for a while and just listen to the ones that have protected and defended this country for decades, we might all be able to figure out the answer to his question.

As for me, I only wish that I can be half as wise as this man so that I can answer that question for my grandchildren and great grandchildren when it is their turn to ask it.

And so it is.


Patti Winker
A Father’s Day Tribute To Dads Of The Greatest Generation
Family & Relationships
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Happy Father’s Day!

I lost my Dad over twenty years ago. I’m divorced from my daughter’s father. My husband’s children are not my children.

Shopping the Father’s Day cards is not a real upbeat thing for me.  Thankfully, I have my son-in-law, the father of my grandchildren, to bestow familial Father’s Day wishes upon.

But, still…

I miss my Dad.

I miss saying “Happy Father’s Day” to my Dad. I miss handing him his card and seeing all the other ones propped up all over his TV tray by his chair. After all these years, those memories are fading, so what I try to do instead is remember the man who was my father.

Like most men of his generation, my Dad worked hard all his life. He started out very young in the lumber camps, cooking to earn bullets for his rifle so he could hunt deer, so he could cook some more. Like most men of his generation, he went to serve in WWII, came home, went to work, met my Mom, got married, and raised a family. Our family wasn’t exactly typical, but also wasn’t unheard of… I am one of eleven kids.

Probably the hardest job my Dad ever had was being a father to eleven kids. It couldn’t have been easy. I also think it got harder and harder as the years went by, and we started getting into the teen years. Ouch. Sorry, Dad.

Fathers weren’t exactly what you’d call “enlightened” back then. Ask any Boomer what they remember about their father and I’ll bet the answers are very similar:

Hard working.

Not a lot to say.

My Dad wasn’t what you would call a patient man, but I don’t recall any fathers back then being patient. We all sort of towed the line when Dad was around. When we were at a friend’s house, we all understood the rules. Don’t bother Dad.

Today’s fathers are involved with their kids. They cook, help with homework, chauffeur, patch boo-boos, take trips to the doctor and dentist, read stories, and all those other things we saw Mom do.

My Dad came home from work, sat at the kitchen table, took off his boots, put on his shoes, and waited for dinner. This was the same time every day. He could have helped with dinner, but Mom and Dad seemed to have an agreement of sorts that we kids weren’t really aware of… at least not then.

That is what happened in all the households I was ever in during my childhood. The routine was the same. This gave my childhood some stability. It was comforting knowing what to expect.

My Dad didn’t have a lot to say to us kids. He provided the food on the table and the roof over our heads. He knew right from wrong. He expected us to behave.

He taught us a lot without even trying.

So, every Father’s Day I take time to remember those lessons, but also to remember Dad’s sense of humor, his playfulness, his ability to even be silly, and how much he loved all the babies.

Those are the memories I cherish.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

I miss you.

Am I Doing My Best?
Books & Entertainment, Spirituality
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Last night in honor of D-Day, hubs watched a little bit of Saving Private Ryan. He wanted to see the Invasion of Normandy scene. He and I were raised by fathers who served in World War II and we have great respect for our military.

I was doing some housework and didn’t watch along with him. But while Swiffering the man cave I caught the little scene that made a huge impression on me the first time I saw the movie. It was early in the story and a secretary was typing the names of men who had died. She noticed that four Ryan brothers had been killed in battle. Rather than continuing along with her tasks, she alerted others to the Ryan family’s unthinkable loss. This revelation moved up the chain of command and was the premise for the entire movie.

That secretary made a difference because she wasn’t just going through the motions. She cared.

Yes, I know this particular WWII story is fiction, but the attributes of the characters are anything but. Tom Brokaw coined the term “The Greatest Generation” because of the character and honor of Americans who lived during that era. While most of us focus on the bravery and patriotism of those who served in the various war theaters, the people at home went the extra mile as well.

We now live in an age when someone going the extra mile gets one million hits on You Tube. If there’s an honest car mechanic in town, everyone spreads the word. Exquisite customer service is so rare, we are happily stunned when we are its beneficiary.

