DO’S AND DON’TS OF HUGGING

Hugging someone you barely know or care about seems to have become commonplace in today’s culture.  As a person coming of age in the fifties, I can tell you we didn’t used to do much hugging except with a little kid, a close relative, or a friend who had suffered some kind of painful loss, like the death of a loved one.  Of course, we hugged our boyfriends, but that was usually leading up to something more intimate.

Maybe it started in the late sixties, when hippies were advocating we make love, not war.  I’m not sure. The first time I witnessed group hugging was when my teenage son came home from a church camp, and when I went to pick him up,  all the boys and girls were  going around the parking lot and  hugging each other.  We didn’t do that when we came home from girl scout camp.  So, I knew the times, they were a changing.

Now, there’s even a National Hugger Day in January.

I pretty much tried to adapt and fit into the hugging trend.  I didn’t initiate hugs, but then again, I didn’t resist them.  But I finally drew the line when I took a water aerobics class and encountered a serial hugger.  This lady apparently hoped to a recruit new members  to her particular denomination by  zigzaging  through the water, approaching unsuspecting women, and embracing them while whispering biblical quotations in their ear.  I think some needy women enjoyed that, but I really wasn’t too keen on hugging a sweaty, clammy stranger.  I kept trying to dodge her and hide behind other women, but when  she continued to stalk me with a big smile and outstretched arms, I finally backed away, finding some pretext of doing something else.  She finally got the message and left me alone.  But when we ended up back in  the locker room after class, she usually gave me a dirty look.
So, if hugging is your thing, and all your friends do it, that’s fine with me, but just remember that some people like a little more space.

 

ARE SAUDI WOMEN FREE AT LAST?

On Sunday, it became legal in Saudi Arabia for women to drive.  However, most of them probably won’t because there’s a lot of red tape involved in getting a driver’s license, and Saudi  conventional wisdom is that women are mentally unfit to drive.  Wow! Talk about being out of the loop. Numerous studies from many countries show that women have far fewer traffic accidents than men.

Remember when your teenage children finally got their driver’s license, and you no longer had to chauffeur them everywhere, at all hours of the day and night?  One of the happiest days of my life was when all three of my children could finally drive.  I would think Saudi men would feel a tremendous relief now that women can  drive their kids to school, shop, and run all the many errands that women in other countries have been doing for a century.
But at least it’s a step in the right direction.  Maybe someday, they will change the dress code.  I don’t know about you,  but I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see a woman dressed in black from head to toe on a hot summer day, with  her face covered, except for her sad eyes peering out at the rest of the world where women are free.    Worse yet, you realize that this woman is probably married to a first cousin, because the only way she can meet men is at private family gatherings.  All of this inbreeding results in  high rates of rare genetic disorders like sickle cell anemia and Thalassemia.  Statistics show that  Saudi women are 13 times more likely to bear a child with a genetic disorder than women in other countries.   I know, it’s all part of their culture and it’s their own business—I guess.  But  my heart goes out to the women and girls in that country. 

ARE WE ON THE VERGE OF CIVIL WAR?

 

Remember the Chicago Riots?  If you are under 40, you hadn’t even been born.  When I hear younger  people say they’re worried about this country breaking out in Civil War, it’s probably because they don’t realize what tough times we survived 40 years ago.

The riots, following Martin Luther King’s assassination,  resulted in 20 people dead and 500 injured. There were 125 fires, 210 buildings destroyed, and 2,000 people arrested  in Chicago alone, before the violence extended to Washington DC,  New York City and 60 cities, altogether.  If you were around then, you  felt as if  the country was falling apart.  Many young men moved to Canada and never returned.  It was a terrifying time—Robert Kennedy was assassinated, and the Vietnam War was tearing this nation apart.  In the early 70’s,  there were protests  and race riots in every city and state, and college campus.

