But Nobody Told Me!
Telling my adult children about aging feels important to me.  My mother was 84 when she died. She never talked about what it felt like to grow old - the good, the bad and the ugly - so here I am at 67 with no road map, and much of what I have encountered has been unexpected.   Here is some of what I have learned so far: The Challenges 1. I have learned that growing old gracefully is a lofty (and for me unattainable) ideal. How can I possibly embrace the aging process with grace when the image in the mirror stares back at me mercilessly, as it taunts me with its drastically thinning hair, ubiquitous age spots, and face that is rapidly migrating south. If I'm supposed to embrace my aging appearance, I’m failing abysmally. [gallery columns="1" ids="2125"] 2. I have learned that short-term memory is ... well ... short! and, as we age, fades into oblivion. In the (probably futile) hope of warding off dementia, I engage in sundry forms of brain exercise, but it doesn’t seem to make a dent in my memory difficulties. Thoughts and ideas that enter my mind often disappear in mili-seconds, lost forever unless I am somehow able to quickly scribble them down. And if – during a conversation - I have to politely wait my turn to speak, I forget what I wanted to say – and then get stuck trying desperately to remember. 3. I have learned that the greeting ‘How are you?’ takes on a whole new meaning for seniors. Just when we begin our long-awaited retirement, medical issues lie in wait, ready ...
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Reflections on the Benefits of Blogging
What Blogging Has Meant to Me By Adele Gould   As 2013 draws to a close, I reflect on the past eight months or so, since the inception of this blog, and wonder why I didn't do this years ago. Looking back I can see that I was intimidated by my lack of knowledge about blogging, and lacked the confidence to learn. To add to that, it felt a little narcissistic to be writing about myself and my life, and expecting people to read it – but I now know that there are people all over the world  - people that I don't know - who might do a search on a topic that happens to be on my blog. This happens every single day - which I find most intriguing! I have always found writing to be very cathartic. I wrote when I was happy, I wrote when I was confused,  I wrote  to record important events -- but mostly I wrote when  I was sad - when my beloved granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently passed away ,,, when each of my parents died ... when our dog died ... or when I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. But it's more than catharsis - it's also the creative aspect – I love to take words and create pictures that speak – pictures that are meaningful. Because it is my own blog, I have the freedom to choose – the topics, the length, the tone. It’s all up to me. On the banner at the top of my blog - next to my name - it says "revealing, resilient, real” - words ...
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Apartheid in South Africa - My Experience as a White South African
    My Experiences as a White South African The death of Nelson Mandela - my hero and the world’s icon - brings to the surface the deep shame I have carried with me for all of my adult life. I was once a typical white South African – privileged and spoiled – who learned by example to treat with disregard the needs and feelings of black people. Having spent 29 years living under the Apartheid regime before immigrating to Canada almost 40 years ago, it is with pain and penetrating regret that I reflect upon my experience and transgressions. In a country once filled with turmoil and hatred, Nelson Mandela’s voice was silenced by 27 years spent as a political prisoner. His historic walk to freedom culminated in his rise to become South African’s first black President, from where he would lead the country into a brighter future, and to the end of Apartheid. The year was 1994. During the last months of Mandela’s life, as he lay gravely ill, his voice was once again silenced – this time by the tubes keeping his lungs clear of fluid. But the words of Nelson Mandela will never be silenced, as his courage, dignity and determination earned him a place in international history. What is Apartheid? Apartheid - an Afrikaans word meaning ‘separateness’.  - was the  name given to the policies that were designed to uphold white supremacy by legislating racial segregation in South Africa - a country in which the  black population greatly exceeded that of white South Africans.  The Apartheid laws were discriminatory to extreme. Learning Discrimination         Our typically South African household employed two servants ...