I’m not kidding you. Every time I view that scene in Saving Private Ryan I examine my own behaviors. Do I care? Do I do my best at every task? Did I give that last workout my best effort? Do I exceed the expectations of my agency’s donors, clients and board members? Likewise my coaching clients?

Catching that scene last night served as a wonderful reminder of how I want to live my life. I think I’ll do my best today.

Daughter evicts 91 year old WWII vet from his home.
Family & Relationships
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Liz Kitchens
Say Hello Not Goodbye To Your Golden Years
Other Topics
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BoomerOpinions survey results released this month revealed some fascinating findings about retirement prospects for my generation.  Sixty percent of the nearly 400 Baby Boomers interviewed thought it was realistic they could retire within the next ten years. A quarter of those surveyed, however, expressed doubts about their immanent retirement prospects.  In a recent New York Times article entitled, Goodbye Golden Years, Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser cited statistics sure to elicit fear in those of us hoping to retire at some point during the next ten years.  He suggested that, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.”

Our parent’s generation, the so-called “Silent Generation”  (those born during the great depression and WWII) enjoyed a retirement scenario unprecedented in our history, and one that, as this data indicates, may not be available to all of us. But, don’t despair, did we ever really envision playing golf four days a week?  (OK, so maybe one or two days a week.)

I can’t imagine not being productive, not contributing, not making my own money.  Participants in the BoomerOpinion poll were asked the following question:

“If you had the opportunity to change your occupation at this point in your life, how likely would you be to do so?”   Forty-six percent (virtually half of all those surveyed) responded positively, saying they were quite likely to do so.  I found this data amazing and affirming.  I’m one of those Lady Boomers trying her hand at various creative entrepreneurial endeavors so it was nice to know my aspirations had company.

Edward Glaser went on to argue that America needs more entrepreneurship.  Baby Boomer can be the leaders in this entrepreneurship as they seek to reinvent themselves, as this data suggests they are willing to do.

West Palm Beach, a retiree haven, has the highest self-employment rate of any metropolitan area in the nation, consistent with other areas in the country attracting older Americans. Self-employment makes sense because it allows for more control over working hours and conditions.   And our generation loves control.

Many of us have spent years waking up at 6:00 am to be at a job we found depleting.  If we are not going to be able to kick back, drive a golf cart and play bridge all day, lets envision a different kind of retirement for ourselves.  Here are a few suggestions:

– Develop an exercise plan; join a YMCA or other gym; walk or ride a bike.  We are going to need to stay healthy for this next phase, and exercise is a critical component.  Make sure your employment endeavors can accommodate your exercise schedule, so you don’t have to be going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning.

-Choose an enterprise that fits your circadian rhythm (internal clock) one that allows you to arise and go to bed at a time best suited for you

-delve into your psyche through journaling or quiet reflections; explore what you have a passion for.  You may want to undergo a personality assessment to discover a field that suits you.

-Make it fun.  We are the generation who invented rock and roll.  We like to have fun.  Now is your chance…Here’s to meeting the new you.



VN Featured Comment
My favorite movie of all time
Books & Entertainment
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Today’s Featured Comment

From grammayumyum

My favorite movie of all time is Paradise Road.

It’s about how Western women interred in a WWII Japanese prison camp dealt with the deplorable conditions and terror with the love for/peace from vocally practicing orchestral music in secret, and finally performing before the entire camp at the risk of their lives.

LOVE these true-life overcoming types of stories!


[This comment was originally posted in this conversation. ~ Eds.]

Do you have an all-time favorite movie?

Charmaine Coimbra
The Power of Post Menopausal Women
Family & Relationships, Home & Garden, Work & Money
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I’m still catching my breath after a vigorous walk with a woman who became my friend after seeking me out because, she explained, “I like your energy levels.”  I remain flattered.  I remain so because this woman, of the same generation as I, harbors so much energy that she could power up the lights on Main Street.