So now,  the political climate  seems to many  like everything is worse than it’s ever been.  Name calling, vulgarity, protests, riots.   The crisis at the border.  Affordable care.  Racial profiling, Tariff’s. North Korea.  #MeToo.  But for those of us who remember the late 60’s  and the violent domestic explosions in the early 70’s  it’s deja vu. 

Think of all the people you encounter during the day.  Most of them are civil and polite.  Yes, political disagreements  are more divisive than ever now,  but I would bet that sane, courteous, thoughtful,  people  still comprise what used to be called the “silent majority.”  It’s nothing new to fear speaking out about controversial issues.

Since that time, we have lived through assassinations, wars in the middle east, recessions,  more race riots, and the worst attack our country has ever been through on 9/11 . So here we are again at the crisis point. But. I believe that  we  share  more values and common ground uniting us than tearing us apart.   I don’t think we will have a civil war.  This nation will remain strong and we will survive.

Read my new blog, Living Well After 80 https://llivingwellafter80.com

 

FORGIVENESS & THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

The other day, I had a mind slip.  Thinking about a roof leak, I distractedly moved forward out of turn at a 4 way stop sign. A second later, realizing what I had done,  I cringed with remorse, waiting for a loud blast from the other driver’s horn, at the very least. But he simply waited for me to go on, and didn’t even roll down his car window and yell at me.  Such an incident might have triggered an act of road rage in a big city, but fortunately, my fellow driver was a kindly person, who perhaps realized I’d had a temporary brain freeze.

On another occasion, I approached a checkout lane at the Dollar Store with some products on the conveyor belt, but no customer in sight. Since I had just 3 items, and my husband was waiting in the car, I proceeded toward the cashier. But just as I was checking out, the missing person came up behind me, and loudly berated me for not waiting while she went to the back of the store for a forgotten item.

One person was kind and forgiving, the other wasn’t.  I can tell you that even though the manager came over and apologized, the bad karma generated by this woman’s vitriolic attack left me in an all day funk.  For hours,  I chastised myself for my inconsiderate action, until my husband finally convinced me it was just a simple mix up, and there was no reason for me to feel so guilty.
But the kindly person who forgave my stupidity at the stop sign actually made my day.  If I met him, I might learn that he volunteers at a soup kitchen or acts as a caregiver for his ailing wife.
Other simple acts of kindness make the world seem a better place—when I’m lost in an unfamiliar town, the stranger at a gas station who goes out of his way to lead me to my destination.  The little child who runs up behind me in a parking lot  to tell me I dropped my credit card. 
 
Whether it’s forgiving a stranger for a mistake, or going out of your way to help a fellow human being,  the kindness of strangers  offers a ray of hope for a return to civility,  instead of the vicious rhetoric dividing our nation today.

 

DISGUSTING COMMERCIALS–THE PRICE WE PAY TO WATCH TELEVISION

No, I’m not talking about your monthly cable bill.  Nor how much you paid for all the television sets throughout your house.  I’m talking about the annoying advertisements we must endure in order to see our favorite shows.

Off hand, here are two  commercials that we’ve awarded top groanworthy ratings.

1.“We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two”.  This is an insurance ad and we’ve probably seen it a hundred times.  Once, we decided not to watch a movie with that same actor who drums out those same words, week after week.  We’re tired of looking at him, and we never want to hear his voice again.
2. The digestive tract ad, where you see a sort of naked looking girl with kinky hair prancing around wearing a  flesh colored body suit,  with her large and small intestines drawn in living color.  Yes, we can turn off the sound, but we still have to see that disgusting GI tract.  As many times as I’ve seen this victim of stomach upset, I honestly cannot recall the name of the product being advertised.  By the time they get to the nitty gritty, I’m too grossed out.
Last night we saw one that may move up to the top of the list.  In the first scene,  we see a beautiful blonde sitting on the toilet  Then, just so we know it’s not gender specific, they switch scenes to a young man sitting on a toilet with a grimace on his face.  Well of course, it’s all about constipation.  Just what we want to hear before the evening news.  It probably won’t be long until they show someone’s nice soft feces.  Yuck!
Then, all the irritating prescription drug commercials for every medical condition you could ever have.  I suppose they wouldn’t show them if they didn’t help sell their products.  But personally, I would not ask my doctor to write a script for some drug I saw on TV.  Seems like that would be telling him how to do his job, and a bit insulting. 

