The Real Meaning of “Anti-age”

Our society is “anti-age” – a fear of getting older. Consider, for example, the shows on TV and observe the age of the actors. They are predominantly in their 20s and 30s. Rarely is there an actor over 50 in a sitcom (Betty White and Alec Baldwin being the exceptions).  And have you noticed how a character such as “Jack Ryan” from Tom Clancy’s books, is not allowed to age? Harrison Ford was replaced by a younger Ben Affleck, who is being replaced, again, by a younger Chris Pine in this character’s onscreen reincarnation.

Advertising is society’s benchmark of “anti-age” unless, of course, the product is specifically geared to an older market.  In the ads for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, the image of parents is always young.  No portrayals whatsoever, of older parents with children – a demographic that does exist.

And the epitome of “anti-age” is the industry that has grown around preserving youth: botox, dermal fillers and plastic surgery. It’s not about aging gracefully – it’s about preserving youth at all cost.

A family member summed it up last week when she commented on a woman’s crow’s feet and stated she would have them removed.  And this woman, I might add, was a terrific looking 50 something.

The ironic thing is that when we’re young, we’re eager to grow up and be of legal age.  Then we hit a certain point, and we want to be young again.  Go figure!

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Technology before “Smart” “i-” and “e-”

I remember when typewriters were in existence, when fax machines came into being, and cell phones came to market.  I remember eight track cartridges, cassettes, VHS, and floppy disks. And does anyone remember the Gestetner?! My, we’ve come a long way!

Prior to the internet, I remember doing research by using an encyclopedia and going to the library to look up reference books. And the precursor to Shutterfly was a slide carousel, projector, and screen. And what about life before cable let alone HD or 3D TV?

Who would have dreamed in the 70s, of all the personal devices and electronics that we have today. Smart phones, iPods, e-books, tablets, and flat screens.  And what will the next generation of technology bring?  I, for one, would like to see a transporter so that you could get from point A to point B in seconds. In the words of Captain Kirk, “Beam me up, Scotty”.

So, what’s next?!

Colouring One’s Hair at the Midpoint

I admit to regularly colouring my hair given that I’m living the midpoint. Will I stop or would I stop?  Don’t know. But I am in good company with the women in my immediate and extended family who continue to colour their hair well past the midpoint. This includes my mother who is in her 70s. Yes, it makes us all look younger and upon reflection, I think that it also makes us feel good about ourselves.

The freedom from frequent “hair maintenance” would be most welcome. On the other hand, there is an emotional component to letting your hair be. Am I “ready” to go white? How would I feel about myself? And what would I look?  These are considerations that would come to mind when pondering my hair.

Regardless of what I decide, I know that reconciling multiple thoughts and feelings are key. And “hats off” to the attractive women I see who don’t colour their hair, and wear their crowning glory with poise and self confidence.

An Eerie Summer Story

The onset of cottage season in Canada, brings to mind a weekend at a friend’s cabin, many years ago. It was during this weekend that I had an eerie experience which could be loosely termed as a ghostly encounter.  This is my story.

It was a beautiful summer evening the night my friend, Aaron, and I sat by the lake chatting and enjoying the peace and calm that nature brings.  At this time, family members had gone to bed, the stars and moon were out, and there was no one else on the property.  Aaron went back into the cabin to grab a beer and I remained seated outside looking out onto the lake.  A few minutes had passed when I felt a very strong presence behind me and I said, “Aaron, is that you?”  No answer.  I turned around and saw no one, yet I felt very strong presence in the yard. My eyes gravitated to the solitary lamp that provided the only source of light outside the cabin. I looked at this particular spot for a few seconds and then the surrounding shrubs and trees. Still nothing.  I turned back to the lake and waited for Aaron. When Aaron returned, I relayed what had happened, to which we thought “weird”.  And conversation turned to other topics.

The next morning, I told my story to Aaron’s mom, who owns the cabin and has lived in the area for years.  She took my story in stride and said that I had probably “met” the night watchman, whose ghost makes the rounds in the area.  He, apparently, is known by the cottagers, and there have been stories of sightings.

In the words of William Shatner, “weird or what”?!

Why Does Sexual Orientation Matter?

Here we are in the 21st century and yet, our outlook towards sexual orientation is in the dark ages.  What difference does it make if an individual is gay or lesbian? How does this affect their humanity, compassion, intelligence, or spirit?  And what hindrance is manifested by sexual orientation, if one is say, a professional athlete, politician, or teacher?

I prefer chocolate to vanilla. I’m sure that this preference doesn’t cast me as “not normal”.  I don’t need to “come out of the closet” and announce to the world my orientation for chocolate. And, I’m confident that my “like” for chocolate over vanilla will not incur embarrassment, risk job loss, or being ostracized by family.

We’ve come a long way in overcoming other prejudices rooted in our history and it’s time to let this bias go too.  Let’s focus an individual’s humanity, their goodness, their contributions, and their spirit. And let the petty nonsensical judgments lie.

What About the Side Effects?