Another friend, soon to celebrate her 70th birthday, actively seeks a new career as a lifestyle model (code for a senior citizen model).   She squeezes this between her busy charity work, her weekend and holiday jaunts about the region, her tap dance lessons, and as a hostess for some of the best parties ever.

Then there’s my buddy who gives most of her week to several nonprofits as a volunteer—including volunteering as a gardener’s assistant who pulls weeds at Hearst Castle.  She recently celebrated her big 6-0 at Disneyland.

Did I mention my professionally retired friend who writes a weekly newspaper column, runs a huge annual writer’s conference, volunteers for a few local nonprofits, and is still available for help when needed?

And then there’s another friend, since her retirement has a calendar so full with things like chairing her church fundraiser, teaching religious education, volunteering for several charities, that I’m amazed she can find time to host parties and keep up with her husband’s calendar.

When today’s local paper arrived in my mailbox, the front page photo captured a woman with gray hair (fabulously curly and long) resolving a little issue having to do with a project she leads for an after school program, when she’s not care taking pets, or running errands for other volunteer groups, or her grandchildren.

My apologies to the plethora of other post menopausal friends whose vignette I neglected, like the women who travel the world in search of spirit and stories, the women who write and craft beautiful books that earn awards, the women who started a whole new career, the women who care for the grandchildren, the women taking on political and social issues with aplomb, and the women who care take their aging parents.

Now I know why a male friend of mine wrote, “You post menopausal women are amazing.  I could not keep up with you if I tried.”

Spouse simply shakes his head when I mention my next activity.  And I wonder if I have senior citizen attention deficit disorder—except that I am at full attention and retention.  I explained in an email yesterday,  “I make a lousy slug.”

Admittedly, after a spate of social activity, I hole up (or hunt for sea glass on the beach),  and  I refuse to answer my telephone until my internal battery refuels.  I’ve been known to savor nine slumber hours.  But I also have a cadre of like-women who are up and on their computers when the rest of the world sleeps.  While stars twinkle, we chat online.

I’ve got a feeling this will continue–judging by the stamina I witness from my women elders—all those post-WWII women who fear little or nothing.  They still roll up their sleeves and get the job done—maybe a little slower than before, but they go do it.

Yet, as amazing as we are, we are invisible to others.  During a recent shopping spree with my 30-something daughter, sales clerks flocked to her like pigeons for popcorn.  In fairness, yes, I would not be shopping for hip-hugging jeans and spiked-heeled boots.   But some of the women mentioned above would.  Kathleen Bates’ character, Bettina, in the television production Six Feet Under, had the best line to her friend while shopping.  It went something like this, Go ahead, stuff that gorgeous scarf in your pocket.  We’re invisible to them. The mature women characters left with some nice stuff—without charge.

I’m not recommending this kind of behavior.  But for one once familiar  to people (sales clerks and men) looking at me, watching my moves, checking me out, it is quite the change to become stealth.  I rather like it.  It powers me up.

Maybe this invisibility is our secret power source.  Maybe we’re no longer drained by needy youth.  And maybe Anna Marie Ivers, the protagonist in The Gathering Basket, a book I wrote after my 50th birthday was right, “I am free of youth.  Now I have the power.”

Liz Kitchens
Say Hello, Not Goodbye, to your Golden Years
Work & Money
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Since I’m a boomer who is trying her hat at various creative entrepreneurial endeavors, I read with interest, an article in Sunday’s New York Times written by Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser. The article was entitled, Goodbye Golden Years, a title sure to elicit fear in those of us hoping to retire at some point during the next ten years or so. And, Glaeser did not disappoint.