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More Thought Provoking Questions
A couple of months ago I wrote a post in which I elaborated on my penchant for deep, meaningful conversations. I chose 7 categories. posed three questions for each, and shared my own answers to each question. I was taken aback by the response to this post. In just a few weeks it was read  by over two thousand  people  from around the globe.. Fascinated, I watched the numbers climb day after day, consistently remaining ahead of all my other posts!  I could never have anticipated this outcome, and I've learned that my desire for intimate conversation is shared by many. Given this, I decided to repeat the process with different categories, questions and answers, and look forward to seeing if this post meets with a similar response. Please feel free to add your comments at the end - or email me directly at  adelegould@rogers.com So - here are 21 more deep thought provoking questions:   About Passion Which four words come to mind when you think about passion? Excitement, exuberance, deep emotion, absorption - and of course sexuality What ignites your passion? Music, dancing, meaningful conversation, learning something new; animals; mountains, oceans, beautiful scenery - and sensuality What holds you back from showing your passionate self? I have a hard time letting go of my inhibitions on the dance floor and when I sing (when others can hear me). About Kindness When you perform an act of kindness how to you like to be thanked? Just once – a word of appreciation; no more What act of kindness were you once shown that you will always remember? When a close friend gently helped me to take time off from work when my granddaughter was very ill Describe two of  (your) ...
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My Mother-in-Law - My Inspiration
  Why My Mother-in-Law is My Inspiration At the age of 99 my mother-in-law-continues to amaze me, and to teach me by example about aging and attitude, and about courage, grace and dignity. While it is true that she has genetics on her side, what is so admirable is how she deals with life's challenges..  As an almost-centenarian she has outlived not only her beloved husband of 67 years, but also all of her friends - and she is the only living member (of her generation) of what was once a very large family I am proud to share a letter I wrote three years ago - a letter which illustrates why I love my mother-in-law and aspire to be like her.  Letter to Mother-in-Law My Dear Rose You are probably wondering why you are receiving a letter from me. I decided to write this when - recently - I happened to be watching the video we have of the ‘mock wedding’ that Jay [her son - my husband] and I had arranged for you and Al [her late husband] in celebration of your 60th wedding anniversary [they were married for 67 years]. I could not take my eyes off your ever-present smile – a smile that radiated warmth, excitement, happiness, appreciation and love. Even your eyes were smiling! Age 80 with husband Al - at mock wedding for their 60th anniversary As I sat and watched the video, I thought about how that smile typifies who you are, and that is what led me to want to tell you what it is that makes you so special in my eyes. First and foremost, it is your attitude to ...
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Low Self-Esteem is not a Life Sentence
      Can One Really Learn How to Build Confidence and Self Esteem? Is it possible to  learn how to build confidence and self esteem?   With determination and perseverance, the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’  I am living proof that having low self-esteem is not a life sentence! Symptoms of Low Self Esteem - What Does It Feel Like? For many, many years I was plagued with debilitating feelings of inadequacy - an all-encompassing belief that I was a flawed human being.  I was quite sure that there was something inherently wrong with me … that I was born with a deficit which I was powerless to change. Mistrusting of my ideas and opinions, I  kept them to myself and  felt like an  outsider watching the world go by without being a part of  anything. Making decisions was agonizing because I was sure I’d make the wrong choice. I could never say no to a request, and was convinced that if people knew the person  behind my smiling facade they would discover just how worthless I really was - and then disappear from my life.  So I lived in fear of exposure, envious of those who exuded confidence, and always aware of  a large, dark, empty whole inside of me - one that could never be filled. In short - I suffered from extremely low self-esteem. How Did it Happen? For so long, the cause of my low self-esteem eluded me.  Was I born that way?   Did I enter the world with low self-esteem?  Of course not (though at one time I would not have believed that).   Newborn infants have squeaky-clean slates - no hangups,  no lack of self confidence,  ...
