Wise crackers


AGMA’s an on again, off again fan of On Being. Of late, more off again. I need to fix that.

For those of you who don’t know, On Being is a public radio show/podcast here in the U.S. It used to be called Speaking of Faith, but they rebranded it. I guess because it sounded too “religious”. Maybe.

Their website (onbeing.org) describes their purpose… “On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”

Easy peasy right?

A link on the On Being Facebook page to a recent OB blog post caught AGMA’s attention. It’s titled The Wisdom Boom and is by a young, 30 something woman named Courtney Martin. You can read her post here if you want: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/courtney-martin-the-wisdom-boom/8422

It starts out, “Every eight seconds, another baby boomer turns 65.”

Don’t remind me. Only 1,563,520 x 60 seconds to go.

It talks about reframing the concept of aging Americans from a Silver Tsunami to a Wisdom Boom. Wisdom Boom sounds much more optimistic and not quite as frightening as Silver Tsunami. And much better than the 1970’s Gray Panthers.

I like Wisdom Boom, but with a caveat.  Wait for it…

In the post, she writes about specific Wisdom Boom individuals.  She describes their activities and the organizations some of them have established to enable people in the “third act” of life have an impact on the world.

Oops.  I think I must have missed my “second act”.  When did that happen?

At 36, Ms. Martin thinks she’s in the “messy middle”. It’s natural when you leave your 20’s to feel a bit like youth is passing you by. I remember thinking that when I was 34.

But oh, young AGMA and Ms. Martin, nothing could be further from the truth.  At 34 and 36, you are still so very young… Your future is still unfolding in front of you and will for quite some time. The “messy middle” really doesn’t start until you’re well into your 40‘s. And the &hit doesn’t start hitting the fan until you are into your 50’s. You have plenty of time so don’t panic.


Just think of this.  A lot of people qualify for the Olympics well their 30’s and 40’s. Just look at Meb Keflezighi (easy for me to say…) At 40, Meb just qualified for his 3th Olympic Games in the Marathon. The Marathon. He’ll be 41 when the Games start in August. Running 26.2 miles in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes. At 41.

Holy crap on a cracker.

Like all of us, Ms. Martin’s in search of wisdom. She has a very busy, crazy life with family and career. She feels like she’s building stamina, but says, “…I’m not always sure I’m absorbing wisdom. Absorption feels like it takes time. I don’t have a lot of that.”

None of us had the time at 36. Trust me, none of us did. But the wisdom comes precisely through a busy, messy, out of control life. You don’t think about the lessons that you’re learning at the time or the “absorption”. You’re just trying to get through each day without screwing things up too badly. But later on, when you do have the time (and you will), you realize that the learning, the absorption, happened anyway. It’s not dependent on you consciously doing anything. The wisdom comes from surviving. And paying just a little bit of attention along the way.

Most of the time.

Ms. Martin sounds incredibly fortunate in that she seems surrounded by mature, self actualized, truly wise older adults. I caution her not to project her experience on all older adults.

And here’s that caveat…

As you and I well know, dear AGMA readers, a blaze of candles on a birthday cake doth not wisdom guarantee. Some of the goofiest, unwise, clueless people I know are in that “third act”.

For whatever reason, they haven’t learned the important lessons from the great taskmaster called Life. They have no idea how to set healthy boundaries and in many cases, are too wounded to grow emotionally as their bodies grow more age rings. And they seem to get more clueless as time passes.

They personify the definition of insanity; doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results. They get angry and bitter because they can’t figure out what happened; what went wrong.

We all know some of these folks. They are not the people to be working on those world impact projects. They might have an impact alright, but no the kind I think Ms. Martin is writing about.

But I so appreciated her post and hope you get a chance to read it.

I really love the idea of intergenerational, intercultural, interracial, interfaith, and whatever interother there may be, friendships. Makes me always want to be in a place where I can meet people who are different from me.

AGMA resolved a long time ago never to move to a retirement community like The Villages in Florida. Too many golf carts and STD’s, and not enough diversity for my tastes. But that’s just me.

Just remember Ms. Martin and young AGMA, you are both just in your early “second act”. Enjoy where you are now and try not to overthink things too much. Keep tapping into those wise elders, but don’t diminish the power of your experiences and instincts.

As some wise person once said, don’t worry about the destination; the joy is in the journey.

They were probably over 65.


The Zen of Charles Schulz


So right now I could be working on Christmas cards or studying for my Personal Trainer exam or writing something for my blog. The first two are fairly urgent and time sensitive.  I’m kind of on a deadline for both.  They’re both important to me for different reasons and I know I would regret not prioritizing either one of them.

