Y is for Second Person Singular

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La Puerta del Sol, Madrid

You. You have thought for a long time that you would like to try writing in second person singular ~ you. You think that you can do so in this blog by offering a series of vignettes of places you have lived, studied, and worked. You begin with Madrid.

Madrid

At eleven, you prepare to  leave the Ateneo where you have been studying since five in the afternoon…

A las cinco de la tarde.
Eran las cinco en punto de la tarde.
Un niño trajo la blanca sábana
a las cinco de la tarde.

Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías ~ Federico García Lorca

You had a quick merienda about seven o’clock in the bar downstairs when your friends arrived from the university. Rather than a bite to hold you over until dinner in the Spanish style, the merienda for you is the evening meal, owing to your limited student budget as well as not needing anything after a heavy bocadillo of a baguette, serrano ham, and cheese. The light over your study desk casts a swirl of whitish yellow on your desk , one of hundreds in the 4411558559_8006fac4ca_mvast library. Before you switch it off, you muse once more, wondering which of the many illustrious intellectuals may have studied there also, at this very desk, students like you. Alcalá Zamora? Unamuno? Ortega y Gasset? Or perhaps one of your professors – Julián Marías, Laura de los Ríos de García Lorca, or Carlos Bousoño? Then, as you descend the gorgeous staircase to the exit, you and your friends meet up to make the short trek to the Metro in Puerta del Sol.

You feel the cold as you leave the Ateneo, but it is not until you round the last corner into the Puerta does the strong north wind take your breath away.  Your pandilla, your group of Spanish pals, tells you that this is the wind that during the winter comes straight from the Arctic Circle to the meseta, the high plain where Madrid is located. This is definitely a night for chocolate y churros before entering the metro station, where everyone will go their separate ways. The sight, the texture, and the taste of this plato típico – like hot, dark chocolate pudding and heavy donuts, is one you still recall 48 years later, as you experiment with the second person singular.

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Photo ~ Puerta del Sol by Manuel on Flickr: https://goo.gl/x7DKGQ (CC BY 2.0).

Photo ~ La escalera by pegatina1 on Flickr: https://goo.gl/j9lNja (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo ~ Churros y chocolate on Flickr: https://goo.gl/on1BDP  (CC BY 2.0)

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

X is for Rejection or Acceptance

 

“X14114788851_76d509ee67_b,” used as a verb can connote both rejection (i.e., to cross out) or acceptance (i.e., to indicate a choice, as in an election). We spend our life accepting, rejecting, making choices. We are, according to existential philosophers, the sum total of our choices. That can be a pretty confusing total of acceptances and rejections for an elder. What are some of the acceptances and rejections of my own sum total of choices?

  • The rejection of the dream of becoming a writer at a young age.
  • The acceptance of that role now, as a septuagenarian.
  • The rejection of youthful agnosticism.
  • The acceptance of myself as a spiritual being.
  • The rejection of reading male authors as a mid-adult in favor of female authors.
  • The acceptance of seeking a balance of male and female authors later in life, reading the book for its content and importance, not the gender of the writer.
  • The rejection of leisure time spent enjoying fiction for many years as an academic and professional.
  • The acceptance of an easing of the pressures of professional life and a return to reading for pleasure.
  • The rejection of life as a Spanish teacher as I became a gifted specialist and professor of gifted education. 
  • The recent acceptance and return to teaching Spanish online to gifted youth and lovin’ it.
  • The rejection of the thought of aging, thinking I would rather pass before old age had me in its grips.
  • The acceptance of aging as a joyful and spiritual process.

What are some of the acceptances and rejections of your sum total of choices?

Photo by Maria Iglesias Barroso on Flickr: https://goo.gl/xpABzh (CC BY-NC 2.0).

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

W is for Winter of Content(ment)

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The photo of the painting on the left is another piece from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art  (Snow on Alden Brook, Neil G. Welliver, 1983).  Perhaps it was the pensive mood of the weekend – my friend and I spent part of it planning a collaborative book. Perhaps it was that we passed the time in the museum sharing experiences of seniorhood. In any case, upon viewing the painting, the phrase that popped into my mind was – winter of our content – with allusion to Steinbeck and Shakespeare (The Winter of Our Discontent).

  Lately I discovered that the stage of life that I dreaded for most of my life is, in fact,  a wonderful time of life. In elderhood I find myself at leisure to create, to dive into relationships in ways that time did not allow previously, to be gentle with myself, to be authentic in new ways, to BE.  Far from the depressing stage that I envisioned,  I have entered a joyful part of my life journey.

  I often find myself chuckling when I realize that there are few have to’s at this age. I do not have to work, even though I choose to be engaged in creative production. I do not have to do chores on a set schedule in order to fit everything into a work-centered lifestyle. I can sit and read when I want, enjoy sitting outside without feeling that there is something else that I have to be doing, and I find myself reminding myself that, yes, I can have extended conversations with my spouse and with friends without worrying about the have to’s. Most importantly, I find more time for spiritual contemplation.

Yes, dear reader, despite the aches and pains, the knowledge that our bodies are deteriorating, and the finality we face, this IS the winter of contentment.

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

V is for Vivacious

 

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 Gifted elders are vivacious. They are not necessarily vivacious in the  physical sense, although some are.  I love to dance and my husband and I even won a twist contest in our fifties. Nevertheless, I do not consider myself physically vivacious or vivacious in my appearance.