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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
I have been living with Parkinsons for over ten years, diagnosed in my mid 50s. Despite this I lead a very full and joyful life within the parameters dictated by the disease.  But - now in my mid 60 s - I am also dealing with issues related to the aging process.  From time to time I butt heads with an event that highlights the limitations imposed by the combined forces of Parkinsons and Aging, and for a short while - often not more than a day - the impact hits home and I grieve the losses I face.  This is not for the faint at heart.  Mirror mirror on the wall Who's the slowest of us all? Mirror mirror please be kind  I'm still quite young inside my mind I Joined a Dance Class for People with Parkinsons I'm standing in a large hall at the National Ballet School of Canada, waiting to begin a dance class - not just any dance class, but one specifically for people living with Parkinsons.  I am passionate about ballet, having danced for eight of my childhood years, and do not even mind the fact that it took me two hours to get here.  A couple of years ago I enrolled in a regular beginners ballet class for adults. I enjoyed it immensely, felt proud to be facing – not avoiding -  challenges despite my disease, and was pleased with the image in the mirror that showed how my body remembered and executed the positions and steps expected of the class. And – well, I wasn’t half-bad! However – and much to my dismay - when the instructor introduced turns (“pirouettes”) I ...
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Thought Provoking Questions
  by Adele Gould Deep Thought Provoking Questions – So What’s the Big Deal? If there was an Association for People Who Appreciate Deep Thought Provoking Questions,  I would be a card carrying member – if not the president. I am famous (alright let’s call a spade a spade: notorious) in my circles for the way in which I engage with people when meeting them for the first time. My family and friends regard my actions with more than a modicum of amusement, which fascinates me somewhat since it all feels perfectly normal to me. Let me place on record that I don’t besiege unsuspecting innocents in my path with my array of personal or thought provoking questions. I tread carefully and only initiate deep conversation if I sense that the person is comfortable communicating in this way. That being said, I cannot deny that it is one of life’s truths that I hate small talk (see I Hate Small Talk)  and love deep conversation, because for me, life is all about the connections we make with others along the way, and one of the ways we achieve this is through deep philosophical exchanges and/or discussions. Let’s face it - we all love talking about ourselves, especially when addressing someone who is really listening and interested, so as a listener, it is not that difficult for me to steer the conversation, using appropriate questions. Although I include in my repertoire your run-of-the-mill, how-are-you, glad-to-meet-you types of questions, it doesn't take long for me to progress to the next level. As a social worker in my former life it was my job to ask questions, so I'm no ...
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What If?
  What If? What if you still were with us today? What if you’d never been taken away? I try to envision how life would have been Without the deep longing that smolders within What if your life had not been cut short? What if you'd won the battle you fought? You'd be all grown up – now ten years old With big brown eyes, and beauty untold What if fate had not been so cruel? You’d be busy preparing for fifth grade at school You'd be singing and dancing in school plays and such You'd be bright and successful in all that you touch What if your mother had not had to face A life filled with sadness I cannot erase? I see the grief and I hear her cries And I'm helpless to dry the tears in her eyes What if scientists had found a cure And ended the suffering you had to endure? If your hold on life had remained unshaken How different the roads that our lives would have taken But what ifs do not last for long The truth emerges ever strong Six years ago we said our goodbyes Now coloured balloons take our love to the skies No matter how the years go by We’ll never allow your memory to die In our hearts and our souls you will always remain Until one day we meet again Written August 2013 (See A Poem About Loss,  Death Anniversary Poems and Death of a Grandchild)   ...
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My Husband's Snoring Will Be the Death of Me!
  My Husband  Snores and I Can't  Sleep!  “TURN! OVER!!"  I beg for the third time in half an hour.  My husband snores like a banshee (not that I’ve ever heard one snore …  nor have I ever seen one). This time I leave out the‘PLEEEEZE” "What? Huh?"  he groans from somewhere in dreamland, as he shifts his position slightly. "You're SNORRRING!"  I wail, irritation thinning my voice after my innumerable fruitless attempts to subdue those snoring sounds – the deafening, interminable, deafening roar! I finally succeed. Or so I think.  He momentarily emerges from La-la-Land, lifts his head turtle-style, and mumbles: "No I'm not!" No sooner are the words out of his mouth than he falls asleep again, and off he goes:  first pianissimo, then building to a grand crescendo, as if to say “I’ll GIVE you snoring!!” Exasperated and insulted, I nevertheless respond sweetly:  “If you weren’t snoring, why on earth would I wake you up to turn over?" "Beats me!”  He mutters accusingly, and off he goes again. In sheer desperation I grab my pillow and a blanket, stomp my way to the living room and collapse onto the sofa. Eureka!!!  Blissful silence!  It's cramped, but who cares?  It's quiet!   I position myself carefully so that I don’t once again fall out of this narrow, makeshift bed.  When he wakes up in the morning, fresh as a daisy and full of the joys of spring, he remembers nothing of our little nighttime verbal dispute. Why should he?  He was sleeping all night - I'm the one who spent half the night nudging, cajoling, begging, yelling and poking. yelling and poking. I  have not slept a wink all night (a ...
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Happiness - The Search for a Quick Fix
The Search for a Quick Fix What is happiness? What is true happiness?  Our society is obsessed with questions about happiness – what it is and how to acquire it – such that we found ourselves on a ubiquitous search for a panacea – a quick fix that will sprinkle a happy potion over our collective senses and enable us to live happily ever  after.  Lest we should forget, we are bombarded with reminders to be happy on all occasions – happy birthday, happy anniversary, happy new year, happy Mother's/Father's Day, happy Easter, happy holidays – the list is endless. As if that isn’t enough - in the never-ending quest for a happy society - magazines offer an ongoing plethora of opinions and articles, such as: "Can Money Buy Happiness?" … "The Key to Happiness" … "How to be Happy All the Time”.. "The “Secret of Happiness” .. "How to Keep Your Man [Woman] Happy" or the ever popular "Happiness Quiz". If only it was that easy! Are we any happier today than we were 20, 30 or 40 years ago? I don't believe so. In fact we are facing more stress than ever, due in part to the fact that computers have replaced people in the workplace, and in part to the social isolation that technology has left in its wake. We don't even go out to buy these wonderful happy-everything greetings cards – we send e-cards! Worse still, we send out mass mailings at Christmas time, rather than take the time to send individual messages! Having lost so much of our connectedness, how can we be happy? Are there people ...
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I Hate Small Talk!
Why do I hate small talk? I’ll get straight to the point and illustrate  by way of an example. It goes something like this ‘Hello, Ma’am. How are you today?” asks the caller, whose name appears on my call display as “unavailable”.  The hairs at the back of my neck point north as I kick myself for answering, thus defeating the purpose of having call display. How am I? she asks – as if she cares two hoots. Whose bright idea was it to instruct telemarketers to inquire after our well-being? “I’m Fine” I say dismissively, leaving an uncomfortable silence where the  “ … and how are you?”  would normally go.  As she proceeds to recite her telemarketing lines I interrupt with an annoyed “No thank you” and move to replace the receiver … but not before I hear her disembodied voice politely telling me to ‘have a nice day’. How am I?  Have a nice day? When did these phrases seep into our communication with absolute strangers? I’m not good at making small talk. Maybe that’s why I hate it – or is it the other way around?  Either way, it can be a bit of a problem, since it follows us everywhere.  Being out and about in the world requires that we engage in chit-chat with sundry people we encounter along the way   … fleeting exchanges about nothing in particular.  What is Small talk? The definition of small talk says it all:  Small talk involves conversation about matters of unimportance. It is one of society’s ice-breaking techniques ... talk starters ...  fillers of empty pockets of time. And oh! empty pockets of time abound!  ...
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But I Love Him!
Excuses People Make to Stay in Abusive Relationships " … but I love him!” protests the woman whose husband has been knocking her around for the past three years  … “… but I love him!” wails the wife whose philandering spouse continues to profess his innocence, despite her proof to the contrary … “… but I still love him”  bemoans she whose hubby controls her every move -- her decisions, her friendships,  their finances -- and even their sex life … “…  I love him, but sometimes he’s mean to me” laments the lady whose paramour has perfected the art of criticizing, condemning and complaining about her every move – whether alone or in company … “…  but I love him!”   whines the woman whose partner mooches off her, changing jobs like he changes his underpants ... And the list goes on … Helloooo?!!  Wake up, ladies!!  (and gentlemen who see themselves in any one of these scenarios).  You love him?  Excuse me?  You call that love?? I'm tired of hearing people using   “… but I love him!”   as an excuse to avoid growing up. “This isn't love. It's something broken and ugly.I wanted it so badly I didn't care what it looks like" - Amanda  Grace The   “… but I love him!” syndrome has nothing to do with love.  Rather,  It is an expression of insecurity, fear, self-doubt and need.  The capacity for mature love emanates from one’s own inner security,   and the concomitant expectation that respectful treatment is a given …   that anything less is unacceptable. And by the way –  staying together  “ for the sake of the children”  is as much a cop-out as is the   “… ...
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A Heart of Gould
  I Met My Husband Through a Personal Ad Feigning an air of confidence to conceal the raging disquiet inside, I scanned the restaurant and headed for a table near the back, where I could observe him searching for the 40-something woman with whom he had shared a few words on the telephone. He had neither met me nor seen a photograph. The year was 1986, long before online dating.  I  wanted to know what life after divorce was going to look like,  and didn't like the bar scene, so - in an act of impulse -  I put a personal ad in the local newspaper. I had purposely arrived early to give myself time to acquire that elusive veneer of tranquility. The dating game was indeed uncharted territory. As a bride of only 18, I was ill prepared for the complexities of marriage. Here I was, 21 years and five children later, newly separated, on a date with a man who answered an ad I had placed in the personal column of the local newspaper. “What was I thinking?” I muttered to myself. “This man could be an axe murderer!” I took a few deep breaths. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a tall, attractive, bearded man heading in my direction. Feeling both fearful and a little excited, I stood to shake his hand and exchange “glad-to-meet-you” pleasantries. We quickly busied ourselves with menus and meal choices, a diversion that eased us into the discovery of similarities and the sharing of histories. "Life after divorce? So far so good,” I thought to myself as I asked the obvious question: “So, what led to your separation?” “We ...
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Death of a Grandchild
  by Adele Gould Coping with the death of a grandchild – a tragic and excruciatingly painful event – garners very little support for grandparents.  What makes this loss even greater is the helplessness that grandparents feel in being unable to ease the terrible and lifelong heartache experienced by the grieving parents. My beloved granddaughter, Tal Doron (affectionately called Tali) was just four years old when she died on August 26th 2007. A stunningly beautiful child, she exuded both childlike joy and astounding maturity throughout the ten months of her suffering.  Diagnosed at age three with a rare form of brain cancer, her chances of survival were slim. Nevertheless -- as she endured the unspeakable horrors of chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation -- we convinced ourselves that she would beat the odds.  There was simply no other way to think. I hold on for dear life to the precious memories I have of her pre-cancer days, when she would squeal with delight when she saw me arrive to visit.  “Granny!”  she would shriek as she leaped with abandon into what she trustingly assumed would be my waiting embrace. Her eyes would shine with joy as she anticipated playtime, Granny-style. We would collapse on the floor, surrounded by dolls and other such girlish accoutrements.  Sometimes I got to be the Mommy and she the Daddy, and when she grew tired of parenthood, she would dump her "children" in a box, and we’d dance to the rhythm of Old McDonald, joined by her two brothers (one of whom was her twin). Sibling rivalry would fade into the background as story time began. Could there be any greater ...
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