Guess you figured out which one I picked…

I heard a few days ago that A Charlie Brown Christmas was turning 50 this year.  It first aired on television in December 1965.  Not sure how the news source I was listening to worked the math on that one…    But have a feeling that NEXT December there will be lots of 50th anniversary tributes and accolades for my good buddy Chuck and his sad little Christmas tree.

I’ll just start it off a year early.

I remember watching A Charlie Brown Christmas when it aired for the first time.  I was 11 years old and had just moved to Kentucky from Pennsylvania to live with my father and step-mother.  My own, dear mother passed away just a little over two months before and left a huge empty space in my chest where my heart used to be.  I was devastated.

I had never lived with my father before that I remember.  My parents were separated when I was very young, and he moved out of state when I was six to marry his new wife.  After he moved, I saw him probably once a year.  And I had no clue he had remarried until I met his wife for the first time when they came to get me to bring me down to Kentucky after Mom’s funeral.


These were the days before there were grief support groups for kids who lost a parent.  The days before there were divorce support groups for kids from “broken” homes.  The days before counseling was considered an option for a child adjusting to the abrupt and sudden loss of her immediate and extended family, her school, all her friends and the only home she had ever known.  They just patted you on your back and said, “Sorry ‘bout your luck.  Now buck up!”

You were just expected to suck it up and move on.  No moping allowed.

Shortly after I moved to Kentucky, my father got me a small, used, portable black and white TV for my room.  Like all TV’s back in the day, my little portable had antennas to get the paltry four – count ’em, four – stations that were available at that time. The reception was horrible on my little TV.  Lots of snow and static and fuzzy pictures.  Those darned rabbit ears.

But I honestly think that television was my salvation.  It was something magical.  It transported me to places and into stories that made me forget…   Shows like The Wonderful World of Disney or The Ed Sullivan Show or I Dream of Jeanie would suck me in and I’d forget for a couple of hours that I was a lonely stranger in a strange land living with strangers.

Most of all, I loved the shows that made me laugh.  Red Skelton, The Munsters, McHale’s Navy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island. And Looney Tunes cartoons – they were my favorite.  Tweety Pie was the bomb.  Bring it on Puddy Tat…  The more ridiculous and absurd, the more I laughed.

There was solace in laughter.  Healing.  All those good endorphins.  I was too young to drink or do drugs to feel better, but I sure could laugh.  Probably better for me in the long run…

Enter A Charlie Brown Christmas on my little TV in December 1965. Boy, could I relate to Charlie Brown.  I was living his life.  Nothing was going right.  I was full of self-doubt and anxiety.  I had no control over anything that was happening to my life.  I felt like a piece of sh*t.  Charlie Brown was my soulmate!  And I watched that little guy try so hard to make sense of everything, and try make something really dreadful into something beautiful and happy.  He just knew down in his soul there had to be more, and that it was full of love and healing and joy.  And he was right.

It’s been a long time since Linus first stood on that stage helped Charlie Brown understand the real meaning of Christmas.  49 years to be exact.  But I’ve never forgotten the simple lessons I learned from my soulmate and my little black & white TV.  Never, ever give up hope that even the saddest thing can be transformed into something amazing, and laugh a lot.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!!

What do a blog and a hairball have in common?


My son doesn’t like the word “tapas”.  I don’t like the word “blog”.  On top of that, I found out I’m doing it all wrong.

The volume of blog coaching resources is staggering.  My head hurts.  From what I’ve read, I shouldn’t even have breathed the word blog until I had three themes, thirty days worth of “stuff” already written, and gathered abundant images and links.  Yikes!  My first post took about thirty minutes to create and publish. Bet you could tell.

The issue is….  I’m inclined to analysis paralysis.  If I get sucked into the black hole of the “how” right now, nothing will escape. In a perfect world, possibly nothing should escape.

But getting a blog to blast off is kinda like deciding to have kids.  You can’t think about it too much or you’ll never get off the patch!

“What, me blog?” I ask myself.

My history is in the practical, pragmatic and humble Mid-west of the USA.  My take on people writing blogs was, who the hell cares?  Seemed self-indulgent and egotistical.  Oops. Turns out that much of what I’ve read is beautiful, intelligent, honest and thought provoking.  Damn.

For you who have read either of my now two historic posts – this is the third – it’s probably become painfully clear that:

  1. I was a science major and
  2. I’m writing this for me.  Self-indulgence and ego gone wild right?

The joy of living and silliness and observation and wisdom and aging.  Gracefully.  My ass!

Wresting with nonsensical ramblings to condense them to small, digestible kibbles and bits is a challenge.  Poets do it so amazingly well!  So many ideas, thoughts and feelings packed into the economy of a few words.  “There was a young man from Nantucket…..”

The answer is…..my cats.  “Blog” is the sound that precedes the appearance of a hairball at our house.  Ack.