The article was filled with statements and statistics such as the following: “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.” and, “Many older workers keep working because they feel they can’t afford not to. Nearly 40% of 55-64 year olds don’t have retirement accounts. The median net worth of this age group is now $254,000. Americans save less than 4% of their income; thrifty Germans save 10%. A nation that prefers spending to saving is going to find it difficult to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

He goes on to talk about our parent’s generation — the silent generation (those born during the great depression and WWII) and the GI Generation. According to Glaeser, 47% of +65ers were in the labor force in 1949; by 1993 that number had shrunk to 16%. Our parents enjoyed a retirement scenario unprecedented in our history, and one that may not be available to us. Potentially depressing thoughts, I would agree, but don’t despair, did we ever really envision ourselves just playing golf or bridge four days a week? OK, so maybe one or two days a week. We are the Baby Boom generation! We strive for meaning in our lives, whether that meaning takes the form of career opportunities or social causes.

I can’t imagine not being productive, not contributing, not making my own money. Glaeser suggests America needs more entrepreneurship and we are at a juncture in our lives to provide it. West Palm beach, a retiree haven, has the highest self-employment rate of any metropolitan area in the nation; consistent with other areas in the country attracting older Americans. Self-employment makes sense because it allows for more control over working hours and conditions. And our generation loves control.

Many of us have spent years waking up at 6:00 am to be at a job we found depleting. If we are to work for years to come, let’s make it work on our terms. Here are a few suggestions.

  • If we want to enjoy a high quality of life from now until 90, exercise is a critical component. If you have not already done so, it’s time to develop an exercise plan; join a YMCA or other gym; walk or ride a bike. Rather than having to fit your exercise schedule into your work schedule, however, allow your work endeavors to accommodate your exercise schedule so you don’t have to be going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning.
  • Choose an enterprise that fits your circadian rhythm (internal clock) one that allows you to rise and go to bed at a time best suited for you.
  • Delve into your psyche through journaling or quiet reflections; explore what you have a passion for. You may want to undergo a personality assessment to discover a field that suits you.
  • Make it fun. We are the generation who invented rock and roll. We like to have fun. Now is your chance… Happy planning.
Liz Kitchens
“Oh Dear! Oh Dear! I Shall be Late!”
Home & Garden, Work & Money
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“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” (From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”- Harvey MacKay

There are countless quotes and references to time. Most of these references relate to how we use our allotted time in this life. The ability to ponder time is a bit of a luxury and, arguably, a concept people who work two and three jobs to support a family don’t have “time” to think about.

In his book, The Geography of Time, social psychologist, Robert Levine references an anthropological study comparing a tribe of indians with French workers. The French, as it turned out, spent more time at work and consuming “things” but had considerably less free time than the Machiguenga workers. This was true in many developed countries. Workers in these “evolved” countries initially experienced a time surplus (due to the inventions of washing machines, cars and telephones) and ultimately to a “time famine”. “As a result of producing and consuming more, we are experiencing a scarcity of time.” Johnson said. The value of western society, or at least American society is producing and consuming. Time spent not producing or consuming is increasingly viewed as wasted in this society, Johnson argued.

America became an economy based upon consumerism after WWII. At the end of World War II, America had a large number of manufacturing plants available that had been geared to the war effort. Following the war, the tank factories returned to making domestic cars. Textile mills making military uniforms could begin making cloth for fashion. Chemical labs could produce plastic, cosmetics, and toys. Simultaneously, Madison Avenue learned the power of a new emerging medium – television. With this new, mass media, advertisers could reach millions of people and the reactions were clear. The consumer economy had begun. The media and financial institutions all encourage the consumption habit. Banks make billions on credit card debt.

As residents of the developed or western world, we seem to have a voracious appetite for stuff. That stuff plants us firmly in a vicious cycle like the one described in the anthropological study cited above. We work more and more hours in order to buy more and more stuff. Even buying the stuff takes precious time away from activities that could really be more self nurturing than wandering through malls or cyber shopping. I point no fingers here since I’m a culprit of this behavior as well, more so as it relates to my children.

Perhaps one of the side benefits (if we can find any silver linings) in this perilous economic time, is that we can’t spend money with abandon. We can’t be the brand-a-holics we have been and allowed our children to be. Have you noticed any changes in your “free time” as you spend less time at the mall or shopping on line? How have you used this extra time? I would love to know.