Thank heaven the spring primaries are over.  By election day, I’d seen so many candidates ripping each other to shreds that I couldn’t have voted for any of them.  

LOVE’S MORE COMFORTABLE THE SECOND TIME AROUND

Remember that old Frank Sinatra song, LOVE IS LOVELIER THE SECOND TIME AROUND? 

But is it? For anyone contemplating a second marriage, the statistics aren’t very encouraging:  First marriage divorce rate 50%; second marriage, 67%; third marriage; 74%.  Makes you wonder why anyone would bother getting married at all, especially now that living together is not frowned upon as it used to be. 


And yet, young people continue to go to the altar, especially twenty somethings.  Unfortunately, most of them have no  idea what they’re getting into.  Living in someone’s apartment for a few years may convince you that you do, but that carefree life all changes when reality sets in.  Married people are expected to have good jobs, and keep them.  They’re supposed to buy a home and raise a family.  In other words, marriage  suddenly thrusts  more responsibility on a formerly carefree couple,  and not everyone is mentally or emotionally equipped to handle that.  Tempers flare more frequently now.  Coping with a sick child, unemployment,  health problems,  and all the worries of adulthood may lead to disillusionment, arguments, and sometimes depression.  Many women marry for status and security only to find they don’t like the sex part of marriage.  Younger married couples often have no shared interests except children.  One may be an avid sports fan, while the other prefers the arts.   Most unhappy married couples stay together for the sake of the children, which is probably why they last longer than subsequent marriages.
But here’s what’s good about second marriages. You know what you really want in a spouse–often someone quite different than your first one. And since you’re more likely to be marrying for love and companionship, rather than establishing a home and raising a family, you’re more apt to be sexually compatible. 

You also have learned to be more tolerant of each other’s shortcomings, and you pick your battles.  A dented fender on a new car may cause a major conflict in a first marriage, but by the time you’ve remarried, you’re not in the mood to get worked up about things that don’t really matter. You’ve learned  how to bite your tongue instead of lashing out when you have disagreements, and settle things in a more mature way. 
 
Marriage will always be a gamble, but if you can manage to do a better job of choosing a spouse the second time around, you’re likely to be much happier than you’ve ever been in your life.

WHY SOME BRIGHT KIDS DROP OUT OF COLLEGE

Numerous studies show that in the long run, a college degree guarantees a higher income.  Why, then, are so many students dropping out of college?

Lately, I’ve talked to some bright young people who dropped out because they can make so much money in one of the many  jobs  available today that don’t require a college degree.   They are leery of spending four years of their young lives, only to face decades of paying off student loans before buying a house, getting married, or starting a family.
Fifty years  ago, college degrees were extremely important if you wanted to enjoy a comfortable life style. Many of us got through school on a shoe string, paying tuition as we went long, maybe dropping out for a year to save some money.  Also, you could get some credits taking night classes and working during the day. Student loans were unheard of.  Maybe you didn’t land your dream job the minute you graduated, but at least you were debt free.  That sounds like a fantasy to today’s college graduates, many of whom will be paying off student loans for years to come. 

Okay, back to the college drop outs.  Are they destined for a life of poverty?  According to the Bureau of Labor statistics,  there are plenty  of jobs paying  $60,000 to $90,000 a year that don’t require a college degree.   If you don’t care about living in San Francisco or New York City. that kind of income will buy you a modern  house, a new car, and a good life here  in flyover country. That’s enough for a lot of intelligent young men and women, who don’t want  a high pressure job that requires long hours  and the constant stress of “keeping up with the Jones.”  Rather than luxury cruises,  they’re content to vacation on lake shores, or  in state and national parks with their kids. 

The simple life can be a very  sweet, indeed.