I recently saw a print ad for Premarin Vaginal Cream.  The purpose of the cream? To address vaginal dryness from low estrogen levels as a result of menopause. The “spin” used for the ad’s message was firstly sex – make intercourse comfortable – and secondly, nature – your body is assisted in creating its own lubrication through use of this product. Sound good?  Let’s just say that’s the first page of the ad.

Premarin in tablet form, from what I remember, is made from pregnant mare’s urine (pregnant horse’s pee). I recall that there was controversy in the past between Premarin and its association with causing cancer.  The thought of ingesting horse urine is one thing, and to ingest something with a cancer association is mind blowing.   This leads me to the second page of the ad, where the possible side effects are, indeed, noted on the right side of the page: stroke, heart attack, various cancers such as breast, uterus, and ovarian, and high blood pressure to name a few. (How many people would read the back page of an ad, particularly one that is all text with no images?)

I often wonder why pharmaceutical firms get away with selling “medicine” that may trigger harmful side effects – effects that are sometimes worse than the original symptom they intend to cure.  (Those drug lobbies in the US are certainly effective at their job.)  To site another example, there was a TV commercial I remember seeing, for a drug addressing frequent urination. Pop this pill and your need for frequent washroom breaks is “fixed”.  The side effects were numerous and  longer to announce than the benefits of the so called  “medicine”. And when did frequent urination, in itself, became an illness? 

In my opinion, big pharma firms put revenue and dollars first. Public health (your health) and wellbeing is secondary.

Remember to be informed about the side effects for the medicines offered you.  Your health is, first and foremost, in your hands.

The Good – Present and Past

There are lots of positive things about Canadian society. Embracing of diversity and open mindedness towards visible minorities, sexual orientation, and religion; the existence of gender equality; and respecting the environment through reuse and recycling – these are just some of the great things we live.  

How cool is it to see people from different cultural backgrounds adept at using chopsticks, gather together eating sushi, or watching a hockey game?! Mixed marriages, be it racial or religious, and same sex marriage for that matter, doesn’t even cause us to blink an eye. Up to a generation ago, this would not have been the case.  

So, is there anything from the past worth resurrecting?

I’d encourage the return of basic manners. Has anyone noticed the amount of spitting in public, and the new norm of yawning without covering one’s mouth? What’s up with that?

I’d encourage the return of restraint and teaching of gratitude. How many Christmas gifts do we need to give to our kids so that it’s sufficient?  How expensive do these gifts need to be so that we’re confident that we’ve given enough and our kids are satisfied? And sadly, what are we teaching our kids by giving them everything?

I’d encourage the return of a simpler life. At what point is our home large enough, or cars “good enough” so that we’re content with what we have?

I would not go back to the past especially with the open minded norms of today. But let’s not forget good manners, gratitude, and the simple life!

A Philosophical Question inspired by “The Walking Dead”

I’m an avid fan of the hit tv show “The Walking Dead”. While the Zombie apocalypse setting is most entertaining, what I like best about the show are the philosophical questions it inspires. For those of you who are not familiar with “The Walking Dead”, society as we know it, no longer exists. There is no infrastructure, (no food, water, electricity), no government, no aid, and zombies abound ready to eat anything that lives. Groups of survivors band together.  And the dynamics between two groups sets the tone for this season.

A key question from recent episodes is this-

Would you sacrifice one of your group members for the safety and survival of other members? Would you sacrifice that one member ­­knowing that he/she would be tortured and killed by an evil man? (In the show, he’s the Governor). And yes, your group includes your children, partner, friends.

I would not sacrifice one to save many, especially when that one is a woman, an excellent fighter, and a great judge of character. And I say this as a fan of the show. But would my opinion be the same if it was a real life scenario? Would I readily give up one life to save the lives of many loved ones and friends ? Would I do this knowing that I could avert a high probability of death for all?

It is my hope that my moral compass remains high in times of duress and survival. It is my hope that eventhough the logical side of me says it makes sense to sacrifice one to save many, that I listen to my conscience to guide me. It is my hope that I remain strong when confronted with opposition and stand firm, not to be coerced by peer pressure. It is my hope that I am not a coward.

What would you do?

Life is a circle

Life is, indeed, a circle, as it evolves from: 

Pampers to Depends
Braces to dentures
High Chair to wheel chair
A new born’s bald head to an adult’s hair loss
Blurry vision at birth to reading glasses at middle age
Prepubescence to menopause/andropause
Age of majority to age of retirement
Insightfulness through the curiosity of youth to the insightfulness that accompanies age through wisdom
Time outs in order to learn“right” to quiet time to reflect and give thanks

You Know You’re Getting Older When…

You care less of what people think of you and realize that you are accountable mainly to yourself

You focus less on bullshit – other people’s and that at work

You no longer need to be ‘right’

You’re more mellow than in the past

You remember the original version of a song or movie remake

You no longer know all the tunes in the top 10

You’re out of touch with text message acronyms like FML, WTF, RTFM (do you even text?)

You see a fashion trend come ‘round for a second time

The length of your dresses/skirts starts to creep lower

You’re thrilled when someone calls you “miss” versus “ma’am”

You start thinking more of retirement