What I learned From Grandma Wortman
Family & Relationships
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September 11th was also Grandmother’s day those that status was hardly mention in this country because of remembering the WT attacks. However, I remember my Grandmother, Ruth.

This year some of my cousins have been delving into family history and have been coming up with old photos, birth certificates, facts and memories of parents, grandparents and who knows what else.

It is interesting; especially the photos and what is more interesting are each person’s memory of a person or event and how sometimes their interpretation seems different than another ones interpretation.

I remember my mother’s mother, Ruth Naomi DeCastillia-Wortman the most because she was the back bone of our life in Brooklyn as we were coming out of what was then called the “Great Depression”.

One of my cousins has uncovered a picture of her when she was about 18. They also unearthed a marriage certificate from her first marriage and a story about this first marriage that I never heard about. Apparently her parents wanted her to marry a young man from a well-off family and kept at her until Ruth finally and reluctantly agreed to it. Right after being pronounced husband and wife she walked out of the church and went home to her parent’s house where she proceeded to wash the dishes. It seems she stayed there for two years. I do not think the marriage was ever consummated because on the marriage certificate to my grandfather, Adam, both names indicate that this was a first marriage for each of them.

Even at this late date I learned you could not make my grandmother do something she did not want to do.

Life was not easy for Ruth and Adam in the tenements of Brooklyn, New York in the early days and I do not think it ever was because we often lived with them when life was not easy for my family.

However, upon reflection, I have determined that she was a rock. I guess early on Adam was a drinker and I my earliest memories of him was that he was and apparently would come home and hit her now and then even though I never saw that happen.

However, I do remember the results of one time when Adam apparently gave Ruth a shove or hit her or something and when he came home drunk and fell into bed she tied his hands and feet to the metal bed. She kept him that way the whole next day when he awoke and every time she passed him she poked him with the broom handle. We kids were wide eyed when we awoke. I do not think he ever whacked her again.

That day I learned she stood up for herself and that was a lesson for me to stand up for myself. I do not remember what he did for a living but I do remember when I was about 9 or 10 years old he became a bookie and he was that until we moved to Long Island when I was 12.

There were good times between them and here is one of them at Coney Island in their later years which are really how their faces are in my memories of them.

There was always something cooking on her stove in that railroad flat as they called these tenement apartments on Kosciusko Broadway in Brooklyn, New York. She made great cupcakes that she cut a cone shaped hole in the top of once they were cooled and filled the hole with lemon pudding. Upon replacing the cone shaped top into the pudding she would sprinkle confectionary sugar on top of all of them. These cupcakes were made from scratch and were delicious.

Watching her mix her ingredients, she would show me how to do it and would always say, “Stir in one direction only. Do not stir one way and then in the opposite direction.” I cannot remember her reason why, but I learned to stir in one direction only and still do to this day.

I do remember lots of Christmas’ in that Brooklynrail road flat on Kosciusko St. Ruth always had a tree which she allowed us kids to decorate with cranberry strings and popcorn strings. But the big thing was she always bought a large case of marshmallows. We would put 2 on a stick of snowmen bodies and put cloves in for eyes etc. and then put tooth pick arms in and hang them on the tree. We were never allowed to touch them until the tree was taken down and by that time they were hard as rocks and we kids devoured them. I grew up with an addition to stale marshmallows and do you know to this day I have had a bag of marshmallows open for 3 years and they still have not gotten hard. They do not even freeze hard. Bummer!

I remember when I was about 6 years old she became bed ridden and would run the whole household from the same bed she tied Adam in. I became her legs for her even at that age as she would give me a list and some money and send me to Woolworths or the A&P store for whatever she needed. During that time I quickly learned how to count change, shop correctly, not get cheated and go all over Brooklynby myself. I did that until I was about 9 years old at which time my mother, father, sister, brother and myself moved up to Ridgewood, Queens.

I think it was shortly after that my dear Grandmother, Ruth passed away.

There are lots of other stories back in the attic of my mind and eventually our life got a little better during WWII and we moved to Long Island when I was about 12 years old.