Visiting elders in nursing homes confirms my belief in the mental vivaciousness of gifted elders. I see it in their eyes, the spark, the spirit that is a combination of alacrity,  curiosity, and creativity. A friend who is in the mid to late stage of Alzheimer’s still has her quick and gifted sense of humor. Another is a model of hospitality and as good at conversation as any of our friends. Another is always reading and has boxes of books waiting to devour. My mentor, Annemarie Roeper, was writing and publishing into her nineties.

Gifted elders need their vivacious spirit affirmed. It pains me when I see caregivers treat them as mentally challenged or talk to them as if they were infants. A student whose family I assist in educational planning recently expressed her need to have conversations that were not limited by having to give lengthy explanations or having to slow down. The student voiced the need to have gifted conversations daily. Gifted elders want this too.

Are there vivacious gifted elders who you can gift with conversation and understanding?

Photo: You’d never guess she uses a cane. by Ann Fisher (https://goo.gl/lwcxBV). Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

U is for Unraveling

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As we enter our seventies, it is easy to dwell on changes in our minds and bodies with a view toward the negatives. We may experience pain and loss as our bodies age and as our lifestyle as we knew it for so long is left behind.

This photo of the work “Unraveling,” by Ursula Von Rydingsvard, is from a recent trip that a friend and I made to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The installation sparked my thinking about old age as an age of unraveling. There are two ways that I might choose to think about the verb, “to unravel.” The first is the negative connotation,    meaning at loose ends, or coming to pieces. That is the view of aging as one of pain and loss.

However, relying on my knowledge of Spanish and French, I choose the connotation of the words, desenlace, or denouement. These words literally mean untying or unknotting, and are used as literary terms for the resolution of the conflict in the plot of a literary word. In literature, the author unties all the twists and turns, knots if you will, of the plot to resolve the story, play, or book, thus leading to the conclusion. In our lives, our unraveling may be similar. What are some of the knots, the conflicts, that gifted elders experience that are waiting to be resolved in the final stage of our lives?

 Untying involves setting one’s agenda for the years (days/months?) that remain. Agenda-setting or goal-setting involves taking stock of our resources and proposing goals that respond to those realities. Thus, having surveyed my resources, I will never run a marathon, but I do intend to train as a marathon writer and to finish the three books that are in different stages of writing, to publish a book of poems, to read, to connect with loved ones, and to maintain my mobility during my final years. I will call on all the resources at hand to assist in untying and resolving those goals.  Surveying my fiscal resources, I will not spend them all at once on a world cruise. However, I do intend to travel each year, visiting familiar and unfamiliar places. As gifted elders we can plan a fulfilling agenda within the confines of our resources.

 Untying is setting our life in order in the sense that, in consideration of our loved ones, we simplify the process that they will need to go through after we pass. Do our loved ones know who to contact? Do they know where important papers are? Do the know what our wishes are?

 Untying involves saying what is left unsaid. For the past several years I have kept a gratitude journal, focused on family. Our youngest son who lives nearby knows where to find that journal to share with his brother and the rest of the family upon my demise. I have also begun final gifting, writing poems, notes, and other missives to family and friends and designating meaningful gifts from our belongings that will be significant to them.

Untying means resolving the inner tensions within ourselves  – letting go of past hurts and touching the mystery, the spiritual, in ourselves. Mindfulness, prayer, or other types of meditation become a daily ritual that assist us in unraveling. 

 What ties and knots do you have that need to be unraveled?

*Photo of “Unraveling” by Ursula von Ryndingsvard. In the collection of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

 

 This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

 

T is for Tower

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Yesterday, I shared that I am traveling this week and that all the posts for this week were written before my departure. Because time is pressing in, this post is not as developed as I would like it to be. I share lines from the lyrics of a song by one of my favorite singer/composers, Leonard Cohen, interspersed with some connections I make to the lives of gifted elders. Enjoy!
                 Tower of Song
Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of Song…

I have lost four colleagues from my university since the beginning of this year. It is sobering to see role models like they were to me pass so suddenly. Extending the circle, my husband and I hear almost each week of lifetime friends who have passed. Each day is a gift, and a day to honor those we have lost. If you are a gifted elder, or if you have gifted elders as loved ones, my hope is that you will experience gratitude each day, no matter the aches or pains.

In the Tower of Song

I was born like this, I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
My colleagues in the field of giftedness know what we risk when we use the “g” word. Many believe the term gifted is elitist. We cannot deny who we are. We were born like this. We had no choice. Among gifted adults and elders we find most of the same traits of gifted children, often with more intensity; for example, perfectionism, heightened empathy, curiosity, intense sensitivity, high energy, keen imagination.  Be gentle with yourself and with other gifted elders.

Now I bid you farewell, I don’t know when I’ll be back
There moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you’ll be hearing from me baby, long after I’m gone
I’ll be speaking to you sweetly
From a window in the Tower of Song

Leonard Cohen is a writer who sees through so much of the deceit in the world. This is also true for most gifted elders. Embrace your new role as crone – a wise elder. We need the voices of elders in our world!

You can access the video of Cohen singing Tower of Song at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WirxqAn7Ck8 .

Photo by Marleen Trommelen on Unsplash (https://goo.gl/L2SkEa).

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge

S is for Satisfaction

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S is for Satisfaction. I am satisfied. Thus far in April I have kept pace with the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. When this post becomes public, I will be visiting family. This post and all the posts for this week were completed by April 13, in order to appear on the designated days, despite the fact that I, as of April 22, will have been out of pocket for over a week.

I am satisfied.

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash (https://goo.gl/rMgOPa)

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016)  Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge