A Post-Pandemic Quest

Vern Schmitz

Socrates is alleged to have said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Was he talking to the elite of ancient Greece? Or are his words still applicable to us, even though we are separated by thousands of years?

Bruce Feiler, in his most recent book, Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age, would appear to agree wholeheartedly with Socrates’ idea that we benefit from examining our own lives. After interviewing 225 people who had experienced horrific and some more common life-altering events in their lives, Mr. Feiler states: “Life is the story you tell yourself.”

Feiler says that our life transitions, which he calls “life disrupters,” and for the very largest of these events, “lifequakes,” require us to rewrite our life story. I had one of these “lifequakes” myself; it was my heart attack on the eve of my 49th birthday. To compound the difficulty of this medical event, it also led to the subsequent loss of my first career.  (More…)

My Mother: Ugly Duckling

Mother with two childrenMy Mother, Margaret Lucile Burnett, was the first-born child to a wealthy couple in Denver, Colorado, in 1911.  She was her father’s dream come true, but not so much so to her mother, Lucile, since Margaret was an unattractive child.  Lucile much preferred her next child, Chuck, a handsome boy, and her beautiful baby, Jean.

Mother grew up feeling ugly, especially as she moved into her teens.  When she was 13, she sprang into her full 5’8” height, with much extra weight to boot. She often told us of the time that her parents invited a German couple to visit.  As Mother descended the stairs to greet them, Mrs. Higgenbottom exclaimed, “Oh what a backfisch!” which Mother interpreted as a devastating put-down.  (More…)

Table for One

Robert Strozier

Reflections of an 80-Year-Old Bachelor

Steve Martin Lonely Guy 01In one of my favorite scenes from the movie, The Lonely Guy, Steve Martin enters a fancy restaurant and requests a table for one. Spotlights from all angles zero in on the lowly intruder as the diners shrink back in shock and distaste.

A long-time bachelor, I know that rebuff well. Once, after I was seated in a restaurant, the waitress asked, “Will we be joined by the missus?” “Highly unlikely,” I said, “I’m single,” and over her face passed a fleeting shadow of pity and mistrust.

I was always eager to get married, I told myself, certain the world would eventually beat a path to my doorway… someone from Publishers Clearing House would ring and—surprise! —present me with the woman of my dreams. Then one day I checked my watch and noticed that five decades had gone by.  (More…)

My Life During “Stay Safe at Home”

Catherine Mitchell

First, I am grateful because all of my friends and family are in good health, and so far they are financially secure. And I am thankful to all the people who are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep things working as much as possible – not only those people in the medical field, but also grocery store workers, restaurant owners and workers, and all of the unsung heroes out there.

I am 80 years YOUNG and cringe every time that I hear or read, “the frail and elderly.”  I definitely am not frail and hadn’t felt elderly until the coronavirus hit. This is a picture of me celebrating my 80th birthday in Italy last year.  All of a sudden, I went from having a full calendar to having an empty one. So far a dental appointment has been cancelled as has  (More…)

Luck, Skill, Fate and Attitude

We’ve recently received two posts that explored the question : “Which is more important?  The way you deal with Life or the way Life deals with you?”  Neither writer was aware of the other’s work.  Rather than publish them in separate issues of OLLI Connects, we decided to run both of them at once.  Enjoy!

Do you consider yourself an (un)lucky person? Are you a poker player? I used to be but decided that with my luck I may as well stay home. Oh, how about skill? Doesn’t poker require some skill like being able to count and remember the cards that have been played.  Sure it does!  But it didn’t matter in my case; I always lost—was unlucky, you might say. I suppose another way of putting this is to say that my “fate” was always—to lose (at poker).  Neither luck nor skill mattered.

So how do you think about luck, skill, and fate in life? Are you a “what will be will be” person? Or do you believe that through skill and some luck, the future is yours to determine? I hope your answer is  (More…)

Why 80 Matters

Don Menzel

In a few weeks I will hit the magic number: 80 years old.  I reckon I can no longer deny that the so-called ”Golden Years” are just a breath away.  “What will be will be” says the great philosopher Doris Day. And so it is. Or, as another modern-day philosopher, Harlem-born Charlie Rangel once said about his age, “I don’t buy green bananas anymore”.   Well, I haven’t reached that stage yet, and I hope I don’t, but I will share a few personal considerations with you.

First, I never ever expected to clock 80 years for two reasons:  Most of my life has been in the fast lane.  Of course, maybe that’s the reason I down 15 pills daily, seven of which target high blood pressure.  And then there’s heredity.  (More…)